To investigate default mode network (DMN) functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI) in a large cross-sectional cohort of subjects from families harboring pathogenic presenilin-1 (PSEN1), presenilin-2 (PSEN2), and amyloid precursor protein (APP) mutations participating in the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network.
Eighty-three mutation carriers and 37 asymptomatic noncarriers from the same families underwent fMRI during resting state at 8 centers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Using group-independent component analysis, fcMRI was compared using mutation status and Clinical Dementia Rating to stratify groups, and related to each participant's estimated years from expected symptom onset (eYO).
We observed significantly decreased DMN fcMRI in mutation carriers with increasing Clinical Dementia Rating, most evident in the precuneus/posterior cingulate and parietal cortices (p < 0.001). Comparison of asymptomatic mutation carriers with noncarriers demonstrated decreased fcMRI in the precuneus/posterior cingulate (p = 0.014) and right parietal cortex (p = 0.0016). We observed a significant interaction between mutation carrier status and eYO, with decreases in DMN fcMRI observed as mutation carriers approached and surpassed their eYO.
Functional disruption of the DMN occurs early in the course of autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease, beginning before clinically evident symptoms, and worsening with increased impairment. These findings suggest that DMN fcMRI may prove useful as a biomarker across a wide spectrum of disease, and support the feasibility of DMN fcMRI as a secondary endpoint in upcoming multicenter clinical trials in Alzheimer disease.
Leukocyte telomere length is believed to measure cellular aging in humans, and short leukocyte telomere length is associated with increased risks of late onset diseases, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, etc. Many studies have shown that leukocyte telomere length is a heritable trait, and several candidate genes have been identified, including TERT, TERC, OBFC1, and CTC1. Unlike most studies that have focused on genetic causes of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes in relation to leukocyte telomere length, the present study examined the genome to identify variants that may contribute to variation in leukocyte telomere length among families with exceptional longevity. From the genome wide association analysis in 4,289 LLFS participants, we identified a novel intergenic SNP rs7680468 located near PAPSS1 and DKK2 on 4q25 (p = 4.7E-8). From our linkage analysis, we identified two additional novel loci with HLOD scores exceeding three, including 4.77 for 17q23.2, and 4.36 for 10q11.21. These two loci harbor a number of novel candidate genes with SNPs, and our gene-wise association analysis identified multiple genes, including DCAF7, POLG2, CEP95, and SMURF2 at 17q23.2; and RASGEF1A, HNRNPF, ANF487, CSTF2T, and PRKG1 at 10q11.21. Among these genes, multiple SNPs were associated with leukocyte telomere length, but the strongest association was observed with one contiguous haplotype in CEP95 and SMURF2. We also show that three previously reported genes—TERC, MYNN, and OBFC1—were significantly associated with leukocyte telomere length at pempirical < 0.05.
telomere length; aging; familial longevity; genome wide association and linkage; family-based study; novel genes
The study’s objective was to compare demographics, APOE genotypes, and rate of rise over time in functional impairment in neuropsychologically defined language, typical, and memory subgroups of clinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD). 1,368 participants from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center database with a diagnosis of probable AD (CDR 0.5–1.0) were included. A language subgroup (n = 229) was defined as having language performance >1 SD worse than memory performance. A memory subgroup (n = 213) was defined as having memory performance >1 SD worse than language performance. A typical subgroup (n = 926) was defined as having a difference in language and memory performance of <1 SD. Compared with the memory subgroup, the language subgroup was 3.7 years older and more frequently self-identified as African American (OR = 3.69). Under a dominant genetic model, the language subgroup had smaller odds of carrying at least one APOEε4 allele relative to the memory subgroup. While this difference was present for all ages, it was more striking at a younger age (OR = 0.19 for youngest tertile; OR = 0.52 for oldest tertile). Compared with the memory subgroup, the language subgroup rose 35% faster on the Functional Assessment Questionnaire and 44% faster on CDR sum of boxes over time. Among a subset of participants who underwent autopsy (n = 98), the language, memory, and typical subgroups were equally likely to have an AD pathologic diagnosis, suggesting that variation in non-AD pathologies across subtypes did not lead to the observed differences. The study demonstrates that a language subgroup of AD has different demographics, genetic profile, and disease course in addition to cognitive phenotype.
