Scientists make strides toward defining genetic signature of Alzheimer's disease

Dec 31, 2008

Scientists have new information about the complex genetic signature associated with Alzheimer's disease, the leading cause of cognitive decline and dementia in the elderly. The research, published by Cell Press in the January issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, uses a powerful, high-resolution analysis to look for genes associated with this devastating neurodegenerative disorder.

Previous research linked late-onset Alzheimer's disease, the most common form, with the apolipoprotein E gene. However, the genetics of the disease are complex and are not well understood. "Though apolipoprotein E has been universally confirmed as a risk gene for late-onset Alzheimer's disease, the gene is neither necessary nor sufficient to cause AD and as much as 50% of the genetic risk effect remains unexplained," says senior study author Dr. Margaret A. Pericak-Vance from the Miami Institute for Human Genomics at the University of Miami in Florida.

To gain further insight into the genetics of late-onset Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Pericak-Vance and colleagues completed a sophisticated and comprehensive genetic analysis of 492 late-onset Alzheimer's disease patients and 498 control individuals. The analysis was powerful enough to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are significantly more prevalent in individuals with Alzheimer's disease than they are in controls. A SNP is a variation of a single nucleotide of DNA.

The researchers confirmed the known apolipoprotein E association and identified a new association with a SNP on chromosome 12q13. The SNP is close to the gene for the vitamin D receptor, which has previously been linked with memory performance. "There is no known connection between this SNP and the vitamin D receptor, but the region between the two is largely uncharacterized, and it is possible that our SNP is in a region that may play some sort of regulatory role," offers Dr. Jonathan Haines, co-director of the project at Vanderbilt University's Center for Human Genetics Research.

The team also identified four other regions of interest and validated several candidate genes that exhibited a promising genome-wide association with Alzheimer's disease. "Detailed functional examination of these signals and genes may lead to a better understanding of the complex pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease," concludes Dr. Pericak-Vance.

Source: Cell Press

Explore further: Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The origin of the language of life

Dec 19, 2014

The genetic code is the universal language of life. It describes how information is encoded in the genetic material and is the same for all organisms from simple bacteria to animals to humans. However, the ...

Quest to unravel mysteries of our gene network

Dec 18, 2014

There are roughly 27,000 genes in the human body, all but a relative few of them connected through an intricate and complex network that plays a dominant role in shaping our physiological structure and functions.

Big data and the science of the Christmas tree

Dec 18, 2014

Often called the "Cadillac of Christmas trees," the Fraser Fir has everything a good Christmas tree should have: an even triangular shape, a sweet piney fragrance, and soft needles that (mostly) stay attached ...

Protection of the mouse gut by mucus depends on microbes

Dec 18, 2014

The quality of the colon mucus in mice depends on the composition of gut microbiota, reports a Swedish-Norwegian team of researchers from the University of Gothenburg and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Oslo. ...

Can returning crops to their wild states help feed the world?

Dec 16, 2014

To feed the world's growing population—expected to reach nine billion by the year 2050—we will have to find ways to produce more food on less farmland, without causing additional harm to the remaining natural habitat. ...

Recommended for you

Ebola death toll passes 7,500

4 hours ago

More than 7,500 people have now died from the Ebola virus, as the number of cases climbs towards 20,000, the World Health Organization said Monday.

Ebola-infected Italian doctor 'recovering'

4 hours ago

An Italian doctor who contracted Ebola in west Africa is recovering but is still in an isolation unit, the specialist clinic in Rome treating him said Monday.

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

Dec 21, 2014

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.