HMGCR is a genetic modifier for risk, age of onset and MCI conversion to Alzheimer's disease in a three cohorts study

Mol Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;20(7):867-73. doi: 10.1038/mp.2014.81. Epub 2014 Jul 15.


Several retrospective epidemiological studies report that utilization of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCR) inhibitors called statins at mid-life can reduce the risk of developing sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD) by as much as 70%. Conversely, the administration of these inhibitors in clinically diagnosed subjects with AD confers little or no benefits over time. Here, we investigated the association between AD and HMGCR rs3846662, a polymorphism known to be involved in the regulation of HMGCR exon 13 skipping, in a founder population and in two distinct mixed North American populations of converting mild cognitively impaired (MCI) subjects (Alzheimer's disease Cooperative study (ADCS) and Alzheimer's disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) cohorts). Targeting more specifically women, the G allele negative (G-) AD subjects exhibit delayed age of onset of AD (P=0.017) and significantly reduced risk of AD (OR: 0.521; P=0.0028), matching the effect size reported by the apolipoprotein E type 2 variant. Stratification for APOE4 in a large sample of MCI patients from the ADCS cohort revealed a significant protective effect of G negative carriers on AD conversion 3 years after MCI diagnosis (odds ratio (OR): 0.554; P=0.041). Conversion rate among APOE4 carriers with the HMGCR's G negative allele was markedly reduced (from 76% to 27%) to levels similar to APOE4 non-carriers (27.14%), which strongly indicate protection. Conversion data from the independent ADNI cohort also showed significantly reduced MCI or AD conversion among APOE4 carriers with the protective A allele (P=0.005). In conclusion, HMGCR rs3846662 acts as a potent genetic modifier for AD risk, age of onset and conversion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Apolipoprotein E4 / genetics
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / genetics*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases / genetics*
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Risk
  • Sex Factors


  • Apolipoprotein E4
  • HMGCR protein, human
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases