Genetics of Alzheimer's disease in Caribbean Hispanic and African American populations

Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Apr 1;75(7):534-41. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.06.003. Epub 2013 Jul 25.


Late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD), which is characterized by progressive deterioration in cognition, function, and behavior, is the most common cause of dementia and the sixth leading cause of all deaths, placing a considerable burden on Western societies. Most studies aiming to identify genetic susceptibility factors for LOAD have focused on non-Hispanic white populations. This is, in part related to differences in linkage disequilibrium and allele frequencies between ethnic groups that could lead to confounding. However, in addition, non-Hispanic white populations are simply more widely studied. As a consequence, minorities are genetically underrepresented despite the fact that in several minority populations living in the same community as whites (including African American and Caribbean Hispanics), LOAD incidence is higher. This review summarizes the current knowledge on genetic risk factors associated with LOAD risk in Caribbean Hispanics and African Americans and provides suggestions for future research. We focus on Caribbean Hispanics and African Americans because they have a high LOAD incidence and a body of genetic studies on LOAD that is based on samples with genome-wide association studies data and reasonably large effect sizes to yield generalizable results.

Keywords: African American; Alzheimer’s disease; Caribbean Hispanic; gene; genetics; minorities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / ethnology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics*
  • Caribbean Region
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Hispanic or Latino / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors


  • Apolipoproteins E