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Hum Mol Genet. 2006 Aug 15;15(16):2446-56. Epub 2006 Jul 6.

A functional polymorphism within plasminogen activator urokinase (PLAU) is associated with Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Neurochemistry and Neurogenetics Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Technische Universitat München, Ismaningerstrasse 22, 81675 Munich, Germany. m.riemenschneider@lrz.tu-muenchen.de


A number of susceptibility loci for Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been identified including a region on Chromosome 10q21-q22. Within this region the plasminogen activator urokinase gene (PLAU) was considered as a reasonable candidate from its functional implication in plasmin generation, a serine protease capable of degrading beta-Amyloid (Abeta) protein. We screened 56 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) around PLAU using 1751 individuals from four independent case-control samples (Munich, N=679; Bonn N=282; Brescia (Italy) N=219; Perth (Australia) N=557 and one discordant sib-pair sample (Munich N=622). In brain tissue samples of neuropathologically confirmed cases with AD (N=33) we analyzed plaque counts according to the risk allele. We identified that one functional exonic SNP (rs2227564) is associated with development of AD using the four independent case-control samples (Munich, P=0.02; Bonn, P=0.005; Brescia (Italy), P=0.001; Perth (Australia), P=0.03) and the discordant sib-pair sample (P=0.001). In brain tissue, from neuropathologically confirmed cases with AD, we identified significantly higher plaque counts in carriers of the risk allele (N=6; 60.3+/-16.9) compared with non-carriers (N=9; 26.3+/-8.8; P=0.007). This study provides compelling evidence of a genetic and functional involvement of a common PLAU variant into the pathogenesis of AD. Further functional investigations are warranted to elucidate the specific role of PLAU, respectively, PLAU variants in the metabolism of Abeta proteins.

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