African Americans; age of onset; Alzheimer’s disease; aphasia; apolipoprotein E4; focal onset Alzheimer’s disease; demographic factors; language; longitudinal studies; memory
Hexanucleotide repeat expansions in C9ORF72 underlie a significant fraction of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This study investigates the frequency of C9ORF72 repeat expansions in clinically diagnosed late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Design, setting and patients
This case-control study genotyped the C9ORF72 repeat expansion in 872 unrelated familial AD cases and 888 controls recruited as part of the NIA-LOAD cohort, a multi-site collaboration studying 1000 families with two or more individuals clinically diagnosed with late-onset-AD.
Main Outcome Measure
We determined the presence or absence of the C9ORF72 repeat expansion by repeat-primed PCR, the length of the longest non-expanded allele, segregation of the genotype with disease, and clinical features of repeat expansion carriers.
Three families showed large C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions. Two additional families carried more than 30 repeats. Segregation with disease could be demonstrated in 3 families. One affected expansion carrier had neuropathology compatible with AD. In the NIA-LOAD series, the C9ORF72 repeat expansions constituted the second most common pathogenic mutation, just behind the PSEN1 A79V mutation, highlighting the heterogeneity of clinical presentations associated with repeat expansions.
C9ORF72 repeat expansions explain a small proportion of patients with a clinical presentation indistinguishable from AD, and highlight the necessity of screening “FTD genes” in clinical AD cases with strong family history.
New onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is often attributed to degenerative changes in the hippocampus. However, the contribution of regionally distributed small vessel cerebrovascular disease, visualized as white matter hyperintensities (WMH) on MRI, remains unclear.
To determine whether regional WMH and hippocampal volume predict incident AD in an epidemiological study.
A longitudinal community-based epidemiological study of older adults from northern Manhattan.
The Washington Heights/Inwood Columbia Aging Project
Between 2005 and 2007, 717 non-demented participants received MRI scans. An average of 40.28 (SD=9.77) months later, 503 returned for follow-up clinical examination and 46 met criteria for incident dementia (45 with AD). Regional WMH and relative hippocampal volumes were derived. Three Cox proportional hazards models were run to predict incident dementia, controlling for relevant variables. The first included all WMH measurements; the second included relative hippocampal volume; and the third combined the two measurements.
Main outcome measures
Incident Alzheimer’s disease.
White matter hyperintensity volume in the parietal lobe predicted time to incident dementia (HR=1.194, p=0.031). Relative hippocampal volume did not predict incident dementia when considered alone (HR=0.419, p=0.768) or with the WMH measures included in the model (HR=0.302, p=0.701). Including hippocampal volume in the model did not notably alter the predictive utility of parietal lobe WMH (HR=1.197, p=0.049).
The findings highlight the regional specificity of the association of WMH with AD. It is not clear whether parietal WMH solely represent a marker for cerebrovascular burden or point to distinct injury compared to other regions. Future work should elucidate pathogenic mechanisms linking WMH and AD pathology.
Alzheimer’s disease; MRI; cerebrovascular disease; hippocampus
The Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) is a collaborative effort of international Alzheimer disease (AD) centers that are conducting a multifaceted prospective biomarker study in individuals at-risk for autosomal dominant AD (ADAD). DIAN collects comprehensive information and tissue in accordance with standard protocols from asymptomatic and symptomatic ADAD mutation carriers and their non-carrier family members to determine the pathochronology of clinical, cognitive, neuroimaging, and fluid biomarkers of AD. This article describes the structure, implementation, and underlying principles of DIAN, as well as the demographic features of the initial DIAN cohort.
Alzheimer disease; autosomal dominant; biomarkers of Alzheimer disease; PSEN1; PSEN2; APP; amyloid-beta; preclinical Alzheimer disease
Shortening of chromosomal telomeres is a consequence of cell division, and is a biological factor related to cellular aging and potentially to more rapid organismal biological aging. We have hypothesized that shorter telomere length, as measured in human blood samples, is associated with the development of Alzheimer disease, and with mortality.
