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Keywords:

  • Alzheimer’s disease;
  • genetic association;
  • oxidative damage;
  • SOD2

Genes involved in cellular mechanisms to repair oxidative damage are strong candidates as etiologic factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). One important enzyme involved in this mechanism is superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2). The gene for this enzyme lies within a single haplotype block at 6q25.3, a region showing evidence for linkage to AD in a genome scan. We genotyped four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in SOD2 in families of the National Institute of Mental Health-AD Genetics Initiative (ADGI): rs2758346 in the 5′ untranslated region (UTR), rs4880 in exon 2, rs2855116 in intron 3 and rs5746136 in the 3′UTR. Under a dominant model, family-based association tests showed significant evidence for association of AD with the first three loci in a candidate gene set of families with individuals having age of onset of at least 50 years and two affected and one unaffected sibling, and in a late-onset subset of families (families with all affected individuals having age of onset of at least 65 years) from the full ADGI sample. The alleles transmitted more frequently to cases than expected under the null hypothesis were T, C, G, and G. Global tests of the transmission of haplotypes indicate that the first two loci have the most consistent association with risk of AD. Because of the high linkage disequilibrium in this small (14 kb) gene, and the presence of 100 SNPs in this gene, 26 of which may have functional significance, additional genotyping and sequencing are needed to identify the functionally relevant SNP. We discuss the importance of our findings and the relevance of SOD2 to AD risk.