Hohman TJ, Dumitrescu L, Cox NJ, Jefferson AL. Genetic resilience to amyloid related cognitive decline. Brain Imaging and Behavior. 2017 Dec;11(11). 401-409. PMID: 27743375 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC5392179
Preclinical Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by amyloid deposition in the absence of overt clinical impairment. There is substantial heterogeneity in the long-term clinical outcomes among amyloid positive individuals, yet limited work has focused on identifying molecular factors driving resilience from amyloid-related cognitive impairment. We apply a recently developed predicted gene expression analysis (PrediXcan) to identify genes that modify the association between baseline amyloid deposition and longitudinal cognitive changes. Participants free of clinical AD (n = 631) were selected from the AD Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) who had a baseline positron emission tomography measure of amyloid deposition (quantified as a standard uptake value ratio), longitudinal neuropsychological data, and genetic data. PrediXcan was used to impute gene expression levels across 15 heart and brain tissues. Mixed effect regression models assessed the interaction between predicted gene expression levels and amyloid deposition on longitudinal cognitive outcomes. The predicted gene expression levels for two genes in the coronary artery (CNTLN, PROK1) and two genes in the atrial appendage (PRSS50, PROK1) interacted with amyloid deposition on episodic memory performance. The predicted gene expression levels for two additional genes (TMC4 in the basal ganglia and HMBS in the aorta) interacted with amyloid deposition on executive function performance. Post-hoc analyses provide additional validation of the HMBS and PROK1 effects across two independent subsets of ADNI using two additional metrics of amyloid deposition. These results highlight a subset of unique candidate genes of resilience and provide evidence that cell-cycle regulation, angiogenesis, and heme biosynthesis likely play a role in AD progression.