Quantifying antigens in formalin-fixed tissue is challenging and limits investigation in population-based studies of brain aging. To address this major limitation, we have developed a new technique that we call “Histelide”: immunohistochemistry (HIST-) and ELISA (-EL-) performed on a glass slide (-IDE). We validated Histelide in sections of prefrontal cortex from 20 selected cases: 12 subjects with clinically and neuropathologically diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease (AD), either autosomal dominant or late-onset forms, and 8 clinical and neuropathologic Controls. AD cases had significantly increased amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide and paired helical filament– (PHF-) tau per area of neocortex that was proteinase K-sensitive, and significantly decreased amount of synaptophysin. We next investigated prefrontal cortex from 81 consecutive cases of high cognitive performers from the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, a population-based study of brain aging and incident dementia. As expected, latent AD was common in this group; however, our results quantified widely individually-varying levels of Aβ peptides and PHF-tau among these high cognitive performers. This novel approach obtains quantitative data from population-based studies, and our initial studies with high cognitive performers provide important quantitative insights into latent AD that should help guide expectations from neuroimaging and prevention studies.
Familial dyskinesia with facial myokymia (FDFM) is an autosomal dominant disorder that is exacerbated by anxiety. In a five-generation family of German ancestry we previously mapped FDFM to chromosome 3p21-3q21. The 72.5 Mbp linkage region was too large for traditional positional mutation identification.
To identify the gene responsible for FDFM by exome resequencing of a single affected individual.
Design, Setting and Participants
We performed whole exome sequencing in one affected individual and used a series of bioinformatic filters, including functional significance and presence in dbSNP or 1000 Genomes project, to reduce the number of candidate variants. Co-segregation analysis was performed in 15 additional individuals in three generations.
The exome contained 23428 single nucleotide variants, of which 9391 were missense, nonsense or splice site alterations. The critical region contained 323 variants, five of which were not present in one of the sequence-databases. Adenylate cyclase 5 (ADCY5) was the only gene in which the variant (c.2176G>A) was co-transmitted perfectly with disease status and was not present in 3510 control Caucasian exomes. This residue is highly conserved and the change is nonconservative and predicted to be damaging.
ADCY5 is highly expressed in striatum. Mice deficient in Adcy5 develop a movement disorder that is worsened by stress. We conclude that FDFM likely results from a missense mutation in ADCY5. This study demonstrates the power of a single exome sequence in combination with linkage information to identify causative genes for rare autosomal dominant Mendelian diseases.
TDP-43 is a major component of the ubiquitinated inclusions that characterise amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin inclusions (FTLD-U). TDP-43 is an RNA-binding and DNA-binding protein that has many functions and is encoded by the TAR DNA-binding protein gene (TARDBP) on chromosome 1. Our aim was to investigate whether TARDBP is a candidate disease gene for familial ALS that is not associated with mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1).
TARDBP was sequenced in 259 patients with ALS, FTLD, or both. We used TaqMan-based SNP genotyping to screen for the identifi ed variants in control groups matched to two kindreds of patients for age and ethnic origin. Additional clinical, genetic, and pathological assessments were made in these two families.
We identified two variants, p.Gly290Ala and p.Gly298Ser, in TARDBP in two familial ALS kindreds and we observed TDP-43 neuropathology in the CNS tissue available from one family. The variants are considered pathogenic mutations because they co-segregate with disease in both families, are absent in ethnically-matched controls, and are associated with TDP-43 neuropathology in several family members.
