A multiomics approach to heterogeneity in Alzheimer's disease: focused review and roadmap

Brain. 2020 May 1;143(5):1315-1331. doi: 10.1093/brain/awz384.


Aetiological and clinical heterogeneity is increasingly recognized as a common characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. This heterogeneity complicates diagnosis, treatment, and the design and testing of new drugs. An important line of research is discovery of multimodal biomarkers that will facilitate the targeting of subpopulations with homogeneous pathophysiological signatures. High-throughput 'omics' are unbiased data-driven techniques that probe the complex aetiology of Alzheimer's disease from multiple levels (e.g. network, cellular, and molecular) and thereby account for pathophysiological heterogeneity in clinical populations. This review focuses on data reduction analyses that identify complementary disease-relevant perturbations for three omics techniques: neuroimaging-based subtypes, metabolomics-derived metabolite panels, and genomics-related polygenic risk scores. Neuroimaging can track accrued neurodegeneration and other sources of network impairments, metabolomics provides a global small-molecule snapshot that is sensitive to ongoing pathological processes, and genomics characterizes relatively invariant genetic risk factors representing key pathways associated with Alzheimer's disease. Following this focused review, we present a roadmap for assembling these multiomics measurements into a diagnostic tool highly predictive of individual clinical trajectories, to further the goal of personalized medicine in Alzheimer's disease.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; metabolite panel; multiomics biomarkers; neuroimaging subtype; polygenic risk score.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Genomics / methods
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Precision Medicine / methods*