Multiple gene variants linked to Alzheimer’s-type clinical dementia via GWAS are also associated with non-Alzheimer’s neuropathologic entities

Author(s): Katsumata, Y; Shade, LM; Hohman, TJ; Schneider, JA; Bennett, DA; Farfel, JM; Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium; Kukull, WA; Fardo, DW; Nelson, PT;
Year: 2022;  
Journal: Neurobiology of Disease;  
Volume: 174;  

The classic pathologic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (AD neuropathologic changes, or ADNC). However, brains from individuals clinically diagnosed with “AD-type” (amnestic) dementia usually harbor heterogeneous neuropathologies in addition to, or other than, ADNC. We hypothesized that some AD-type dementia associated genetic single nucleotide variants (SNVs) identified from large genomewide association studies (GWAS) were associated with non-ADNC neuropathologies. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed data from multiple studies with available genotype and neuropathologic phenotype information. Clinical AD/dementia risk alleles of interest were derived from the very large GWAS by Bellenguez et al. (2022) who reported 83 clinical AD/dementia-linked SNVs in addition to the APOE risk alleles. To query the pathologic phenotypes associated with variation of those SNVs, National Alzheimer’s disease Coordinating Center (NACC) neuropathologic data were linked to AD Sequencing Project (ADSP) and AD Genomics Consortium (ADGC) data. Separate data were obtained from the harmonized Religious Orders Study and the Rush Memory and Aging Project (ROSMAP). A total of 4811 European participants had at least ADNC neuropathology data and also genotype data available; data were meta-analyzed across cohorts. As expected, a subset of dementia-associated SNVs were associated with ADNC risk in Europeans-e.g., BIN1, PICALM, CR1, MME, and COX7C. Other gene variants linked to (clinical) AD dementia were associated with non-ADNC pathologies. For example, the associations of GRN and TMEM106B SNVs with limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 neuropathologic changes (LATE-NC) were replicated. In addition, SNVs in TNIP1 and WNT3 previously reported as AD-related were instead associated with hippocampal sclerosis pathology. Some genotype/neuropathology association trends were not statistically significant at P < 0.05 after correcting for multiple testing, but were intriguing. For example, variants in SORL1 and TPCN1 showed trends for association with LATE-NC whereas Lewy body pathology trended toward association with USP6NL and BIN1 gene variants. A smaller cohort of non-European subjects (n = 273, approximately one-half of whom were African-Americans) provided the basis for additional exploratory analyses. Overall, these findings were consistent with the hypothesis that some genetic variants linked to AD dementia risk exert their affect by influencing non-ADNC neuropathologies.