R47H variant of TREM2 associated with Alzheimer disease in a large late-onset family clinical, genetic, and neuropathological study

Olena Korvatska, James B. Leverenz, Suman Jayadev, Pamela McMillan, Irina Kurtz, Xindi Guo, Malia Rumbaugh, Mark Matsushita, Santhosh Girirajan, Michael O. Dorschner, Kostantin Kiianitsa, Chang En Yu, Zoran Brkanac, Gwenn A. Garden, Wendy H. Raskind, Thomas D. Bird

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104 Scopus citations


Importance The R47H variant in the triggering receptor expressed onmyeloid cells 2 gene (TREM2), a modulator of the immune response of microglia, is a strong genetic risk factor for Alzheimer disease (AD) and possibly other neurodegenerative disorders. OBJECTIVE To investigate a large family with late-onset AD (LOAD), in which R47H cosegregated with 75%of cases. Design, Setting, and Participants This study includes genetic and pathologic studies of families with LOAD from 1985 to 2014. A total of 131 families with LOAD (751 individuals) were included from the University ofWashington Alzheimer Disease Research Center. To identify LOAD genes/risk factors in the LOAD123 family with 21 affected members and 12 autopsies, we sequenced 4 exomes. Candidate variants were tested for cosegregation with the disease. TREM2 R47H was genotyped in an additional 130 families with LOAD.We performed clinical and neuropathological assessments of patients with and without R47H and evaluated the variant's effect on brain pathology, cellular morphology, and expression of microglial markers. Main Outcomes and Measures We assessed the effect of TREM2 genotype on age at onset and disease duration.We compared Braak and Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease scores, presence of á-synuclein and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 aggregates, and additional vascular or Parkinson pathology in TREM2 R47H carriers vs noncarriers. Microglial activation was assessed by quantitative immunohistochemistry and morphometry. Results Twelve of 16 patients with AD in the LOAD123 family carried R47H. Eleven patients with dementia had apolipoprotein E 4 (ApoE4) and R47H genotypes.We also found a rare missense variant, D353N, in a nominated AD risk gene, unc-5 homolog C (UNC5C), in 5 affected individuals in the LOAD123 family. R47H carriers demonstrated a shortened disease duration (mean [SD], 6.7 [2.8] vs 11.1 [6.6] years; 2-tailed t test; P =.04) and more frequent á-synucleinopathy. The panmicroglial marker ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1 was decreased in all AD cases and the decrease was most pronounced in R47H carriers (mean [SD], in the hilus: 0.114 [0.13] for R47H-AD vs 0.574 [0.26] for control individuals; 2-tailed t test; P =.005 and vs 0.465 [0.32] for AD; P =.02; in frontal cortex gray matter: 0.006 [0.004] for R47H-AD vs 0.016 [0.01] for AD; P =.04 and vs 0.033 [0.013] for control individuals; P <.001). Major histocompatibility complex class II, a marker of microglial activation, was increased in all patients with AD (AD: 2.5, R47H-AD: 2.7, and control: 1.0; P <.01). Conclusions and Relevance Our Results demonstrate a complex genetic landscape of LOAD, even in a single pedigree with an apparent autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. ApoE4, TREM2 R47H, and rare variants in other genes, such as UNC5C D353N, are likely responsible for the notable occurrence of AD in this family. Our findings support the role of the TREM2 receptor in microglial clearance of aggregation-prone proteins that is compromised in R47H carriers and may accelerate the course of disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)920-927
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA neurology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology


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