The p.Gly290Ala and p.Gly298Ser mutations are located in the glycine-rich domain that regulates gene expression and mediates protein-protein interactions; in particular TDP-43 binds to heterogeneous ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) via this domain. We postulate that due to the varied and important cellular functions of TDP-43, these mutations may cause neurodegeneration through both gains and losses of function. The finding of TARDBP mutations implicates TDP-43 as an active mediator of neurodegeneration in a novel class of disorders, TDP-43 proteinopathies, a class of disorder that includes ALS and FTLD-U.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder of late life with a complex genetic basis. Although several genes are known to play a role in rare early-onset AD, only the APOE gene is known to have a high contribution to risk of the common late-onset form of the disease (LOAD, onset > 60 years). APOE genotypes vary in their AD risk as well as age-at-onset distributions, and it is likely that other loci will similarly affect AD age-at-onset. Here we present the first analysis of age-at-onset in the NIMH LOAD sample that allows for both a multilocus trait model and genetic heterogeneity among the contributing sites, while at the same time accommodating age censoring, effects of known genetic covariates, and full pedigree and marker information. The results provide evidence for genomic regions not previously implicated in this data set, including regions on chromosomes 7q, 15, and 19p. They also affirm evidence for loci on chromosomes 1q, 6p, 9q, 11, and, of course, the APOE locus on 19q, all of which have been reported previously in the same sample. The analyses failed to find evidence for linkage to chromosome 10 with inclusion of unaffected subjects and extended pedigrees. Several regions implicated in these analyses in the NIMH sample have been previously reported in genome scans of other AD samples. These results, therefore, provide independent confirmation of AD loci in family-based samples on chromosomes 1q, 7q, 19p, and suggest that further efforts towards identifying the underlying causal loci are warranted.
MCMC; oligogenic; Bayesian; dementia; linkage analysis
Alzheimer disease (AD) associated (gamma)-secretase components presenilin-1 and -2 accumulate in MAM, an LR-like ER subcompartment connected to mitochondria. MAM function increases in patients with familial or sporadic AD and may be linked to AD pathogenesis.
Alzheimer disease (AD) is associated with aberrant processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by γ-secretase, via an unknown mechanism. We recently showed that presenilin-1 and -2, the catalytic components of γ-secretase, and γ-secretase activity itself, are highly enriched in a subcompartment of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that is physically and biochemically connected to mitochondria, called mitochondria-associated ER membranes (MAMs). We now show that MAM function and ER–mitochondrial communication—as measured by cholesteryl ester and phospholipid synthesis, respectively—are increased significantly in presenilin-mutant cells and in fibroblasts from patients with both the familial and sporadic forms of AD. We also show that MAM is an intracellular detergent-resistant lipid raft (LR)-like domain, consistent with the known presence of presenilins and γ-secretase activity in rafts. These findings may help explain not only the aberrant APP processing but also a number of other biochemical features of AD, including altered lipid metabolism and calcium homeostasis. We propose that upregulated MAM function at the ER–mitochondrial interface, and increased cross-talk between these two organelles, may play a hitherto unrecognized role in the pathogenesis of AD.
APP; cholesterol; MAM; phospholipids; presenilin
The CCR5 chemokine receptor acts as a coreceptor with CD4 to permit infection by primary macrophage-tropic human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) strains. The CCR5Δ32 mutation, which is associated with resistance to infection in homozygous individuals and delayed disease progression in heterozygous individuals, is rare in Africa, where the HIV-1 epidemic is growing rapidly. Several polymorphisms in the promoter region of CCR5 have been identified, the clinical and functional relevance of which remain poorly defined. We evaluated the effect of 4 CCR5 promoter mutations on systemic and mucosal HIV-1 replication, disease progression, and perinatal transmission in a cohort of 276 HIV-1–seropositive women in Nairobi, Kenya. Mutations at positions 59353, 59402, and 59029 were not associated with effects on mortality, virus load, genital shedding, or transmission in this cohort. However, women with the 59356 C/T genotype had a 3.1-fold increased risk of death during the 2-year follow-up period (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0–9.5) and a significant increase in vaginal shedding of HIV-1–infected cells (odds ratio, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.0–4.3), compared with women with the 59356 C/C genotype.
