Here we review the genetic causes and risks for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Early work identified mutations in three genes that cause AD: APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2. Although mutations in these genes are rare causes of AD, their discovery had a major impact on our understanding of molecular mechanisms of AD. Early work also revealed the ε4 allele of the APOE as a strong risk factor for AD. Subsequently, SORL1 also was identified as an AD risk gene. More recently, advances in our knowledge of the human genome, made possible by technological advances and methods to analyze genomic data, permit systematic identification of genes that contribute to AD risk. This work, so far accomplished through single nucleotide polymorphism arrays, has revealed nine new genes implicated in AD risk (ABCA7, BIN1, CD33, CD2AP, CLU, CR1, EPHA1, MS4A4E/MS4A6A, and PICALM). We review the relationship between these mutations and genetic variants and the neuropathologic features of AD and related disorders. Together, these discoveries point toward a new era in neurodegenerative disease research that impacts not only AD but also related illnesses that produce cognitive and behavioral deficits.
Alzheimer’s disease; genetics; genome-wide association studies; neuropathology
Summary: We report our new DRAW+SneakPeek software for DNA-seq analysis. DNA resequencing analysis workflow (DRAW) automates the workflow of processing raw sequence reads including quality control, read alignment and variant calling on high-performance computing facilities such as Amazon elastic compute cloud. SneakPeek provides an effective interface for reviewing dozens of quality metrics reported by DRAW, so users can assess the quality of data and diagnose problems in their sequencing procedures. Both DRAW and SneakPeek are freely available under the MIT license, and are available as Amazon machine images to be used directly on Amazon cloud with minimal installation.
Availability: DRAW+SneakPeek is released under the MIT license and is available for academic and nonprofit use for free. The information about source code, Amazon machine images and instructions on how to install and run DRAW+SneakPeek locally and on Amazon elastic compute cloud is available at the National Institute on Aging Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site (http://www.niagads.org/) and Wang lab Web site (http://wanglab.pcbi.upenn.edu/).
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Neuropathological examination of both individuals in a monozygotic (MZ) twin pair with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is rare, especially in the molecular genetic era. We had the opportunity to assess the concordance and discordance of clinical presentation and neuropathology in three MZ twin pairs with AD.
The MZ twins were identified and characterised by the University of Washington Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. We reviewed the available clinical and neuropathological records for all six cases looking specifically for concordance and discordance of clinical phenotype, neuritic amyloid plaques (NP), neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) and Lewy related pathology (LRP).
Discordance in age of onset for developing AD in the MZ twins varied from 4 to 18 years. Clinical presentations also differed between twins. One twin presented with a dementia with Lewy Body clinical syndrome while the other presented with typical clinical AD. Neuropathology within the MZ twin pairs was concordant for NP and NFT, regardless of duration of disease, and was discordant for LRP. This difference was most marked in the late onset AD twin pair. One pair was found to have a mutation in presenilin‐1 (PS1) (A79V) with remarkably late onset in a family member.
MZ twins with AD can vary considerably in age of onset, presentation and disease duration. The concordance of NP and NFT pathological change and the discordance of LRP support the concept that, in AD, the former are primarily under genetic control whereas the latter (LRP) is more influenced by disease duration and environmental factors. The A79V mutation in PS1 can be associated with very late onset of dementia.
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.
To describe the Alzheimer disease (AD)-like clinical and pathological features, including marked neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) pathology, of a familial prion disease due to a rare nonsense mutation of the prion gene (PRNP).
Longitudinal clinical assessments were available for the proband and her mother. After death, both underwent neuropathological evaluation. PRNP was sequenced after failure to find immunopositive Aβ deposits in the proband and the documentation of prion protein (PrP) immunopositive pathology.
The proband presented at age 42 years with a 3-year history of progressive short-term memory impairment and depression. Neuropsychological testing found impaired memory performance, with relatively preserved attention and construction. She was diagnosed with AD and died at age 47 years. Neuropathologic evaluation revealed extensive limbic and neocortical NFT formation and neuritic plaques consistent with a Braak stage of VI. The NFTs were immunopositive, with multiple tau antibodies, and electron microscopy revealed paired helical filaments. However, the neuritic plaques were immunonegative for Aβ, whereas immunostaining for PrP was positive. The mother of the proband had a similar presentation, including depression, and had been diagnosed clinically and pathologically as AD. Reevaluation of her brain tissue confirmed similar tau and PrP immunostaining findings. Genetic analysis revealed that both the proband and her mother had a rare PRNP mutation (Q160X) that resulted in the production of truncated PrP.
