Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly population and the fourth most frequent cause of death in the United States. While the cause of the disease has not been defined for the majority of cases, in a small percentage the disease is transmitted as an autosomal dominant trait. Since 1991 three genes that underly much of this familial form of the disease have been identified. Both twin studies and epidemiological analyses suggest that genetics also plays a major role in determining risk in sporadic cases of AD. A variant of the Apolipoprotein E gene may account for as much as 50% of the sporadic cases of AD. In this chapter, we review the process that led to the identification of these genes and the potential roles of their gene products in the etiology of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-451
Number of pages11
JournalFacts, Research and Intervention in Geriatrics
Issue numberPART 2
StatePublished - 2000


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