As APOE locus variants contribute to both risk of late-onset Alzheimer disease and differences in age-at-onset, it is important to know if other established late-onset Alzheimer disease risk loci also affect age-at-onset in cases.
To investigate the effects of known Alzheimer disease risk loci in modifying age-at-onset, and to estimate their cumulative effect on age-at-onset variation, using data from genome-wide association studies in the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC).
Design, Setting and Participants
The ADGC comprises 14 case-control, prospective, and family-based datasets with data on 9,162 Caucasian participants with Alzheimer’s occurring after age 60 who also had complete age-at-onset information, gathered between 1989 and 2011 at multiple sites by participating studies. Data on genotyped or imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) most significantly associated with risk at ten confirmed LOAD loci were examined in linear modeling of AAO, and individual dataset results were combined using a random effects, inverse variance-weighted meta-analysis approach to determine if they contribute to variation in age-at-onset. Aggregate effects of all risk loci on AAO were examined in a burden analysis using genotype scores weighted by risk effect sizes.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Age at disease onset abstracted from medical records among participants with late-onset Alzheimer disease diagnosed per standard criteria.
Analysis confirmed association of APOE with age-at-onset (rs6857, P=3.30×10−96), with associations in CR1 (rs6701713, P=7.17×10−4), BIN1 (rs7561528, P=4.78×10−4), and PICALM (rs561655, P=2.23×10−3) reaching statistical significance (P<0.005). Risk alleles individually reduced age-at-onset by 3-6 months. Burden analyses demonstrated that APOE contributes to 3.9% of variation in age-at-onset (R2=0.220) over baseline (R2=0.189) whereas the other nine loci together contribute to 1.1% of variation (R2=0.198).
Conclusions and Relevance
We confirmed association of APOE variants with age-at-onset among late-onset Alzheimer disease cases and observed novel associations with age-at-onset in CR1, BIN1, and PICALM. In contrast to earlier hypothetical modeling, we show that the combined effects of Alzheimer disease risk variants on age-at-onset are on the scale of, but do not exceed, the APOE effect. While the aggregate effects of risk loci on age-at-onset may be significant, additional genetic contributions to age-at-onset are individually likely to be small.
Alzheimer Disease; Alzheimer Disease Genetics; Alzheimer’s Disease - Pathophysiology; Genetics of Alzheimer Disease; Aging
Platelets are enucleated cell fragments derived from megakaryocytes that play key roles in hemostasis and in the pathogenesis of atherothrombosis and cancer. Platelet traits are highly heritable and identification of genetic variants associated with platelet traits and assessing their pleiotropic effects may help to understand the role of underlying biological pathways. We conducted an electronic medical record (EMR)-based study to identify common variants that influence inter-individual variation in the number of circulating platelets (PLT) and mean platelet volume (MPV), by performing a genome-wide association study (GWAS). We characterized association of variants influencing MPV and PLT using functional, pathway and disease enrichment analysis assess pleiotropic effects of such variants by performing a phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) with a wide range of EMR-derived phenotypes. A total of 13,582 participants in the electronic MEdical Records and GEnomic (eMERGE) network had data for PLT and 6,291 participants had data for MPV. We identified 5 chromosomal regions associated with PLT and 8 associated with MPV at genome-wide significance (P<5E-8). In addition, we replicated 20 SNPs (out of 56 SNPs (α: 0.05/56=9E-4)) influencing PLT and 22 SNPs (out of 29 SNPs (α: 0.05/29=2E-3)) influencing MPV in a meta-analysis of GWAS of PLT and MPV. While our GWAS did not reveal any novel associations, our functional analyses revealed that genes in these regions influence thrombopoiesis and encode kinases, membrane proteins, proteins involved in cellular trafficking, transcription factors, proteasome complex subunits, proteins of signal transduction pathways, proteins involved in megakaryocyte development and platelet production and hemostasis. PheWAS using a single-SNP Bonferroni correction for 1368 diagnoses (0.05/1368=3.6E-5) revealed that several variants in these genes have pleiotropic associations with myocardial infarction, autoimmune and hematologic disorders. We conclude that multiple genetic loci influence interindividual variation in platelet traits and also have significant pleiotropic effects; the related genes are in multiple functional pathways including those relevant to thrombopoiesis.
