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Sex-dependent polygenic effects on the clinical progressions of Alzheimer's disease

By Chun Chieh Fan, Sarah J. Banks, Wesley K. Thompson, Chi-Hua Chen, Linda K. McEvoy, Chin Hong Tan, Walter Kukull, David A. Bennett, Lindsay A. Farrer, Richard Mayeux, Gerard D. Schellenberg, Ole A Andreassen, Rahul Desikan, Anders M. Dale

Posted 18 Apr 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/613893

Sex differences in the manifestations of Alzheimer's disease (AD) are under intense investigations. Despite the emerging importance of polygenic predictions for AD, the sex-dependent polygenic effects have not been demonstrated. Here, using a sex crossover analysis, we show that sex-dependent autosomal genetic effects on AD can be revealed by characterizing disease progress via the hazard function. We first performed sex-stratified genome-wide associations, and then applied derived sex-dependent weights to two independent cohorts. Sex-matched polygenic hazard scores (PHS) have significantly stronger associations with age-at-disease-onset, clinical progressions, amyloid depositions, neurofibrillary tangles, and composite neuropathological scores, than sex-mismatched PHS, independent of apolipoprotein E. Models without using hazard weights, i.e. polygenic risk scores (PRS), have lower predictive power than PHS and show no evidence for sex differences. Our results indicate revealing sex-dependent genetic architecture requires the consideration of temporal processes of AD. This has strong implications not only for the genetic underpinning of AD but also for how we estimate sex-dependent polygenic effects for clinical use.

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