Several studies have identified genes associated with alcohol use disorders, but the variation in each of these genes explains only a small portion of the genetic vulnerability. The goal of the present study was to perform a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in extended families from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) to identify novel genes affecting risk for alcohol dependence. To maximize the power of the extended family design we used a quantitative endophenotype, measured in all individuals: number of alcohol dependence symptoms endorsed (symptom count). Secondary analyses were performed to determine if the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with symptom count were also associated with the dichotomous phenotype, DSM-IV alcohol dependence. This family-based GWAS identified SNPs in C15orf53 that are strongly associated with DSM-IV alcohol (p=4.5×10−8, inflation corrected p=9.4×10−7). Results with DSM-IV alcohol dependence in the regions of interest support our findings with symptom count, though the associations were less significant. Attempted replications of the most promising association results were conducted in two independent samples: non-overlapping subjects from the Study of Addiction: Genes and Environment (SAGE) and the Australian twin-family study of alcohol use disorders (OZALC). Nominal association of C15orf53 with symptom count was observed in SAGE. The variant that showed strongest association with symptom count, rs12912251 and its highly correlated variants (D′=1, r2≥ 0.95), has previously been associated with risk for bipolar disorder.
DSM-IV alcohol dependence symptoms; Family-based GWAS; C15orf53; Quantitative traits
Family-based and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of alcohol dependence (AD) have reported numerous associated variants. The clinical validity of these variants for predicting AD compared to family history information has not been reported. Using the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) and the Study of Addiction: Genes and Environment (SAGE) GWAS samples, we examined the aggregate impact of multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on risk prediction. We created genetic sum scores by adding risk alleles associated in discovery samples, and then tested the scores for their ability to discriminate between cases and controls in validation samples. Genetic sum scores were assessed separately for SNPs associated with AD in candidate gene studies and SNPs from GWAS analyses that met varying p-value thresholds. Candidate gene sum scores did not exhibit significant predictive accuracy. Family history was a better classifier of case-control status, with a significant area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.686 in COGA and 0.614 in SAGE. SNPs that met less stringent p-value thresholds of 0.01 to 0.50 in GWAS analyses yielded significant AUC estimates, ranging from mean estimates of 0.549 for SNPs with p < 0.01 to 0.565 for SNPs with p < 0.50. This study suggests that SNPs currently have limited clinical utility, but there is potential for enhanced predictive ability with better understanding of the large number of variants that might contribute to risk.
clinical validity; genetic risk prediction; polygenic risk score; psychiatric genetic counseling; receiver operating characteristic curve analysis
TREM and TREM-like receptors are a structurally similar protein family encoded by genes clustered on chromosome 6p21.11. Recent studies have identified a rare coding variant (p.R47H) in TREM2 that confers a high risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In addition, common SNPs in this genomic region are associated with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers for AD and a common intergenic variant found near the TREML2 gene has been identified to be protective for AD. However, little is known about the functional variant underlying the latter association or its relationship with the p.R47H. Here, we report comprehensive analyses using whole-exome sequencing data, CSF biomarker analyses, meta-analyses (16,254 cases and 20,052 controls) and cell-based functional studies to support the role of the TREML2 coding missense variant p.S144G (rs3747742) as a potential driver of the meta-analysis AD-associated GWAS signal. Additionally, we demonstrate that the protective role of TREML2 in AD is independent of the role of TREM2 gene as a risk factor for AD.
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
SNPs located in the gene encoding the regulatory subunit of the protein phosphatase 2B (PPP3R1, rs1868402) and the microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT, rs3785883) gene were recently associated with higher cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau levels in samples from the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University (WU) and Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). In these same samples these SNPs were also associated with faster functional decline, or progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) as measured by the Clinical Dementia Rating sum of boxes scores (CDR-sb). We attempted to validate the latter association in an independent, population-based sample of incident AD cases from the Cache County Dementia Progression Study (DPS).
All 92 AD cases from the DPS with a global CDR-sb ≤ 1 (mild) at initial clinical assessment who were later assessed on CDR-sb data on at least two other time points were genotyped at the 2 SNPs of interest (rs1868402 and rs3785883). We used linear mixed models to estimate associations between these SNPs and CDR-sb trajectory. All analyses were performed using Proc Mixed in SAS.
While we observed no association between rs3785883 or rs1868402 alone and change in CDR-sb (p>0.10), there was a significant association between a combined genotype model and change in CDR-sb: carriers of the high-risk genotypes at both loci progressed more than 2.9 times faster than non-carriers (p=0.015). When data from DPS were combined with previously published data from WU and ADNI, change in CDR-sb was 30% faster for each copy of the high-risk allele at rs3785883 (p=0.0082) and carriers of both high-risk genotypes at both loci progressed six times faster (p<0.0001) than all others combined.
We replicate a previous report by Cruchaga et al that specific variations in rs3785883 and rs1868402 are associated with accelerated progression of AD. Further characterization of this association will provide a better understanding of how genetic factors influence the rate of progression of Alzheimer’s disease and could provide novel insights into preventative and therapeutic strategies.
Alzheimer’s disease; genetics; association; rate of progression; PPP3R1; MAPT
Studies have shown association between common variants in the α6–β3 nicotinic receptor subunit gene cluster and nicotine dependence in European Ancestry populations. We investigate whether this generalizes to African Americans, whether the association is specific to nicotine dependence, and whether this region contains additional genetic contributors to nicotine dependence.
We examined consistency of association across studies and race between the α6β3 nicotinic receptor subunit locus and nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine dependence in three independent studies.
United States of America
European Americans and African Americans from three case control studies of substance dependence.
Subjects were evaluated using the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism. Nicotine dependence was determined using the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence.
rs13273442 was significantly associated to nicotine dependence across all three studies in both ancestry groups (OR=0.75, p=5.8 × 10−4 European Americans; OR=0.80, p=0.05 African Americans). No other substance dependence was consistently associated to this variant in either group. Another SNP in the region, rs4952, remains modestly associated with nicotine dependence in the combined data after conditioning on rs13273442.
The common variant rs13273442 in the CHRNB3-CHNRA6 region is significantly associated to nicotine dependence in European Americans and African Americans across studies recruited for nicotine, alcohol, and cocaine dependence. Although these data are modestly powered for other substances, our results provide no evidence that correlates of rs13273442 represent a general substance dependence liability. Additional variants likely account for some of the association of this region to nicotine dependence.
Identification of the physiological changes that occur during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may provide critical insights for the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers are a rich source of information that reflect the brain proteome.
We applied a novel approach to screen a panel of ~190 CSF analytes quantified by multiplex immunoassay and detected common associations in the Knight- Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC;N=311) and the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI;N=293) cohorts. CSF ptau181-Aβ42 ratio was used as a continuous trait, rather than case control status in these analyses.
We demonstrate the ptau181-Aβ42 ratio has more statistical power than traditional modeling approaches and that the levels of CSF Fatty Acid Binding Protein (H-FABP) and 12 other correlated analytes increase as the disease progresses. These results were validated using the traditional case control status model. Stratification of our dataset demonstrated that increases in these analytes occur very early in the disease course and were apparent even in non-demented individuals with AD pathology (low ptau181, low Aβ42) compared to pathology-negative elderly control subjects (low ptau181, high Aβ42). FABP-Aβ42 ratio demonstrates a similar hazard ratio for disease conversion to ptau181-Aβ42 even though the overlap in classification is incomplete suggesting that FABP contributes independent information as a predictor
Our results clearly indicate that the approach presented here can be employed to correctly identify novel biomarkers for AD, and that CSF H-FABP levels start to increase at very early stages of the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease; Biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); Ptau-Aβ42 ratio; Heart Fatty Acid binding protein; Brain Proteome - Rules Based Medicine Discovery Multi-Analyte Profile 1.0
TREM2 encodes for triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 and has rare, coding variants that associate with risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) in Caucasians of European and North-American origin. This study evaluated the role of TREM2 in LOAD risk in African-American (AA) subjects. We performed exonic sequencing and validation in two independent cohorts of >800 subjects. We selected six coding variants (p.R47H, p.R62H, p.D87N, p.E151K, p.W191X, and p.L211P) for case–control analyses in a total of 906 LOAD cases vs. 2,487 controls.
