Frontiers in Neuroscience (Jun 2022)

Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Genes Identified by Linking Spatial Patterns of Pathology and Gene Expression

  • Roger Mullins,
  • Dimitrios Kapogiannis

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16


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BackgroundAlzheimer’s Disease (AD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disease with a poorly understood etiology, shown to be partly genetic. Glucose hypometabolism, extracellular Amyloid-beta (Aβ) deposition, and intracellular Tau deposition are cardinal features of AD and display characteristic spatial patterns in the brain. We hypothesize that regional differences in underlying gene expression confer either resistance or susceptibility to AD pathogenic processes and are associated with these spatial patterns. Data-driven methods for the identification of genes involved in AD pathogenesis complement hypothesis-driven approaches that reflect current theories about the disease. Here we present a data driven method for the identification of genes involved in AD pathogenesis based on comparing spatial patterns of normal gene expression to Positron Emission Tomography (PET) images of glucose hypometabolism, Aβ deposition, and Tau deposition.MethodsWe performed correlations between the cerebral cortex microarray samples from the six cognitively normal (CN) post-mortem Allen Human Brain Atlas (AHBA) specimens and PET FDG-18, AV-45, and AV-1451 tracer images from AD and CN participants in the Alzheimer’s Disease and Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database. Correlation coefficients for each gene by each ADNI subject were then entered into a partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) to determine sets that best classified the AD and CN groups. Pathway analysis via BioPlanet 2019 was then used to infer the function of implicated genes.ResultsWe identified distinct sets of genes strongly associated with each PET modality. Pathway analyses implicated novel genes involved in mitochondrial function, and Notch signaling, as well as genes previously associated with AD.ConclusionUsing an unbiased approach, we derived sets of genes with expression patterns spatially associated with FDG hypometabolism, Aβ deposition, and Tau deposition in AD. This methodology may complement population-based approaches for identifying the genetic underpinnings of AD.