Assessment of a polygenic hazard score for the onset of pre-clinical Alzheimer's disease

BMC Genomics. 2022 May 26;23(1):401. doi: 10.1186/s12864-022-08617-2.


Background: With a growing number of loci associated with late-onset (sporadic) Alzheimer's disease (AD), the polygenic contribution to AD is now well established. The development of polygenic risk score approaches have shown promising results for identifying individuals at higher risk of developing AD, thereby facilitating the development of preventative and therapeutic strategies. A polygenic hazard score (PHS) has been proposed to quantify age-specific genetic risk for AD. In this study, we assessed the predictive power and transferability of this PHS in an independent cohort, to support its clinical utility.

Results: Using genotype and imaging data from 780 individuals enrolled in the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle (AIBL) study, we investigated associations between the PHS and several AD-related traits, including 1) cross-sectional Aβ-amyloid (Aβ) deposition, 2) longitudinal brain atrophy, 3) longitudinal cognitive decline, 4) age of onset. Except in the cognitive domain, we obtained results that were consistent with previously published findings. The PHS was associated with increased Aβ burden, faster regional brain atrophy and an earlier age of onset.

Conclusion: Overall, the results support the predictive power of a PHS, however, with only marginal improvement compared to apolipoprotein E alone.

Keywords: AD onset; Alzheimer’s disease; Brain atrophy; Polygenic hazard score.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / genetics
  • Atrophy
  • Australia
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Multifactorial Inheritance