Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a multifactorial disorder determined by the interaction of genetic, metabolic, and environmental factors. In the common late-onset familial and sporadic forms of AD apolipoprotein E type 4 allele (APOE-epsilon4) is now widely accepted as a major risk factor. The association of estrogen treatment with a reduction in the risk of AD together with the modulation by estrogen of the secretory metabolism of the amyloid precursor protein offers new possibilities for identification of other AD susceptibility genes, as those encoding for the estrogen receptors (ERs). A total of 193 patients with sporadic late-onset AD, meeting the NINCDS-ADRDA criteria, and a total of 202 control subjects, age and education matched, were included in this study. PvuII and XbaI ERalpha and HhaI APOE gene polymorphisms were evaluated in genomic DNA by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). The frequency of the various ERalpha genotypes by the combination of P, p and X, x was calculated for controls and AD patients stratified based on ApoE typing. When the two ERalpha gene polymorphisms were analyzed in combination, 7 genotypes were recognized, with a significantly increased prevalence of PPXX genotype in AD patients compared to controls (P = 0.0001). Risk of AD increased by a factor of 7.6 (CI [1.10-62.3]) in homozygous APOE-epsilon4 individuals with PPXX ERalpha genotype. These results are consistent with a segregation of PPXX ERalpha genotype with a higher risk of developing late-onset sporadic AD in the Italian population. The ERalpha gene appears to interact with the APOE-epsilon4 genotype in determining AD susceptibility.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.