This study investigates the association between TOMM40 poly-T length, age-at-onset, and neuropathology in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) individuals with the APOE ε3/ε3 allele.
Thirty-two PSEN1 mutation carriers with AD, 27 PSEN2 mutation carriers with AD, 59 participants with late-onset AD (LOAD), and 168 participants with autopsies from a community-based cohort were genotyped for TOMM40 intron 6 poly-T (rs10524523) length using short tandem repeat assays.
Among AD patients with PSEN2 mutations, the presence of a long poly-T was associated with an earlier age-at-onset, whereas there were no such associations for patients with PSEN1 mutations or LOAD. In community-based participants, the presence of a long poly-T was associated with increased neuritic tangles and a higher likelihood of pathologically diagnosed AD.
TOMM40 intron 6 poly-T length may explain some of the variation in age-at-onset in PSEN2 familial AD and may be associated with AD neuropathology in persons with APOE ε3/ε3.
Alzheimer’s disease; age-at-onset; genetic; APOE; TOMM40; PSEN1 mutation; PSEN2 mutation; neuropathology
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) hormone levels are normally tightly regulated within an individual; thus, relatively small variations may indicate thyroid disease. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified variants in PDE8B and FOXE1 that are associated with TSH levels. However, prior studies lacked racial/ethnic diversity, limiting the generalization of these findings to individuals of non-European ethnicities. The Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network is a collaboration across institutions with biobanks linked to electronic medical records (EMRs). The eMERGE Network uses EMR-derived phenotypes to perform GWAS in diverse populations for a variety of phenotypes. In this report, we identified serum TSH levels from 4,501 European American and 351 African American euthyroid individuals in the eMERGE Network with existing GWAS data. Tests of association were performed using linear regression and adjusted for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), and principal components, assuming an additive genetic model. Our results replicate the known association of PDE8B with serum TSH levels in European Americans (rs2046045 p = 1.85×10−17, β = 0.09). FOXE1 variants, associated with hypothyroidism, were not genome-wide significant (rs10759944: p = 1.08×10−6, β = −0.05). No SNPs reached genome-wide significance in African Americans. However, multiple known associations with TSH levels in European ancestry were nominally significant in African Americans, including PDE8B (rs2046045 p = 0.03, β = −0.09), VEGFA (rs11755845 p = 0.01, β = −0.13), and NFIA (rs334699 p = 1.50×10−3, β = −0.17). We found little evidence that SNPs previously associated with other thyroid-related disorders were associated with serum TSH levels in this study. These results support the previously reported association between PDE8B and serum TSH levels in European Americans and emphasize the need for additional genetic studies in more diverse populations.
Although self-rated health (SRH) and performance-based physical function (PPF) are both strong predictors of mortality, little research has investigated the relationships between them. The objective of this study was to evaluate longitudinal, bi-directional associations between SRH and PPF.
We evaluated longitudinal associations between SRH and PPF in 3,610 adults aged 65–89 followed for an average of 4.8 (standard deviation [SD]: 4.4) years between 1994 and July 2011 in the Adult Changes in Thought study, a population-based cohort in the Seattle area. SRH was assessed with a single-item question in the ACT study. Participants were asked at each evaluation to rate their health as “excellent”, “very good”, “good”, “fair”, or “poor” in response to the question “In general, how would you rate your health at this time”. PPF scores (ranging from 0–16, with higher indicating better performance) included walking speed, chair rises, grip strength, and balance.
At the baseline visit, participants averaged 74.5 (SD: 5.8) years of age and 2,115 (58.6%) were female. In multivariable linear mixed models, PPF declined with age, with more rapid decreases associated with very good, good, and fair (vs. excellent) baseline SRH. Adjusted annual change in PPF was −0.17 points (95% confidence interval [CI]: −0.19, −0.15) for individuals with excellent baseline SRH and −0.21 points (95% CI: −0.22, −0.19) for participants with fair SRH. In multivariable generalized linear mixed models, lower baseline PPF quartiles were associated with lower odds of excellent/very good/good SRH at age 75, however, differences between baseline PPF quartiles diminished with age.