We suggest that PRNP mutations that result in a truncation of PrP lead to a prolonged clinical course consistent with a clinical diagnosis of AD and severe AD-like NFTs.
To assess the relative frequency of unique mutations and their associated characteristics in 97 individuals with mutations in progranulin (GRN), an important cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
Participants and Design
A 46-site International Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration Collaboration was formed to collect cases of FTLD with TAR DNA-binding protein of 43-kDa (TDP-43)–positive inclusions (FTLD-TDP). We identified 97 individuals with FTLD-TDP with pathogenic GRN mutations (GRN+ FTLD-TDP), assessed their genetic and clinical characteristics, and compared them with 453 patients with FTLD-TDP in which GRN mutations were excluded (GRN− FTLD-TDP). No patients were known to be related. Neuropathologic characteristics were confirmed as FTLD-TDP in 79 of the 97 GRN+ FTLDTDP cases and all of the GRN− FTLD-TDP cases.
Age at onset of FTLD was younger in patients with GRN+ FTLD-TDP vs GRN− FTLD-TDP (median, 58.0 vs 61.0 years; P<.001), as was age at death (median, 65.5 vs 69.0 years; P<.001). Concomitant motor neuron disease was much less common in GRN+ FTLDTDP vs GRN− FTLD-TDP (5.4% vs 26.3%; P<.001). Fifty different GRN mutations were observed, including 2 novel mutations: c.139delG (p.D47TfsX7) and c.378C>A (p.C126X). The 2 most common GRN mutations were c.1477C>T (p.R493X, found in 18 patients, representing 18.6% of GRN cases) and c.26C>A (p.A9D, found in 6 patients, representing 6.2% of cases). Patients with the c.1477C>T mutation shared a haplotype on chromosome 17; clinically, they resembled patients with other GRN mutations. Patients with the c.26C>A mutation appeared to have a younger age at onset of FTLD and at death and more parkinsonian features than those with other GRN mutations.
GRN+ FTLD-TDP differs in key features from GRN− FTLD-TDP.
In recognition of the global problem posed by Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, an international think-tank meeting was convened by Biocat, the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, and the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute in February 2009. The meeting initiated the planning of a European Union-North American collaborative research enterprise to expedite the delay and ultimate prevention of dementing disorders. The key aim is to build parallel and complementary research infrastructure that will support international standardization and inter-operability among researchers in both continents. The meeting identified major challenges, opportunities for research resources and support, integration with ongoing efforts, and identification of key domains to influence the design and administration of the enterprise.
The inheritance pattern in most cases of autism is complex. The risk of autism is increased in siblings of children with autism and previous studies have indicated that the level of risk can be further identified by the accumulation of multiple susceptibility single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) allowing for the identification of a higher-risk subgroup among siblings. As a result of the sex difference in the prevalence of autism, we explored the potential for identifying sex-specific autism susceptibility SNPs in siblings of children with autism and the ability to develop a sex-specific risk assessment genetic scoring system.
SNPs were chosen from genes known to be associated with autism. These markers were evaluated using an exploratory sample of 480 families from the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) repository. A reproducibility index (RI) was proposed and calculated in all children with autism and in males and females separately. Differing genetic scoring models were then constructed to develop a sex-specific genetic score model designed to identify individuals with a higher risk of autism. The ability of the genetic scores to identify high-risk children was then evaluated and replicated in an independent sample of 351 affected and 90 unaffected siblings from families with at least 1 child with autism.
We identified three risk SNPs that had a high RI in males, two SNPs with a high RI in females, and three SNPs with a high RI in both sexes. Using these results, genetic scoring models for males and females were developed which demonstrated a significant association with autism (P = 2.2 × 10-6 and 1.9 × 10-5, respectively).
