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
Older adults are among the most vulnerable to adverse cognitive effects of psychotropic medications and, therefore, the personalization of psychotropic treatment based on adverse drug reactions in this demographic is of great importance. We examined changes on neuropsychological tests of attention attributable to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment in anxious older adults. We also examined whether variation in serotonin receptor genes was associated with reduced attentional performance with SSRIs. We examined change from pre- to post-treatment in two attention measures – digit span and coding – in 133 adults aged ≥60 yr with generalized anxiety disorder in a 12-wk trial of escitalopram vs. placebo. We also examined attentional change in relation to genetic variability in four central serotonin receptors: the serotonin transporter and serotonin 1A, 2A and 1B receptors. Digit span scores were significantly lowered in patients receiving escitalopram relative to placebo, indicating reduced attentional performance attributable to the SSRI. Individuals with high-transcription variants in the receptors 5-HTR2A rs6311 and 5-HTR1B rs11568817 had greater reductions in attention with SSRI treatment compared to placebo. We conclude that SSRIs reduce attention in older adults, particularly in those with high-expression genetic variants at the serotonin 2A and 1B receptors. Analysing neuropsychological changes with SSRIs in relation to genetic variation in the serotonin system may be a useful strategy for detecting subgroups of older adults who are more susceptible to side-effects of SSRIs. These results, if confirmed, could lead to the personalization of SSRI use to reduce adverse neurocognitive effects.
Anxiety; antidepressant; elderly; neuropsychological functioning; pharmacogenomics
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).
Late onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) etiology is influenced by complex interactions between genetic and environmental risk factors. Large-scale genome wide association studies (GWAS) for LOAD have identified 10 novel risk genes: ABCA7, BIN1, CD2AP, CD33, CLU, CR1, EPHA1, MS4A6A, MS4A6E, and PICALM. We sought to measure the influence of GWAS single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and gene expression levels on clinical and pathological measures of AD in brain tissue from the parietal lobe of AD cases and age-matched, cognitively normal controls. We found that ABCA7, CD33, and CR1 expression levels were associated with clinical dementia rating (CDR), with higher expression being associated with more advanced cognitive decline. BIN1 expression levels were associated with disease progression, where higher expression was associated with a delayed age at onset. CD33, CLU, and CR1 expression levels were associated with disease status, where elevated expression levels were associated with AD. Additionally, MS4A6A expression levels were associated with Braak tangle and Braak plaque scores, with elevated expression levels being associated with more advanced brain pathology. We failed to detect an association between GWAS SNPs and gene expression levels in our brain series. The minor allele of rs3764650 in ABCA7 is associated with age at onset and disease duration, and the minor allele of rs670139 in MS4A6E was associated with Braak tangle and Braak plaque score. These findings suggest that expression of some GWAS genes, namely ABCA7, BIN1, CD33, CLU, CR1 and the MS4A family, are altered in AD brains.
Although several studies have described an association between Alzheimer disease (AD) and genetic variation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), each has implicated different mtDNA variants, so the role of mtDNA in the etiology of AD remains uncertain.
We tested 138 mtDNA variants for association with AD in a powerful sample of 4,133 AD case patients and 1,602 matched controls from 3 Caucasian populations. Of the total population, 3,250 case patients and 1,221 elderly controls met the quality control criteria and were included in the analysis.
In the largest study to date, we failed to replicate the published findings. Meta-analysis of the available data showed no evidence of an association with AD.
The current evidence linking common mtDNA variations with AD is not compelling.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common disorder in older adults which has been linked to hyperactivity of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis in this age group. We examined whether treatment of GAD in older adults with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) corrects this HPA axis hyperactivity.
We examined adults aged 60 and above with GAD in a 12-week randomized controlled trial comparing the SSRI escitalopram to placebo. We collected salivary cortisol at six daily timepoints for two consecutive days to assess peak and total (area under the curve) cortisol, both at baseline and post-treatment.
Compared with placebo-treated subjects, SSRI-treated subjects had a significantly greater reduction in both peak and total cortisol. This reduction in cortisol was limited to subjects with elevated (above the median) baseline cortisol, in whom SSRI-treated subjects showed substantially greater reduction in cortisol than did placebo-treated subjects. Reductions in cortisol were associated with improvements in anxiety. Additionally, genetic variability at the serotonin transporter promoter predicted cortisol changes.
SSRI treatment of GAD in older adults reduces HPA axis hyperactivity. Further research should determine whether these treatment-attributable changes are sustained and beneficial.
anxiety; cortisol; aging; health; stress; antidepressant
Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is the most statistically significant genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD). The linkage disequilibrium pattern around the APOE gene has made it difficult to determine whether all of the association signal is derived from APOE or if there is an independent signal from a nearby gene. In this study we attempted to replicate a recently reported association of APOE 3-TOMM40 haplotypes with risk and age at onset.
