As APOE locus variants contribute to both risk of late-onset Alzheimer disease and differences in age-at-onset, it is important to know if other established late-onset Alzheimer disease risk loci also affect age-at-onset in cases.
To investigate the effects of known Alzheimer disease risk loci in modifying age-at-onset, and to estimate their cumulative effect on age-at-onset variation, using data from genome-wide association studies in the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC).
Design, Setting and Participants
The ADGC comprises 14 case-control, prospective, and family-based datasets with data on 9,162 Caucasian participants with Alzheimer’s occurring after age 60 who also had complete age-at-onset information, gathered between 1989 and 2011 at multiple sites by participating studies. Data on genotyped or imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) most significantly associated with risk at ten confirmed LOAD loci were examined in linear modeling of AAO, and individual dataset results were combined using a random effects, inverse variance-weighted meta-analysis approach to determine if they contribute to variation in age-at-onset. Aggregate effects of all risk loci on AAO were examined in a burden analysis using genotype scores weighted by risk effect sizes.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Age at disease onset abstracted from medical records among participants with late-onset Alzheimer disease diagnosed per standard criteria.
Analysis confirmed association of APOE with age-at-onset (rs6857, P=3.30×10−96), with associations in CR1 (rs6701713, P=7.17×10−4), BIN1 (rs7561528, P=4.78×10−4), and PICALM (rs561655, P=2.23×10−3) reaching statistical significance (P<0.005). Risk alleles individually reduced age-at-onset by 3-6 months. Burden analyses demonstrated that APOE contributes to 3.9% of variation in age-at-onset (R2=0.220) over baseline (R2=0.189) whereas the other nine loci together contribute to 1.1% of variation (R2=0.198).
Conclusions and Relevance
We confirmed association of APOE variants with age-at-onset among late-onset Alzheimer disease cases and observed novel associations with age-at-onset in CR1, BIN1, and PICALM. In contrast to earlier hypothetical modeling, we show that the combined effects of Alzheimer disease risk variants on age-at-onset are on the scale of, but do not exceed, the APOE effect. While the aggregate effects of risk loci on age-at-onset may be significant, additional genetic contributions to age-at-onset are individually likely to be small.
Alzheimer Disease; Alzheimer Disease Genetics; Alzheimer’s Disease - Pathophysiology; Genetics of Alzheimer Disease; Aging
Several studies have identified genes associated with alcohol use disorders, but the variation in each of these genes explains only a small portion of the genetic vulnerability. The goal of the present study was to perform a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in extended families from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) to identify novel genes affecting risk for alcohol dependence. To maximize the power of the extended family design we used a quantitative endophenotype, measured in all individuals: number of alcohol dependence symptoms endorsed (symptom count). Secondary analyses were performed to determine if the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with symptom count were also associated with the dichotomous phenotype, DSM-IV alcohol dependence. This family-based GWAS identified SNPs in C15orf53 that are strongly associated with DSM-IV alcohol (p=4.5×10−8, inflation corrected p=9.4×10−7). Results with DSM-IV alcohol dependence in the regions of interest support our findings with symptom count, though the associations were less significant. Attempted replications of the most promising association results were conducted in two independent samples: non-overlapping subjects from the Study of Addiction: Genes and Environment (SAGE) and the Australian twin-family study of alcohol use disorders (OZALC). Nominal association of C15orf53 with symptom count was observed in SAGE. The variant that showed strongest association with symptom count, rs12912251 and its highly correlated variants (D′=1, r2≥ 0.95), has previously been associated with risk for bipolar disorder.
DSM-IV alcohol dependence symptoms; Family-based GWAS; C15orf53; Quantitative traits
Autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease (ADAD) is caused by rare genetic
mutations in three specific genes, in contrast to late-onset Alzheimer
Disease (LOAD), which has a more polygenetic risk profile.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We analyzed functional connectivity in multiple brain resting state
networks (RSNs) in a cross-sectional cohort of ADAD (N=79) and LOAD (N=444)
human participants using resting state functional connectivity MRI
(rs-fcMRI) at multiple international academic sites.
Main Outcomes and Measures
For both types of AD, we quantified and compared functional
connectivity changes in RSNs as a function of dementia severity as measured
by clinical dementia rating (CDR). In ADAD, we qualitatively investigated
functional connectivity changes with respect to estimated years from onset
of symptoms within five RSNs.
