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1.  Regional distribution of synaptic markers and APP correlate with distinct clinicopathological features in sporadic and familial Alzheimer’s disease 
Brain  2014;137(5):1533-1549.
Sporadic and familial Alzheimer’s disease differ in region-specific amyloid-β accumulation, pattern of neurodegeneration, and symptoms. Shinohara et al. quantify amyloid-β, tau and related molecules and reveal a synapse-associated pattern of amyloid-β42 in sporadic disease, and APP-associated amyloid-β42 in familial cases. Aberrant synaptic processes and APP processing respectively may drive these differences.
Recent studies suggest that subcortical structures, including striatum, are vulnerable to amyloid-β accumulation and other neuropathological features in familial Alzheimer’s disease due to autosomal dominant mutations. We explored differences between familial and sporadic Alzheimer’s disease that might shed light on their respective pathogenic mechanisms. To this end, we analysed 12 brain regions, including neocortical, limbic and subcortical areas, from post-mortem brains of familial Alzheimer’s disease (n = 10; age at death: 50.0 ± 8.6 years) with mutations in amyloid precursor protein (APP) or presenilin 1 (PSEN1), sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (n = 19; age at death: 84.7 ± 7.8 years), neurologically normal elderly without amyloid-β accumulation (normal ageing; n = 13, age at death: 82.9 ± 10.8 years) and neurologically normal elderly with extensive cortical amyloid-β deposits (pathological ageing; n = 15; age at death: 92.7 ± 5.9 years). The levels of amyloid-β40, amyloid-β42, APP, apolipoprotein E, the synaptic marker PSD95 (now known as DLG4), the astrocyte marker GFAP, other molecules related to amyloid-β metabolism, and tau were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. We observed that familial Alzheimer’s disease had disproportionate amyloid-β42 accumulation in subcortical areas compared with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease, whereas sporadic Alzheimer’s disease had disproportionate amyloid-β42 accumulation in cortical areas compared to familial Alzheimer’s disease. Compared with normal ageing, the levels of several proteins involved in amyloid-β metabolism were significantly altered in both sporadic and familial Alzheimer’s disease; however, such changes were not present in pathological ageing. Among molecules related to amyloid-β metabolism, the regional distribution of PSD95 strongly correlated with the regional pattern of amyloid-β42 accumulation in sporadic Alzheimer’s disease and pathological ageing, whereas the regional distribution of APP as well as β-C-terminal fragment of APP were strongly associated with the regional pattern of amyloid-β42 accumulation in familial Alzheimer’s disease. Apolipoprotein E and GFAP showed negative regional association with amyloid-β (especially amyloid-β40) accumulation in both sporadic and familial Alzheimer’s disease. Familial Alzheimer’s disease had greater striatal tau pathology than sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. In a retrospective medical record review, atypical signs and symptoms were more frequent in familial Alzheimer’s disease compared with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. These results suggest that disproportionate amyloid-β42 accumulation in cortical areas in sporadic Alzheimer’s disease may be mediated by synaptic processes, whereas disproportionate amyloid-β42 accumulation in subcortical areas in familial Alzheimer’s disease may be driven by APP and its processing. Region-specific amyloid-β42 accumulation might account for differences in the relative amounts of tau pathology and clinical symptoms in familial and sporadic Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3999719  PMID: 24625695
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β; neuroanatomy; APP; synapses
2.  A genome-wide study reveals rare CNVs exclusive to extreme phenotypes of Alzheimer disease 
Studying rare extreme forms of Alzheimer disease (AD) may prove to be a useful strategy in identifying new genes involved in monogenic determinism of AD. Amyloid precursor protein (APP), PSEN1, and PSEN2 mutations account for only 85% of autosomal dominant early-onset AD (ADEOAD) families. We hypothesised that rare copy number variants (CNVs) could be involved in ADEOAD families without mutations in known genes, as well as in rare sporadic young-onset AD cases. Using high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridisation, we assessed the presence of rare CNVs in 21 unrelated ADEOAD cases, having no alteration on known genes, and 12 sporadic AD cases, with an age of onset younger than 55 years. The analysis revealed the presence of 7 singleton CNVs (4 in ADEOAD and 3 in sporadic cases) absent in 1078 controls and 912 late-onset AD cases. Strikingly, 4 out of 7 rearrangements target genes (KLK6, SLC30A3, MEOX2, and FPR2) encoding proteins that are tightly related to amyloid-β peptide metabolism or signalling. Although these variants are individually rare and restricted to particular subgroups of patients, these findings support the causal role, in human pathology, of a set of genes coding for molecules suspected for a long time to modify Aβ metabolism or signalling, and for which animal or cellular models have already been developed.