Our results demonstrate that individual susceptibility associated SNPs for autism may have important differential sex effects. We also show that a sex-specific risk score based on the presence of multiple susceptibility associated SNPs allow for the identification of subgroups of siblings of children with autism who have a significantly higher risk of autism.
Autism; risk assessment; common variants; genetic score; sex effects
The ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) is associated with increased risk and earlier age at onset in late onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Other factors, such as expression level of apolipoprotein E protein (apoE), have been postulated to modify the APOE related risk of developing AD. Multiple loci in and outside of APOE are associated with a high risk of AD. The aim of this exploratory hypothesis generating investigation was to determine if some of these loci predict cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) apoE levels in healthy non-demented subjects. CSF apoE levels were measured from healthy non-demented subjects 21–87 years of age (n = 134). Backward regression models were used to evaluate the influence of 21 SNPs, within and surrounding APOE, on CSF apoE levels while taking into account age, gender, APOE ε4 and correlation between SNPs (linkage disequilibrium). APOE ε4 genotype does not predict CSF apoE levels. Three SNPs within the TOMM40 gene, one APOE promoter SNP and two SNPs within distal APOE enhancer elements (ME1 and BCR) predict CSF apoE levels. Further investigation of the genetic influence of these loci on apoE expression levels in the central nervous system is likely to provide new insight into apoE regulation as well as AD pathogenesis.
Apolipoprotein E gene; apolipoprotein E protein; cerebroshinal fluid; enhancer; promoter; SNP
Our earlier post hoc analysis suggested possible benefits of statins in reducing risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in younger participants (< age 80 years) with the APOE ε4 allele. We further investigated these findings with more follow-up time and more recently enrolled participants.
A cohort of cognitively intact elderly was assessed biennially for dementia and AD.
3,392 non-demented member of a health maintenance organization (HMO) aged ≥ 65 years.
We identified statin use from the HMO pharmacy database and applied proportional hazards models with statin use as a time-dependent covariate to assess the statin-AD association and the modifying effects of age and the APOE ε4 allele.
Over an average of 6.1 years of follow-up of 3099 participants, 263 participants developed probable AD. The adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) for statin use was 0.62 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.40 – 0.97) for AD in models including demographic characteristics and vascular risk factors as covariates. The strength of the statin-AD association diminished with age (statin × age-at-entry interaction p = 0.04); the aHR in those younger than 80 was 0.44 (CI 0.25 – 0.78) vs. 1.22 (CI 0.61 – 2.42) for those older than 80. The interaction term for statin use × APOE ε4 was not significant (p = 0.65).
This enlarged study confirms earlier findings that statin therapy in early old age, but not in late age, may be associated with reduced risk of AD. The relationship between statin use and AD was consistent across APOE genotypes.
Statin; Old age; APOE genotype; Alzheimer disease
Families with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) sharing a single PSEN2 mutation exhibit a wide range of age-at-onset, suggesting that modifier loci segregate within these families. While APOE is known to be an age-at-onset modifier, it does not explain all of this variation. We performed a genome scan within nine such families for loci influencing age-at-onset, while simultaneously controlling for variation in the primary PSEN2 mutation (N141I) and APOE. We found significant evidence of linkage between age-at-onset and chromosome 1q23.3 (P < 0.001) when analysis included all families, and to chromosomes 1q23.3 (P < 0.001), 17p13.2 (P = 0.0002), 7q33 (P = 0.017), and 11p14.2 (P = 0.017) in a single large pedigree. Simultaneous analysis of these four chromosomes maintained strong evidence of linkage to chromosomes 1q23.3 and 17p13.2 when all families were analyzed, and to chromosomes 1q23.3, 7q33, and 17p13.2 within the same single pedigree. Inclusion of major gene covariates proved essential to detect these linkage signals, as all linkage signals dissipated when PSEN2 and APOE were excluded from the model. The four chromosomal regions with evidence of linkage all coincide with previous linkage signals, associated SNPs, and/or candidate genes identified in independent AD study populations. This study establishes several candidate regions for further analysis and is consistent with an oligogenic model of AD risk and age-at-onset. More generally, this study also demonstrates the value of searching for modifier loci in existing datasets previously used to identify primary causal variants for complex disease traits.
genome-scan; modifier scan; quantitative trait; complex disease; dementia
Virtually all adult studies of APOE genotypes and cognition have included individuals over 60. In older adults, ε4 carriers may manifest greater cognitive asymmetries than non-ε4 carriers even in the absence of overall mean differences. General cognitive ability may also be affected by aging and APOE genotype, but most studies have inadequately addressed this potential confound. The goals of this study were to examine, in middle age, the relationship of APOE genotype with episodic memory and verbal-visuospatial episodic memory asymmetries, after accounting for prior general cognitive ability.
