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1.  Dysexecutive versus amnestic Alzheimer’s disease subgroups: Analysis of demographic, genetic, and vascular factors 
The objective of this study was to compare demographic and vascular characteristics and APOE genotypes of a dysexecutive subgroup of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with an amnestic subgroup of AD early in the disease course. 2,224 participants from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) database who carried a diagnosis of MCI (n=1,188) or mild AD (clinical dementia rating ≤1) (n=1,036) were included in this study. A subset of the MCI (n=61) and mild AD (n=79) participants underwent autopsy. A dysexecutive subgroup (n=587) was defined as having executive performance >1 SD worse than memory performance and an amnestic subgroup (n=549) was defined conversely. Among the autopsy subset, the likelihood of an AD pathologic diagnosis was compared in the two subgroups. Demographics, APOEε4 status, and vascular risk factors were compared in the two subgroups. Among the autopsy subset, the likelihood of having an AD pathologic diagnosis did not differ between the dysexecutive and amnestic subgroups. Under an additive model, participants in the dysexecutive subgroup possessed the APOEε4 allele less frequently than those in the amnestic subgroup. The dysexecutive subgroup had a history of hypertension less frequently than the amnestic subgroup. These distinct characteristics add to accumulating evidence that a dysexecutive subgroup of AD may have a unique underlying pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC3748394  PMID: 23954887
2.  Molecular drivers and cortical spread of lateral entorhinal cortex dysfunction in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease 
Nature neuroscience  2013;17(2):304-311.
The entorhinal cortex has been implicated in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, which is characterized by changes in the tau protein and in the cleaved fragments of the amyloid precursor protein (APP). We used a high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) variant that can map metabolic defects in patients and mouse models to address basic questions about entorhinal cortex pathophysiology. The entorhinal cortex is divided into functionally distinct regions, the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) and the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC), and we exploited the high-resolution capabilities of the fMRI variant to ask whether either of them was affected in patients with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. Next, we imaged three mouse models of disease to clarify how tau and APP relate to entorhinal cortex dysfunction and to determine whether the entorhinal cortex can act as a source of dysfunction observed in other cortical areas. We found that the LEC was affected in preclinical disease, that LEC dysfunction could spread to the parietal cortex during preclinical disease and that APP expression potentiated tau toxicity in driving LEC dysfunction, thereby helping to explain regional vulnerability in the disease.
PMCID: PMC4044925  PMID: 24362760
3.  Epidemiology of Alzheimer Disease 
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine  2012;2(8):10.1101/cshperspect.a006239 a006239.
The global prevalence of dementia has been estimated to be as high as 24 million, and is predicted to double every 20 years until at least 2040. As the population worldwide continues to age, the number of individuals at risk will also increase, particularly among the very old. Alzheimer disease is the leading cause of dementia beginning with impaired memory. The neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer disease include diffuse and neuritic extracellular amyloid plaques in brain that are frequently surrounded by dystrophic neurites and intra-neuronal neurofibrillary tangles. The etiology of Alzheimer disease remains unclear, but it is likely to be the result of both genetic and environmental factors. In this review we discuss the prevalence and incidence rates, the established environmental risk factors, and the protective factors, and briefly review genetic variants predisposing to disease.
PMCID: PMC3405821  PMID: 22908189
4.  Investigation of C9orf72 in 4 Neurodegenerative Disorders 
Archives of neurology  2012;69(12):1583-1590.
To estimate the allele frequency of C9orf72 (G4C2) repeats in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), Alzheimer disease (AD), and Parkinson disease (PD).
The number of repeats was estimated by a 2-step genotyping strategy. For expansion carriers, we sequenced the repeat flanking regions and obtained APOE genotypes and MAPT H1/H2 haplotypes.
Hospitals specializing in neurodegenerative disorders.
We analyzed 520 patients with FTLD, 389 patients with ALS, 424 patients with AD, 289 patients with PD, 602 controls, 18 families, and 29 patients with PD with the LRRK2 G2019S mutation.
Main Outcome Measure
The expansion frequency.