We identified significant LOAD risk association with p.L211P (p = 0.01, OR = 1.27, 95%CI = 1.05-1.54) and suggestive association with p.W191X (p = 0.08, OR = 1.35, 95%CI = 0.97-1.87). Conditional analysis suggests that p.L211P, which is in linkage disequilibrium with p.W191X, may be the stronger variant of the two, but does not rule out independent contribution of the latter. TREM2 p.L211P resides within the cytoplasmic domain and p.W191X is a stop-gain mutation within the shorter TREM-2V transcript. The coding variants within the extracellular domain of TREM2 previously shown to confer LOAD risk in Caucasians were extremely rare in our AA cohort and did not associate with LOAD risk.
Our findings suggest that TREM2 coding variants also confer LOAD risk in AA, but implicate variants within different regions of the gene than those identified for Caucasian subjects. These results underscore the importance of investigating different ethnic populations for disease risk variant discovery, which may uncover allelic heterogeneity with potentially diverse mechanisms of action.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13024-015-0016-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
LOAD; African-American; TREM2; Coding variants; Case–control
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease in which microglia play a significant and active role. Recently, a rare missense variant (p.R47H) in the microglial activating gene TREM2 was found to increase the risk of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. Whether the p.R47H variant is a risk factor for ALS is not currently known.
To determine if p.R47H (rs75932628) in TREM2 is a risk factor for ALS and assess whether TREM2 expression is dysregulated in disease.
Design, setting, and participants
923 sporadic ALS subjects and 1854 normal controls self-reported as non-Hispanic white were collected from ALS clinics in the United States and genotyped for the p.R47H variant in TREM2. Clinical data was obtained on ALS subjects for genotype/phenotype correlations. Expression of TREM2 was measured by quantitative PCR and compared in spinal cord from 18 ALS subjects, 12 neurologically normal controls, as well as from wildtype and transgenic SOD1G93A mice.
Main outcome measures
Minor allele frequency of rs75932628 and relative expression of TREM2.
The TREM2 variant p. R47H was more common in subject with ALS than in controls and is therefore a significant risk factor for ALS (OR=2.40; 95%CI=1.29-4.15; p=4.1×10-3). Furthermore, TREM2 expression was increased in spinal cords from ALS patients and SOD1G93A mice (p=2.8×10-4, p=2.8×10-9 respectively), confirming dysregulated TREM2 in disease. TREM2 expression in human spinal cord was negatively correlated with survival (p=0.04), but not other phenotypic aspects of disease.
Conclusion and relevance
This study demonstrates that the TREM2 p.R47H variant is a potent risk factor for sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. These findings identify the first genetic influence on neuro-inflammation in ALS and highlight the TREM2 signaling pathway as a therapeutic target in ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Clinicopathologic evidence suggests the pathology of Alzheimer disease (AD) begins many years prior to cognitive symptoms. Biomarkers are required to identify affected individuals during this asymptomatic (“pre-clinical”) stage to permit intervention with potential disease-modifying therapies designed to preserve normal brain function. Studies of families with autosomal-dominant AD (ADAD) mutations provide a unique and powerful means to investigate AD biomarker changes during the asymptomatic period. In this biomarker study comparing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), plasma and in vivo amyloid imaging, cross-sectional data obtained at baseline in individuals from ADAD families enrolled in the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) demonstrate reduced concentrations of CSF amyloid-β1-42 (Aβ1–42) associated with the presence of β-amyloid plaques, and elevated concentrations of CSF tau, ptau181 and VILIP-1, markers of neurofibrillary tangles and/or neuronal injury/death, in asymptomatic mutation carriers 10-20 years prior to their estimated age at symptom onset (EAO), and prior to detection of cognitive deficits. When compared longitudinally, however, the concentrations of CSF biomarkers of neuronal injury/death within-individuals decrease after their EAO, suggesting a slowing of acute neurodegenerative processes with symptomatic disease progression. These results emphasize the importance of longitudinal, within-person assessment when modeling biomarker trajectories across the course of the disease. If corroborated, this pattern may influence the definition of a positive neurodegenerative biomarker outcome in clinical trials.
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
Autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease (ADAD) is caused by rare genetic
mutations in three specific genes, in contrast to late-onset Alzheimer
Disease (LOAD), which has a more polygenetic risk profile.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We analyzed functional connectivity in multiple brain resting state
networks (RSNs) in a cross-sectional cohort of ADAD (N=79) and LOAD (N=444)
human participants using resting state functional connectivity MRI
(rs-fcMRI) at multiple international academic sites.