We compared ε4+ and ε4- individuals in 626 male twins in their 50s. We examined verbal and visuospatial episodic memory and verbal-visual asymmetry scores after adjusting for cognitive ability at age 20. Analyses corrected for correlations between twin pair members.
Compared with ε4- individuals, ε4 carriers performed significantly more poorly on verbal, but not visuospatial memory, manifested significantly greater cognitive asymmetry, and also had significantly more concerns about memory. At age 20, ε4 carriers had higher general cognitive ability than ε4- individuals, and current memory differences were enhanced after adjusting for age 20 cognitive ability.
Small, but significant, APOE-ε4-related memory deficits do appear in the sixth decade of life in individuals who show no signs of preclinical dementia. The results partially support studies of older adults that suggest that increased cognitive asymmetries reflect risk for dementia and are associated with the APOE-ε4 genotype. The results also highlight the potential problems of not having accurate data on prior cognitive ability.
Apolipoprotein E is polymorphic in the human population. APOE4 has previously been reported to correlate with symptomatic oral and genital herpes disease.
We genotyped APOE in 182 subjects with HSV-2 and in 62 subjects with HSV-1, including 44 subjects with both viral types for a total of 200 adults. HSV shedding was measured by PCR from swab samples obtained daily from mucosa for at least 30 days. Participants also maintained a dairy of oral or genital lesions.
Observed APOE genotypes reflected the US Caucasian population and the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. Genital and oral HSV shedding was detected on 17.2% and 3.7% of overall days, respectively, while genital and oral lesion rates were 10.1% and 2.9%. Using Poisson regression and adjusting for known correlates of HSV shedding, we did not observe a significant association between APOE genotype and genital or oral HSV shedding, or genital HSV lesions. However, the presence of the APOE4 allele was associated with a higher rate of oral herpetic lesions, with a relative risk of 4.64 (1.32–15.05, P=0.016).
Variation at the APOE locus may be associated with clinical manifestations of HSV-1 infection but does not to correlate with herpes simplex viral reactivation in humans.
Apoliprotein E; herpes simplex virus; genotype; viral shedding
To determine apolipoprotein E (APOE)-ε4 and -ε2 frequencies and risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia in Shanghai, China.
A total of 34 MCI and 34 dementia cases were recruited from an urban Memory Disorders Clinic and 32 controls were recruited from a residential community served by the clinic. Apolipoprotein E was genotyped using standard methods.
Among controls, frequencies were ε2, 0.11; ε3, 0.84; and ε4, 0.05; among MCI, 0.05, 0.77, and 0.18; and for dementia, 0.02, 0.84, and 0.15, respectively. In education-adjusted models, the odds ratio (OR) = 5.6 for dementia (95% CI = 1.09–29.3) and 4.7 for MCI (95% CI = 0.90–25.2) associated with any ε4 allele. The ε2 allele was inversely associated with dementia (OR = 0.12, 95% CI = 0.013–0.997) and MCI (OR = 0.38, 95% CI = 0.08–1.61).