Using data from a multiethnic community-based study of aging and dementia, we studied 1,983 subjects over age 65 yr, who had available stored leukocyte DNA. Mean age-at-blood-draw was 78.3 ± 6.9 yr. Mean age of death was 86.0 ± 7.4 yr. Median follow-up for mortality was 9.3 yr; 190 (9.6%) developed incident dementia. We used real-time PCR to determine mean telomere length (TL) in a modified telomere-sequence to single-copy-gene-sequence ratio method.
TL was inversely related to age, and shorter in men than women. Persons dying during follow-up had shorter TL compared to survivors (6,218±819 vs. 6,491±881 basepairs, p<0.0001) even after adjustment for age, sex, education, and APOE genotype. Individuals who developed dementia had significantly shorter TL (6,131±798 for prevalent cases, and 6,315±817 for incident cases) compared with those remaining dementia-free (6,431±864). Cox-regression analyses showed that shorter TL was a risk for earlier onset of dementia (p=0.05), but stratified analyses for sex showed that this association of age-at-onset of dementia with shorter TL was significant in women, but not in men.
Our findings suggest that shortened leukocyte TL is associated with risks of dementia and mortality, and may therefore be a marker of biological aging.
biological aging; Alzheimer's disease; apolipoprotein E; leukocyte; DNA
Copy number variants (CNVs) are DNA regions that have gains (duplications) or losses (deletions) of genetic material. CNVs may encompass a single gene or multiple genes and can affect their function. They are hypothesized to play an important role in certain diseases. We previously examined the role of CNVs in late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) using participants from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) study and identified gene regions overlapped by CNVs only in cases (AD and/or MCI) but not in controls. Using a similar approach as ADNI, we investigated the role of CNVs using 794 AD and 196 neurologically evaluated control non-Hispanic Caucasian NIA-LOAD/NCRAD Family Study participants with DNA derived from blood/brain tissue. The controls had no family history of AD and were unrelated to AD participants. CNV calls were generated and analyzed after detailed quality review. 711 AD cases and 171 controls who passed all quality thresholds were included in case/control association analyses, focusing on candidate gene and genome-wide approaches. We identified genes overlapped by CNV calls only in AD cases but not controls. A trend for lower CNV call rate was observed for deletions as well as duplications in cases compared to controls. Gene-based association analyses confirmed previous findings in the ADNI study (ATXN1, HLA-DPB1, RELN, DOPEY2, GSTT1, CHRFAM7A, ERBB4, NRXN1) and identified a new gene (IMMP2L) that may play a role in AD susceptibility. Replication in independent samples as well as further analyses of these gene regions is warranted.
Alzheimer's disease; association study; CHRFAM7A; copy number variation; dementia; IMMP2L; NIA-LOAD/NCRAD; replication
In the present study we aimed to determine the prevalence of C9ORF72 GGGGCC hexanucleotide expansion in our cohort of 53 FTLD patients and 174 neurologically normal controls. We identified the hexanucleotide repeat, in the pathogenic range, in 4 (2 bv-FTD and 2 FTD-ALS) out of 53 patients and one neurologically normal control. Interestingly, two of the C9ORF72 expansion carriers also carried two novel missense mutations in GRN (Y294C) and in PSEN-2 (I146V). Further, one of the C9ORF72 expansion carriers, for whom pathology was available, showed amyloid plaques and tangles in addition to TDP-43 pathology. In summary, our findings suggest that the hexanucleotide expansion is probably associated with ALS, FTD or FTD-ALS and occasional comorbid conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. These findings are novel and need to be cautiously interpreted and most importantly replicated in larger numbers of samples.
FTLD; bv-FTD; FTD-ALS; C9ORF72; GRN; PSEN-2; Alzheimer’s disease
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) identified 9 novel risk loci. Discovery of functional variants within genes at these loci is required to confirm their role in Alzheimer disease (AD). Single nucleotide polymorphisms that influence gene expression (eSNPs) constitute an important class of functional variants. We therefore investigated the influence of the novel LOAD risk loci on human brain gene expression.
We measured gene expression levels in the cerebellum and temporal cortex of autopsied AD subjects and those with other brain pathologies (∼400 total subjects). To determine whether any of the novel LOAD risk variants are eSNPs, we tested their cis-association with expression of 6 nearby LOAD candidate genes detectable in human brain (ABCA7, BIN1, CLU, MS4A4A, MS4A6A, PICALM) and an additional 13 genes ±100 kb of these SNPs. To identify additional eSNPs that influence brain gene expression levels of the novel candidate LOAD genes, we identified SNPs ±100 kb of their location and tested for cis-associations.
