Advances in genomic research over the last two decades have greatly enhanced our knowledge concerning the genetic landscape and pathophysiological processes involved in multiple neurodegenerative diseases. However, current insights arise almost exclusively from studies on individuals of European ancestry. Despite this, studies have revealed that genetic variation differentially impacts risk for, and clinical presentation of neurodegenerative disease in non-European populations, conveying the importance of ancestry in predicting disease risk and understanding the biological mechanisms contributing to neurodegeneration. We review the genetic influence of two important disease-associated loci, 17q21.31 (the “MAPT locus”) and APOE, to neurodegenerative disease risk in non-European populations, touching on global population differences and evolutionary genetics by ancestry that may underlie some of these differences. We conclude there is a need to increase representation of non-European ancestry individuals in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and biomarker analyses in order to help resolve existing disparities in understanding risk for, diagnosis of, and treatment for neurodegenerative diseases in diverse populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1021918
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2022


  • 17q21.31
  • APOE
  • MAPT
  • evolutionary genetics
  • genetic ancestry
  • haplotype
  • neurodegeneration
  • non-European populations


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