Dementia With Lewy Bodies: Unique Genetic Profile Identified

Source: University College London

Summary: According to the first large-scale genetic study, Dementia with Lewy bodies has a unique genetic profile, distinct from those of Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is progressive dementia that worsens over time and accounts for 10-15% of dementia cases. The lewy bodies are the microscopic deposits with alpha-synuclein protein as their main component. DLB is commonly misdiagnosed, as lewy bodies are also found in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Some of the symptoms include visual hallucinations, trouble walking and muscle rigidity. According to the first large-scale genetic study done by the researchers from the University College London led a collaboration of 65 academics in 11 countries, found that Dementia with Lewy bodies has a unique genetic profile, distinct from those of Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. The study was funded by Alzheimer’s Society and the Lewy Body Society. The research findings were published in the journal The Lancet Neurology.

Dementia with lewy bodies have a unique genetic profile

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The research group genotyped 1,743 patients with DLB – including both clinical samples and 1,324 pathological samples assessed post-mortem – and 4,454 controls. Two of the genetic loci – APOE and GBA that were found to be significantly associated with DLB, bore the same associations to DLB as they do to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, respectively. Other loci identified as SNCA is also associated with Parkinson’s, but differently – the researchers found that a different part of the gene is linked to DLB. They also found that a few loci that are associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s do not appear to be associated with DLB. The researchers were able to identify a heritability estimate of DLB for the first time, at 36%, which is similar to that of Parkinson’s. Researchers hope that by advancing the understanding of which genes play a role in DLB, their results will aid in the development of targeted therapies.

Dr. Doug Brown said, “Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is often misunderstood as being a mixture of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but this confirms it’s actually a unique condition”, “As the largest and most detailed study of its kind, these results will be invaluable in future research, and it’s a great milestone on the road towards our goal of understanding and treating all forms of dementia.”

More Information: Rita Guerreiro et al, “Investigating the genetic architecture of dementia with Lewy bodies: a two-stage genome-wide association study,” The Lancet Neurology (2017). … full text?elsca1=tlxpr

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