APOE-ε4 increases and -ε2 decreases the risk of dementia vs normal cognition. Similar trends were observed for amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI).
apolipoprotein E; dementia; mild cognitive impairment; China
Currently the ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) is the strongest genetic risk factor for late onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, inheritance of the APOE ε 4 allele is not necessary or sufficient for the development of AD. Genetic evidence suggests that multiple loci in a 70 kb region surrounding APOE are associated with AD risk. Even though these loci could represent surrogate markers in linkage disequilibrium with APOE ε4 allele, they could also contribute biological effects independent of the APOE ε4 allele. Our previous study identified multiple SNPs upstream from APOE that are associated with cerebrospinal fluid apoE levels, suggesting that a haplotype structure proximal to APOE can influence apoE expression. In this study, we examined apoE expression in human post-mortem brain (PMB), and constructed chromosome-phase-separated haplotypes of the APOE proximal region to evaluate their effect on PMB apoE expression. ApoE protein expression was found to differ among AD brain regions and to differ between AD and control hippocampus. In addition, an extended APOE proximal haplotype structure, spanning from the TOMM40 gene to the APOE promoter, may modulate apoE expression in a brain region-specific manner and may influence AD disease status. In conclusion, this haplotype-phenotype analysis of apoE expression in PMB suggests that either; (1) the cis-regulation of APOE expression levels extends far upstream of the APOE promoter or (2) an APOE ε4 allele independent mechanism involving the TOMM40 gene plays a role in the risk of AD.
Alzheimer's disease; APOE; post-mortem brain; TOMM40
The problem of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) exemplifies the challenges of dealing with a broad range of aging related chronic disorders that require long-term, labor-intensive and expensive care. As the “baby-boom” generation ages and brain diseases become more prevalent, the need to confront the pending health care crisis is more urgent than ever before. Indeed, there is now a critical need to expand significantly the national effort to solve the problem of AD with special focus on prevention.
The “Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease 2020” (PAD 2020) initiative aims to create a new paradigm for planning and supporting the organization of worldwide cooperative research networks to develop new technologies for early detection and treatments of aging related memory and motor impairments. PAD 2020 is developing an implementation plan to justify: a) increasing the federal budget for research; b) developing novel national resources to discover new interventions for memory and motor disorders; c) creating innovative and streamlined decision-making processes for selecting and supporting new ideas.
Since 1978, the National Institute on Aging (NIA/NIH) established an extensive national network of AD research facilities at academic institutions including: AD Centers (ADCs), Consortium to Establish a Registry for AD (CERAD), AD Cooperative Study (ADCS), AD Drug Discovery Program, National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC), National Cell Repository for AD (NCRAD), and AD Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). However, despite the success of these program and their critical contributions, they are no longer adequate to meet the challenges presented by AD.
PAD2020 is designed to address these changes by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of these programs. For example, the ADCs (P30s and P50s) can be enhanced by converting some into Comprehensive AD Centers (CADCs) to support not only research, but also by being demonstration projects on care/ treatment, clinical trials, and education as well as by seamlessly integrating multi-site collaborative studies (ADCS, ADNI, Patient Registries, Clinical Data Banks, etc.) into a cohesive structure that further enhances the original mission of the NIA ADCs.
Regional CADCs offer greater efficiency and cost savings while serving as coordinating hubs of existing ADCs thereby offering greater economies of scale and programmatic integration. The CADCs also broaden the scope of ADC activities to include research on interventions, diagnosis, imaging, prevention trials, and other longitudinal studies that require long-term support. Thus, CADCs can address the urgent need to identify subjects at high risk of AD for prevention trials and very early in the course of AD for clinical trials of disease modification. The enhanced CADCs will allow more flexibility among ADCs by supporting collaborative linkages with other institutions, and drawing upon a wider expertise from different locations.
This perspective paper describes the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) CADC Model as an illustrative example of how an existing ADC can be converted into a CADC by better utilization of Penn academic resources to address the wide range of problems concerning AD. The intent of this position paper is to stimulate thinking and foster the development of other or alternative models for a systems approach to the study of dementia and movement disorders.
Age-related variation in marker frequency can be a confounder in association studies, leading to both false positive and false negative findings and subsequently to inconsistent reproducibility. We have developed a simple method, based on a novel extension of moving average plots (MAP), which allows investigators to inspect the frequency data for hidden age-related variations. MAP uses the standard case-control association data and generates a birds-eye view of the frequency distributions across the age spectrum; a picture in which one can see if, how, and when the marker frequencies in cases differ from that in controls. The marker can be specified as an allele, genotype, haplotype, or environmental factor; and age can be age at onset, age when subject was last known to be unaffected, or duration of exposure. Signature patterns that emerge can help distinguish true disease associations from spurious associations due to age effects, age-varying associations from associations that are uniform across all ages, and associations with risk from associations with age-at-onset. Utility of MAP is illustrated by application to genetic and epidemiological association data for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. MAP is intended as a descriptive method, to complement standard statistical techniques. Although originally developed for age patterns, MAP is equally useful for visualizing any quantitative trait.
