CONTEXT: Genetic determinants of Alzheimer disease (AD) have not been comprehensively examined in Caribbean Hispanics, a population in the United States in whom the frequency of AD is higher compared with non-Hispanic whites. OBJECTIVE: To identify variant alleles in genes related to familial early-onset AD among Caribbean Hispanics. DESIGN AND SETTING: Family-based case series conducted in 1998-2001 at an AD research center in New York, NY, and clinics in the Dominican Republic. PATIENTS: Among 206 Caribbean Hispanic families with 2 or more living members with AD who were identified, 19 (9.2%) had at least 1 individual with onset of AD before the age of 55 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: The entire coding region of the presenilin 1 gene and exons 16 and 17 of the amyloid precursor protein gene were sequenced in probands from the 19 families and their living relatives. RESULTS: A G-to-C nucleotide change resulting in a glycine-alanine amino acid substitution at codon 206 (Gly206Ala) in exon 7 of presenilin 1 was observed in 23 individuals from 8 (42%) of the 19 families. A Caribbean Hispanic individual with the Gly206Ala mutation and early-onset familial disease was also found by sequencing the corresponding genes of 319 unrelated individuals in New York City. The Gly206Ala mutation was not found in public genetic databases but was reported in 5 individuals from 4 Hispanic families with AD referred for genetic testing. None of the members of these families were related to one another, yet all carriers of the Gly206Ala mutation tested shared a variant allele at 2 nearby microsatellite polymorphisms, indicating a common ancestor. No mutations were found in the amyloid precursor protein gene. CONCLUSIONS: The Gly206Ala mutation was found in 8 of 19 unrelated Caribbean Hispanic families with early-onset familial AD. This genetic change may be a prevalent cause of early-onset familial AD in the Caribbean Hispanic population.
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