PMCID: PMC3355247  PMID: 22166940
Alzheimer disease; copy number variations; KLK6; MEOX2; SLC30A3; FPR2
3.  Recent insights into the molecular genetics of dementia 
Trends in neurosciences  2009;32(8):451-461.
Our understanding of the molecular genetic basis of two common neurodegenerative dementias, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) has greatly advanced in recent years. Progranulin mutations were identified as a major cause of FTLD and a potential susceptibility factor for other forms of dementia. In addition, through copy-number analyses of previously identified disease genes and the study of microRNA regulation in dementia, new evidence emerged to support the view that subtle variability in the expression of known disease proteins may increase the risk for sporadic forms of dementia. Finally, in late-onset AD populations, the first genome-wide association studies were performed and novel potential AD susceptibility genes reported. These exciting findings provide novel insights into the disease mechanisms underlying dementia and hold promise for the development of potential treatments.
PMCID: PMC2864783  PMID: 19640594
4.  A polymorphism in CALHM1 influences Ca2+ homeostasis, Aβlevels, and Alzheimer’s disease risk 
Cell  2008;133(7):1149-1161.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a genetically heterogeneous disorder characterized by early hippocampal atrophy and cerebral Aβ peptide deposition. Using TissueInfo to screen for genes preferentially expressed in the hippocampus and located in AD linkage regions, we identified a novel gene on 10q24.33 that we call CALHM1. We show that CALHM1 encodes a multipass transmembrane glycoprotein that controls cytosolic Ca2+ concentrations and Aβ levels. CALHM1 homomultimerizes, shares strong sequence similarities with the selectivity filter of the NMDA receptor, and generates a large Ca2+ conductance across the plasma membrane. Importantly, we determined that the CALHM1 P86L polymorphism (rs2986017) is significantly associated with AD in independent case-control studies of 3,404 participants (allele-specific OR=1.44, P=2×10−10). We further found that the P86L polymorphism increases Aβ levels by interfering with CALHM1-mediated Ca2+ permeability. We propose that CALHM1 encodes an essential component of a novel cerebral Ca2+ channel that controls Aβ levels and susceptibility to AD.
PMCID: PMC2577842  PMID: 18585350
5.  Plasma progranulin levels predict progranulin mutation status in frontotemporal dementia patients and asymptomatic family members 
Brain  2009;132(3):583-591.
Mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN) are an important cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP43)-positive pathology. The clinical presentation associated with GRN mutations is heterogeneous and may include clinical probable Alzheimer's disease. All GRN mutations identified thus far cause disease through a uniform disease mechanism, i.e. the loss of functional GRN or haploinsufficiency. To determine if expression of GRN in plasma could predict GRN mutation status and could be used as a biological marker, we optimized a GRN ELISA and studied plasma samples of a consecutive clinical FTLD series of 219 patients, 70 control individuals, 72 early-onset probable Alzheimer's disease patients and nine symptomatic and 18 asymptomatic relatives of GRN mutation families. All FTLD patients with GRN loss-of-function mutations showed significantly reduced levels of GRN in plasma to about one third of the levels observed in non-GRN carriers and control individuals (P < 0.001). No overlap in distributions of GRN levels was observed between the eight GRN loss-of-function mutation carriers (range: 53–94 ng/ml) and 191 non-GRN mutation carriers (range: 115–386 ng/ml). Similar low levels of GRN were identified in asymptomatic GRN mutation carriers. Importantly, ELISA analyses also identified one probable Alzheimer's disease patient (1.4%) carrying a loss-of-function mutation in GRN. Biochemical analyses further showed that the GRN ELISA only detects full-length GRN, no intermediate granulin fragments. This study demonstrates that using a GRN ELISA in plasma, pathogenic GRN mutations can be accurately detected in symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers. The ∼75% reduction in full-length GRN, suggests an unbalanced GRN metabolism in loss-of-function mutation carriers whereby more GRN is processed into granulins. We propose that plasma GRN levels could be used as a reliable and inexpensive tool to identify all GRN mutation carriers in early-onset dementia populations and asymptomatic at-risk individuals.
PMCID: PMC2664450  PMID: 19158106
Progranulin; ELISA; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Alzheimer's disease

Results 1-5 (5)