Based on a prior cutoff (>30 repeats), the expansion was detected in 9.3% of patients with ALS, 5.2% of patients with FTLD, and 0.7% of patients with PD but not in controls or patients with AD. It was significantly associated with family history of ALS or FTLD and age at onset of FTLD. Phenotype variation (ALS vs FTLD) was not associated with MAPT, APOE, or variability in the repeat flanking regions. Two patients with PD were carriers of 39 and 32 repeats with questionable pathological significance, since the 39-repeat allele does not segregate with PD. No expansion or intermediate alleles (20–29 repeats) were found among the G2019S carriers and AD cases with TAR DNA-binding protein 43–positive inclusions. Surprisingly, the frequency of the 10-repeat allele was marginally increased in all 4 neurodegenerative diseases compared with controls, indicating the presence of an unknown risk variation in the C9orf72 locus.
The C9orf72 expansion is a common cause of ALS and FTLD, but not of AD or PD. Our study raises concern about a reliable cutoff for the pathological repeat number, which is important in the utility of genetic screening.
PMCID: PMC4005900  PMID: 22964832
5.  Age-Specific Incidence Rates for Dementia and Alzheimer Disease in NIA-LOAD/NCRAD and EFIGA Families 
JAMA neurology  2014;71(3):315-323.
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.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC4000602  PMID: 24425039
6.  GWAS of cerebrospinal fluid tau levels identifies novel risk variants for Alzheimer’s disease 
Neuron  2013;78(2):256-268.
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.
PMCID: PMC3664945  PMID: 23562540
7.  Evidence of Recessive Alzheimer Disease Loci in a Caribbean Hispanic Data Set 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(10):1261-1267.
The search for novel Alzheimer disease (AD) genes or pathologic mutations within known AD loci is ongoing. The development of array technologies has helped to identify rare recessive mutations among long runs of homozygosity (ROHs), in which both parental alleles are identical. Caribbean Hispanics are known to have an elevated risk for AD and tend to have large families with evidence of inbreeding.
To test the hypothesis that the late-onset AD in a Caribbean Hispanic population might be explained in part by the homozygosity of unknown loci that could harbor recessive AD risk haplotypes or pathologic mutations.
We used genome-wide array data to identify ROHs (>1 megabase) and conducted global burden and locus-specific ROH analyses.
A whole-genome case-control ROH study.
A Caribbean Hispanic data set of 547 unrelated cases (48.8% with familial AD) and 542 controls collected from a population known to have a 3-fold higher risk of AD vs non-Hispanics in the same community. Based on a Structure program analysis, our data set consisted of African Hispanic (207 cases and 192 controls) and European Hispanic (329 cases and 326 controls) participants.
Alzheimer disease risk genes.
We calculated the total and mean lengths of the ROHs per sample. Global burden measurements among autosomal chromosomes were investigated in cases vs controls. Pools of overlapping ROH segments (consensus regions) were identified, and the case to control ratio was calculated for each consensus region. We formulated the tested hypothesis before data collection.
In total, we identified 17 137 autosomal regions with ROHs. The mean length of the ROH per person was significantly greater in cases vs controls (P = .0039), and this association was stronger with familial AD (P = .0005). Among the European Hispanics, a consensus region at the EXOC4 locus was significantly associated with AD even after correction for multiple testing (empirical P value 1 [EMP1], .0001; EMP2, .002; 21 AD cases vs 2 controls). Among the African Hispanic subset, the most significant but nominal association was observed for CTNNA3, a well-known AD gene candidate (EMP1, .002; 10 AD cases vs 0 controls).
Our results show that ROHs could significantly contribute to the etiology of AD. Future studies would require the analysis of larger, relatively inbred data sets that might reveal novel recessive AD genes. The next step is to conduct sequencing of top significant loci in a subset of samples with overlapping ROHs.
PMCID: PMC3991012  PMID: 23978990
8.  TREM2 and Neurodegenerative Disease 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(16):1564-1565.
PMCID: PMC3980568  PMID: 24131184
9.  Apolipoprotein E and Familial Longevity 
Neurobiology of aging  2012;34(4):1287-1291.
Exceptional longevity is associated with substantial heritability. The ε4 allele in Apolipoprotein E and the linked G allele in rs2075650 of TOMM40 have been associated with increased mortality and the ε2 allele with decreased mortality, although inconsistently.
Offspring from long lived families and spouse controls were recruited at three sites in the US and in Denmark. We used Generalized Estimating Equations to compare the likelihood of carrying risk alleles in offspring (n=2,307) and spouse controls (n=764), adjusting for age, sex, level of education and family membership.
