Role of Genetics and Epigenetics in the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer's Disease and Frontotemporal Dementia

J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;62(3):913-932. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170702.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) represent the first cause of dementia in senile and pre-senile population, respectively. A percentage of cases have a genetic cause, inherited with an autosomal dominant pattern of transmission. The majority of cases, however, derive from complex interactions between a number of genetic and environmental factors. Gene variants may act as risk or protective factors. Their combination with a variety of environmental exposures may result in increased susceptibility to these diseases or may influence their course. The scenario is even more complicated considering the effect of epigenetics, which encompasses mechanisms able to alter the expression of genes without altering the DNA sequence. In this review, an overview of the current genetic and epigenetic progresses in AD and FTD will be provided, with particular focus on 1) causative genes, 2) genetic risk factors and disease modifiers, and 3) epigenetics, including methylation, non-coding RNAs and chromatin remodeling.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; epigenetics; frontotemporal dementia; genetics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / genetics*
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / metabolism*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans