Role for ATXN1, ATXN2, and HTT intermediate repeats in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Neurobiol Aging. 2020 Mar;87:139.e1-139.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2019.10.017. Epub 2019 Nov 1.


We analyzed the frequency of intermediate alleles (IAs) in the ATXN1, ATXN2, and HTT genes in several neurodegenerative diseases. The study included 1126 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), 440 patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and 610 patients with Parkinson's disease. In all cohorts, we genotyped ATXN1 and ATXN2 CAG repeats. In addition, in the FTD cohort, we determined the number of HTT CAG repeats. The frequency of HTT IAs was higher in patients with FTD (6.9%) versus controls (2.9%) and in the C9orf72 expansion noncarriers (7.2%) versus controls (2.9%), although the difference was nonsignificant after correction for multiple testing. Compared with controls, progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA) groups showed a significantly higher frequency of HTT IAs (13.6% vs. 2.9% controls). For the ATXN2 gene, we observed an increase in IA frequency in AD cases (AD 4.1% vs. controls 1.8%) and in the behavioral FTD group (4.8% vs. 1.8%). For the ATXN1 gene, we found a significant increase of IAs in patients with PNFA (18.6%) versus controls (6.7%). In conclusion, our work suggests that the HTT and ATXN1 IAS may contribute to PNFA pathogenesis and point to a link between ATXN2 IAS and AD.

Keywords: CAG repeats; Intermediate alleles; Neurodegeneration; Tauopathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Ataxin-1 / genetics*
  • Ataxin-2 / genetics*
  • C9orf72 Protein / genetics
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / genetics*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Huntingtin Protein / genetics*
  • Male
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics*
  • Trinucleotide Repeat Expansion
  • Trinucleotide Repeats*


  • ATXN1 protein, human
  • ATXN2 protein, human
  • Ataxin-1
  • Ataxin-2
  • C9orf72 Protein
  • C9orf72 protein, human
  • HTT protein, human
  • Huntingtin Protein