GWAS; MAPT; SNCA; APOE; coffee
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is common and highly heritable with many genes and gene variants associated with AD in one or more studies, including APOE ε2/ε3/ε4. However, the genetic backgrounds for normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD in terms of changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of Aβ1-42, T-tau, and P-tau181P, have not been clearly delineated. We carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in order to better define the genetic backgrounds to these three states in relation to CSF levels.
Subjects were participants in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). The GWAS dataset consisted of 818 participants (mainly Caucasian) genotyped using the Illumina Human Genome 610 Quad BeadChips. This sample included 410 subjects (119 Normal, 115 MCI and 176 AD) with measurements of CSF Aβ1-42, T-tau, and P-tau181P Levels. We used PLINK to find genetic associations with the three CSF biomarker levels. Association of each of the 498,205 SNPs was tested using additive, dominant, and general association models while considering APOE genotype and age. Finally, an effort was made to better identify relevant biochemical pathways for associated genes using the ALIGATOR software.
We found that there were some associations with APOE genotype although CSF levels were about the same for each subject group; CSF Aβ1-42 levels decreased with APOE gene dose for each subject group. T-tau levels tended to be higher among AD cases than among normal subjects. From adjusted result using APOE genotype and age as covariates, no SNP was associated with CSF levels among AD subjects. CYP19A1 'aromatase' (rs2899472), NCAM2, and multiple SNPs located on chromosome 10 near the ARL5B gene demonstrated the strongest associations with Aβ1-42 in normal subjects. Two genes found to be near the top SNPs, CYP19A1 (rs2899472, p = 1.90 × 10-7) and NCAM2 (rs1022442, p = 2.75 × 10-7) have been reported as genetic factors related to the progression of AD from previous studies. In AD subjects, APOE ε2/ε3 and ε2/ε4 genotypes were associated with elevated T-tau levels and ε4/ε4 genotype was associated with elevated T-tau and P-tau181P levels. Pathway analysis detected several biological pathways implicated in Normal with CSF β-amyloid peptide (Aβ1-42).
Our genome-wide association analysis identified several SNPs as important factors for CSF biomarker. We also provide new evidence for additional candidate genetic risk factors from pathway analysis that can be tested in further studies.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/parkinsonism–dementia complex (ALS/PDC) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease found in the Chamorro people of Guam and other Pacific Island populations. The etiology is unknown, although both genetic and environmental factors appear important. To identify loci for ALS/PDC, we conducted both genome-wide linkage and association analyses, using approximately 400 microsatellite markers, in the largest sample assembled to date, comprising a nearly complete sample of all living and previously sampled deceased cases. A single, large, complex pedigree was ascertained from a village on Guam, with smaller families and a case–control sample ascertained from the rest of Guam by population-based neurological screening and archival review. We found significant evidence for two regions with novel ALS/PDC loci on chromosome 12 and supportive evidence for the involvement of the MAPT region on chromosome 17. D12S1617 on 12p gave the strongest evidence of linkage (maximum LOD score, Zmax = 4.03) in our initial scan, with additional support in the complete case–control sample in the form of evidence of allelic association at this marker and another nearby marker. D12S79 on 12q also provided significant evidence of linkage (Zmax = 3.14) with support from flanking markers. Our results suggest that ALS/PDC may be influenced by as many as three loci, while illustrating challenges that are intrinsic in genetic analyses of isolated populations, as well as analytical strategies that are useful in this context. Elucidation of the genetic basis of ALS/PDC should improve our understanding of related neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, frontotemporal dementia and ALS.
