The genetic architecture of Alzheimer disease risk in the Ohio and Indiana Amish

Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia and is currently estimated to affect 6.2 million Americans. It ranks as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the proportion of deaths due to AD has been increasing since 2000, while the proportion of many other leading causes of deaths have decreased or remained constant. The risk for AD is multifactorial, including genetic and environmental risk factors. Although APOE ε4 remains the largest genetic risk factor for AD, more than 26 other loci have been associated with AD risk. Here, we recruited Amish adults from Ohio and Indiana to investigate AD risk and protective genetic effects. As a founder population that typically practices endogamy, variants that are rare in the general population may be of a higher frequency in the Amish population. Since the Amish have a slightly lower incidence and later age of onset of disease, they represent an excellent and unique population for research on protective genetic variants. We compared AD risk in the Amish and to a non-Amish population through APOE genotype, a non-APOE genetic risk score of genome-wide significant variants, and a non-APOE polygenic risk score considering all of the variants. Our results highlight the lesser relative impact of APOE and differing genetic architecture of AD risk in the Amish compared to a non-Amish, general European ancestry population.