Alzheimer disease is the most common cause of dementia. It occurs worldwide and affects all ethnic groups. The incidence of Alzheimer disease is increasing due, in part, to increased life expectancy and the aging baby boomer generation. The average lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer disease is 10–12%. This risk at least doubles with the presence of a first-degree relative with the disorder. Despite its limited utility, patients express concern over their risk and, in some instances, request testing. Furthermore, research has demonstrated that testing individuals for apoli-poprotein E can be valuable and safe in certain contexts. However, because of the complicated genetic nature of the disorder, few clinicians are prepared to address the genetic risks of Alzheimer disease with their patients. Given the increased awareness in family history thanks to family history campaigns, the increasing incidence of Alzheimer disease, and the availability of direct to consumer testing, patient requests for information is increasing. This practice guideline provides clinicians with a framework for assessing their patients’ genetic risk for Alzheimer disease, identifying which individuals may benefit from genetic testing, and providing the key elements of genetic counseling for AD.
Alzheimer disease; dementia; guideline; genetic testing; genetic counseling
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.
Familial Alzheimer’s disease (AD) due to PSEN1 mutations provides an opportunity to examine AD biomarkers in persons in whom the diagnosis is certain.
We describe a 55 year-old woman with clinically probable AD and a novel PSEN1 mutation who underwent genetic, clinical, biochemical and magnetic resonance and nuclear imaging assessments. We also describe neuropathological findings in her similarly affected brother.
Neuropsychological testing confirmed deficits in memory, visuospatial and language function. CSF t-tau and p-tau181 were markedly elevated and Aβ42 levels reduced. FDG-PET revealed hypometabolism in the left parietotemporal cortex. FDDNP-PET showed increased binding of tracer in medial temporal and parietal lobes and in the head of the caudate and anterior putamen bilaterally. Neuropathological examination of her brother showed the typical findings of AD and the striatum demonstrated amyloid pathology and marked neurofibrillary pathology beyond that typically seen in late-onset AD. A novel S212Y substitution in PSEN1 was present in the index patient and her affected brother but not in an older unaffected sister. An in-vitro assay in which the S212Y mutation was introduced in cell culture confirmed that it was associated with increased production of Aβ42.
We describe biochemical, imaging, and neuropathological changes in a pedigree with a novel PSEN1 mutation. This allows us to validate the pathogenicity of this mutation and the indices used to assess AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; PSEN1; S212Y; amyloid imaging; FDDNP; cerebrospinal fluid; FDG; Positron emission tomography; tau; beta-amyloid; striatum
The study aim was to estimate the genetic contribution to individual differences in different forms of memory in a large family-based group of older adults. As part of the Late Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Family Study, 899 persons (277 with Alzheimer’s disease, 622 unaffected) from 325 families completed a battery of memory tests from which previously established composite measures of episodic memory, semantic memory, and working memory were derived. Heritability in these measures was estimated using the maximum likelihood variance component method, controlling for age, sex, and education. In analyses of unaffected family members, the adjusted heritability estimates were 0.62 for episodic memory, 0.49 for semantic memory, and 0.72 for working memory, where a heritability estimate of 1 indicates that genetic factors explain all of the phenotypic variance and a heritability of 0 indicates that genetic factors explain none. Adjustment for APOE genotype had little effect on these estimates. When analyses included affected and unaffected family members, adjusted heritability estimates were lower (0.47 for episodic memory, 0.32 for semantic memory, 0.42 for working memory). Adjusting for APOE slightly reduced the estimate for episodic memory (0.40) but had no effect on the remaining estimates. The results indicate that memory functions are under strong genetic influence in older persons with and without AD, only partly attributable to APOE. This suggests that genetic analyses of memory endophenotypes may help to identify genetic variants associated with AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; memory; heritability; apolipoprotein E
The Alzheimer Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC) performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) using a 3 stage design consisting of a discovery stage (Stage 1) and two replication stages (Stages 2 and 3). Both joint and meta-analysis analysis approaches were used. We obtained genome-wide significant results at MS4A4A [rs4938933; Stages 1+2, meta-analysis (PM) = 1.7 × 10−9, joint analysis (PJ) = 1.7 × 10−9; Stages 1–3, PM = 8.2 × 10−12], CD2AP (rs9349407; Stages 1–3, PM = 8.6 × 10−9), EPHA1 (rs11767557; Stages 1–3 PM = 6.0 × 10−10), and CD33 (rs3865444; Stages 1–3, PM = 1.6 × 10−9). We confirmed that CR1 (rs6701713; PM = 4.6×10−10, PJ = 5.2×10−11), CLU (rs1532278; PM = 8.3 × 10−8, PJ = 1.9×10−8), BIN1 (rs7561528; PM = 4.0×10−14; PJ = 5.2×10−14), and PICALM (rs561655; PM = 7.0 × 10−11, PJ = 1.0×10−10) but not EXOC3L2 are LOAD risk loci1–3.