Functional connectivity decreases with increasing CDR were similar
for both LOAD and ADAD in multiple RSNs. Ordinal logistic regression models
constructed in each type of AD accurately predicted CDR stage in the other,
further demonstrating similarity of functional connectivity loss in each
disease type. Among ADAD participants, functional connectivity in multiple
RSNs appeared qualitatively lower in asymptomatic mutation carriers near
their anticipated age of symptom onset compared to asymptomatic mutation
Conclusions and Relevance
rs-fcMRI changes with progressing AD severity are similar between
ADAD and LOAD. Rs-fcMRI may be a useful endpoint for LOAD and ADAD therapy
trials. ADAD disease process may be an effective model for LOAD disease
Resting-state functional connectivity; autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease; late-onset Alzheimer's disease; default mode network; apolipoprotein E (APOE)
A subset of frontotemporal dementia cases are neuropathologically defined by tau negative, TDP-43 and ubiquitin positive inclusions in the brain and are associated with mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN). Deep sequencing of families exhibiting late onset dementia revealed several novel variants in the GRN gene. Due to the small size of these families and limited availability of samples, it was not possible to determine whether the variants segregated with disease. Furthermore, none of these families had autopsy confirmation of diagnosis. We sought to determine if these novel GRN variants alter progranulin protein (PGRN) stability, PGRN secretion, and PGRN cleavage in cultured cells. All of the novel GRN variants behave like PGRN WT protein, suggesting that these variants represent rare polymorphisms. However, it remains possible that these variants affect other aspects of PGRN function or represent risk factors for dementia when combined with other modifying genes.
Late onset Alzheimer’s disease; frontotemporal dementia; progranulin; granulin
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) 42 amino acid species of amyloid beta (Aβ42) and tau levels are strongly correlated with the presence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology including amyloid plaques and neurodegeneration and have been successfully used as endophenotypes for genetic studies of AD. Additional CSF analytes may also serve as useful endophenotypes that capture other aspects of AD pathophysiology. Here we have conducted a genome-wide association study of CSF levels of 59 AD-related analytes. All analytes were measured using the Rules Based Medicine Human DiscoveryMAP Panel, which includes analytes relevant to several disease-related processes. Data from two independently collected and measured datasets, the Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) and Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), were analyzed separately, and combined results were obtained using meta-analysis. We identified genetic associations with CSF levels of 5 proteins (Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2), Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 4 (CCL4), Interleukin 6 receptor (IL6R) and Matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP3)) with study-wide significant p-values (p<1.46×10−10) and significant, consistent evidence for association in both the Knight ADRC and the ADNI samples. These proteins are involved in amyloid processing and pro-inflammatory signaling. SNPs associated with ACE, IL6R and MMP3 protein levels are located within the coding regions of the corresponding structural gene. The SNPs associated with CSF levels of CCL4 and CCL2 are located in known chemokine binding proteins. The genetic associations reported here are novel and suggest mechanisms for genetic control of CSF and plasma levels of these disease-related proteins. Significant SNPs in ACE and MMP3 also showed association with AD risk. Our findings suggest that these proteins/pathways may be valuable therapeutic targets for AD. Robust associations in cognitively normal individuals suggest that these SNPs also influence regulation of these proteins more generally and may therefore be relevant to other diseases.
The use of quantitative endophenotypes from cerebrospinal fluid has led to the identification of several genetic variants that alter risk or rate of progression of Alzheimer's disease. Here we have analyzed the levels of 58 disease-related proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid for association with millions of variants across the human genome. We have identified significant, replicable associations with 5 analytes, Angiotensin-converting enzyme, Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2, Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 4, Interleukin 6 receptor and Matrix metalloproteinase-3. Our results suggest that these variants play a regulatory role in the respective protein levels and are relevant to the inflammatory and amyloid processing pathways. Variants in associated with ACE and those associated with MMP3 levels also show association with risk for Alzheimer's disease in the expected directions. These associations are consistent in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma and in samples with only cognitively normal individuals suggesting that they are relevant in the regulation of these protein levels beyond the context of Alzheimer's disease.
To use principal component analyses (PCA) of Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) PET imaging to determine whether the pattern of in vivo β-amyloid (Aβ) in Parkinson disease (PD) with cognitive impairment is similar to the pattern found in symptomatic Alzheimer disease (AD).