These results suggest that less than excellent SRH predicts decline in physical functioning, however, poor physical functioning may not predict change in SRH in a reciprocal fashion. SRH provides a simple assessment tool for identifying individuals at increased risk for decline in physical function.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementias are a major public health challenge and present a therapeutic imperative for which we need additional insight into molecular pathogenesis. We performed a genome-wide association study and analysis of known genetic risk loci for AD dementia using neuropathologic data from 4,914 brain autopsies. Neuropathologic data were used to define clinico-pathologic AD dementia or controls, assess core neuropathologic features of AD (neuritic plaques, NPs; neurofibrillary tangles, NFTs), and evaluate commonly co-morbid neuropathologic changes: cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), Lewy body disease (LBD), hippocampal sclerosis of the elderly (HS), and vascular brain injury (VBI). Genome-wide significance was observed for clinico-pathologic AD dementia, NPs, NFTs, CAA, and LBD with a number of variants in and around the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE). GalNAc transferase 7 (GALNT7), ATP-Binding Cassette, Sub-Family G (WHITE), Member 1 (ABCG1), and an intergenic region on chromosome 9 were associated with NP score; and Potassium Large Conductance Calcium-Activated Channel, Subfamily M, Beta Member 2 (KCNMB2) was strongly associated with HS. Twelve of the 21 non-APOE genetic risk loci for clinically-defined AD dementia were confirmed in our clinico-pathologic sample: CR1, BIN1, CLU, MS4A6A, PICALM, ABCA7, CD33, PTK2B, SORL1, MEF2C, ZCWPW1, and CASS4 with 9 of these 12 loci showing larger odds ratio in the clinico-pathologic sample. Correlation of effect sizes for risk of AD dementia with effect size for NFTs or NPs showed positive correlation, while those for risk of VBI showed a moderate negative correlation. The other co-morbid neuropathologic features showed only nominal association with the known AD loci. Our results discovered new genetic associations with specific neuropathologic features and aligned known genetic risk for AD dementia with specific neuropathologic changes in the largest brain autopsy study of AD and related dementias.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementias are a major public health challenge and present a therapeutic imperative for which we need additional insight into molecular pathogenesis. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS), as well as an analysis of known genetic risk loci for AD dementia, using data from 4,914 brain autopsies. Genome-wide significance was observed for 7 genes and pathologic features of AD and related diseases. Twelve of the 22 genetic risk loci for clinically-defined AD dementia were confirmed in our pathologic sample. Correlation of effect sizes for risk of AD dementia with effect size for hallmark pathologic features of AD were strongly positive and linear. Our study discovered new genetic associations with specific pathologic features and aligned known genetic risk for AD dementia with specific pathologic changes in a large brain autopsy study of AD and related dementias.
We sought to examine whether frailty is associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and non-AD dementia risk.
This is a prospective population-based cohort derived from an integrated health maintenance organization. The sample consisted of 2,619 participants aged 65 and older without dementia at baseline followed from 1994 to 2010. Frailty was defined as having at least 3 of the following criteria: weakness (grip strength), slowness (walking speed), weight loss, low physical activity, and self-reported exhaustion. Follow-up occurred every 2 years to identify incident dementia, possible or probable AD, and non-AD dementia using standard research criteria. Covariates came from self-report and study measures. We used adjusted Cox proportional hazards models to examine the association between frailty and each outcome.
Over a mean follow-up of 6.5 years, 521 participants developed dementia (of which 448 developed AD). In the model adjusted for age, sex, education, and race, the hazard ratio for frailty was 1.78 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.32–2.40). In the fully adjusted models, the hazard ratio for frailty was 1.20 for all-cause dementia (95% CI 0.85–1.69), 1.08 for AD (95% CI 0.74–1.57), and 2.57 for non-AD dementia (95% CI 1.08–6.11). For all-cause dementia, we found an interaction between baseline cognitive score and frailty (p = .02); hazard ratio for frailty was 1.78 for those with higher global cognition (95% CI 1.14–2.78) and 0.79 for those with lower global cognition (95% CI 0.50–1.26).
