Associations of the Top 20 Alzheimer Disease Risk Variants With Brain Amyloidosis

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Abstract

Importance

Late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD) is highly heritable. Genome-wide association studies have identified more than 20 AD risk genes. The precise mechanism through which many of these genes are associated with AD remains unknown.

Objective

To investigate the association of the top 20 AD risk variants with brain amyloidosis.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This study analyzed the genetic and florbetapir F 18 data from 322 cognitively normal control individuals, 496 individuals with mild cognitive impairment, and 159 individuals with AD dementia who had genome-wide association studies and 18F-florbetapir positron emission tomographic data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a prospective, observational, multisite tertiary center clinical and biomarker study. This ongoing study began in 2005.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The study tested the association of AD risk allele carrier status (exposure) with florbetapir mean standard uptake value ratio (outcome) using stepwise multivariable linear regression while controlling for age, sex, and apolipoprotein E ε4 genotype. The study also reports on an exploratory 3-dimensional stepwise regression model using an unbiased voxelwise approach in Statistical Parametric Mapping 8 with cluster and significance thresholds at 50 voxels and uncorrected P < .01.

Results

This study included 977 participants (mean [SD] age, 74 [7.5] years; 535 [54.8%] male and 442 [45.2%] female) from the ADNI-1, ADNI-2, and ADNI–Grand Opportunity. The adenosine triphosphate–binding cassette subfamily A member 7 (ABCA7) gene had the strongest association with amyloid deposition (χ2 = 8.38, false discovery rate–corrected P < .001), after apolioprotein E ε4. Significant associations were found between ABCA7 in the asymptomatic and early symptomatic disease stages, suggesting an association with rapid amyloid accumulation. The fermitin family homolog 2 (FERMT2) gene had a stage-dependent association with brain amyloidosis (FERMT2 × diagnosis χ2 = 3.53, false discovery rate–corrected P = .05), which was most pronounced in the mild cognitive impairment stage.

Conclusions and Relevance

This study found an association of several AD risk variants with brain amyloidosis. The data also suggest that AD genes might differentially regulate AD pathologic findings across the disease stages.

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