PiB PET scans were obtained from participants with PD with cognitive impairment (n = 53), participants with symptomatic AD (n = 35), and age-matched controls (n = 67). All were assessed using the Clinical Dementia Rating and APOE genotype was determined in 137 participants. PCA was used to 1) determine the PiB binding pattern in AD, 2) determine a possible unique PD pattern, and 3) directly compare the PiB binding patterns in PD and AD groups.
The first 2 principal components (PC1 and PC2) significantly separated the AD and control participants (p < 0.001). Participants with PD with cognitive impairment also were significantly different from participants with symptomatic AD on both components (p < 0.001). However, there was no difference between PD and controls on either component. Even those participants with PD with elevated mean cortical binding potentials were significantly different from participants with AD on both components.
Using PCA, we demonstrated that participants with PD with cognitive impairment do not exhibit the same PiB binding pattern as participants with AD. These data suggest that Aβ deposition may play a different pathophysiologic role in the cognitive impairment of PD compared to that in AD.
Rare mutations in AβPP, PSEN1, and PSEN2 cause uncommon early onset forms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and common variants in MAPT are associated with risk of other neurodegenerative disorders. We sought to establish whether common genetic variation in these genes confer risk to the common form of AD which occurs later in life (>65 years). We therefore tested single-nucleotide polymorphisms at these loci for association with late-onset AD (LOAD) in a large case-control sample consisting of 3,940 cases and 13,373 controls. Single-marker analysis did not identify any variants that reached genome-wide significance, a result which is supported by other recent genome-wide association studies. However, we did observe a significant association at the MAPT locus using a gene-wide approach (p = 0.009). We also observed suggestive association between AD and the marker rs9468, which defines the H1 haplotype, an extended haplotype that spans the MAPT gene and has previously been implicated in other neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration. In summary common variants at AβPP, PSEN1, and PSEN2 and MAPT are unlikely to make strong contributions to susceptibility for LOAD. However, the gene-wide effect observed at MAPT indicates a possible contribution to disease risk which requires further study.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β protein precursor; genetics; human; MAPT protein; PSEN1 protein; PSEN2 protein
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several risk
variants for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD)1,2. These
common variants have replicable but small effects on LOAD risk and generally do
not have obvious functional effects. Low-frequency coding variants, not detected
by GWAS, are predicted to include functional variants with larger effects on
risk. To identify low frequency coding variants with large effects on LOAD risk,
we performed whole exome-sequencing (WES) in 14 large LOAD families and
follow-up analyses of the candidate variants in several large case-control
datasets. A rare variant in PLD3 (phospholipase-D family,
member 3, rs145999145; V232M) segregated with disease status in two independent
families and doubled risk for AD in seven independent case-control series (V232M
meta-analysis; OR= 2.10, CI=1.47-2.99; p= 2.93×10-5, 11,354
cases and controls of European-descent). Gene-based burden analyses in 4,387
cases and controls of European-descent and 302 African American cases and
controls, with complete sequence data for PLD3, indicate that
several variants in this gene increase risk for AD in both populations (EA: OR=
2.75, CI=2.05-3.68; p=1.44×10-11, AA: OR= 5.48, CI=1.77-16.92;
p=1.40×10-3). PLD3 is highly expressed in
brain regions vulnerable to AD pathology, including hippocampus and cortex, and
is expressed at lower levels in neurons from AD brains compared to control
brains (p=8.10×10-10). Over-expression of PLD3 leads to a
significant decrease in intracellular APP and extracellular Aβ42 and
Aβ40, while knock-down of PLD3 leads to a significant increase in
extracellular Aβ42 and Aβ40. Together, our genetic and functional
data indicate that carriers of PLD3 coding variants have a
two-fold increased risk for LOAD and that PLD3 influences APP
processing. This study provides an example of how densely affected families may
be used to identify rare variants with large effects on risk for disease or
other complex traits.
