Many Alzheimer's disease (AD) genes including Apolipoprotein E (APOE) are found to be expressed in blood-derived macrophages and thus may alter blood protein levels. We measured 91 neuro-proteins in plasma from 316 participants of the Rotterdam Study (incident AD = 161) using Proximity Extension Ligation assay. We studied the association of plasma proteins with AD in the overall sample and stratified by APOE. Findings from the Rotterdam study were replicated in 186 AD patients of the BioFINDER study. We further evaluated the correlation of these protein biomarkers with total tau (t-tau), phosphorylated tau (p-tau) and amyloid-beta (Aβ) 42 levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the Amsterdam Dementia Cohort (N = 441). Finally, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify the genetic variants determining the blood levels of AD-associated proteins. Plasma levels of the proteins, CDH6 (β = 0.638, P = 3.33 × 10-4) and HAGH (β = 0.481, P = 7.20 × 10-4), were significantly elevated in APOE ε4 carrier AD patients. The findings in the Rotterdam Study were replicated in the BioFINDER study for both CDH6 (β = 1.365, P = 3.97 × 10-3) and HAGH proteins (β = 0.506, P = 9.31 × 10-7) when comparing cases and controls in APOE ε4 carriers. In the CSF, CDH6 levels were positively correlated with t-tau and p-tau in the total sample as well as in APOE ε4 stratum (P < 1 × 10-3). The HAGH protein was not detected in CSF. GWAS of plasma CDH6 protein levels showed significant association with a cis-regulatory locus (rs111283466, P = 1.92 × 10-9). CDH6 protein is implicated in cell adhesion and synaptogenesis while HAGH protein is related to the oxidative stress pathway. Our findings suggest that these pathways may be altered during presymptomatic AD and that CDH6 and HAGH may be new blood-based biomarkers.,
Scientific Reports
Department of Epidemiology

Ahmad, S, Milan, M.D.C. (Marta Del Campo), Hansson, O. (Oskar), Demirkan, A, Agustin, R. (Ruiz), Sáez, M.E. (Maria E.), … van Duijn, C.M. (2020). CDH6 and HAGH protein levels in plasma associate with Alzheimer's disease in APOE ε4 carriers. Scientific Reports, 10(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-020-65038-5