The APOE epsilon4 allele is a well described genetic marker that increases susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease in later life.
Researchers from Trinity College and St James’s Hospital, Dublin — in association with international colleagues — have now described two further candidate genes that may help increase understanding of the disease.
A study in Nature Genetics, part-authored by Prof Michael Gill and Prof Brian Lawlor from St James’s, has identified the two new candidate genes.
A genome-wide association study identified genetic variants at CLU and PICALM associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
CLU levels are elevated in a number of pathological conditions involving injury or chronic inflammation of the brain.
In the brain of an Alzheimer’s disease patient, CLU expression is reported to be increased in affected cortical areas and is present in amyloid plaques and in the cerebrospinal fluid.
The second gene locus to show compelling evidence for association with AD is PICALM. Until now, the APOE epsilon4 allele was the only consistently replicated genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s.