The likelihood of carrying an APOE ε4 allele or a G allele in rs2075650 was lower (OR=0.75, p =.005 and OR=0.70, p = .002) and the likelihood of carrying an APOE ε2 allele was higher (OR= 1.5, p = .007) among family members in the offspring generation than among their spouse controls.
Our findings support the hypothesis that both reduction in the frequency of the ε4 allele and increase in the frequency of the ε2 allele contribute to longevity.
PMCID: PMC3545094  PMID: 23040522
Exceptional longevity; familial longevity; offspring; APOE; TOMM40
10.  C9ORF72 repeat expansions not detected in a group of patients with schizophrenia 
Neurobiology of aging  2012;34(4):1309.e9-1309.10.
A hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9ORF72 was recently found to cause some cases of FTLD, FTD-ALS, and ALS. FTLD patients with the C9ORF72 repeat expansion are more likely than those without to present with psychosis. In this study, we screened DNA samples from 192 unrelated subjects with schizophrenia for the C9ORF72 repeat expansion. None of the subjects with schizophrenia had the pathogenic expansion. C9ORF72 repeat expansions either do not cause schizophrenia, or do so rarely (less than 1% of cases).
PMCID: PMC3584690  PMID: 23036583
FTLD; Schizophrenia; C9ORF72 repeat expansion; psychosis
11.  Initial Assessment of the Pathogenic Mechanisms of the recently identified Alzheimer Risk Loci 
Annals of human genetics  2013;77(2):85-105.
Recent genome wide association studies have identified CLU, CR1, ABCA7 BIN1, PICALM and MS4A6A/MS4A6E in addition to the long established APOE, as loci for Alzheimer’s disease. We have systematically examined each of these loci to assess whether common coding variability contributes to the risk of disease. We have also assessed the regional expression of all the genes in the brain and whether there is evidence of an eQTL explaining the risk. In agreement with other studies we find that coding variability may explain the ABCA7 association, but common coding variability does not explain any of the other loci. We were not able to show that any of the loci had eQTLs within the power of this study. Furthermore the regional expression of each of the loci did not match the pattern of brain regional distribution in Alzheimer pathology.
Although these results are mainly negative, they allow us to start defining more realistic alternative approaches to determine the role of all the genetic loci involved in Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3578142  PMID: 23360175
Alzheimer’s disease; genetic risk; GWAS
12.  White matter hyperintensity volume and impaired mobility among older adults 
Journal of neurology  2012;260(3):884-890.
Gait speed is associated with multiple adverse outcomes of aging. White matter hyperintensities (WMH) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been associated with gait speed, though few studies have examined changes in gait speed over time in population-based studies comprising participants from diverse cultural backgrounds. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between a decline in gait speed and total and regional WMH volumes in a community-based study of aging. Participants (n=701) in a community-based study of older adults underwent gait speed measurement via a 4-meter walk test at the time of initial enrollment and MRI at a second time interval (mean 4.7[SD=0.5] years apart). Logistic regression was used to examine the association between large WMH volume and regional WMH volume with gait speed < 0.5 m/s (abnormal speed), and a transition to abnormal gait speed. Analyses were adjusted for demographic and clinical factors. Large WMH volume was associated with a transition to abnormal gait speed between the two visits, but not after adjustment for modifiable vascular disease risk factors. In adjusted models increased frontal lobe WMH volume was not associated with a transition to abnormal gait speed.
WMH are associated with slowing of gait over time. Prevention of WMH presents a potential strategy for the prevention of gait speed decline.
PMCID: PMC3594567  PMID: 23128969
13.  Late Life Depression, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(3):374-382.
To evaluate the association of late life depression with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia and in a multi-ethnic community cohort.
Cohort study
Northern Manhattan, New York city.
2160 community-dwelling Medicare recipients aged 65 years and older.
Depression was assessed using the 10-item version of the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale (CES-D) and defined by a CES-D score ≥ 4. We used logistic regression for cross-sectional association analyses and proportional hazards regression for longitudinal analyses.
Main outcome measures
MCI, dementia, and progression from MCI to dementia. We also used subcategories of MCI (amnestic, non amnestic), and dementia (probable AD, vascular dementia including possible AD with stroke).
Baseline depression was associated with prevalent MCI (OR = 1.4; 95% CI: 1.11–1.9) and dementia (OR = 2.2; 95% CI :1.6–3.1). Baseline depression was associated with an increased risk of incident dementia (HR = 1.7; 95 % CI: 1.2–2.3), but not with incident MCI. Persons with MCI at baseline with co-existing depression had a higher risk of progression to dementia (HR = 2.3; 95% CI: 1.4–3.8), especially vascular dementia (HR = 4.3; 95% CI: 1.1–17.0), but not AD (HR = 1.0 95% CI: 0.5–2.5).
