Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype is the single most important determinant to the common form of Alzheimer disease (AD) yet identified. Several studies show that family history of AD is not entirely accounted for by APOE genotype. Also, there is evidence for an interaction between APOE genotype and gender. We carried out a complex segregation analysis in 636 nuclear families of consecutively ascertained and rigorously diagnosed probands in the Multi-Institutional Research in Alzheimer Genetic Epidemiology study in order to derive models of disease transmission which account for the influences of APOE genotype of the proband and gender. In the total group of families, models postulating sporadic occurrence, no major gene effect, random environmental transmission, and Mendelian inheritance were rejected. Transmission of AD in families of probands with at least one epsilon 4 allele best fit a dominant model. Moreover, single gene inheritance best explained clustering of the disorder in families of probands lacking epsilon 4, but a more complex genetic model or multiple genetic models may ultimately account for risk in this group of families. Our results also suggest that susceptibility to AD differs between men and women regardless of the proband's APOE status. Assuming a dominant model, AD appears to be completely penetrant in women, whereas only 62%-65% of men with predisposing genotypes develop AD. However, parameter estimates from the arbitrary major gene model suggests that AD is expressed dominantly in women and additively in men. These observations, taken together with epidemiologic data, are consistent with the hypothesis of an interaction between genes and other biological factors affecting disease susceptibility.

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American Journal of Human Genetics
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Rao, V., Cupples, A., van Duijn, C., Kurz, A., Green, R., Chui, H., … van Broeckhoven, C. (1996). Evidence for major gene inheritance of Alzheimer disease in families of patients with and without apolipoprotein E ε 4. American Journal of Human Genetics, 59, 664–675. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/5760