Associations between Potentially Modifiable Risk Factors and Alzheimer Disease: A Mendelian Randomization Study.


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Authors
Østergaard, Søren D 
Mukherjee, Shubhabrata 
Sharp, Stephen J 
Proitsi, Petroula 
Lotta, Luca A 
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Potentially modifiable risk factors including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and smoking are associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) and represent promising targets for intervention. However, the causality of these associations is unclear. We sought to assess the causal nature of these associations using Mendelian randomization (MR). METHODS AND FINDINGS: We used SNPs associated with each risk factor as instrumental variables in MR analyses. We considered type 2 diabetes (T2D, NSNPs = 49), fasting glucose (NSNPs = 36), insulin resistance (NSNPs = 10), body mass index (BMI, NSNPs = 32), total cholesterol (NSNPs = 73), HDL-cholesterol (NSNPs = 71), LDL-cholesterol (NSNPs = 57), triglycerides (NSNPs = 39), systolic blood pressure (SBP, NSNPs = 24), smoking initiation (NSNPs = 1), smoking quantity (NSNPs = 3), university completion (NSNPs = 2), and years of education (NSNPs = 1). We calculated MR estimates of associations between each exposure and AD risk using an inverse-variance weighted approach, with summary statistics of SNP-AD associations from the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project, comprising a total of 17,008 individuals with AD and 37,154 cognitively normal elderly controls. We found that genetically predicted higher SBP was associated with lower AD risk (odds ratio [OR] per standard deviation [15.4 mm Hg] of SBP [95% CI]: 0.75 [0.62-0.91]; p = 3.4 × 10(-3)). Genetically predicted higher SBP was also associated with a higher probability of taking antihypertensive medication (p = 6.7 × 10(-8)). Genetically predicted smoking quantity was associated with lower AD risk (OR per ten cigarettes per day [95% CI]: 0.67 [0.51-0.89]; p = 6.5 × 10(-3)), although we were unable to stratify by smoking history; genetically predicted smoking initiation was not associated with AD risk (OR = 0.70 [0.37, 1.33]; p = 0.28). We saw no evidence of causal associations between glycemic traits, T2D, BMI, or educational attainment and risk of AD (all p > 0.1). Potential limitations of this study include the small proportion of intermediate trait variance explained by genetic variants and other implicit limitations of MR analyses. CONCLUSIONS: Inherited lifetime exposure to higher SBP is associated with lower AD risk. These findings suggest that higher blood pressure--or some environmental exposure associated with higher blood pressure, such as use of antihypertensive medications--may reduce AD risk.

Description
Keywords
Alzheimer Disease, Female, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Humans, Male, Mendelian Randomization Analysis, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Risk Factors
Journal Title
PLoS Med
Conference Name
Journal ISSN
1549-1277
1549-1676
Volume Title
12
Publisher
Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Sponsorship
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/2)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/1)
MRC (MC_PC_13048)
Wellcome Trust (089703/Z/09/Z)
Wellcome Trust (081864/Z/06/Z)
Medical Research Council (MC_U106179471)
Medical Research Council (MC_G1000734)
Medical Research Council (MC_U106179472)
Medical Research Council (MR/L023784/2)
Medical Research Council (MR/L023784/1)
We thank the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project (IGAP) for providing summary results data for these analyses. The investigators within IGAP contributed to the design and implementation of IGAP and/or provided data but did not participate in analysis or writing of this report. IGAP was made possible by the generous participation of the control subjects, the patients, and their families. The i–Select chips were funded by the French National Foundation on Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. EADI was supported by the LABEX (laboratory of excellence program investment for the future) DISTALZ grant, Inserm, Institut Pasteur de Lille, Université de Lille 2 and the Lille University Hospital. GERAD was supported by the Medical Research Council (Grant n° 503480), Alzheimer's Research UK (Grant n° 503176), the Wellcome Trust (Grant n° 082604/2/07/Z) and German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF): Competence Network Dementia (CND) grant n° 01GI0102, 01GI0711, 01GI0420. CHARGE was partly supported by the NIH/NIA grant R01 AG033193 and the NIA AG081220 and AGES contract N01–AG–12100, the NHLBI grant R01 HL105756, the Icelandic Heart Association, and the Erasmus Medical Center and Erasmus University. ADGC was supported by the NIH/NIA grants: U01 AG032984, U24 AG021886, U01 AG016976, and the Alzheimer's Association grant ADGC–10–196728.