The association of depression with prevalent MCI and with progression from MCI to dementia, but not with incident MCI, suggests that depression accompanies cognitive impairment but does not precede it.
PMCID: PMC3694613  PMID: 23599941
14.  Impaired default network functional connectivity in autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease 
Neurology  2013;81(8):736-744.
To investigate default mode network (DMN) functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI) in a large cross-sectional cohort of subjects from families harboring pathogenic presenilin-1 (PSEN1), presenilin-2 (PSEN2), and amyloid precursor protein (APP) mutations participating in the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network.
Eighty-three mutation carriers and 37 asymptomatic noncarriers from the same families underwent fMRI during resting state at 8 centers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Using group-independent component analysis, fcMRI was compared using mutation status and Clinical Dementia Rating to stratify groups, and related to each participant's estimated years from expected symptom onset (eYO).
We observed significantly decreased DMN fcMRI in mutation carriers with increasing Clinical Dementia Rating, most evident in the precuneus/posterior cingulate and parietal cortices (p < 0.001). Comparison of asymptomatic mutation carriers with noncarriers demonstrated decreased fcMRI in the precuneus/posterior cingulate (p = 0.014) and right parietal cortex (p = 0.0016). We observed a significant interaction between mutation carrier status and eYO, with decreases in DMN fcMRI observed as mutation carriers approached and surpassed their eYO.
Functional disruption of the DMN occurs early in the course of autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease, beginning before clinically evident symptoms, and worsening with increased impairment. These findings suggest that DMN fcMRI may prove useful as a biomarker across a wide spectrum of disease, and support the feasibility of DMN fcMRI as a secondary endpoint in upcoming multicenter clinical trials in Alzheimer disease.
PMCID: PMC3776464  PMID: 23884042
15.  Genome wide association and linkage analyses identified three loci—4q25, 17q23.2, and 10q11.21—associated with variation in leukocyte telomere length: the Long Life Family Study 
Frontiers in Genetics  2014;4:310.
Leukocyte telomere length is believed to measure cellular aging in humans, and short leukocyte telomere length is associated with increased risks of late onset diseases, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, etc. Many studies have shown that leukocyte telomere length is a heritable trait, and several candidate genes have been identified, including TERT, TERC, OBFC1, and CTC1. Unlike most studies that have focused on genetic causes of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes in relation to leukocyte telomere length, the present study examined the genome to identify variants that may contribute to variation in leukocyte telomere length among families with exceptional longevity. From the genome wide association analysis in 4,289 LLFS participants, we identified a novel intergenic SNP rs7680468 located near PAPSS1 and DKK2 on 4q25 (p = 4.7E-8). From our linkage analysis, we identified two additional novel loci with HLOD scores exceeding three, including 4.77 for 17q23.2, and 4.36 for 10q11.21. These two loci harbor a number of novel candidate genes with SNPs, and our gene-wise association analysis identified multiple genes, including DCAF7, POLG2, CEP95, and SMURF2 at 17q23.2; and RASGEF1A, HNRNPF, ANF487, CSTF2T, and PRKG1 at 10q11.21. Among these genes, multiple SNPs were associated with leukocyte telomere length, but the strongest association was observed with one contiguous haplotype in CEP95 and SMURF2. We also show that three previously reported genes—TERC, MYNN, and OBFC1—were significantly associated with leukocyte telomere length at pempirical < 0.05.
PMCID: PMC3894567  PMID: 24478790
telomere length; aging; familial longevity; genome wide association and linkage; family-based study; novel genes
16.  Different Demographic, Genetic, and Longitudinal Traits in Language versus Memory Alzheimer’s Subgroups 
Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD  2013;37(1):10.3233/JAD-130320.
