A Novel Genetic Marker for the C9orf72 Repeat Expansion in the Finnish Population

J Alzheimers Dis. 2021;83(3):1325-1332. doi: 10.3233/JAD-210599.


Background: C9orf72 repeat expansion (C9exp) is the most common genetic cause underlying frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, detection of the C9exp requires elaborative methods.

Objective: Identification of C9exp carriers from genotyped cohorts could be facilitated by using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) as markers for the C9exp.

Methods: We elucidated the potential of the previously described Finnish risk haplotype, defined by the SNP rs3849942, to identify potential C9exp carriers among 218,792 Finns using the FinnGen database. The haplotype approach was first tested in an idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH) patient cohort (European Alzheimer's Disease DNA BioBank) containing C9exp carriers by comparing intermediate (15-30) and full-length (> 60 repeats) C9exp carriers (n = 41) to C9exp negative patients (< 15 repeats, n = 801).

Results: In this analysis, rs3849942 was associated with carriership of C9exp (OR 8.44, p < 2×10-15), while the strongest association was found with rs139185008 (OR 39.4, p < 5×10-18). Unbiased analysis of rs139185008 in FinnGen showed the strongest association with FTLD (OR 4.38, 3×10-15) and motor neuron disease ALS (OR 5.19, 3×10-21). rs139185008 was the top SNP in all diseases (iNPH, FTLD, ALS), and further showed a strong association with ALS in the UK Biobank (p = 9.0×10-8).

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that rs139185008 is a useful marker to identify potential C9exp carriers in the genotyped cohorts and biobanks originating from Finland.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9orf72; DNA repeat expansion; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; motor neuron disease; polymorphism; single nucleotide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / genetics*
  • C9orf72 Protein / genetics*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / genetics*
  • Genetic Markers*
  • Genotype
  • Haplotypes
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*


  • C9orf72 Protein
  • C9orf72 protein, human
  • Genetic Markers