CLU rs11136000 (p = 7.81 × 10−4) and MS4A4A rs2304933/rs2304935 (p = 1.48 × 10−4–1.86 × 10−4) significantly influence temporal cortex expression levels of these genes. The LOAD-protective CLU and risky MS4A4A locus alleles associate with higher brain levels of these genes. There are other cis-variants that significantly influence brain expression of CLU and ABCA7 (p = 4.01 × 10−5–9.09 × 10−9), some of which also associate with AD risk (p = 2.64 × 10−2–6.25 × 10−5).
CLU and MS4A4A eSNPs may at least partly explain the LOAD risk association at these loci. CLU and ABCA7 may harbor additional strong eSNPs. These results have implications in the search for functional variants at the novel LOAD risk loci.
To compare the rate of cognitive and functional decline in dysexecutive, typical and amnestic subgroups of Alzheimer’s disease.
943 participants from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) database who had a diagnosis of probable AD were followed for a mean of 2.3 years. A dysexecutive subgroup (n = 165) was defined as having executive performance >1.5 SD worse than memory performance, an amnestic subgroup (n = 157) was defined as having memory performance >1.5 SD worse than executive performance and a typical subgroup (n = 621) was defined as having a difference in executive and memory performance of <1.5 SD. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) were used to model decline on the Folstein Mini Mental Status Exam (MMSE), rise on the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) sum of boxes and rise on the total Functional Assessment Questionnaire (FAQ).
Compared with the amnestic subgroup, the dysexecutive subgroup declined 2.2X faster on the Folstein MMSE (p<.001), rose 42% faster on the CDR sum of boxes (p = .03) and rose 33% faster on the total FAQ (p = .01). Rate of change for the typical subgroup fell between that of the amnestic and dysexecutive subgroups for the MMSE, CDR sum of boxes and total FAQ. Among a subset of participants (n = 129) who underwent autopsy, the dysexecutive, amnestic and typical subgroups did not differ in odds of having an AD pathologic diagnosis, suggesting that variation in non-AD pathologies across subtypes did not lead to the observed differences.
A dysexecutive subgroup of AD has a unique disease course in addition to cognitive phenotype.
Psychotic symptoms occur in approximately 40% of subjects with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and are associated with more rapid cognitive decline and increased functional deficits. They show heritability up to 61% and have been proposed as a marker for a disease subtype suitable for gene mapping efforts. We undertook a combined analysis of three genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify loci that a) increase susceptibility to an AD and subsequent psychotic symptoms; or b) modify risk of psychotic symptoms in the presence of neurodegeneration caused by AD. 1299 AD cases with psychosis (AD+P), 735 AD cases without psychosis (AD-P) and 5659 controls were drawn from GERAD1, the NIA-LOAD family study and the University of Pittsburgh ADRC GWAS. Unobserved genotypes were imputed to provide data on > 1.8 million SNPs. Analyses in each dataset were completed comparing a) AD+P to AD-P cases, and b) AD+P cases with controls (GERAD1, ADRC only). Aside from the APOE locus, the strongest evidence for association was observed in an intergenic region on chromosome 4 (rs753129; ‘AD+PvAD-P’ P=2.85 × 10−7; ‘AD+PvControls’ P=1.11 × 10−4). SNPs upstream of SLC2A9 (rs6834555, P=3.0×10−7) and within VSNL1 (rs4038131, P=5.9×10−7) showed strongest evidence for association with AD+P when compared to controls. These findings warrant further investigation in larger, appropriately powered samples in which the presence of psychotic symptoms in AD has been well characterised.
Alzheimer’s disease; psychosis; behavioural symptoms; genome-wide association study; genetic
Pancreatitis is a complex, progressively destructive inflammatory disorder. Alcohol was long thought to be the primary causative agent, but genetic contributions have been of interest since the discovery that rare PRSS1, CFTR, and SPINK1 variants were associated with pancreatitis risk. We now report two significant genome-wide associations identified and replicated at PRSS1-PRSS2 (1×10-12) and x-linked CLDN2 (p < 1×10-21) through a two-stage genome-wide study (Stage 1, 676 cases and 4507 controls; Stage 2, 910 cases and 4170 controls). The PRSS1 variant affects susceptibility by altering expression of the primary trypsinogen gene. The CLDN2 risk allele is associated with atypical localization of claudin-2 in pancreatic acinar cells. The homozygous (or hemizygous male) CLDN2 genotype confers the greatest risk, and its alleles interact with alcohol consumption to amplify risk. These results could partially explain the high frequency of alcohol-related pancreatitis in men – male hemizygous frequency is 0.26, female homozygote is 0.07.