Frailty was associated with dementia when adjusting only for demographic variables but not in the fully adjusted model. Frailty was associated with higher risk of developing non-AD dementia but not AD. Although frailty was not associated with all-cause dementia in the entire sample, an association did exist in participants with higher cognitive scores. Mechanisms underlying these associations remain to be elucidated.
Dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; Frailty; Epidemiology
Phenome-wide association studies (PheWAS) have demonstrated utility in validating genetic associations derived from traditional genetic studies as well as identifying novel genetic associations. Here we used an electronic health record (EHR)-based PheWAS to explore pleiotropy of genetic variants in the fat mass and obesity associated gene (FTO), some of which have been previously associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D). We used a population of 10,487 individuals of European ancestry with genome-wide genotyping from the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network and another population of 13,711 individuals of European ancestry from the BioVU DNA biobank at Vanderbilt genotyped using Illumina HumanExome BeadChip. A meta-analysis of the two study populations replicated the well-described associations between FTO variants and obesity (odds ratio [OR] = 1.25, 95% Confidence Interval = 1.11–1.24, p = 2.10 × 10−9) and FTO variants and T2D (OR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.08–1.21, p = 2.34 × 10−6). The meta-analysis also demonstrated that FTO variant rs8050136 was significantly associated with sleep apnea (OR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.07–1.22, p = 3.33 × 10−5); however, the association was attenuated after adjustment for body mass index (BMI). Novel phenotype associations with obesity-associated FTO variants included fibrocystic breast disease (rs9941349, OR = 0.81, 95% CI = 0.74–0.91, p = 5.41 × 10−5) and trends toward associations with non-alcoholic liver disease and gram-positive bacterial infections. FTO variants not associated with obesity demonstrated other potential disease associations including non-inflammatory disorders of the cervix and chronic periodontitis. These results suggest that genetic variants in FTO may have pleiotropic associations, some of which are not mediated by obesity.
PheWAS; genetic association; pleiotropy; Exome chip; FTO; BMI
Alzheimer's disease is a common debilitating dementia with known heritability, for which 20 late onset susceptibility loci have been identified, but more remain to be discovered. This study sought to identify new susceptibility genes, using an alternative gene-wide analytical approach which tests for patterns of association within genes, in the powerful genome-wide association dataset of the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project Consortium, comprising over 7 m genotypes from 25,580 Alzheimer's cases and 48,466 controls.
In addition to earlier reported genes, we detected genome-wide significant loci on chromosomes 8 (TP53INP1, p = 1.4×10−6) and 14 (IGHV1-67 p = 7.9×10−8) which indexed novel susceptibility loci.
The additional genes identified in this study, have an array of functions previously implicated in Alzheimer's disease, including aspects of energy metabolism, protein degradation and the immune system and add further weight to these pathways as potential therapeutic targets in Alzheimer's disease.