Main Outcomes and Measures
For both types of AD, we quantified and compared functional
connectivity changes in RSNs as a function of dementia severity as measured
by clinical dementia rating (CDR). In ADAD, we qualitatively investigated
functional connectivity changes with respect to estimated years from onset
of symptoms within five RSNs.
Functional connectivity decreases with increasing CDR were similar
for both LOAD and ADAD in multiple RSNs. Ordinal logistic regression models
constructed in each type of AD accurately predicted CDR stage in the other,
further demonstrating similarity of functional connectivity loss in each
disease type. Among ADAD participants, functional connectivity in multiple
RSNs appeared qualitatively lower in asymptomatic mutation carriers near
their anticipated age of symptom onset compared to asymptomatic mutation
Conclusions and Relevance
rs-fcMRI changes with progressing AD severity are similar between
ADAD and LOAD. Rs-fcMRI may be a useful endpoint for LOAD and ADAD therapy
trials. ADAD disease process may be an effective model for LOAD disease
Resting-state functional connectivity; autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease; late-onset Alzheimer's disease; default mode network; apolipoprotein E (APOE)
A subset of frontotemporal dementia cases are neuropathologically defined by tau negative, TDP-43 and ubiquitin positive inclusions in the brain and are associated with mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN). Deep sequencing of families exhibiting late onset dementia revealed several novel variants in the GRN gene. Due to the small size of these families and limited availability of samples, it was not possible to determine whether the variants segregated with disease. Furthermore, none of these families had autopsy confirmation of diagnosis. We sought to determine if these novel GRN variants alter progranulin protein (PGRN) stability, PGRN secretion, and PGRN cleavage in cultured cells. All of the novel GRN variants behave like PGRN WT protein, suggesting that these variants represent rare polymorphisms. However, it remains possible that these variants affect other aspects of PGRN function or represent risk factors for dementia when combined with other modifying genes.
Late onset Alzheimer’s disease; frontotemporal dementia; progranulin; granulin
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) 42 amino acid species of amyloid beta (Aβ42) and tau levels are strongly correlated with the presence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology including amyloid plaques and neurodegeneration and have been successfully used as endophenotypes for genetic studies of AD. Additional CSF analytes may also serve as useful endophenotypes that capture other aspects of AD pathophysiology. Here we have conducted a genome-wide association study of CSF levels of 59 AD-related analytes. All analytes were measured using the Rules Based Medicine Human DiscoveryMAP Panel, which includes analytes relevant to several disease-related processes. Data from two independently collected and measured datasets, the Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) and Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), were analyzed separately, and combined results were obtained using meta-analysis. We identified genetic associations with CSF levels of 5 proteins (Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2), Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 4 (CCL4), Interleukin 6 receptor (IL6R) and Matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP3)) with study-wide significant p-values (p<1.46×10−10) and significant, consistent evidence for association in both the Knight ADRC and the ADNI samples. These proteins are involved in amyloid processing and pro-inflammatory signaling. SNPs associated with ACE, IL6R and MMP3 protein levels are located within the coding regions of the corresponding structural gene. The SNPs associated with CSF levels of CCL4 and CCL2 are located in known chemokine binding proteins. The genetic associations reported here are novel and suggest mechanisms for genetic control of CSF and plasma levels of these disease-related proteins. Significant SNPs in ACE and MMP3 also showed association with AD risk. Our findings suggest that these proteins/pathways may be valuable therapeutic targets for AD. Robust associations in cognitively normal individuals suggest that these SNPs also influence regulation of these proteins more generally and may therefore be relevant to other diseases.
The use of quantitative endophenotypes from cerebrospinal fluid has led to the identification of several genetic variants that alter risk or rate of progression of Alzheimer's disease. Here we have analyzed the levels of 58 disease-related proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid for association with millions of variants across the human genome. We have identified significant, replicable associations with 5 analytes, Angiotensin-converting enzyme, Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2, Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 4, Interleukin 6 receptor and Matrix metalloproteinase-3. Our results suggest that these variants play a regulatory role in the respective protein levels and are relevant to the inflammatory and amyloid processing pathways. Variants in associated with ACE and those associated with MMP3 levels also show association with risk for Alzheimer's disease in the expected directions. These associations are consistent in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma and in samples with only cognitively normal individuals suggesting that they are relevant in the regulation of these protein levels beyond the context of Alzheimer's disease.
