Commingling analysis of memory performance in offspring of Alzheimer patients



Dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) is a neurodegenerative disorder which afflicts approximately 3% of the population. Genetic influences are indicated from twin and family studies although genetic heterogeneity has been suggested from both pedigree analyses and linkage investigations. Autosomal dominant inheritance with age-dependent penetrance has been suggested in at least some families with DAT. In the present investigation, we examine memory and nonmemory task performance in 106 asymptomatic offspring (mean age 40.6 years) of 54 DAT probands. Intraclass sibling correlations revealed little evidence of sibling similarity for performance on three memory tasks which have been reported to be relatively sensitive to the memory losses accompanying DAT. Subsequent investigations of the distributions of the cognitive task scores in the offspring revealed evidence for a commingling of two distributions for the three memory tasks but not for the nonmemory measures. These findings are consistent with a hypothesis that these distributions reflect genotypic subgroups, carriers, and noncarriers, of a presumed DAT gene. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.