The study’s objective was to compare demographics, APOE genotypes, and rate of rise over time in functional impairment in neuropsychologically defined language, typical, and memory subgroups of clinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD). 1,368 participants from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center database with a diagnosis of probable AD (CDR 0.5–1.0) were included. A language subgroup (n = 229) was defined as having language performance >1 SD worse than memory performance. A memory subgroup (n = 213) was defined as having memory performance >1 SD worse than language performance. A typical subgroup (n = 926) was defined as having a difference in language and memory performance of <1 SD. Compared with the memory subgroup, the language subgroup was 3.7 years older and more frequently self-identified as African American (OR = 3.69). Under a dominant genetic model, the language subgroup had smaller odds of carrying at least one APOEε4 allele relative to the memory subgroup. While this difference was present for all ages, it was more striking at a younger age (OR = 0.19 for youngest tertile; OR = 0.52 for oldest tertile). Compared with the memory subgroup, the language subgroup rose 35% faster on the Functional Assessment Questionnaire and 44% faster on CDR sum of boxes over time. Among a subset of participants who underwent autopsy (n = 98), the language, memory, and typical subgroups were equally likely to have an AD pathologic diagnosis, suggesting that variation in non-AD pathologies across subtypes did not lead to the observed differences. The study demonstrates that a language subgroup of AD has different demographics, genetic profile, and disease course in addition to cognitive phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3877683  PMID: 23788008
African Americans; age of onset; Alzheimer’s disease; aphasia; apolipoprotein E4; focal onset Alzheimer’s disease; demographic factors; language; longitudinal studies; memory
17.  C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions in clinical Alzheimer’s disease 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(6):736-741.
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.
PMCID: PMC3681841  PMID: 23588422
18.  Regional white matter hyperintensity volume, not hippocampal atrophy, predicts incident Alzheimer’s disease in the community 
Archives of neurology  2012;69(12):1621-1627.
New onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is often attributed to degenerative changes in the hippocampus. However, the contribution of regionally distributed small vessel cerebrovascular disease, visualized as white matter hyperintensities (WMH) on MRI, remains unclear.
To determine whether regional WMH and hippocampal volume predict incident AD in an epidemiological study.
A longitudinal community-based epidemiological study of older adults from northern Manhattan.
The Washington Heights/Inwood Columbia Aging Project
Between 2005 and 2007, 717 non-demented participants received MRI scans. An average of 40.28 (SD=9.77) months later, 503 returned for follow-up clinical examination and 46 met criteria for incident dementia (45 with AD). Regional WMH and relative hippocampal volumes were derived. Three Cox proportional hazards models were run to predict incident dementia, controlling for relevant variables. The first included all WMH measurements; the second included relative hippocampal volume; and the third combined the two measurements.
Main outcome measures
Incident Alzheimer’s disease.
White matter hyperintensity volume in the parietal lobe predicted time to incident dementia (HR=1.194, p=0.031). Relative hippocampal volume did not predict incident dementia when considered alone (HR=0.419, p=0.768) or with the WMH measures included in the model (HR=0.302, p=0.701). Including hippocampal volume in the model did not notably alter the predictive utility of parietal lobe WMH (HR=1.197, p=0.049).
The findings highlight the regional specificity of the association of WMH with AD. It is not clear whether parietal WMH solely represent a marker for cerebrovascular burden or point to distinct injury compared to other regions. Future work should elucidate pathogenic mechanisms linking WMH and AD pathology.
PMCID: PMC3597387  PMID: 22945686
Alzheimer’s disease; MRI; cerebrovascular disease; hippocampus
19.  Developing an international network for Alzheimer research: The Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network 
Clinical investigation  2012;2(10):975-984.
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.
PMCID: PMC3489185  PMID: 23139856
Alzheimer disease; autosomal dominant; biomarkers of Alzheimer disease; PSEN1; PSEN2; APP; amyloid-beta; preclinical Alzheimer disease
20.  Association of Shorter Leukocyte Telomere Repeat Length with Dementia and Mortality 
Archives of neurology  2012;69(10):1332-1339.
Shortening of chromosomal telomeres is a consequence of cell division, and is a biological factor related to cellular aging and potentially to more rapid organismal biological aging. We have hypothesized that shorter telomere length, as measured in human blood samples, is associated with the development of Alzheimer disease, and with mortality.
Using data from a multiethnic community-based study of aging and dementia, we studied 1,983 subjects over age 65 yr, who had available stored leukocyte DNA. Mean age-at-blood-draw was 78.3 ± 6.9 yr. Mean age of death was 86.0 ± 7.4 yr. Median follow-up for mortality was 9.3 yr; 190 (9.6%) developed incident dementia. We used real-time PCR to determine mean telomere length (TL) in a modified telomere-sequence to single-copy-gene-sequence ratio method.