Alcohol dependence (AD) is a heritable substance addiction with adverse physical and psychological consequences, representing a major health and economic burden on societies worldwide. Genes thus far implicated via linkage, candidate gene and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) account for only a small fraction of its overall risk, with effects varying across ethnic groups. Here we investigate the genetic architecture of alcoholism and report on the extent to which common, genome-wide SNPs collectively account for risk of AD in two US populations, African-Americans (AAs) and European-Americans (EAs). Analyzing GWAS data for two independent case-control sample sets, we compute polymarker scores that are significantly associated with alcoholism (P=1.64 × 10−3 and 2.08 × 10−4 for EAs and AAs, respectively), reflecting the small individual effects of thousands of variants derived from patterns of allelic architecture that are population-specific. Simulations show that disease models based on rare and uncommon causal variants (MAF<0.05) best fit the observed distribution of polymarker signals. When scoring bins were annotated for gene location and examined for constituent biological networks, gene enrichment is observed for several cellular processes and functions in both EA and AA populations, transcending their underlying allelic differences. Our results reveal key insights into the complex etiology of AD, raising the possibility of an important role for rare and uncommon variants, and identify polygenic mechanisms that encompass a spectrum of disease liability, with some, such as chloride transporters and glycine metabolism genes, displaying subtle, modifying effects that are likely to escape detection in most GWAS designs.
alcohol dependence; GWAS; polymarker scores; synthetic association; rare variants; pathway analysis
Alzheimer's disease is a common debilitating dementia with known heritability, for which 20 late onset susceptibility loci have been identified, but more remain to be discovered. This study sought to identify new susceptibility genes, using an alternative gene-wide analytical approach which tests for patterns of association within genes, in the powerful genome-wide association dataset of the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project Consortium, comprising over 7 m genotypes from 25,580 Alzheimer's cases and 48,466 controls.
In addition to earlier reported genes, we detected genome-wide significant loci on chromosomes 8 (TP53INP1, p = 1.4×10−6) and 14 (IGHV1-67 p = 7.9×10−8) which indexed novel susceptibility loci.
The additional genes identified in this study, have an array of functions previously implicated in Alzheimer's disease, including aspects of energy metabolism, protein degradation and the immune system and add further weight to these pathways as potential therapeutic targets in Alzheimer's disease.
Eleven susceptibility loci for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) were identified by previous studies; however, a large portion of the genetic risk for this disease remains unexplained. We conducted a large, two-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in individuals of European ancestry. In stage 1, we used genotyped and imputed data (7,055,881 SNPs) to perform meta-analysis on 4 previously published GWAS data sets consisting of 17,008 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 37,154 controls. In stage 2,11,632 SNPs were genotyped and tested for association in an independent set of 8,572 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 11,312 controls. In addition to the APOE locus (encoding apolipoprotein E), 19 loci reached genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8) in the combined stage 1 and stage 2 analysis, of which 11 are newly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. Accordingly, effort has been devoted to determining the genetic variants that contribute to smoking risk. Genome-wide association studies have identified several variants in nicotinic acetylcholine receptor genes that contribute to nicotine dependence risk. We previously undertook pooled sequencing of the coding regions and flanking sequence of the CHRNA5, CHRNA3, CHRNB4, CHRNA6 and CHRNB3 genes and found that rare missense variants at conserved residues in CHRNB4 are associated with reduced risk of nicotine dependence among African Americans. We identified 10 low frequency (<5%) non-synonymous variants in CHRNB4 and investigated functional effects by co-expression with normal α3 or α4 subunits in human embryonic kidney cells. Voltage-clamp was used to obtain acetylcholine and nicotine concentration–response curves and qRT-PCR, western blots and cell-surface ELISAs were performed to assess expression levels. These results were used to functionally weight genetic variants in a gene-based association test. We find that there is a highly significant correlation between carrier status weighted by either acetylcholine EC50 (β = −0.67, r2 = 0.017, P = 2×10−4) or by response to low nicotine (β = −0.29, r2 = 0.02, P = 6×10−5) when variants are expressed with the α3 subunit. In contrast, there is no significant association when carrier status is unweighted (β = −0.04, r2 = 0.0009, P = 0.54). These results highlight the value of functional analysis of variants and the advantages to integrating such data into genetic studies. They also suggest that an increased sensitivity to low concentrations of nicotine is protective from the risk of developing nicotine dependence.
Late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD), defined as onset of symptoms after age 65 years, is the most common form of dementia. Few reports investigate incidence rates in large family-based studies in which the participants were selected for family history of LOAD.
