This NHS Choices critical appraisal examines press coverage of recent research which investigated the relationship between the genetic variant APOE-e4 (which increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease), hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and telomere length (an indicator of cell ageing).
The small study in question (of 63 post-menopausal women) looked at the telomere-shortening indicator of cell ageing. The researchers found that post-menopausal women who carry APOE-e4 are six times more likely to display telomere shortening, and that women carrying APOE-e4 have less reduction in telomere length when they remain on HRT.
Women who do not carry APOE-e4 have less reduction in telomere length when they stop taking HRT, i.e. HRT then appears to have no “protective effect” on telomeres; implying that the effect of HRT may be conditional and differ in women carrying different genetic variants.
There appears to be some evidence of a relationship between telomere shortening and the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and cognitive decline. More research, looking at larger numbers of people over longer periods of time, is required to investigate this relationship, and any influence which HRT may bear upon it.
Could HRT stop dementia? London: NHS Choices; Behind the Headlines, February 14th 2013.
This relates to:
Jacobs, EG. Kroenke, C. [and] Lin, J. [et al] (2013). Accelerated cell aging in female APOE-ε4 carriers: implications for hormone therapy use. PLoS One. February 13th 2013; 8(2): e54713. (Click here to view the abstract).
[A version of this item features in Dementia: the Latest Evidence, Volume 3 Issue 6, February 2013].