Eleven susceptibility loci for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) were identified by previous studies; however, a large portion of the genetic risk for this disease remains unexplained. We conducted a large, two-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in individuals of European ancestry. In stage 1, we used genotyped and imputed data (7,055,881 SNPs) to perform meta-analysis on 4 previously published GWAS data sets consisting of 17,008 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 37,154 controls. In stage 2,11,632 SNPs were genotyped and tested for association in an independent set of 8,572 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 11,312 controls. In addition to the APOE locus (encoding apolipoprotein E), 19 loci reached genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8) in the combined stage 1 and stage 2 analysis, of which 11 are newly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
With white blood cell count emerging as an important risk factor for chronic inflammatory diseases, genetic associations of differential leukocyte types, specifically monocyte count, are providing novel candidate genes and pathways to further investigate. Circulating monocytes play a critical role in vascular diseases such as in the formation of atherosclerotic plaque. We performed a joint and ancestry-stratified genome-wide association analyses to identify variants specifically associated with monocyte count in 11 014 subjects in the electronic Medical Records and Genomics Network. In the joint and European ancestry samples, we identified novel associations in the chromosome 16 interferon regulatory factor 8 (IRF8) gene (P-value = 2.78×10(−16), β = −0.22). Other monocyte associations include novel missense variants in the chemokine-binding protein 2 (CCBP2) gene (P-value = 1.88×10(−7), β = 0.30) and a region of replication found in ribophorin I (RPN1) (P-value = 2.63×10(−16), β = −0.23) on chromosome 3. The CCBP2 and RPN1 region is located near GATA binding protein2 gene that has been previously shown to be associated with coronary heart disease. On chromosome 9, we found a novel association in the prostaglandin reductase 1 gene (P-value = 2.29×10(−7), β = 0.16), which is downstream from lysophosphatidic acid receptor 1. This region has previously been shown to be associated with monocyte count. We also replicated monocyte associations of genome-wide significance (P-value = 5.68×10(−17), β = −0.23) at the integrin, alpha 4 gene on chromosome 2. The novel IRF8 results and further replications provide supporting evidence of genetic regions associated with monocyte count.
The neuropathology underlying dementia syndromes in older populations is complex. The contributions of Alzheimer’s and Lewy body pathology are well appreciated. Recent studies with brain autopsies have highlighted the high prevalence of vascular disease as an independent, but often co-morbid contributor to dementia. The Adult Changes in Thought Study is a community-based, longitudinal study of brain aging and cognitive decline which has recently confirmed cerebral microinfarcts as a strong correlate of cognitive impairment and dementia. This study examines correlations between clinical characteristics including extensive, longitudinal medication histories, and longitudinal cognitive testing against structural and biochemical features of disease. Keywords: Aging, community-based, microinfarct, longitudinal, neuropathology.
Aging; community-based; microinfarct; longitudinal; neuropathology
Electrocardiographic QRS duration, a measure of cardiac intraventricular conduction, varies ~2-fold in individuals without cardiac disease. Slow conduction may promote reentrant arrhythmias.
Methods and Results
We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify genomic markers of QRS duration in 5,272 individuals without cardiac disease selected from electronic medical record (EMR) algorithms at five sites in the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) network. The most significant loci were evaluated within the CHARGE consortium QRS GWAS meta-analysis. Twenty-three single nucleotide polymorphisms in 5 loci, previously described by CHARGE, were replicated in the eMERGE samples; 18 SNPs were in the chromosome 3 SCN5A and SCN10A loci, where the most significant SNPs were rs1805126 in SCN5A with p=1.2×10−8 (eMERGE) and p=2.5×10−20 (CHARGE) and rs6795970 in SCN10A with p=6×10−6 (eMERGE) and p=5×10−27 (CHARGE). The other loci were in NFIA, near CDKN1A, and near C6orf204. We then performed phenome-wide association studies (PheWAS) on variants in these five loci in 13,859 European Americans to search for diagnoses associated with these markers. PheWAS identified atrial fibrillation and cardiac arrhythmias as the most common associated diagnoses with SCN10A and SCN5A variants. SCN10A variants were also associated with subsequent development of atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia in the original 5,272 “heart-healthy” study population.
We conclude that DNA biobanks coupled to EMRs provide a platform not only for GWAS but may also allow broad interrogation of the longitudinal incidence of disease associated with genetic variants. The PheWAS approach implicated sodium channel variants modulating QRS duration in subjects without cardiac disease as predictors of subsequent arrhythmias.
cardiac conduction; QRS duration; atrial fibrillation; genome-wide association study; phenome-wide association study; electronic medical records
Candidate gene and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified genetic variants that modulate risk for human disease; many of these associations require further study to replicate the results. Here we report the first large-scale application of the phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) paradigm within electronic medical records (EMRs), an unbiased approach to replication and discovery that interrogates relationships between targeted genotypes and multiple phenotypes. We scanned for associations between 3,144 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (previously implicated by GWAS as mediators of human traits) and 1,358 EMR-derived phenotypes in 13,835 individuals of European ancestry. This PheWAS replicated 66% (51/77) of sufficiently powered prior GWAS associations and revealed 63 potentially pleiotropic associations with P < 4.6 × 10−6 (false discovery rate < 0.1); the strongest of these novel associations were replicated in an independent cohort (n = 7,406). These findings validate PheWAS as a tool to allow unbiased interrogation across multiple phenotypes in EMR-based cohorts and to enhance analysis of the genomic basis of human disease.
