Importance Hexanucleotide repeat expansions in the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9orf72) gene underlie a significant fraction of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Objective To investigate the frequency of C9orf72 repeat expansions in clinically diagnosed late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD).
Design, Setting, and Patients This case-control study genotyped the C9orf72 repeat expansion in 872 unrelated familial AD cases and 888 control subjects recruited as part of the National Institute on Aging Late-Onset Alzheimer Disease Family Study cohort, a multisite collaboration studying 1000 families with 2 or more individuals clinically diagnosed as having late-onset AD.
Main Outcomes and Measures We determined the presence or absence of the C9orf72 repeat expansion by repeat-primed polymerase chain reaction, the length of the longest nonexpanded allele, segregation of the genotype with disease, and clinical features of repeat expansion carriers.
Results Three families showed large C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions. Two additional families carried more than 30 repeats. Segregation with disease could be demonstrated in 3 families. One affected expansion carrier had neuropathology compatible with AD. In the National Institute on Aging Late-Onset Alzheimer Disease Family Study series, the C9orf72 repeat expansions constituted the second most common pathogenic mutation, just behind the PSEN1 A79V mutation, highlighting the heterogeneity of clinical presentations associated with repeat expansions.
Conclusions and Relevance C9orf72 repeat expansions explain a small proportion of patients with a clinical presentation indistinguishable from AD, and they highlight the necessity of screening frontotemporal dementia genes in clinical AD cases with strong family history.