To determine the incidence rates of dementia and LOAD in unaffected members in the National Institute on Aging Genetics Initiative for Late-Onset Alzheimer Disease/National Cell Repository for Alzheimer Disease (NIA-LOAD/NCRAD) and Estudio Familiar de Influencia Genetica en Alzheimer (EFIGA) family studies.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS
Families with 2 or more affected siblings who had a clinical or pathological diagnosis of LOAD were recruited as a part of the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD Family Study. A cohort of Caribbean Hispanics with familial LOAD was recruited in a different study at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain in New York and from clinics in the Dominican Republic as part of the EFIGA study.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES
Age-specific incidence rates of LOAD were estimated in the unaffected family members in the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD and EFIGA data sets. We restricted analyses to families with follow-up and complete phenotype information, including 396 NIA-LOAD/NCRAD and 242 EFIGA families. Among the 943 at-risk family members in the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD families, 126 (13.4%) developed dementia, of whom 109 (86.5%) met criteria for LOAD. Among 683 at-risk family members in the EFIGA families, 174 (25.5%) developed dementia during the study period, of whom 145 (83.3%) had LOAD.
The annual incidence rates of dementia and LOAD in the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD families per person-year were 0.03 and 0.03, respectively, in participants aged 65 to 74 years; 0.07 and 0.06, respectively, in those aged 75 to 84 years; and 0.08 and 0.07, respectively, in those 85 years or older. Incidence rates in the EFIGA families were slightly higher, at 0.03 and 0.02, 0.06 and 0.05, 0.10 and 0.08, and 0.10 and 0.07, respectively, in the same age groups. Contrasting these results with the population-based estimates, the incidence was increased by 3-fold for NIA-LOAD/NCRAD families (standardized incidence ratio, 3.44) and 2-fold among the EFIGA compared with the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD families (1.71).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
The incidence rates for familial dementia and LOAD in the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD and EFIGA families are significantly higher than population-based estimates. The incidence rates in all groups increase with age. The higher incidence of LOAD can be explained by segregation of Alzheimer disease–related genes in these families or shared environmental risks.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau, tau phosphorylated at threonine 181 (ptau) and Aβ42 are established biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), and have been used as quantitative traits for genetic analyses. We performed the largest genome-wide association study for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau/ptau levels published to date (n=1,269), identifying three novel genome-wide significant loci for CSF tau and ptau: rs9877502 (P=4.89×10−9 for tau) located at 3q28 between GEMC1 and OSTN, rs514716 (P=1.07×10−8 and P=3.22×10−9 for tau and ptau respectively), located at 9p24.2 within GLIS3 and rs6922617 (P = 3.58×10−8 for CSF ptau) at 6p21.1 within the TREM gene cluster, a region recently reported to harbor rare variants that increase AD risk. In independent datasets rs9877502 showed a strong association with risk for AD, tangle pathology and global cognitive decline (P=2.67×10−4, 0.039, 4.86×10−5 respectively) illustrating how this endophenotype-based approach can be used to identify new AD risk loci.
Recent large-scale genetic studies of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) have identified risk variants in CALHM1, GAB2 and SORL1. The mechanisms by which these genes might modulate risk are not definitively known. CALHM1 and SORL1 may alter amyloid-beta (Aβ) levels and GAB2 may influence phosphorylation of the tau protein. In this study we have analyzed disease associated genetic variants in each of these genes for association with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Aβ or tau levels in 602 samples from two independent CSF series. We failed to detect association between CSF Aβ42 levels and SNPs in SORL1 despite substantial statistical power to detect association. While we also failed to detect association between variants in GAB2 and CSF tau levels, power to detect this association was limited. Finally, our data suggest that the minor allele of rs2986017, in CALHM1, is marginally associated with CSF Aβ42 levels. This association is consistent with previous reports that this non-synonymous coding substitution results in increased Aβ levels in vitro and provides support for an Aβ-related mechanism for modulating risk for AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; genetics; association; endophenotypes; amyloid; tau; CALHM1; SORL1; GAB2
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by neuronal loss and the accumulation of β-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of β-amyloid and tau/ptau181 are also associated with AD. We have previously demonstrated that a single nucleotide polymorphism in calcineurin is associated with CSF ptau181 levels and AD progression. In this study, we demonstrate that calcineurin protein levels are inversely correlated with dementia severity and Braak tangle stage in AD brains, and calcineurin activity is globally reduced in AD brains. We then sought to model the observed changes in CSF tau by measuring extracellular tau in cultured cells. SH-SY5Y cells treated with calcineurin inhibitors produced reduced calcineurin activity and a corresponding increase in extracellular ptau181. These findings are consistent with our observations in AD patients, who have elevated CSF ptau181 and reduced calcineurin activity in brain extracts. Thus, we have identified a gene that contributes to AD pathology and has functional consequences on tau metabolism in cultured cells.