An X-linked myopathy was recently associated with mutations in the four-and-a-half-LIM domains 1 (FHL1) gene. We identified a family with late onset, slowly progressive weakness of scapuloperoneal muscles in three brothers and their mother. A novel missense mutation in the LIM2 domain of FHL1 (W122C) co-segregated with disease in the family. The phenotype was less severe than that in other reported families. Muscle biopsy revealed myopathic changes with FHL1 inclusions that were ubiquitin- and desmin-positive. This mutation provides additional evidence for X-linked myopathy caused by a narrow spectrum of mutations in FHL1, mostly in the LIM2 domain. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the newly identified mutation and five previously published missense mutations in the LIM2 domain revealed no major distortions of the protein structure or disruption of zinc binding. There were, however, increases in the nonpolar, solvent-accessible surface area in one or both of two clusters of residues, suggesting that the mutant proteins have a variably increased propensity to aggregate. Review of the literature shows a wide range of phenotypes associated with mutations in FHL1. However, recognizing the typical scapuloperoneal phenotype and X-linked inheritance pattern will help clinicians arrive at the correct diagnosis.
X-linked myopathy; scapuloperoneal; FHL1; neurogenetics; muscular dystrophy; genetic diagnosis
We report that eight heterozygous missense mutations in TUBB3, encoding the neuron-specific β-tubulin isotype III, result in a spectrum of human nervous system disorders we now call the TUBB3 syndromes. Each mutation causes the ocular motility disorder CFEOM3, whereas some also result in intellectual and behavioral impairments, facial paralysis, and/or later-onset axonal sensorimotor polyneuropathy. Neuroimaging reveals a spectrum of abnormalities including hypoplasia of oculomotor nerves, and dysgenesis of the corpus callosum, anterior commissure, and corticospinal tracts. A knock-in disease mouse model reveals axon guidance defects without evidence of cortical cell migration abnormalities. We show the disease-associated mutations can impair tubulin heterodimer formation in vitro, although folded mutant heterodimers can still polymerize into microtubules. Modeling each mutation in yeast tubulin demonstrates that all alter dynamic instability whereas a subset disrupts the interaction of microtubules with kinesin motors. These findings demonstrate normal TUBB3 is required for axon guidance and maintenance in mammals.
We performed a retrospective observational study of thirty-four persons with late onset of Huntington Disease (HD) (onset range 60-79 yrs). CAG trinucleotide expansion size ranged from 38 – 44 repeats. Even at this late age a significant negative correlation (r= -0.421, p< 0.05) was found between the length of repeat and age of onset. Important characteristics of these older subjects were: (1) Most (68%) were the first in the family to have a diagnosis of HD, (2) Motor problems were the initial symptoms at onset, (3) Disability increased and varied from mild to severe (4) Disease duration was somewhat shorter (12 yrs) than that reported for mid-life onset, (5) Death was often related to diseases of old age, such as cancer and cerebrovascular disease, (6) Serious falls were a major risk and (7) Global dementia may be associated with coincident Alzheimer disease. Recognizing these characteristics will help physicians and other health care providers better identify and follow the late onset presentation of this disease.