To use principal component analyses (PCA) of Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) PET imaging to determine whether the pattern of in vivo β-amyloid (Aβ) in Parkinson disease (PD) with cognitive impairment is similar to the pattern found in symptomatic Alzheimer disease (AD).
PiB PET scans were obtained from participants with PD with cognitive impairment (n = 53), participants with symptomatic AD (n = 35), and age-matched controls (n = 67). All were assessed using the Clinical Dementia Rating and APOE genotype was determined in 137 participants. PCA was used to 1) determine the PiB binding pattern in AD, 2) determine a possible unique PD pattern, and 3) directly compare the PiB binding patterns in PD and AD groups.
The first 2 principal components (PC1 and PC2) significantly separated the AD and control participants (p < 0.001). Participants with PD with cognitive impairment also were significantly different from participants with symptomatic AD on both components (p < 0.001). However, there was no difference between PD and controls on either component. Even those participants with PD with elevated mean cortical binding potentials were significantly different from participants with AD on both components.
Using PCA, we demonstrated that participants with PD with cognitive impairment do not exhibit the same PiB binding pattern as participants with AD. These data suggest that Aβ deposition may play a different pathophysiologic role in the cognitive impairment of PD compared to that in AD.
Rare mutations in AβPP, PSEN1, and PSEN2 cause uncommon early onset forms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and common variants in MAPT are associated with risk of other neurodegenerative disorders. We sought to establish whether common genetic variation in these genes confer risk to the common form of AD which occurs later in life (>65 years). We therefore tested single-nucleotide polymorphisms at these loci for association with late-onset AD (LOAD) in a large case-control sample consisting of 3,940 cases and 13,373 controls. Single-marker analysis did not identify any variants that reached genome-wide significance, a result which is supported by other recent genome-wide association studies. However, we did observe a significant association at the MAPT locus using a gene-wide approach (p = 0.009). We also observed suggestive association between AD and the marker rs9468, which defines the H1 haplotype, an extended haplotype that spans the MAPT gene and has previously been implicated in other neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration. In summary common variants at AβPP, PSEN1, and PSEN2 and MAPT are unlikely to make strong contributions to susceptibility for LOAD. However, the gene-wide effect observed at MAPT indicates a possible contribution to disease risk which requires further study.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β protein precursor; genetics; human; MAPT protein; PSEN1 protein; PSEN2 protein
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several risk
variants for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD)1,2. These
common variants have replicable but small effects on LOAD risk and generally do
not have obvious functional effects. Low-frequency coding variants, not detected
by GWAS, are predicted to include functional variants with larger effects on
risk. To identify low frequency coding variants with large effects on LOAD risk,
we performed whole exome-sequencing (WES) in 14 large LOAD families and
follow-up analyses of the candidate variants in several large case-control
datasets. A rare variant in PLD3 (phospholipase-D family,
member 3, rs145999145; V232M) segregated with disease status in two independent
families and doubled risk for AD in seven independent case-control series (V232M
meta-analysis; OR= 2.10, CI=1.47-2.99; p= 2.93×10-5, 11,354
cases and controls of European-descent). Gene-based burden analyses in 4,387
cases and controls of European-descent and 302 African American cases and
controls, with complete sequence data for PLD3, indicate that
several variants in this gene increase risk for AD in both populations (EA: OR=
2.75, CI=2.05-3.68; p=1.44×10-11, AA: OR= 5.48, CI=1.77-16.92;
p=1.40×10-3). PLD3 is highly expressed in
brain regions vulnerable to AD pathology, including hippocampus and cortex, and
is expressed at lower levels in neurons from AD brains compared to control
brains (p=8.10×10-10). Over-expression of PLD3 leads to a
significant decrease in intracellular APP and extracellular Aβ42 and
Aβ40, while knock-down of PLD3 leads to a significant increase in
extracellular Aβ42 and Aβ40. Together, our genetic and functional
data indicate that carriers of PLD3 coding variants have a
two-fold increased risk for LOAD and that PLD3 influences APP
processing. This study provides an example of how densely affected families may
be used to identify rare variants with large effects on risk for disease or
other complex traits.
