We aim to conduct traditional and innovative genetic analyses of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) data generated from a sub-sample of 3,500 participants from the Mexican Health Aging Study (MHAS). We have already been funded to collect saliva for DNA extraction and to perform genome-wide a association study in this Mexican sample (grant # R56-AG059756, PI: Tosto, Barral, Mayeux). Accumulating evidence supports a strong genetic component underpinning physiopathology of Late onset Alzheimer?s disease (LOAD). European population studies still dominate the pool of available genomic data resulting in a lack of generalizability of findings across diverse and minority populations. By 2020, the prevalence of dementia in Latin America will increase by 120%, compared to 49% in North America. It is therefore pivotal to increase representation of Hispanics and Latinos in genetic investigations. Mexicans are not currently represented in large genetic studies for LOAD. They show a unique genetic profile with one of the highest Native- American ancestral component percentages (~50%). This population may harbor unique LOAD risk/protective alleles, which are rare or absent in other populations. Furthermore, it may shed lights on the contribution of native ancestry on LOAD risk, which is still unknown. Our group has so far collected 9,162 saliva and blood samples from MHAS participants aged 60 and older and stored them at National Cell Repository for Alzheimer?s Disease (NCRAD). MHAS also provides a rich set of phenotypes (demographical, cognitive and medical assessment) with 20-years period of follow-up. The participants that will undergo whole genome sequencing (N~3,500 who meet clinical criteria for dementia and cognitively healthy; ratio 1:4) are characterized by an additional in-depth cognitive evaluation for which we have been already funded. The availability of extensive cognitive endophenotypes will facilitate a plethora of investigations beyond the classical case-control design (i.e. survival analyses and cognitive trajectories); it will ensure the accuracy of LOAD diagnosis, and will facilitate phenotype harmonization across different sequencing cohorts. We propose to:
Aim 1) conduct traditional and innovative analysis of the whole genome sequence data generated in a sub-sample of 3,500 MHAS participants 60 years of age or older who meet diagnostic criteria for LOAD and healthy controls (ratio ~1:4);
Aim 2) Conduct functional validation of genomic findings prioritized by WGS analyses;
Aim 3) Share phenotypic and genomic data with the scientific community.

Public Health Relevance

. This project aims to identify risk and protective genetic loci for late-onset Alzheimer?s disease (LOAD) using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) from individuals of Mexican ancestry, a fast growing population in and outside U.S., characterized by high prevalence and incidence rate of LOAD, yet underrepresented in genetic studies. We will leverage a large ongoing longitudinal study of health and aging in Mexico (MHAS), deeply-phenotyped with clinical and cognitive assessments. We have been recently funded (grant #R56-AG059756) to collect saliva samples for DNA extraction in the MHAS cohort with the goal to perform genome-wide association study (GWAS). We now aim to further develop the project by performing WGS in this unique cohort, conduct traditional and innovative genetic analyses, validate genetic findings with functional in vitro experiments and finally share all the data generated with the scientific community.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
High Priority, Short Term Project Award (R56)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Miller, Marilyn
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Columbia University (N.Y.)
New York
United States
Zip Code