We used standard techniques to genotype several polymorphisms in the APOE-TOMM40 region in a large case-control series, in a series with cerebrospinal fluid biomarker data and in brain tissue.
We failed to replicate the previously reported association of the polyT polymorphism (rs10524523) with risk and age at onset. We found a significant association between rs10524523 and risk for LOAD among APOE 33 homozygotes but in the opposite direction to the previously reported association (the very-long allele was underrepresented in cases compared to controls in our study (allele frequency: 0.41 vs. 0.48 respectively; p=0.004)). We found no association between rs10524523 and CSF tau or Aβ42 levels or TOMM40 or APOE gene expression.
Although we were not able to replicate the earlier association between the APOE 3-TOMM40 haplotypes and age at onset, we did observe that the polyT polymorphism is associated with risk for LOAD among APOE 33 homozygotes in a large case-control series, but in the opposite direction to the previous report. Additional studies in very large samples will be needed to confirm this association.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is common in older adults and can be treated with SSRIs. Genetic variation in the serotonin transporter gene promoter region is posited to be associated with SSRI efficacy: two polymorphisms (5HTTLPR s/l and rs25531 g/a) form a haplotype with the La combination having higher transcription activity than other haplotypes. We hypothesized that GAD patients with no La haplotypes (La-) have lower SSRI treatment efficacy than those with 1-2 La haplotypes (La+).
The study enrolled subjects aged 60 and older with a principal diagnosis of GAD, into a twelve-week, randomized trial of escitalopram vs. placebo. One hundred-fifty subjects were genotyped for the serotonin transporter promoter region haplotype and were divided into La- and La+ genotype groups; the primary analyses were done in European-Americans only (N=125; 59 escitalopram and 66 placebo).
Escitalopram had no efficacy in the La- group versus moderate efficacy in the La+ group. This genetic moderation of SSRI efficacy was due to a higher placebo response in La- subjects, compared to La+ subjects. Drug concentration did not affect the genetic results. Exploratory analyses suggest that La- subjects had greater variability of anxiety symptoms unrelated to treatment.
The serotonin transporter promoter haplotype is associated with variability in SSRI efficacy for late-life GAD. The variability may result from a genetic effect on anxiety symptom variability unrelated to treatment, rather than a pharmacodynamic effect that has been previously assumed. Further research is needed to understand the pharmacogenetic mechanism of this haplotype.
We sought to identify new susceptibility loci for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) through a staged association study (GERAD+) and by testing suggestive loci reported by the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetic Consortium (ADGC). First, we undertook a combined analysis of four genome-wide association datasets (Stage 1) and identified 10 novel variants with P≤1×10−5. These were tested for association in an independent sample (Stage 2). Three SNPs at two loci replicated and showed evidence for association in a further sample (Stage 3). Meta-analyses of all data provide compelling evidence that ABCA7 (meta-P 4.5×10−17; including ADGC meta-P=5.0×10−21) and the MS4A gene cluster (rs610932, meta-P=1.8×10−14; including ADGC meta-P=1.2×10−16; rs670139, meta-P=1.4×10−9; including ADGC meta-P=1.1×10−10) are novel susceptibility loci for AD. Second, we observed independent evidence for association for three suggestive loci reported by the ADGC GWAS, which when combined shows genome-wide significance: CD2AP (GERAD+ P=8.0×10−4; including ADGC meta-P=8.6×10−9), CD33 (GERAD+ P=2.2×10−4; including ADGC meta-P=1.6×10−9) and EPHA1 (GERAD+ P=3.4×10−4; including ADGC meta-P=6.0×10−10). These findings support five novel susceptibility genes for AD.
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.
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
Late Onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) is the leading cause of dementia. Recent large genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identified the first strongly supported LOAD susceptibility genes since the discovery of the involvement of APOE in the early 1990s. We have now exploited these GWAS datasets to uncover key LOAD pathophysiological processes.
We applied a recently developed tool for mining GWAS data for biologically meaningful information to a LOAD GWAS dataset. The principal findings were then tested in an independent GWAS dataset.
We found a significant overrepresentation of association signals in pathways related to cholesterol metabolism and the immune response in both of the two largest genome-wide association studies for LOAD.