Genome-wide association (GWAS) methods have identified genes contributing to Parkinson disease (PD); we sought to identify additional genes associated with PD susceptibility.
A two stage design was used. First, individual level genotypic data from five recent PD GWAS (Discovery Sample: 4,238 PD cases and 4,239 controls) were combined. Following imputation, a logistic regression model was employed in each dataset to test for association with PD susceptibility and results from each dataset were meta-analyzed. Second, 768 SNPs were genotyped in an independent Replication Sample (3,738 cases and 2,111 controls).
Genome-wide significance was reached for SNPs in SNCA (rs356165, G: odds ratio (OR)=1.37; p=9.3 × 10−21), MAPT (rs242559, C: OR=0.78; p=1.5 × 10−10), GAK/DGKQ (rs11248051, T:OR=1.35; p=8.2 × 10−9/ rs11248060, T: OR=1.35; p=2.0×10−9), and the HLA region (rs3129882, A: OR=0.83; p=1.2 × 10−8), which were previously reported. The Replication Sample confirmed the associations with SNCA, MAPT, and the HLA region and also with GBA (E326K OR=1.71; p=5 × 10−8 Combined Sample) (N370 OR=3.08; p=7 × 10−5 Replication sample). A novel PD susceptibility locus, RIT2, on chromosome 18 (rs12456492; p=5 × 10−5 Discovery Sample; p=1.52 × 10−7 Replication sample; p=2 × 10−10 Combined Sample) was replicated. Conditional analyses within each of the replicated regions identified distinct SNP associations within GBA and SNCA, suggesting that there may be multiple risk alleles within these genes.
We identified a novel PD susceptibility locus, RIT2, replicated several previously identified loci, and identified more than one risk allele within SNCA and GBA.
The order and magnitude of pathologic processes in Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood, partly because the disease develops over many years. Autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease has a predictable age at onset and provides an opportunity to determine the sequence and magnitude of pathologic changes that culminate in symptomatic disease.
In this prospective, longitudinal study, we analyzed data from 128 participants who underwent baseline clinical and cognitive assessments, brain imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood tests. We used the participant’s age at baseline assessment and the parent’s age at the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to calculate the estimated years from expected symptom onset (age of the participant minus parent’s age at symptom onset). We conducted cross-sectional analyses of baseline data in relation to estimated years from expected symptom onset in order to determine the relative order and magnitude of pathophysiological changes.
Concentrations of amyloid-beta (Aβ)42 in the CSF appeared to decline 25 years before expected symptom onset. Aβ deposition, as measured by positron-emission tomography with the use of Pittsburgh compound B, was detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Increased concentrations of tau protein in the CSF and an increase in brain atrophy were detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Cerebral hypometabolism and impaired episodic memory were observed 10 years before expected symptom onset. Global cognitive impairment, as measured by the Mini–Mental State Examination and the Clinical Dementia Rating scale, was detected 5 years before expected symptom onset, and patients met diagnostic criteria for dementia at an average of 3 years after expected symptom onset.
We found that autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease was associated with a series of pathophysiological changes over decades in CSF biochemical markers of Alzheimer’s disease, brain amyloid deposition, and brain metabolism as well as progressive cognitive impairment. Our results require confirmation with the use of longitudinal data and may not apply to patients with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging and others; DIAN ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00869817.)
To evaluate the association of risk and age at onset (AAO) of Alzheimer disease (AD) with single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the chromosome 19 region including apolipoprotein E (APOE) and a repeat-length polymorphism in TOMM40 (poly-T, rs10524523).
Conditional logistic regression models and survival analysis.
Fifteen genome-wide association study data sets assembled by the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium.
Eleven thousand eight hundred forty AD cases and 10 931 cognitively normal elderly controls.