Calcineurin; tau; Alzheimer’s disease; phosphorylation
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.
Variants within the gene cluster encoding α3, α5, and β4 nicotinic receptor subunits are major risk factors for substance dependence. The strongest impact on risk is associated with variation in the CHRNA5 gene, where at least two mechanisms are at work: amino acid variation and altered mRNA expression levels. The risk allele of the non-synonymous variant (rs16969968; D398N) primarily occurs on the haplotype containing the low mRNA expression allele. In populations of European ancestry, there are approximately 50 highly correlated variants in the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 gene cluster and the adjacent PSMA4 gene region that are associated with CHRNA5 mRNA levels. It is not clear which of these variants contribute to the changes in CHRNA5 transcript level. Because populations of African ancestry have reduced linkage disequilibrium among variants spanning this gene cluster, eQTL mapping in subjects of African ancestry could potentially aid in defining the functional variants that affect CHRNA5 mRNA levels. We performed quantitative allele specific gene expression using frontal cortices derived from 49 subjects of African ancestry and 111 subjects of European ancestry. This method measures allele-specific transcript levels in the same individual, which eliminates other biological variation that occurs when comparing expression levels between different samples. This analysis confirmed that substance dependence associated variants have a direct cis-regulatory effect on CHRNA5 transcript levels in human frontal cortices of African and European ancestry and identified 10 highly correlated variants, located in a 9 kb region, that are potential functional variants modifying CHRNA5 mRNA expression levels.
Nicotine dependence is a highly heritable disorder associated with severe medical morbidity and mortality. Recent meta-analyses have found novel genetic loci associated with cigarettes per day (CPD), a proxy for nicotine dependence. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the importance of phenotype definition (i.e. CPD versus Fagerström Test for Cigarette Dependence (FTCD) score as a measure of nicotine dependence) on genome-wide association studies of nicotine dependence.
Genome-wide association study
A total of 3,365 subjects who had smoked at least one cigarette were selected from the Study of Addiction: Genetics and Environment (SAGE). Of the participants, 2,267 were European Americans,999 were African Americans.
Nicotine dependence defined by FTCD score ≥4, CPD
The genetic locus most strongly associated with nicotine dependence was rs1451240 on chromosome 8 in the region of CHRNB3 (OR=0.65, p=2.4×10−8). This association was further strengthened in a meta-analysis with a previously published dataset (combined p=6.7 ×10−16, total n=4,200).When CPD was used as an alternate phenotype, the association no longer reached genome-wide significance (β=−0.08, p=0.0007).
Daily cigarette consumption and the Fagerstrom Test for Cigarette Dependence (FTCD) show different associations with polymorphisms in genetic loci.
The apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype is the major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). We have access to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma APOE protein levels from 641 individuals and genome-wide genotyped data from 570 of these samples. The aim of this study was to test whether CSF or plasma APOE levels could be a useful endophenotype for AD and to identify genetic variants associated with APOE levels. We found that CSF (P = 8.15 × 10−4) but not plasma (P = 0.071) APOE protein levels are significantly associated with CSF Aβ42 levels. We used Mendelian randomization and genetic variants as instrumental variables to confirm that the association of CSF APOE with CSF Aβ42 levels and clinical dementia rating (CDR) is not because of a reverse causation or confounding effect. In addition the association of CSF APOE with Aβ42 levels was independent of the APOE ɛ4 genotype, suggesting that APOE levels in CSF may be a useful endophenotype for AD. We performed a genome-wide association study to identify genetic variants associated with CSF APOE levels: the APOE ɛ4 genotype was the strongest single-genetic factor associated with CSF APOE protein levels (P = 6.9 × 10−13). In aggregate, the Illumina chip single nucleotide polymorphisms explain 72% of the variability in CSF APOE protein levels, whereas the APOE ɛ4 genotype alone explains 8% of the variability. No other genetic variant reached the genome-wide significance threshold, but nine additional variants exhibited a P-value <10−6. Pathway mining analysis indicated that these nine additional loci are involved in lipid metabolism (P = 4.49 × 10−9).