Huntington Disease; late onset; Neurogenetics; CAG repeat expansion
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
Alzheimer disease (AD) is characterized by deposition of amyloid-β, tau, and other specific proteins that accumulate in the brain in detergent-insoluble complexes. AD also involves glutamatergic neurotransmitter system disturbances. Excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2) is the dominant glutamate transporter in cerebral cortex and hippocampus. We investigated whether accumulation of detergent-insoluble EAAT2 is related to cognitive impairment and neuropathologic changes in AD by quantifying detergent-insoluble EAAT2 levels in hippocampus and frontal cortex of cognitively normal patients, patients with clinical dementia rating (CDR) = 0.5 (mildly impaired), and AD patients. Parkinson disease (PD) patients served as neurodegenerative disease controls. We found that Triton X-100-insoluble EAAT2 levels were significantly increased in patients with AD compared to controls, while Triton X-100-insoluble EAAT2 levels in CDR = 0.5 patients were intermediately elevated between control and AD subjects. Detergent-insolubility of Presenilin-1, a structurally similar protein, did not differ among the groups, thus arguing EAAT2 detergent-insolubility was not due to nonspecific cellular injury. These findings demonstrate that detergent-insoluble EAAT2 accumulation is a progressive biochemical lesion that correlates with cognitive impairment and neuropathologic changes in AD. These findings lend further support to the idea that dysregulation of the glutamatergic system may play a significant role in AD pathogenesis.
Glutamate; Alzheimer disease; EAAT2; Excitotoxicity; Mild cognitive impairment; Protein aggregation; Oxidative stress; SLC1A2
We previously reported a five-generation family manifesting an autosomal dominant disorder of facial myokymia and dystonic/choreic movements (FDFM). The dyskinetic episodes are initially paroxysmal but may become constant. With increasing age they may lessen or even disappear. The previous study excluded nine candidate genes chosen for their association with myokymia or chorea and two regions containing single or clustered ion channel genes. We now report identification by whole genome linkage analysis of a broad region on chromosome 3p21-3q21 that segregates with the disease in all ten affected members in three generations who participated in the study. GENEHUNTER-MODSCORE Version 2.0.1 provided a maximum multipoint LOD score of 3.099. No other disorders primarily characterized by myokymia, dystonia, or chorea are known to map to this region. Identification of additional families with FDFM may narrow the critical region and facilitate the choice of candidate genes for further analysis.
chorea; movement disorder; episodic disorder
Mutations in presenilin 2 are rare causes of early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. Eighteen presenilin 2 mutations have been reported, although not all have been confirmed pathogenic. Much remains to be learned about the range of phenotypes associated with these mutations. We have analysed our unique collection of 146 affected cases in 11 Volga German families, 101 who are likely to have the same N141I mutation in presenilin 2 (54 genotyped confirmed). We have also assessed the detailed neuropathologic findings in 18 autopsies from these families and reviewed the world’s literature on other presenilin 2 mutations; presenting a novel mutation that is predicted to lead to a premature truncation codon. Seven presenilin 2 mutations reported in the literature have strong evidence for pathogenicity whereas others may be benign polymorphisms. One hundred and one affected persons, with sufficient historical information from the Volga German pedigrees (N141I mutation), had a mean onset age of 53.7 years ± 7.8 (range 39–75) and mean age at death of 64.2 years ± 9.8 (range 43–88). These figures overlap with and generally fall between the results from the subjects in our centre who have late onset familial Alzheimer’s disease or mutations in presenilin 1. Seizures were noted in 20 (30%) of 64 subjects with detailed medical records. Two mutation carriers lived beyond age 80 without developing dementia, representing uncommon examples of decreased penetrance. Two persons had severe amyloid angiopathy and haemorrhagic stroke. Eighteen cases had detailed histopathology available and analysed at our institution. Braak stage was five or six, amyloid angiopathy and neuritic plaques were common and more than 75% had Lewy bodies in the amygdala. TAR DNA-binding protein-43 inclusions were uncommon. In addition, a 58-year-old female with a 2 year course of cognitive decline and no family history of dementia has abnormal fludeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography imaging and a novel 2 base pair deletion in presenilin 2 at nucleotide 342/343, predicted to produce a frame-shift and premature termination. We conclude that mutations in presenilin 2 are rare with only seven being well documented in the literature. The best studied N141I mutation produces an Alzheimer’s disease phenotype with a wide range of onset ages overlapping both early and late onset Alzheimer’s disease, often associated with seizures, high penetrance and typical Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology. A novel premature termination mutation supports loss of function or haploinsufficiency as pathogenic mechanisms in presenilin 2 associated Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease; presenilin 2; human genetics; dementia; amyloid; Volga German