Main Outcome Measures
Association of AD risk and AAO with genotyped and imputed SNPs located in an 800-Mb region including APOE in the entire Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium data set and with the TOMM40 poly-T marker genotyped in a subset of 1256 cases and 1605 controls.
In models adjusting for APOE ε4, no SNPs in the entire region were significantly associated with AAO at P<.001. Rs10524523 was not significantly associated with AD or AAO in models adjusting for APOE genotype or within the subset of ε3/ε3 subjects.
APOE alleles ε2, ε3, and ε4 account for essentially all the inherited risk of AD associated with this region. Other variants including a poly-T track in TOMM40 are not independent risk or AAO loci.
P73 belongs to the p53 family of cell survival regulators with the corresponding locus Trp73 producing the N-terminally distinct isoforms, TAp73 and DeltaNp73. Recently, two studies have implicated the murine Trp73 in the modulation in phospho-tau accumulation in aged wild type mice and in young mice modeling Alzheimer’s disease (AD) suggesting that Trp73, particularly the DeltaNp73 isoform, links the accumulation of amyloid peptides to the creation of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). Here, we reevaluated tau pathologies in the same TgCRND8 mouse model as the previous studies.
Despite the use of the same animal models, our in vivo studies failed to demonstrate biochemical or histological evidence for misprocessing of tau in young compound Trp73+/- + TgCRND8 mice or in aged Trp73+/- mice analyzed at the ages reported previously, or older. Secondly, we analyzed an additional mouse model where the DeltaNp73 was specifically deleted and confirmed a lack of impact of the DeltaNp73 allele, either in heterozygous or homozygous form, upon tau pathology in aged mice. Lastly, we also examined human TP73 for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and/or copy number variants in a meta-analysis of 10 AD genome-wide association datasets. No SNPs reached significance after correction for multiple testing and no duplications/deletions in TP73 were found in 549 cases of AD and 544 non-demented controls.
Our results fail to support P73 as a contributor to AD pathogenesis.
P73; Alzheimer’s disease; Animal models; GWAS
Background and Objective
Genetic linkage and association studies in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) or LOAD endophenotypes have pointed to several candidate regions on chromosome 10q, among these the ~250kb LD block harboring the three genes IDE, KIF11 and HHEX. We explored the association between variants in the genomic region harboring the IDE-KIF11-HHEX complex with plasma Aβ40 and Aβ42 levels in a case-control cohort of Caribbean Hispanics.
First, we performed single marker multivariate linear regression analysis relating the individual SNPs with plasma Aβ40 and Aβ42 levels. Then we performed 3-SNP sliding window haplotype analyses, correcting all analyses for multiple testing
Out of 32 SNPs in this region, three SNPs in IDE (rs2421943, rs12264682, rs11187060) were significantly associated with plasma Aß40 or Aß42 levels in single marker and haplotype analyses after correction for multiple testing. As described above, all these SNPs lie within the same linkage disequilibrium block, and are in linkage disequilibrium with the previously reported haplotypes.
Our findings provide modest support for an association in the IDE harboring region on chromosome 10q with Aβ 40 and 42 levels.
amyloid beta; Alzheimer’s disease; genetics; insulin-degrading enzyme
Recent studies showed that polymorphisms in the Fat and Obesity-Associated (FTO) gene have robust effects on obesity, obesity-related traits and endophenotypes associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD).
We used 1,877 Caucasian cases and controls from the NIA-LOAD study and 1,093 Caribbean Hispanics to further explore the association of FTO with AD. Using logistic regression, we assessed 42 SNPs in introns 1 and 2, the region previously reported to be associated with AD endophenotypes, which had been derived by genome-wide screenings. In addition, we performed gene expression analyses of neuropathologically confirmed AD cases and controls of two independent datasets (19 AD cases, 10 controls; 176 AD cases, 188 controls) using within- and between-group factors ANOVA of log10 transformed rank invariant normalized expression data.
In the NIALOAD study, one SNP was significantly associated with AD and three additional markers were close to significance (rs6499640, rs10852521, rs16945088, rs8044769, FDR p-value: 0.05
0.9) with the previously reported SNPs. In the Caribbean Hispanic dataset, we identified three SNPs (rs17219084, rs11075996, rs11075997, FDR p-value: 0.009
Our data support the notion that genetic variation in Introns 1 and 2 of the FTO gene may contribute to AD risk.