TL was inversely related to age, and shorter in men than women. Persons dying during follow-up had shorter TL compared to survivors (6,218±819 vs. 6,491±881 basepairs, p<0.0001) even after adjustment for age, sex, education, and APOE genotype. Individuals who developed dementia had significantly shorter TL (6,131±798 for prevalent cases, and 6,315±817 for incident cases) compared with those remaining dementia-free (6,431±864). Cox-regression analyses showed that shorter TL was a risk for earlier onset of dementia (p=0.05), but stratified analyses for sex showed that this association of age-at-onset of dementia with shorter TL was significant in women, but not in men.
Our findings suggest that shortened leukocyte TL is associated with risks of dementia and mortality, and may therefore be a marker of biological aging.
PMCID: PMC3622729  PMID: 22825311
biological aging; Alzheimer's disease; apolipoprotein E; leukocyte; DNA
21.  Analysis of Copy Number Variation in Alzheimer’s Disease: the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD Family Study 
Current Alzheimer research  2012;9(7):801-814.
Copy number variants (CNVs) are DNA regions that have gains (duplications) or losses (deletions) of genetic material. CNVs may encompass a single gene or multiple genes and can affect their function. They are hypothesized to play an important role in certain diseases. We previously examined the role of CNVs in late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) using participants from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) study and identified gene regions overlapped by CNVs only in cases (AD and/or MCI) but not in controls. Using a similar approach as ADNI, we investigated the role of CNVs using 794 AD and 196 neurologically evaluated control non-Hispanic Caucasian NIA-LOAD/NCRAD Family Study participants with DNA derived from blood/brain tissue. The controls had no family history of AD and were unrelated to AD participants. CNV calls were generated and analyzed after detailed quality review. 711 AD cases and 171 controls who passed all quality thresholds were included in case/control association analyses, focusing on candidate gene and genome-wide approaches. We identified genes overlapped by CNV calls only in AD cases but not controls. A trend for lower CNV call rate was observed for deletions as well as duplications in cases compared to controls. Gene-based association analyses confirmed previous findings in the ADNI study (ATXN1, HLA-DPB1, RELN, DOPEY2, GSTT1, CHRFAM7A, ERBB4, NRXN1) and identified a new gene (IMMP2L) that may play a role in AD susceptibility. Replication in independent samples as well as further analyses of these gene regions is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3500615  PMID: 22486522
Alzheimer's disease; association study; CHRFAM7A; copy number variation; dementia; IMMP2L; NIA-LOAD/NCRAD; replication
22.  Screening for C9ORF72 repeat expansion in FTLD 
Neurobiology of aging  2012;33(8):1850.e1-1850.11.
In the present study we aimed to determine the prevalence of C9ORF72 GGGGCC hexanucleotide expansion in our cohort of 53 FTLD patients and 174 neurologically normal controls. We identified the hexanucleotide repeat, in the pathogenic range, in 4 (2 bv-FTD and 2 FTD-ALS) out of 53 patients and one neurologically normal control. Interestingly, two of the C9ORF72 expansion carriers also carried two novel missense mutations in GRN (Y294C) and in PSEN-2 (I146V). Further, one of the C9ORF72 expansion carriers, for whom pathology was available, showed amyloid plaques and tangles in addition to TDP-43 pathology. In summary, our findings suggest that the hexanucleotide expansion is probably associated with ALS, FTD or FTD-ALS and occasional comorbid conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. These findings are novel and need to be cautiously interpreted and most importantly replicated in larger numbers of samples.
PMCID: PMC3743244  PMID: 22459598
FTLD; bv-FTD; FTD-ALS; C9ORF72; GRN; PSEN-2; Alzheimer’s disease
23.  Novel late-onset Alzheimer disease loci variants associate with brain gene expression 
Neurology  2012;79(3):221-228.
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) identified 9 novel risk loci. Discovery of functional variants within genes at these loci is required to confirm their role in Alzheimer disease (AD). Single nucleotide polymorphisms that influence gene expression (eSNPs) constitute an important class of functional variants. We therefore investigated the influence of the novel LOAD risk loci on human brain gene expression.
We measured gene expression levels in the cerebellum and temporal cortex of autopsied AD subjects and those with other brain pathologies (∼400 total subjects). To determine whether any of the novel LOAD risk variants are eSNPs, we tested their cis-association with expression of 6 nearby LOAD candidate genes detectable in human brain (ABCA7, BIN1, CLU, MS4A4A, MS4A6A, PICALM) and an additional 13 genes ±100 kb of these SNPs. To identify additional eSNPs that influence brain gene expression levels of the novel candidate LOAD genes, we identified SNPs ±100 kb of their location and tested for cis-associations.