Gain-of function or dominant-negative mutations in the voltage-gated potassium channel KCNC3 (Kv3.3) were recently identified as a cause of autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxia. Our objective was to describe the frequency of mutations associated with KCNC3 in a large cohort of index patients with sporadic or familial ataxia presenting to three US ataxia clinics at academic medical centers.
DNA sequence analysis of the coding region of the KCNC3 gene was performed in 327 index cases with ataxia. Analysis of channel function was performed by expression of DNA variants in Xenopus oocytes.
Sequence analysis revealed two non-synonymous substitutions in exon 2 and five intronic changes, which were not predicted to alter splicing. We identified another pedigree with the p.Arg423His mutation in the highly conserved S4 domain of this channel. This family had an early-onset of disease and associated seizures in one individual. The second coding change, p.Gly263Asp, subtly altered biophysical properties of the channel, but was unlikely to be disease-associated as it occurred in an individual with an expansion of the CAG repeat in the CACNA1A calcium channel.
Mutations in KCNC3 are a rare cause of spinocerebellar ataxia with a frequency of less than 1%. The p.Arg423His mutation is recurrent in different populations and associated with early onset. In contrast to previous p.Arg423His mutation carriers, we now observed seizures and mild mental retardation in one individual. This study confirms the wide phenotypic spectrum in SCA13.
Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common causes of neurodegenerative disorder in the elderly individuals. Clinically, patients initially present with short-term memory loss, subsequently followed by executive dysfunction, confusion, agitation, and behavioral disturbances. Three causative genes have been associated with autosomal dominant familial AD (APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2) and 1 genetic risk factor (APOEε4 allele). Identification of these genes has led to a number of animal models that have been useful to study the pathogenesis underlying AD. In this article, we provide an overview of the clinical and genetic features of AD.
Alzheimer disease; genetics; neurodegeneration
Late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) is the most common form of dementia in the elderly. The National Institute of Aging-Late Onset Alzheimer's Disease Family Study and the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer's Disease conducted a joint genome-wide association study (GWAS) of multiplex LOAD families (3,839 affected and unaffected individuals from 992 families plus additional unrelated neurologically evaluated normal subjects) using the 610 IlluminaQuad panel. This cohort represents the largest family-based GWAS of LOAD to date, with analyses limited here to the European-American subjects. SNPs near APOE gave highly significant results (e.g., rs2075650, p = 3.2×10−81), but no other genome-wide significant evidence for association was obtained in the full sample. Analyses that stratified on APOE genotypes identified SNPs on chromosome 10p14 in CUGBP2 with genome-wide significant evidence for association within APOE ε4 homozygotes (e.g., rs201119, p = 1.5×10−8). Association in this gene was replicated in an independent sample consisting of three cohorts. There was evidence of association for recently-reported LOAD risk loci, including BIN1 (rs7561528, p = 0.009 with, and p = 0.03 without, APOE adjustment) and CLU (rs11136000, p = 0.023 with, and p = 0.008 without, APOE adjustment), with weaker support for CR1. However, our results provide strong evidence that association with PICALM (rs3851179, p = 0.69 with, and p = 0.039 without, APOE adjustment) and EXOC3L2 is affected by correlation with APOE, and thus may represent spurious association. Our results indicate that genetic structure coupled with ascertainment bias resulting from the strong APOE association affect genome-wide results and interpretation of some recently reported associations. We show that a locus such as APOE, with large effects and strong association with disease, can lead to samples that require appropriate adjustment for this locus to avoid both false positive and false negative evidence of association. We suggest that similar adjustments may also be needed for many other large multi-site studies.
