Genetics of Alzheimer's disease

María Elisa Alonso Vilatela, Marisol López-López, Petra Yescas-Gómez
Archives of Medical Research 2012, 43 (8): 622-31
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most frequent cause of dementia in the elderly and represents an important and increasing clinical challenge in terms of diagnosis and treatment. This review highlights the role of genetics in understanding the pieces of the complex AD puzzle and summarizes the genes known to be involved in Alzheimer's disease. The amount of risk of Alzheimer's disease that is attributable to genetics is estimated to be ∼70%. Mutations in the genes encoding amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin 1 (PSEN1) and presenilin 2 (PSEN2) are responsible for early-onset autosomal dominant AD. Although mutations in these genes account for ∼1% of AD cases, their identification has been crucial to understand the molecular mechanisms of AD. For the more common complex late-onset AD, the ɛ-4 allele of the gene encoding apolipoprotein E (APOE) has been recognized as a major genetic risk factor. More recently, several potential disease risk genes have been identified with the use of advanced genomic methods like genome-wide association studies (GWAS). In the end, the knowledge of the pathophysiological mechanisms leading to AD will enable the development of more accurate diagnostic tests and new disease-treating strategies.

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