Genetic testing for Alzheimer's disease

Peter K. Panegyres, Jack Goldblatt, Ian Walpole, Carmela Connor, Toni Liebeck, Karen Harrop

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Genetic factors are important in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Familial AD can result from rare mutations in some genes. Other genes, such as the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE), operate as risk factors for late- onset sporadic AD. On a background of advances in the genetics of AD we suggest a way in which genetic information may be used in the diagnosis of AD. If there is a positive family history of early-onset dementia and the clinical features suggest AD, patients may be tested for presenilin and amyloid precursor protein gene mutations with appropriate pretest and post- test counselling. Predictive testing should be performed under guidelines developed by the World Federation of Neurology and the Human Genetics Society of Australasia. The usefulness of APOE genotyping as an adjunct to conventional diagnostic tests is unknown; data suggest it has low sensitivity and specificity and may have little predictive value in an individual patient. APOE genotyping should not be performed in asymptomatic individuals, except as part of an ethically approved research project; this recommendation is supported by a number of international consensus statements. APOE testing should not be used as a diagnostic test without adequate pretest and post- test counselling, education and support. APOE testing should not be used as a sole diagnostic test in the work-up of patients with AD. Genetic risk factors other than APOE require validation and should not be used routinely, except as part of an ethically approved research protocol.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberPMID:10844923
Pages (from-to)339-343
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2000
Externally publishedYes


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