Diabetes is a risk factor for dementia. It is unknown whether higher glucose levels increase the risk of dementia in people without diabetes.
We used 35,264 clinical measurements of glucose levels and 10,208 measurements of glycated hemoglobin levels from 2067 participants without dementia to examine the relationship between glucose levels and the risk of dementia. Participants were from the Adult Changes in Thought study and included 839 men and 1228 women whose mean age at baseline was 76 years; 232 participants had diabetes, and 1835 did not. We fit Cox regression models, stratified according to diabetes status and adjusted for age, sex, study cohort, educational level, level of exercise, blood pressure, and status with respect to coronary and cerebrovascular diseases, atrial fibrillation, smoking, and treatment for hypertension.
During a median follow-up of 6.8 years, dementia developed in 524 participants (74 with diabetes and 450 without). Among participants without diabetes, higher average glucose levels within the preceding 5 years were related to an increased risk of dementia (P = 0.01); with a glucose level of 115 mg per deciliter (6.4 mmol per liter) as compared with 100 mg per deciliter (5.5 mmol per liter), the adjusted hazard ratio for dementia was 1.18 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04 to 1.33). Among participants with diabetes, higher average glucose levels were also related to an increased risk of dementia (P = 0.002); with a glucose level of 190 mg per deciliter (10.5 mmol per liter) as compared with 160 mg per deciliter (8.9 mmol per liter), the adjusted hazard ratio was 1.40 (95% CI, 1.12 to 1.76).
Our results suggest that higher glucose levels may be a risk factor for dementia, even among persons without diabetes. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.)
Estimates of treatment effectiveness in epidemiologic studies using large observational health care databases may be biased due to inaccurate or incomplete information on important confounders. Study methods that collect and incorporate more comprehensive confounder data on a validation cohort may reduce confounding bias.
Study Design and Setting
We applied two such methods, imputation and reweighting, to Group Health administrative data (full sample) supplemented by more detailed confounder data from the Adult Changes in Thought study (validation sample). We used influenza vaccination effectiveness (with an unexposed comparator group) as an example and evaluated each method’s ability to reduce bias using the control time period prior to influenza circulation.
Both methods reduced, but did not completely eliminate, the bias compared with traditional effectiveness estimates that do not utilize the validation sample confounders.
Although these results support the use of validation sampling methods to improve the accuracy of comparative effectiveness findings from healthcare database studies, they also illustrate that the success of such methods depends on many factors, including the ability to measure important confounders in a representative and large enough validation sample, the comparability of the full sample and validation sample, and the accuracy with which data can be imputed or reweighted using the additional validation sample information.
aged; bias (epidemiologic); comparative effectiveness research; confounding factors (epidemiology); influenza vaccines; propensity score
To test for an association between the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele and dementias with synucleinopathy.
Genetic case-control association study.
Autopsied subjects were classified into 5 categories: dementia with high-level Alzheimer disease (AD) neuropathologic changes (NCs) but without Lewy body disease (LBD) NCs (AD group; n=244), dementia with LBDNCs and high-level ADNCs (LBD-AD group; n=224), dementia with LBDNCs and no or low levels of ADNCs (pure DLB [pDLB] group; n=91), Parkinson disease dementia (PDD) with no or low levels of ADNCs (n=81), and control group (n=269).
Main Outcome Measure
The APOE allele frequencies.
