Early diagnosis and the clinical genetics of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) has a significant genetic background manifested as autosomal dominant inheritance in some early-onset families and as familial risk in late-onset cases. Three genes responsible for early-onset autosomal dominant AD have been identified, and one gene, apolipoprotein E, has been confirmed as a susceptibility gene for late-onset forms of the disorder. These findings raise the possibility of genetic testing, either for early diagnosis or prediction. For early-onset autosomal dominant AD genetic testing will have a limited but useful role in confirming diagnosis in established cases and in predictive counselling for relatives; a situation analogous to that for Huntington's disease. For late-onset AD significant problems remain to be overcome before the advances in molecular genetics have a direct clinical application