The apolipoprotein ε4 allele (APOE*4) is a major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and has been associated with altered cortical activation as assessed by functional neuroimaging in cognitively normal younger and older carriers. We chose to evaluate medial temporal lobe (MTL) activation during encoding and recognition using a perspective dependent (route or survey) visuospatial memory task by monitoring the blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) fMRI response in older, non-demented APOE*4 carriers (APOE*4+) and non-carriers (APOE*4−). During encoding, the APOE*4− group had greater average task-associated BOLD responses in ventral visual pathways, including the MTLs, as compared to the APOE*4+ group. Furthermore, MTL activation was greater during route encoding than survey encoding on average in APOE*4−, but not APOE*4+, subjects. During recognition, both groups performed similarly and no BOLD signal differences were found. Finally, within-group analysis revealed MTL activation during encoding was correlated with recognition performance in APOE*4−, but not APOE*4+ subjects. Reduced task-associated MTL activation that does not correlate with either visuospatial perspective or task performance suggests that MTL dysregulation occurs prior to clinical symptoms of dementia in APOE*4 carriers.
Alzheimer; Apolipoprotein; Hippocampus; APOE*4; Perspective; Visuospatial learning; Encoding; Recognition; fMRI; Route; Survey
Expression of human tau in Caenorhabditis elegans neurons causes accumulation of aggregated tau leading to neurodegeneration and uncoordinated movement. We used this model of human tauopathy disorders to screen for genes required for tau neurotoxicity. Recessive loss-of-function mutations in the sut-2 locus suppress the Unc phenotype, tau aggregation and neurodegenerative changes caused by human tau. We cloned the sut-2 gene and found it encodes a novel sub-type of CCCH zinc finger protein conserved across animal phyla. SUT-2 shares significant identity with the mammalian SUT-2 (MSUT-2). To identify SUT-2 interacting proteins, we conducted a yeast two hybrid screen and found SUT-2 binds to ZYG-12, the sole C. elegans HOOK protein family member. Likewise, SUT-2 binds ZYG-12 in in vitro protein binding assays. Furthermore, loss of ZYG-12 leads to a marked upregulation of SUT-2 protein supporting the connection between SUT-2 and ZYG-12. The human genome encodes three homologs of ZYG-12: HOOK1, HOOK2 and HOOK3. Of these, the human ortholog of SUT-2 (MSUT-2) binds only to HOOK2 suggesting the interaction between SUT-2 and HOOK family proteins is conserved across animal phyla. The identification of sut-2 as a gene required for tau neurotoxicity in C. elegans may suggest new neuroprotective strategies capable of arresting tau pathogenesis in tauopathy disorders.
Alterations in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau and β–amyloid peptide 1–42 (Aβ42) levels and rates of cerebral glucose (CMRglu) on fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) occur years before clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) become manifest, but their relationship remains unclear.
To determine whether CSF AD biomarker levels and CMRglu in healthy individuals correlate in brain structures affected early in AD.
Alzheimer’s disease research center.
Twenty individuals without dementia, aged 46 to 83 years.
Lumbar CSF sampling and FDG-PET imaging of CMRglu. The CSF Aβ42, tau, and tau phosphorylated at threonine 181 (p–tau181) levels were measured using immunobead–based multiplex assays.
Main Outcome Measures
Correlations between CMRglu and CSF biomarker levels were analyzed via voxel–based and volume–of–interest approaches.
Voxel–based analyses demonstrated significant negative correlations between CSF tau and p–tau181 levels and CMRglu in the posterior cingulate, precuneus, and parahippocampal regions. In contrast, a limited positive correlation was found between CSF Aβ42 levels and CMRglu in the inferior temporal cortex. Volume–of–interest analyses confirmed negative associations between CSF tau and p–tau181 levels and CMRglu in the parietal and medial parietal lobes and a positive association between CSF Aβ42 levels and CMRglu in the parahippocampal gyrus.
In healthy individuals, higher CSF tau and p–tau181 concentrations were associated with more severe hypometabolism in several brain regions affected very early in AD, whereas lower CSF Aβ42 concentrations were associated with hypometabolism only in the medial temporal lobe. This suggests that early tau and Aβ abnormalities may be associated with subtle synaptic changes in brain regions vulnerable to AD. A longitudinal assessment of CSF and FDG–PET biomarkers is needed to determine whether these changes predict cognitive impairment and incipient AD.