The APOE ε4 allele frequency was significantly higher in the AD (38.1%), LBD-AD (40.6%), pDLB (31.9%), and PDD (19.1%) groups compared with the control group (7.2%; overall χ42=185.25; P=5.56×10−39), and it was higher in the pDLB group than the PDD group (P=.01). In an age-adjusted and sex-adjusted dominant model, ε4 was strongly associated with AD (odds ratio, 9.9; 95% CI, 6.4–15.3), LBD-AD (odds ratio, 12.6; 95% CI, 8.1–19.8), pDLB (odds ratio, 6.1; 95% CI, 3.5–10.5), and PDD (odds ratio, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.7–5.6).
The APOE ε4 allele is a strong risk factor across the LBD spectrum and occurs at an increased frequency in pDLB relative to PDD. This suggests that ε4 increases the likelihood of presenting with dementia in the context of a pure synucleinopathy. The elevated ε4 frequency in the pDLB and PDD groups, in which the overall brain neuritic plaque burden was low, indicates that apoE might contribute to neurodegeneration through mechanisms unrelated to amyloid processing.
Worldwide, lifespan is lengthening. Concomitantly, late-life dementias are increasingly common, challenging both personal and public health internationally. After age 65, rates of dementia tend to double every five years in developed countries and every seven in developing ones. The late-life dementias, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, have profound effects on aging individuals and their caregivers. Multidisciplinary research has explored the potential for various approaches to prevent or delay the onset of late-life dementias. Outlining that research, including our team’s Adult Changes in Thought and Kame studies, this review concludes that delaying these dementias’ onset appears feasible, although absolute prevention may not be. Today the most promising methods appear to include controlling vascular risk factors like hypertension and engaging in physical exercise—and possibly mental exercise—on and off the job. If people can delay the onset of dementias, they can lead more fulfilling lives for longer—spending less time suffering from dementia and letting their families spend less time coping with the disease. It is possible that trends toward more knowledge-based societies, where cognitive health is so vital, may increasingly exert evolutionary pressure favoring larger and healthier brains—and a “compression of cognitive morbidity”—well into old age. Public health’s great triumph, increased lifespan, should give more of the world’s people the reward of many years of dementia-free life—rather than the personal difficulties and public health burdens of many years of functional impairment, dependency, and suffering with dementia some interventions may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Alzheimer’s disease; prevention; lifestyle risk factors; aging; exercise; demographics; evolution
Many cognitively normal older adults have underlying neuropathologic changes of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), vascular brain injury (VBI), or Lewy body disease (LBD), which confer an increased risk of dementia. The current study focused on the association between multiple neuropathologic indices and performance on specific cognitive domains in a community sample of older adults. Of 438 participants in the Adult Changes in Thought population-based study of brain aging who were autopsied, 363 subjects had cognitive testing at their final study visit and were included. Associations were measured between performance on the Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument prior to death and neuropathologic endpoints, including AD neuropathologic changes, LBD, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and measures of VBI. Braak stage for neurofibrillary tangles, lower brain weight, and VBI as measured by cerebral cortical microvascular lesions (μVBI) explained a significant proportion of the variance associated with global cognitive test performance (R2=0.31, p< 0.0001) both in the entire sample and when analysis was restricted to non-demented subjects (R2= 0.23, p< 0.0001). Specific cognitive domains were differentially related to neuropathologic lesion type: memory and executive function with AD pathologic changes and cortical μVBI, executive function with subcortical μVBI, and visuospatial construction with LBD. Thus, neuropathologic lesions of LBD and μVBI are associated with poorer cognitive performance over and above AD neuropathologic changes in subjects without dementia in this cohort. These findings underscore that cognitive impairment is a complex convergent trait that has important implications for clinical investigation and medical management of older adults.