Alcohol dependence (AD) is a heritable substance addiction with adverse physical and psychological consequences, representing a major health and economic burden on societies worldwide. Genes thus far implicated via linkage, candidate gene and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) account for only a small fraction of its overall risk, with effects varying across ethnic groups. Here we investigate the genetic architecture of alcoholism and report on the extent to which common, genome-wide SNPs collectively account for risk of AD in two US populations, African-Americans (AAs) and European-Americans (EAs). Analyzing GWAS data for two independent case-control sample sets, we compute polymarker scores that are significantly associated with alcoholism (P=1.64 × 10−3 and 2.08 × 10−4 for EAs and AAs, respectively), reflecting the small individual effects of thousands of variants derived from patterns of allelic architecture that are population-specific. Simulations show that disease models based on rare and uncommon causal variants (MAF<0.05) best fit the observed distribution of polymarker signals. When scoring bins were annotated for gene location and examined for constituent biological networks, gene enrichment is observed for several cellular processes and functions in both EA and AA populations, transcending their underlying allelic differences. Our results reveal key insights into the complex etiology of AD, raising the possibility of an important role for rare and uncommon variants, and identify polygenic mechanisms that encompass a spectrum of disease liability, with some, such as chloride transporters and glycine metabolism genes, displaying subtle, modifying effects that are likely to escape detection in most GWAS designs.
alcohol dependence; GWAS; polymarker scores; synthetic association; rare variants; pathway analysis
Alzheimer's disease is a common debilitating dementia with known heritability, for which 20 late onset susceptibility loci have been identified, but more remain to be discovered. This study sought to identify new susceptibility genes, using an alternative gene-wide analytical approach which tests for patterns of association within genes, in the powerful genome-wide association dataset of the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project Consortium, comprising over 7 m genotypes from 25,580 Alzheimer's cases and 48,466 controls.
In addition to earlier reported genes, we detected genome-wide significant loci on chromosomes 8 (TP53INP1, p = 1.4×10−6) and 14 (IGHV1-67 p = 7.9×10−8) which indexed novel susceptibility loci.
The additional genes identified in this study, have an array of functions previously implicated in Alzheimer's disease, including aspects of energy metabolism, protein degradation and the immune system and add further weight to these pathways as potential therapeutic targets in Alzheimer's disease.
Eleven susceptibility loci for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) were identified by previous studies; however, a large portion of the genetic risk for this disease remains unexplained. We conducted a large, two-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in individuals of European ancestry. In stage 1, we used genotyped and imputed data (7,055,881 SNPs) to perform meta-analysis on 4 previously published GWAS data sets consisting of 17,008 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 37,154 controls. In stage 2,11,632 SNPs were genotyped and tested for association in an independent set of 8,572 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 11,312 controls. In addition to the APOE locus (encoding apolipoprotein E), 19 loci reached genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8) in the combined stage 1 and stage 2 analysis, of which 11 are newly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
TREM and TREM-like receptors are a structurally similar protein family encoded by genes clustered on chromosome 6p21.11. Recent studies have identified a rare coding variant (p.R47H) in TREM2 that confers a high risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD). In addition, common single nucleotide polymorphisms in this genomic region are associated with cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers for AD and a common intergenic variant found near the TREML2 gene has been identified to be protective for AD. However, little is known about the functional variant underlying the latter association or its relationship with the p.R47H. Here, we report comprehensive analyses using whole-exome sequencing data, cerebrospinal fluid biomarker analyses, meta-analyses (16,254 cases and 20,052 controls) and cell-based functional studies to support the role of the TREML2 coding missense variant p.S144G (rs3747742) as a potential driver of the meta-analysis AD-associated genome-wide association studies signal. Additionally, we demonstrate that the protective role of TREML2 in AD is independent of the role of TREM2 gene as a risk factor for AD.