Processes related to cholesterol metabolism and the innate immune response have previously been implicated by pathological and epidemiological studies of Alzheimer's disease, but it has been unclear whether those findings reflected primary aetiological events or consequences of the disease process. Our independent evidence from two large studies now demonstrates that these processes are aetiologically relevant, and suggests that they may be suitable targets for novel and existing therapeutic approaches.
Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a complex and multifactorial disease. While large genome-wide association studies have had some success in identifying novel genetic risk factors for AD, case-control studies are less likely to uncover genetic factors that influence progression of disease. An alternative approach to identifying genetic risk for AD is the use of quantitative traits or endophenotypes. The use of endophenotypes has proven to be an effective strategy, implicating genetic risk factors in several diseases, including anemia, osteoporosis and heart disease. In this study we identify a genetic factor associated with the rate of decline in AD patients and present a methodology for identification of other such factors. We have used an established biomarker for AD, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau phosphorylated at threonine 181 (ptau181) levels as an endophenotype for AD, identifying a SNP, rs1868402, in the gene encoding the regulatory sub-unit of protein phosphatase B, associated with CSF ptau181 levels in two independent CSF series . We show no association of rs1868402 with risk for AD or age at onset, but detected a very significant association with rate of progression of disease that is consistent in two independent series . Our analyses suggest that genetic variants associated with CSF ptau181 levels may have a greater impact on rate of progression, while genetic variants such as APOE4, that are associated with CSF Aβ42 levels influence risk and onset but not the rate of progression. Our results also suggest that drugs that inhibit or decrease tau phosphorylation may slow cognitive decline in individuals with very mild dementia or delay the appearance of memory problems in elderly individuals with low CSF Aβ42 levels. Finally, we believe genome-wide association studies of CSF tau/ptau181 levels should identify novel genetic variants which will likely influence rate of progression of AD.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disease affecting more than 4.5 million people in the US. Genetic studies of AD have previously identified pathogenic mutations in three genes (APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2) and polymorphisms in APOE as risk factors. These findings have led to a better understanding of the underlying disease mechanisms. However, half of all AD cases have no known genetic risk factors for disease. Most studies are designed to identify variants associated with risk or age at onset, but rarely cover other important facets of AD, such as disease progression or duration. In this study we have used an established AD biomarker (cerebrospinal fluid tau phosphorylated at threonine 181, ptau181) to find genetic variants that influence levels of ptau181 in the cerebrospinal fluid. This novel and powerful approach has allowed us to identify a genetic factor located in the regulatory subunit of the calcineurin that is also strongly associated with rate of progression of AD. This study is important because it defines a strategy to find novel genetic factors influencing different facets of AD pathobiology including risk, onset and progression.
We undertook a two-stage genome-wide association study of Alzheimer's disease involving over 16,000 individuals. In stage 1 (3,941 cases and 7,848 controls), we replicated the established association with the APOE locus (most significant SNP: rs2075650, p= 1.8×10−157) and observed genome-wide significant association with SNPs at two novel loci: rs11136000 in the CLU or APOJ gene (p= 1.4×10−9) and rs3851179, a SNP 5′ to the PICALM gene (p= 1.9×10−8). Both novel associations were supported in stage 2 (2,023 cases and 2,340 controls), producing compelling evidence for association with AD in the combined dataset (rs11136000: p= 8.5×10−10, odds ratio= 0.86; rs3851179: p= 1.3×10−9, odds ratio= 0.86). We also observed more variants associated at p< 1×10−5 than expected by chance (p=7.5×10−6), including polymorphisms at the BIN1, DAB1 and CR1 loci.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology is associated with two proteins, the microtubule-binding protein tau and the amyloid-precursor protein (APP). When tau becomes hyperphosphorylated, it forms neuritic aggregates, called neurofibrillary tangles. APP is cleaved by several enzymes to generate Aβ peptides, which are - depending on their length - more or less amyloidogenic and form senile plaques. Pin1, a peptidyl-propyl cis/trans-isomerase, seems to be involved in both pathologies. Pin1 may facilitate dephosphorylation of tau by PP2A phosphatase, while cellular overexpression of Pin1 causes a reduction in the amyloidogenic processing of APP, making this enzyme an interesting target for pharmaceutical intervention. The gene encoding Pin1 maps to 19p13.2, a region previously linked to LOAD. Therefore Pin1 is an excellent positional and functional candidate for LOAD. In this study, we investigated whether common SNPs in Pin1 can influence the risk for developing late-Onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD). No association was observed with any of six polymorphisms or their resulting haplotypes. A meta-analysis of two promoter SNPs, which combined the data from this study with two previous ones, did not show any association either suggesting that common SNPs in Pin1 do not increase the risk for LOAD.
Pin1; late-onset Alzheimer's disease; genotyping