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A comprehensive analysis of methods for assessing polygenic burden on Alzheimer’s disease pathology and risk beyond APOE

Altmann, A; Scelsi, M; Shoai, M; De Silva, E; Aksman, L; Cash, D; Hardy, J; (2020) A comprehensive analysis of methods for assessing polygenic burden on Alzheimer’s disease pathology and risk beyond APOE. Brain Communications , 2 (1) , Article fcz047. 10.1093/braincomms/fcz047. Green open access

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Abstract

Genome-wide association studies have identified dozens of loci that alter the risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease. However, with the exception of the APOE-ε4 allele, most variants bear only little individual effect and have, therefore, limited diagnostic and prognostic value. Polygenic risk scores aim to collate the disease risk distributed across the genome in a single score. Recent works have demonstrated that polygenic risk scores designed for Alzheimer’s disease are predictive of clinical diagnosis, pathology confirmed diagnosis and changes in imaging biomarkers. Methodological innovations in polygenic risk modelling include the polygenic hazard score, which derives effect estimates for individual single nucleotide polymorphisms from survival analysis, and methods that account for linkage disequilibrium between genomic loci. In this work, using data from the Alzheimer’s disease neuroimaging initiative, we compared different approaches to quantify polygenic disease burden for Alzheimer’s disease and their association (beyond the APOE locus) with a broad range of Alzheimer’s disease-related traits: cross-sectional CSF biomarker levels, cross-sectional cortical amyloid burden, clinical diagnosis, clinical progression, longitudinal loss of grey matter and longitudinal decline in cognitive function. We found that polygenic scores were associated beyond APOE with clinical diagnosis, CSF-tau levels and, to a minor degree, with progressive atrophy. However, for many other tested traits such as clinical disease progression, CSF amyloid, cognitive decline and cortical amyloid load, the additional effects of polygenic burden beyond APOE were of minor nature. Overall, polygenic risk scores and the polygenic hazard score performed equally and given the ease with which polygenic risk scores can be derived; they constitute the more practical choice in comparison with polygenic hazard scores. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that incomplete adjustment for the APOE locus, i.e. only adjusting for APOE-ε4 carrier status, can lead to overestimated effects of polygenic scores due to APOE-ε4 homozygous participants. Lastly, on many of the tested traits, the major driving factor remained the APOE locus, with the exception of quantitative CSF-tau and p-tau measures.

Type: Article
Title: A comprehensive analysis of methods for assessing polygenic burden on Alzheimer’s disease pathology and risk beyond APOE
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/braincomms/fcz047
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcz047
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) (2019). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Guarantors of Brain. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Neurodegenerative Diseases
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Med Phys and Biomedical Eng
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10087725
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