Copy number variations (CNVs) are genomic regions that have added (duplications) or deleted (deletions) genetic material. They may overlap genes affecting their function and have been shown to be associated with disease. We previously investigated the role of CNVs in late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment using Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) and National Institute of Aging-Late Onset AD/National Cell Repository for AD (NIA-LOAD/NCRAD) Family Study participants, and identified a number of genes overlapped by CNV calls. To confirm the findings and identify other potential candidate regions, we analyzed array data from a unique cohort of 1617 Caucasian participants (1022 AD cases and 595 controls) who were clinically characterized and whose diagnosis was neuropathologically verified. All DNA samples were extracted from brain tissue. CNV calls were generated and subjected to quality control (QC). 728 cases and 438 controls who passed all QC measures were included in case/control association analyses including candidate gene and genome-wide approaches. Rates of deletions and duplications did not significantly differ between cases and controls. Case-control association identified a number of previously reported regions (CHRFAM7A, RELN and DOPEY2) as well as a new gene (HLA-DRA). Meta-analysis of CHRFAM7A indicated a significant association of the gene with AD and/or MCI risk (P = 0.006, odds ratio = 3.986 (95% confidence interval 1.490–10.667)). A novel APP gene duplication was observed in one case sample. Further investigation of the identified genes in independent and larger samples is warranted.
Identifying a biomarker for Alzheimer's disease that can be obtained from a blood sample has been a goal of researchers for many years. Over the past few years a number of investigators have studied several plasma biomarkers but most frequently plasma amyloid Aβ40 and Aβ42 while others have explored the use of genetic variants as biomarkers for diagnosis or risk. This review considers the cross sectional and longitudinal data regarding plasma Aβ40 and Aβ42 as diagnostic biomarkers as well as risk biomarkers. Review of recent genome wide association studies indicates as many as 10 genetic variants have been associated with susceptibility to AD. Further analysis suggests that these factors have modest effects on risk and are thus not helpful, as yet in the diagnosis of disease. Until the function of these genes is understood, their role in risk and diagnosis will remain uncertain. Thus, there are several types of peripheral biomarkers under investigation, but more work is required before that can be deemed clinically useful.
plasma amyloid β; cross-sectional study; prospective study; genome wide association studies
Psychotic symptoms occur in approximately 40% of subjects with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and are associated with more rapid cognitive decline and increased functional deficits. They show heritability up to 61% and have been proposed as a marker for a disease subtype suitable for gene mapping efforts. We undertook a combined analysis of three genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify loci that a) increase susceptibility to an AD and subsequent psychotic symptoms; or b) modify risk of psychotic symptoms in the presence of neurodegeneration caused by AD. 1299 AD cases with psychosis (AD+P), 735 AD cases without psychosis (AD−P) and 5659 controls were drawn from GERAD1, the NIA-LOAD family study and the University of Pittsburgh ADRC GWAS. Unobserved genotypes were imputed to provide data on > 1.8 million SNPs. Analyses in each dataset were completed comparing a) AD+P to AD−P cases, and b) AD+P cases with controls (GERAD1, ADRC only). Aside from the APOE locus, the strongest evidence for association was observed in an intergenic region on chromosome 4 (rs753129; ‘AD+PvAD−P’ P=2.85 × 10−7; ‘AD+PvControls’ P=1.11 × 10−4). SNPs upstream of SLC2A9 (rs6834555, P=3.0×10−7) and within VSNL1 (rs4038131, P=5.9×10−7) showed strongest evidence for association with AD+P when compared to controls. These findings warrant further investigation in larger, appropriately powered samples in which the presence of psychotic symptoms in AD has been well characterised.
Alzheimer’s disease; psychosis; behavioural symptoms; genome-wide association study; genetic
To explore the role of leucine-rich repeat transmembrane 3 (LRRTM3) in late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD) by independent genetic epidemiologic and functional studies.
First, we explored associations between LRRTM3 single-nucleotide polymorphisms and AD in the National Institute on Aging Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease case-control data set (993 patients and 884 control subjects) and a cohort of Caribbean Hispanics (549 patients and 544 controls) using single-marker and haplo-type analyses. Then we explored the effect of LRRTM3 small-hairpin RNAs on amyloid precursor protein processing.
