Shared genetic architecture between metabolic traits and Alzheimer's disease: a large-scale genome-wide cross-trait analysis

Hum Genet. 2019 Mar;138(3):271-285. doi: 10.1007/s00439-019-01988-9. Epub 2019 Feb 25.


A growing number of studies clearly demonstrate a substantial link between metabolic dysfunction and the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD), especially glucose-related dysfunction; one hypothesis for this comorbidity is the presence of a common genetic etiology. We conducted a large-scale cross-trait GWAS to investigate the genetic overlap between AD and ten metabolic traits. Among all the metabolic traits, fasting glucose, fasting insulin and HDL were found to be genetically associated with AD. Local genetic covariance analysis found that 19q13 region had strong local genetic correlation between AD and T2D (P = 6.78 × 10- 22), LDL (P = 1.74 × 10- 253) and HDL (P = 7.94 × 10- 18). Cross-trait meta-analysis identified 4 loci that were associated with AD and fasting glucose, 3 loci that were associated with AD and fasting insulin, and 20 loci that were associated with AD and HDL (Pmeta < 1.6 × 10- 8, single trait P < 0.05). Functional analysis revealed that the shared genes are enriched in amyloid metabolic process, lipoprotein remodeling and other related biological pathways; also in pancreas, liver, blood and other tissues. Our work identifies common genetic architectures shared between AD and fasting glucose, fasting insulin and HDL, and sheds light on molecular mechanisms underlying the association between metabolic dysregulation and AD.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Blood Glucose
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics*
  • Fasting
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin