Single-nucleus multiregion transcriptomic analysis of brain vasculature in Alzheimer’s disease

Cerebrovascular dysregulation is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but the changes that occur in specific cell types have not been fully characterized. Here, we profile single-nucleus transcriptomes in the human cerebrovasculature in six brain regions from 220 individuals with AD and 208 age-matched controls. We annotate 22,514 cerebrovascular cells, including 11 subtypes of endothelial, pericyte, smooth muscle, perivascular fibroblast and ependymal cells. We identify 2,676 differentially expressed genes in AD, including downregulation of PDGFRB in pericytes, and of ABCB1 and ATP10A in endothelial cells, and validate the downregulation of SLC6A1 and upregulation of APOD, INSR and COL4A1 in postmortem AD brain tissues. We detect vasculature, glial and neuronal coexpressed gene modules, suggesting coordinated neurovascular unit dysregulation in AD. Integration with AD genetics reveals 125 AD differentially expressed genes directly linked to AD-associated genetic variants. Lastly, we show that APOE4 genotype-associated differences are significantly enriched among AD-associated genes in capillary and venule endothelial cells, as well as subsets of pericytes and fibroblasts.