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Creators/Authors contains: "Risacher, Shannon L."

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  1. Abstract Background Large-scale genome-wide association studies have successfully identified many genetic variants significantly associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), such as rs429358, rs11038106, rs723804, rs13591776, and more. The next key step is to understand the function of these SNPs and the downstream biology through which they exert the effect on the development of AD. However, this remains a challenging task due to the tissue-specific nature of transcriptomic and proteomic data and the limited availability of brain tissue.In this paper, instead of using coupled transcriptomic data, we performed an integrative analysis of existing GWAS findings and expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) results from AD-related brain regions to estimate the transcriptomic alterations in AD brain. Results We used summary-based mendelian randomization method along with heterogeneity in dependent instruments method and were able to identify 32 genes with potential altered levels in temporal cortex region. Among these, 10 of them were further validated using real gene expression data collected from temporal cortex region, and 19 SNPs from NECTIN and TOMM40 genes were found associated with multiple temporal cortex imaging phenotype. Conclusion Significant pathways from enriched gene networks included neutrophil degranulation, Cell surface interactions at the vascular wall, and Regulation of TP53 activity which are still relatively under explored in Alzheimer’s Disease while also encouraging a necessity to bind further trans-eQTL effects into this integrative analysis. 
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  2. Abstract A large number of genetic variations have been identified to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related quantitative traits. However, majority of existing studies focused on single types of omics data, lacking the power of generating a community including multi-omic markers and their functional connections. Because of this, the immense value of multi-omics data on AD has attracted much attention. Leveraging genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic data, and their backbone network through functional relations, we proposed a modularity-constrained logistic regression model to mine the association between disease status and a group of functionally connected multi-omic features, i.e. single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), genes and proteins. This new model was applied to the real data collected from the frontal cortex tissue in the Religious Orders Study and Memory and Aging Project cohort. Compared with other state-of-art methods, it provided overall the best prediction performance during cross-validation. This new method helped identify a group of densely connected SNPs, genes and proteins predictive of AD status. These SNPs are mostly expression quantitative trait loci in the frontal region. Brain-wide gene expression profile of these genes and proteins were highly correlated with the brain activation map of ‘vision’, a brain function partly controlled by frontal cortex. These genes and proteins were also found to be associated with the amyloid deposition, cortical volume and average thickness of frontal regions. Taken together, these results suggested a potential pathway underlying the development of AD from SNPs to gene expression, protein expression and ultimately brain functional and structural changes. 
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  5. We propose an innovative machine learning paradigm enabling precision medicine for prioritizing cognitive assessments according to their relevance to Alzheimer's disease at the individual patient level. The paradigm tailors the cognitive biomarker discovery and cognitive assessment selection process to the brain morphometric characteristics of each individual patient. We implement this paradigm using a newly developed learning-to-rank method PLTR. Our empirical study on the ADNI data yields promising results to identify and prioritize individual-specific cognitive biomarkers as well as cognitive assessment tasks based on the individual's structural MRI data. The resulting top ranked cognitive biomarkers and assessment tasks have the potential to aid personalized diagnosis and disease subtyping. 
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  6. Brain imaging genetics aims to reveal genetic effects on brain phenotypes, where most studies examine phenotypes defined on anatomical or functional regions of interest (ROIs) given their biologically meaningful annotation and modest dimensionality compared with voxel-wise approaches. Typical ROI-level measures used in these studies are summary statistics from voxel-wise measures in the region, without making full use of individual voxel signals. In this paper, we propose a flexible and powerful framework for mining regional imaging genetic associations via voxel-wise enrichment analysis, which embraces the collective effect of weak voxel-level signals within an ROI. We demonstrate our method on an imaging genetic analysis using data from the Alzheimers Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, where we assess the collective regional genetic effects of voxel-wise FDG-PET measures between 116 ROIs and 19 AD candidate SNPs. Compared with traditional ROI-wise and voxel-wise approaches, our method identified 102 additional significant associations, some of which were further supported by evidences in brain tissue-specific expression analysis. This demonstrates the promise of the proposed method as a flexible and powerful framework for exploring imaging genetic effects on the brain. 
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  7. Abstract Motivation

    Identifying the genetic basis of the brain structure, function and disorder by using the imaging quantitative traits (QTs) as endophenotypes is an important task in brain science. Brain QTs often change over time while the disorder progresses and thus understanding how the genetic factors play roles on the progressive brain QT changes is of great importance and meaning. Most existing imaging genetics methods only analyze the baseline neuroimaging data, and thus those longitudinal imaging data across multiple time points containing important disease progression information are omitted.


    We propose a novel temporal imaging genetic model which performs the multi-task sparse canonical correlation analysis (T-MTSCCA). Our model uses longitudinal neuroimaging data to uncover that how single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) play roles on affecting brain QTs over the time. Incorporating the relationship of the longitudinal imaging data and that within SNPs, T-MTSCCA could identify a trajectory of progressive imaging genetic patterns over the time. We propose an efficient algorithm to solve the problem and show its convergence. We evaluate T-MTSCCA on 408 subjects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative database with longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging data and genetic data available. The experimental results show that T-MTSCCA performs either better than or equally to the state-of-the-art methods. In particular, T-MTSCCA could identify higher canonical correlation coefficients and capture clearer canonical weight patterns. This suggests that T-MTSCCA identifies time-consistent and time-dependent SNPs and imaging QTs, which further help understand the genetic basis of the brain QT changes over the time during the disease progression.

    Availability and implementation

    The software and simulation data are publicly available at

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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