Tau is a microtubule-associated protein implicated in neurodegenerative tauopathies. Alternative splicing of the tau gene (MAPT) generates six tau isoforms, distinguishable by the exclusion or inclusion of a repeat region of exon 10, that are referred to as 3-repeat (3R) and 4-repeat (4R) tau, respectively. We developed transgenic mouse models that express the entire human MAPT gene in the presence and absence of the mouse Mapt gene and compared the expression and regulation of mouse and human tau isoforms during development and in the young adult. We found differences between mouse and human tau in the regulation of exon 10 inclusion. Despite these differences, the isoform splicing pattern seen in normal human brain is replicated in our mouse models. In addition, we found that all tau, both in the neonate and young adult, is phosphorylated. We also examined the normal anatomic distribution of mouse and human tau isoforms in mouse brain. We observed developmental and species-specific variations in the expression of 3R and 4R-tau within the frontal cortex and hippocampus. In addition, there were differences in the cellular distribution of the isoforms. Mice transgenic for the human MAPT gene exhibited higher levels of neuronal cell body expression of tau compared to wild-type mice. This neuronal cell body expression of tau was limited to the 3R isoform, whereas expression of 4R tau was more “synaptic like”, with granular staining of neuropil rather than in neuronal cell bodies. These developmental and species-specific differences in the regulation and distribution of tau isoforms may be important to the understanding of normal and pathologic tau isoform expression.
splicing; phosphorylation; Alzheimer’s disease; frontotemporal dementia; 3-repeat and 4-repeat tau; tauopathy
Both insulin alone and the somatostatin analogue octreotide alone facilitate memory in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Since octreotide inhibits endogenous insulin secretion, the cognitive effects of insulin and octreotide may not be independent. This study tested the individual and interactive effects of insulin and octreotide on memory and plasma growth hormone (GH) levels in older adults. Participants were 16 memory-impaired (AD=7, amnestic mild cognitive impairment=9; apolipoprotein E [APOE] ε4- [no ε4 alleles]=9, ε4+ [1-2 ε4 alleles]=7) and 19 cognitively-intact older adults (APOE ε4-=17, ε4+=1). On separate days, fasting participants received counterbalanced infusions of (1) insulin (1 mU·kg-1·min-1) and dextrose to maintain euglycemia, (2) octreotide (150 μg/h), (3) insulin, dextrose, and octreotide, or (4) saline. Story recall was the principal endpoint. Insulin alone facilitated delayed recall for ε4-patients, relative to ε4+ patients (P=0.0012). Furthermore, ε4- patients with higher Mattis Dementia Rating Scale (DRS) scores had greater octreotide-induced memory facilitation (P=0.0298). For healthy adults, octreotide facilitated memory (P=0.0122). Unexpectedly, hyperinsulinemia with euglycemia increased GH levels in healthy controls (P=0.0299). Thus, insulin and octreotide appear to regulate memory in older adults. APOE ε4 genotype modulates responses to insulin and octreotide. Finally, insulin may regulate GH levels during euglycemia.
Alzheimer's disease (AD); apolipoprotein E (APOE); acetylcholine; growth hormone (GH); insulin; memory; mild cognitive impairment (MCI); octreotide; somatostatin
Mutations in the glucocerebrosidase (GBA) gene have been reported to modify risk for Parkinson disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). However, these findings have not been consistently replicated, and most studies have had substantial methodological shortcomings.
To better assess the role of GBA variants in altering risk for Lewy body disorders.
Four movement disorder clinics in the Seattle, Washington, area.
Seven hundred twenty-one patients with PD, 554 healthy control subjects, and 57 patients with DLB.
Main Outcome Measures
Disease status and presence or absence of the 2 most common GBA mutations (N370S and L444P).
We observed a significantly higher heterozygote frequency for the 2 mutations in patients with PD (2.9%; P<.001) and those with DLB (3.5%; P=.045) compared with control subjects (0.4%).
Our findings suggest that GBA mutations exert a large effect on susceptibility for Lewy body disorders at the individual level but are associated with a modest (approximately 3%) population-attributable risk in individuals of European ancestry.