Manifestations of Alzheimer's disease genetic risk in the blood are evident in a multiomic analysis in healthy adults aged 18 to 90

Sci Rep. 2022 Apr 12;12(1):6117. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-09825-2.


Genetics play an important role in late-onset Alzheimer's Disease (AD) etiology and dozens of genetic variants have been implicated in AD risk through large-scale GWAS meta-analyses. However, the precise mechanistic effects of most of these variants have yet to be determined. Deeply phenotyped cohort data can reveal physiological changes associated with genetic risk for AD across an age spectrum that may provide clues to the biology of the disease. We utilized over 2000 high-quality quantitative measurements obtained from blood of 2831 cognitively normal adult clients of a consumer-based scientific wellness company, each with CLIA-certified whole-genome sequencing data. Measurements included: clinical laboratory blood tests, targeted chip-based proteomics, and metabolomics. We performed a phenome-wide association study utilizing this diverse blood marker data and 25 known AD genetic variants and an AD-specific polygenic risk score (PGRS), adjusting for sex, age, vendor (for clinical labs), and the first four genetic principal components; sex-SNP interactions were also assessed. We observed statistically significant SNP-analyte associations for five genetic variants after correction for multiple testing (for SNPs in or near NYAP1, ABCA7, INPP5D, and APOE), with effects detectable from early adulthood. The ABCA7 SNP and the APOE2 and APOE4 encoding alleles were associated with lipid variability, as seen in previous studies; in addition, six novel proteins were associated with the e2 allele. The most statistically significant finding was between the NYAP1 variant and PILRA and PILRB protein levels, supporting previous functional genomic studies in the identification of a putative causal variant within the PILRA gene. We did not observe associations between the PGRS and any analyte. Sex modified the effects of four genetic variants, with multiple interrelated immune-modulating effects associated with the PICALM variant. In post-hoc analysis, sex-stratified GWAS results from an independent AD case-control meta-analysis supported sex-specific disease effects of the PICALM variant, highlighting the importance of sex as a biological variable. Known AD genetic variation influenced lipid metabolism and immune response systems in a population of non-AD individuals, with associations observed from early adulthood onward. Further research is needed to determine whether and how these effects are implicated in early-stage biological pathways to AD. These analyses aim to complement ongoing work on the functional interpretation of AD-associated genetic variants.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • Adult
  • Alzheimer Disease* / genetics
  • Apolipoprotein E2 / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Apolipoprotein E2

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