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AD/PD 2024 | Influence of genetic risk for psychiatric disorders on dementia

Jenna Najar, MD, PhD, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden, discusses her study looking at the role of genetics in the symptom overlap between dementia and neuropsychiatric disorders. About 65% of patients with neurodegenerative disorders experience psychiatric symptoms and recent studies have revealed genetic overlaps between dementia and psychiatric disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. To assess the role of genetic pleiotropy in this relationship, researchers created polygenic risk scores (PRSs) for psychiatric disorders in relation to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Overall, PRSs for psychiatric disorders did not significantly differ between AD, FTD, and controls. However, there was a lower DLB risk in those those with a higher PRS for bipolar disorder. When looking at psychiatric burden in patients with dementia, high genetic risk scores for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism were associated with fewer neuropsychiatric symptoms in FTD. The study has now turned its focus to MRI analyses to explore these genetic associations in a more biological context. This interview took place at the AD/PD™ 2024 congress in Lisbon, Portugal.

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