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.