Alzheimer’s disease; brain; cerebrovascular disorders; cognition; dementia; Lewy bodies; pathologic processes
A single mutation can alter cellular and global homeostatic mechanisms and give rise to multiple clinical diseases. We hypothesized that these disease mechanisms could be identified using low minor allele frequency (MAF<0.1) non-synonymous SNPs (nsSNPs) associated with “mechanistic phenotypes”, comprised of collections of related diagnoses. We studied two mechanistic phenotypes: (1) thrombosis, evaluated in a population of 1,655 African Americans; and (2) four groupings of cancer diagnoses, evaluated in 3,009 white European Americans. We tested associations between nsSNPs represented on GWAS platforms and mechanistic phenotypes ascertained from electronic medical records (EMRs), and sought enrichment in functional ontologies across the top-ranked associations. We used a two-step analytic approach whereby nsSNPs were first sorted by the strength of their association with a phenotype. We tested associations using two reverse genetic models and standard additive and recessive models. In the second step, we employed a hypothesis-free ontological enrichment analysis using the sorted nsSNPs to identify functional mechanisms underlying the diagnoses comprising the mechanistic phenotypes. The thrombosis phenotype was solely associated with ontologies related to blood coagulation (Fisher's p = 0.0001, FDR p = 0.03), driven by the F5, P2RY12 and F2RL2 genes. For the cancer phenotypes, the reverse genetics models were enriched in DNA repair functions (p = 2×10−5, FDR p = 0.03) (POLG/FANCI, SLX4/FANCP, XRCC1, BRCA1, FANCA, CHD1L) while the additive model showed enrichment related to chromatid segregation (p = 4×10−6, FDR p = 0.005) (KIF25, PINX1). We were able to replicate nsSNP associations for POLG/FANCI, BRCA1, FANCA and CHD1L in independent data sets. Mechanism-oriented phenotyping using collections of EMR-derived diagnoses can elucidate fundamental disease mechanisms.
Prior studies have described a higher incidence of dementia or worsening cognitive function in patients with lower levels of kidney function at a single point in time.
To evaluate the association between dynamic measures of renal function ascertained over time with onset of dementia.
prospective community cohort study.
Setting and Participants
2,968 adults aged 65 and older followed for the development of dementia over a median of 6.0 years (interquartile range 3.1–10.1 years).
Time varying measures of renal function were constructed based on a total of 49,340 serum creatinine measurements and included: the average level of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), eGFR trajectory and variability in eGFR around this trajectory over 5-year exposure windows. The association between these three eGFR exposure measures and risk of dementia was estimated using a Cox regression model adjusted for other patient characteristics. In sensitivity analyses, we also adjusted for time-varying measures of urine protein by dipstick.
Patients with lower levels of eGFR had a higher incidence of dementia but this did not reach statistical significance in adjusted analyses (omnibus p value=0.14). There were trends toward a higher adjusted incidence of dementia in patients with positive eGFR trajectories (omnibus p value=0.07) and greater variability in eGFR (omnibus p value=0.04) over time. The results of sensitivity analyses, including those in which we included time-varying measures of proteinuria, were consistent with those of the primary analysis.
Among a community cohort of older adults followed for a median of 6 years, we did not find strong associations between measures of kidney disease severity and progression and incident dementia.
dementia; renal function; eGFR; variability; trajectory
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias are likely preceded by a protracted preclinical state. Thus, identification of biomarkers that signal potential points of intervention during this prodromal phase (during which patients are largely able to compensate for their cognitive deficits) is of paramount importance. Insulin is a pancreatic hormone with potent central nervous system effects, and insulin dysregulation has been implicated in the pathogenesis of both AD and vascular dementia. The aim of the current study was to determine whether circulating insulin differs as a function of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) diagnosis, and whether this relationship is mediated by sex and apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype. A sample of 549 nondemented participants aged 65 and over from the Adult Changes in Thought community-based cohort underwent cognitive testing and blood draw to determine fasting levels of plasma insulin. Subjects were categorized as having normal cognitive functioning, amnestic MCI, or nonamnestic MCI. Results showed that the relationship between insulin and diagnostic category is moderated by sex, such that men with nonamnestic or amnestic MCI have higher fasting plasma insulin than cognitively normal men, while women with amnestic MCI have lower fasting plasma insulin than cognitively normal women. Exploratory analyses suggest that APOE ε4 genotype may further influence the relationship between sex and insulin. Future research will help determine whether insulin dysregulation results in differential effects on vascular function and AD pathology as a function of sex and/or APOE genotype.
Age-related memory disorders; aging; Alzheimer’s disease; cognition; dementia; hyperinsulinemia; insulin; vascular