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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2000;920:100-6.

High frequency of mutations in four different disease genes in early-onset dementia.

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  • 1Department of Human Genetics, University Hospital Eppendorf, University of Hamburg, 22529 Hamburg, Germany.


Heterozygous mutations in the genes for amyloid precursor protein (APP), the presenilins (PS1, PS2), prion protein (PrP), neuroserpin, and tau are associated with early-onset dementia (EOD) with or without neurological signs in the early disease stage. To investigate the proportion of EOD without early neurological signs attributable to known genes we prospectively (i.e., ante mortem) screened these six genes for mutations in 36 patients with EOD before age 60. Family history for dementia was positive (PFH) in 16, negative (NFH) in 17, and unknown (UFH) in 3 patients. In 12 patients, we found 5 novel mutations (PS1: F105L; PS2: T122P, M239I; PrP: Q160X, T188K) and 5 previously reported mutations (APP: in three most likely unrelated patients V717I; PS1: A79V, M139V; PrP: P102L, T183A) that all are considered disease causing. Of these 12 patients, 9 had PFH. This indicates a detection rate of 56% (9/16) in patients with PFH. We found 2 mutations (APP V717I) in 2 of the 3 the UFH-patients, and only 1 mutation (PrP T188K) in 1 of the 17 patients with NFH. No mutation was found in tau and neuroserpin genes. To date, three patients died and FAD, predicted by PS mutations in two patients, and prion disease, predicted by a PrP mutation in the third one, were histopathologically confirmed at autopsy. Up to now, mutation findings may be the most specific biomarkers for an ante mortem diagnosis of FAD or hereditary prion disease.

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