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
There is accumulating evidence that neurotrophins, like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), may impact aging and Alzheimer’s Disease. However, traditional genetic association studies have not found a clear relationship between BDNF and AD. Our goal was to test whether BDNF single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) impact Alzheimer’s Disease-related brain imaging and cognitive markers of disease. We completed an imaging genetics study on 645 Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative participants (ND=175, MCI=316, AD=154) who had cognitive, brain imaging, and genetics data at baseline and a subset of those with brain imaging data at two years. Samples were genotyped using the Illumina Human610-Quad BeadChip. 13 SNPs in BDNF were identified in the dataset following quality control measures (rs6265(Val66Met), rs12273363, rs11030094, rs925946, rs1050187, rs2203877, rs11030104, rs11030108, rs10835211, rs7934165, rs908867, rs1491850, rs1157459). We analyzed a subgroup of 8 SNPs that were in low linkage disequilibrium with each other. Automated brain morphometric measures were available through ADNI investigators, and we analyzed baseline cognitive scores, hippocampal and whole brain volumes, and rates of hippocampal and whole brain atrophy and rates of change in the ADAS-Cog over one and two years. Three out of eight BDNF SNPs analyzed were significantly associated with measures of cognitive decline (rs1157659, rs11030094, rs11030108). No SNPs were significantly associated with baseline brain volume measures, however six SNPs were significantly associated with hippocampal and/or whole brain atrophy over two years (rs908867, rs11030094, rs6265, rs10501087, rs1157659, rs1491850). We also found an interaction between the BDNF Val66Met SNP and age with whole brain volume. Our imaging-genetics analysis in a large dataset suggests that while BDNF genetic variation is not specifically associated with a diagnosis of AD, it appears to play a role in AD-related brain neurodegeneration.
A large segment of the population suffers from addiction to alcohol, smoking, or illicit drugs. Not only do substance abuse and addiction pose a threat to health, but the consequences of addiction also impose a social and economic burden on families, communities, and nations. Genome-wide linkage and association studies have been used for addiction research with varying degrees of success. The most well-established genetic factors associated with alcohol dependence are in the genes encoding alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which oxidizes alcohol to acetaldehyde, and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2), which oxidizes acetaldehyde to acetate. Recently emerging genetic studies have linked variants in the genes encoding the α3, α5, and β4 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunits to smoking risk. However, the influence of these well-established genetic variants accounts for only a small portion of the heritability of alcohol and nicotine addiction, and it is likely that there are both common and rare risk variants yet to be identified. Newly developed DNA sequencing technologies could potentially advance the detection of rare variants with a larger impact on addiction risk.
addiction; alcoholism; smoking; nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; alcohol metabolizing genes
Excessive alcohol use is the third leading cause of preventable death and is highly correlated with alcohol dependence, a heritable phenotype. Many genetic factors for alcohol dependence have been found, but many remain unknown. In search of additional genetic factors, we examined the association between DSM-IV alcohol dependence and all common copy number variations (CNV) with good reliability in the Study of Addiction: Genetics and Environment (SAGE).
All participants in SAGE were interviewed using the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA), as a part of three contributing studies. 2,610 non-Hispanic European American samples were genotyped on the Illumina Human 1M array. We performed CNV calling by CNVpartition, PennCNV and QuantiSNP and only CNVs identified by all three software programs were examined. Association was conducted with the CNV (as a deletion/duplication) as well as with probes in the CNV region. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to validate the CNVs in the laboratory.
CNVs in 6q14.1 (P= 1.04 × 10−6) and 5q13.2 (P= 3.37 × 10−4) were significantly associated with alcohol dependence after adjusting multiple tests. On chromosome 5q13.2 there were multiple candidate genes previously associated with various neurological disorders. The region on chromosome 6q14.1 is a gene desert that has been associated with mental retardation, and language delay. The CNV in 5q13.2 was validated whereas only a component of the CNV on 6q14.1 was validated by qPCR. Thus, the CNV on 6q14.1 should be viewed with caution.
This is the first study to show an association between DSM-IV alcohol dependence and CNVs. CNVs in regions previously associated with neurological disorders may be associated with alcohol dependence.
Copy Number Variations; Alcohol dependence; CNV Accuracy