TREM2; Genome-wide association studies; Conditional analysis; Endophenotype; Gene; Alzheimer's disease; Association
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. Accordingly, effort has been devoted to determining the genetic variants that contribute to smoking risk. Genome-wide association studies have identified several variants in nicotinic acetylcholine receptor genes that contribute to nicotine dependence risk. We previously undertook pooled sequencing of the coding regions and flanking sequence of the CHRNA5, CHRNA3, CHRNB4, CHRNA6 and CHRNB3 genes and found that rare missense variants at conserved residues in CHRNB4 are associated with reduced risk of nicotine dependence among African Americans. We identified 10 low frequency (<5%) non-synonymous variants in CHRNB4 and investigated functional effects by co-expression with normal α3 or α4 subunits in human embryonic kidney cells. Voltage-clamp was used to obtain acetylcholine and nicotine concentration–response curves and qRT-PCR, western blots and cell-surface ELISAs were performed to assess expression levels. These results were used to functionally weight genetic variants in a gene-based association test. We find that there is a highly significant correlation between carrier status weighted by either acetylcholine EC50 (β = −0.67, r2 = 0.017, P = 2×10−4) or by response to low nicotine (β = −0.29, r2 = 0.02, P = 6×10−5) when variants are expressed with the α3 subunit. In contrast, there is no significant association when carrier status is unweighted (β = −0.04, r2 = 0.0009, P = 0.54). These results highlight the value of functional analysis of variants and the advantages to integrating such data into genetic studies. They also suggest that an increased sensitivity to low concentrations of nicotine is protective from the risk of developing nicotine dependence.
Late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD), defined as onset of symptoms after age 65 years, is the most common form of dementia. Few reports investigate incidence rates in large family-based studies in which the participants were selected for family history of LOAD.
To determine the incidence rates of dementia and LOAD in unaffected members in the National Institute on Aging Genetics Initiative for Late-Onset Alzheimer Disease/National Cell Repository for Alzheimer Disease (NIA-LOAD/NCRAD) and Estudio Familiar de Influencia Genetica en Alzheimer (EFIGA) family studies.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS
Families with 2 or more affected siblings who had a clinical or pathological diagnosis of LOAD were recruited as a part of the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD Family Study. A cohort of Caribbean Hispanics with familial LOAD was recruited in a different study at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain in New York and from clinics in the Dominican Republic as part of the EFIGA study.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES
Age-specific incidence rates of LOAD were estimated in the unaffected family members in the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD and EFIGA data sets. We restricted analyses to families with follow-up and complete phenotype information, including 396 NIA-LOAD/NCRAD and 242 EFIGA families. Among the 943 at-risk family members in the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD families, 126 (13.4%) developed dementia, of whom 109 (86.5%) met criteria for LOAD. Among 683 at-risk family members in the EFIGA families, 174 (25.5%) developed dementia during the study period, of whom 145 (83.3%) had LOAD.
The annual incidence rates of dementia and LOAD in the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD families per person-year were 0.03 and 0.03, respectively, in participants aged 65 to 74 years; 0.07 and 0.06, respectively, in those aged 75 to 84 years; and 0.08 and 0.07, respectively, in those 85 years or older. Incidence rates in the EFIGA families were slightly higher, at 0.03 and 0.02, 0.06 and 0.05, 0.10 and 0.08, and 0.10 and 0.07, respectively, in the same age groups. Contrasting these results with the population-based estimates, the incidence was increased by 3-fold for NIA-LOAD/NCRAD families (standardized incidence ratio, 3.44) and 2-fold among the EFIGA compared with the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD families (1.71).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
The incidence rates for familial dementia and LOAD in the NIA-LOAD/NCRAD and EFIGA families are significantly higher than population-based estimates. The incidence rates in all groups increase with age. The higher incidence of LOAD can be explained by segregation of Alzheimer disease–related genes in these families or shared environmental risks.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau, tau phosphorylated at threonine 181 (ptau) and Aβ42 are established biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), and have been used as quantitative traits for genetic analyses. We performed the largest genome-wide association study for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau/ptau levels published to date (n=1,269), identifying three novel genome-wide significant loci for CSF tau and ptau: rs9877502 (P=4.89×10−9 for tau) located at 3q28 between GEMC1 and OSTN, rs514716 (P=1.07×10−8 and P=3.22×10−9 for tau and ptau respectively), located at 9p24.2 within GLIS3 and rs6922617 (P = 3.58×10−8 for CSF ptau) at 6p21.1 within the TREM gene cluster, a region recently reported to harbor rare variants that increase AD risk. In independent datasets rs9877502 showed a strong association with risk for AD, tangle pathology and global cognitive decline (P=2.67×10−4, 0.039, 4.86×10−5 respectively) illustrating how this endophenotype-based approach can be used to identify new AD risk loci.