CLU rs11136000 (p = 7.81 × 10−4) and MS4A4A rs2304933/rs2304935 (p = 1.48 × 10−4–1.86 × 10−4) significantly influence temporal cortex expression levels of these genes. The LOAD-protective CLU and risky MS4A4A locus alleles associate with higher brain levels of these genes. There are other cis-variants that significantly influence brain expression of CLU and ABCA7 (p = 4.01 × 10−5–9.09 × 10−9), some of which also associate with AD risk (p = 2.64 × 10−2–6.25 × 10−5).
CLU and MS4A4A eSNPs may at least partly explain the LOAD risk association at these loci. CLU and ABCA7 may harbor additional strong eSNPs. These results have implications in the search for functional variants at the novel LOAD risk loci.
PMCID: PMC3398432  PMID: 22722634
24.  Faster Cognitive and Functional Decline in Dysexecutive versus Amnestic Alzheimer's Subgroups: A Longitudinal Analysis of the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC) Database 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65246.
To compare the rate of cognitive and functional decline in dysexecutive, typical and amnestic subgroups of Alzheimer’s disease.
943 participants from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) database who had a diagnosis of probable AD were followed for a mean of 2.3 years. A dysexecutive subgroup (n = 165) was defined as having executive performance >1.5 SD worse than memory performance, an amnestic subgroup (n = 157) was defined as having memory performance >1.5 SD worse than executive performance and a typical subgroup (n = 621) was defined as having a difference in executive and memory performance of <1.5 SD. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) were used to model decline on the Folstein Mini Mental Status Exam (MMSE), rise on the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) sum of boxes and rise on the total Functional Assessment Questionnaire (FAQ).
Compared with the amnestic subgroup, the dysexecutive subgroup declined 2.2X faster on the Folstein MMSE (p<.001), rose 42% faster on the CDR sum of boxes (p = .03) and rose 33% faster on the total FAQ (p = .01). Rate of change for the typical subgroup fell between that of the amnestic and dysexecutive subgroups for the MMSE, CDR sum of boxes and total FAQ. Among a subset of participants (n = 129) who underwent autopsy, the dysexecutive, amnestic and typical subgroups did not differ in odds of having an AD pathologic diagnosis, suggesting that variation in non-AD pathologies across subtypes did not lead to the observed differences.
A dysexecutive subgroup of AD has a unique disease course in addition to cognitive phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3670903  PMID: 23755200
25.  Genome-wide Association Study of Alzheimer’s disease with Psychotic Symptoms 
Molecular psychiatry  2011;17(12):1316-1327.
Psychotic symptoms occur in approximately 40% of subjects with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and are associated with more rapid cognitive decline and increased functional deficits. They show heritability up to 61% and have been proposed as a marker for a disease subtype suitable for gene mapping efforts. We undertook a combined analysis of three genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify loci that a) increase susceptibility to an AD and subsequent psychotic symptoms; or b) modify risk of psychotic symptoms in the presence of neurodegeneration caused by AD. 1299 AD cases with psychosis (AD+P), 735 AD cases without psychosis (AD-P) and 5659 controls were drawn from GERAD1, the NIA-LOAD family study and the University of Pittsburgh ADRC GWAS. Unobserved genotypes were imputed to provide data on > 1.8 million SNPs. Analyses in each dataset were completed comparing a) AD+P to AD-P cases, and b) AD+P cases with controls (GERAD1, ADRC only). Aside from the APOE locus, the strongest evidence for association was observed in an intergenic region on chromosome 4 (rs753129; ‘AD+PvAD-P’ P=2.85 × 10−7; ‘AD+PvControls’ P=1.11 × 10−4). SNPs upstream of SLC2A9 (rs6834555, P=3.0×10−7) and within VSNL1 (rs4038131, P=5.9×10−7) showed strongest evidence for association with AD+P when compared to controls. These findings warrant further investigation in larger, appropriately powered samples in which the presence of psychotic symptoms in AD has been well characterised.
PMCID: PMC3272435  PMID: 22005930
Alzheimer’s disease; psychosis; behavioural symptoms; genome-wide association study; genetic

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