Genetics of Alzheimer's disease.

Advances in genetics

PubMedID: 25311924

Chouraki V, Seshadri S. Genetics of Alzheimer's disease. Adv Genet. 2014;87245-94.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) represents the main form of dementia, and is a major public health problem. Despite intensive research efforts, current treatments have only marginal symptomatic benefits and there are no effective disease-modifying or preventive interventions. AD has a strong genetic component, so much research in AD has focused on identifying genetic causes and risk factors. This chapter will cover genetic discoveries in AD and their consequences in terms of improved knowledge regarding the disease and the identification of biomarkers and drug targets. First, we will discuss the study of the rare early-onset, autosomal dominant forms of AD that led to the discovery of mutations in three major genes, APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2. These discoveries have shaped our current understanding of the pathophysiology and natural history of AD as well as the development of therapeutic targets and the design of clinical trials. Then, we will explore linkage analysis and candidate gene approaches, which identified variants in Apolipoprotein E (APOE) as the major genetic risk factor for late-onset, "sporadic" forms of AD (LOAD), but failed to robustly identify other genetic risk factors, with the exception of variants in SORL1. The main focus of this chapter will be on recent genome-wide association studies that have successfully identified common genetic variations at over 20 loci associated with LOAD outside of the APOE locus. These loci are in or near-novel AD genes including BIN1, CR1, CLU, phosphatidylinositol-binding clathrin assembly protein (PICALM), CD33, EPHA1, MS4A4/MS4A6, ABCA7, CD2AP, SORL1, HLA-DRB5/DRB1, PTK2B, SLC24A4-RIN3, INPP5D, MEF2C, NME8, ZCWPW1, CELF1, FERMT2, CASS4, and TRIP4 and each has small effects on risk of AD (relative risks of 1.1-1.3). Finally, we will touch upon the ongoing effort to identify less frequent and rare variants through whole exome and whole genome sequencing. This effort has identified two novel genes, TREM2 and PLD3, and shown a role for APP in LOAD. The identification of these recently identified genes has implicated previously unsuspected biological pathways in the pathophysiology of AD.