One single-nucleotide polymorphism in the promoter region (rs16923760; C allele: odds ratio,−0.74, P=.03), and a block of 4 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in intron 2 (rs1925608, C allele: 0.84, P=.04; rs7082306, A allele: 0.75, P=.04; rs1925609, T allele: 1.2, P=.03; and rs10997477, T allele: 0.88, P=.05) were associated with AD in the National Institute on Aging Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease data set or the Caribbean His-panic data set. The corresponding haplotypes were also associated with AD risk (.01< P<.05). In addition, LRRTM3 knockdown with small-hairpin RNAs caused a significant decrease in amyloid precursor protein processing (P<.05 to P<.01) compared with the scrambled small-hairpin RNA condition.
These complementary findings support the notions that genetic variation in LRRTM3 is associated with AD risk and that LRRTM3 may modulate γ-secretase processing of amyloid precursor protein. Additional studies are needed to determine whether the specific alleles associated with differential risk for AD indeed confer this risk through an effect of LRRTM3 expression levels that in turn modulates amyloid precursor protein processing.
Genetic variants that modify brain gene expression may also influence risk for human diseases. We measured expression levels of 24,526 transcripts in brain samples from the cerebellum and temporal cortex of autopsied subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD, cerebellar n = 197, temporal cortex n = 202) and with other brain pathologies (non–AD, cerebellar n = 177, temporal cortex n = 197). We conducted an expression genome-wide association study (eGWAS) using 213,528 cisSNPs within ±100 kb of the tested transcripts. We identified 2,980 cerebellar cisSNP/transcript level associations (2,596 unique cisSNPs) significant in both ADs and non–ADs (q<0.05, p = 7.70×10−5–1.67×10−82). Of these, 2,089 were also significant in the temporal cortex (p = 1.85×10−5–1.70×10−141). The top cerebellar cisSNPs had 2.4-fold enrichment for human disease-associated variants (p<10−6). We identified novel cisSNP/transcript associations for human disease-associated variants, including progressive supranuclear palsy SLCO1A2/rs11568563, Parkinson's disease (PD) MMRN1/rs6532197, Paget's disease OPTN/rs1561570; and we confirmed others, including PD MAPT/rs242557, systemic lupus erythematosus and ulcerative colitis IRF5/rs4728142, and type 1 diabetes mellitus RPS26/rs1701704. In our eGWAS, there was 2.9–3.3 fold enrichment (p<10−6) of significant cisSNPs with suggestive AD–risk association (p<10−3) in the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium GWAS. These results demonstrate the significant contributions of genetic factors to human brain gene expression, which are reliably detected across different brain regions and pathologies. The significant enrichment of brain cisSNPs among disease-associated variants advocates gene expression changes as a mechanism for many central nervous system (CNS) and non–CNS diseases. Combined assessment of expression and disease GWAS may provide complementary information in discovery of human disease variants with functional implications. Our findings have implications for the design and interpretation of eGWAS in general and the use of brain expression quantitative trait loci in the study of human disease genetics.
Genetic variants that regulate gene expression levels can also influence human disease risk. Discovery of genomic loci that alter brain gene expression levels (brain expression quantitative trait loci = eQTLs) can be instrumental in the identification of genetic risk underlying both central nervous system (CNS) and non–CNS diseases. To systematically assess the role of brain eQTLs in human disease and to evaluate the influence of brain region and pathology in eQTL mapping, we performed an expression genome-wide association study (eGWAS) in 773 brain samples from the cerebellum and temporal cortex of ∼200 autopsied subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and ∼200 with other brain pathologies (non–AD). We identified ∼3,000 significant associations between cisSNPs near ∼700 genes and their cerebellar transcript levels, which replicate in ADs and non–ADs. More than 2,000 of these associations were reproducible in the temporal cortex. The top cisSNPs are enriched for both CNS and non–CNS disease-associated variants. We identified novel and confirmed previous cisSNP/transcript associations for many disease loci, suggesting gene expression regulation as their mechanism of action. These findings demonstrate the reproducibility of the eQTL approach across different brain regions and pathologies, and advocate the combined use of gene expression and disease GWAS for identification and functional characterization of human disease-associated variants.
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