Genetic factors are well-established to play a role in risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, it has been difficult to find genes that are involved in AD susceptibility, other than a small number of genes that play a role in early-onset, high-penetrant disease risk, and the APOE ε4 allele, which increases risk of late-onset disease. Here we use a European-American family-based sample to examine the role of common genetic variants on late-onset AD. We show that variants in CUGBP2 on chromosome 10p, along with nearby variants, are associated with AD in those highest-risk APOE ε4 homozygotes. We have replicated this interaction in an independent sample. CUGBP2 has one isoform that is expressed predominantly in neurons, and identification of such a new risk locus is important because of the severity of AD. We also provide support for recently proposed associated variants (BIN1, CLU, and partly CR1) and show that there are markers throughout the genome that are correlated with APOE. This emphasizes the need to adjust for APOE for such markers to avoid false associations and suggests that there may be confounding for other diseases with similar strong risk loci.
Stem/progenitor cell niches in tissues regulate stem/progenitor cell differentiation and proliferation through local signalling.
To examine the composition and formation of stem progenitor cell niches.
The composition of the hepatic progenitor cell niche in independent models of liver injury and hepatic progenitor cell activation in rodents and humans was studied. To identify the origin of the progenitor and niche cells, sex-mismatched bone marrow transplants in mice, who had received the choline—ethionine-deficient-diet to induce liver injury and progenitor cell activation, were used. The matrix surrounding the progenitor cells was described by immunohistochemical staining and its functional role controlling progenitor cell behaviour was studied in cell culture experiments using different matrix layers.
The progenitor cell response in liver injury is intimately surrounded by myofibroblasts and macrophages, and to a lesser extent by endothelial cells. Hepatic progenitor cells are not of bone marrow origin; however, bone marrow-derived cells associate intimately with these cells and are macrophages. Laminin always surrounds the progenitor cells. In vitro studies showed that laminin aids maintenance of progenitor and biliary cell phenotype and promotes their gene expression (Dlk1, Aquaporin 1, γGT) while inhibiting hepatocyte differentiation and gene expression (CEPB/α).
During liver damage in rodents and humans a stereotypical cellular and laminin niche forms around hepatic progenitor cells. Laminin helps maintenance of undifferentiated progenitor cells. The niche links the intrahepatic progenitor cells with bone marrow-derived cells and links tissue damage with progenitor cell-mediated tissue repair.
To connect a new family with early-onset Alzheimer disease (EOAD) in Germany to the American Volga German pedigrees.
Pedigree molecular genetic analysis.
University Medical Centers in Fulda and Giessen, Germany, and in Seattle, Washington.
The families from Fulda, Germany, and the American Volga German families with EOAD share the same N141I PSEN2 mutation on an identical haplotypic background. This establishes that the N141I mutation occurred prior to emigration of the families from the Hesse region to Russia in the 1760s, and documents that relatives of the original immigrant families are presently living in Germany with the mutation and the disease.
A family with the N141I mutation in PSEN2 that presently lives in Germany has been connected to the haplotype that carries the same mutation in pedigrees descended from the Volga Germans. This raises the possibility that the original patient with Alzheimer disease (Auguste D.), who had EOAD and lived in this same region of Germany, may also have had the PSEN2 N141I mutation.
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.