TREM2 (triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2) gene variants were reported to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and even other neurodegenerative diseases (frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)), but so far, no definite conclusion has been drawn.
We used stem cell-derived microglia to study the consequences of missense mutations in the microglial-expressed protein triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2), which are causal for frontotemporal dementia-like syndrome and Nasu-Hakola disease.
Biallelic loss-of-function mutations in TYROBP and TREM2 cause a rare disease that resembles early-onset frontotemporal dementia with bone lesions called polycystic lipomembranous osteodysplasia with sclerosing leukoencephalopathy (PLOSL).
Given recent findings of enrichment of rare TREM2 variants (including R47C) in Alzheimer's disease, it is notable that we detected a homozygous TREM2R47C carrier presenting with an FTD rather than an Alzheimer's disease phenotype.
The previously reported functional mutation rs75932628-T (p.R47H) in the triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) is a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease (PD) and frontotemporal dementia, in European populations.
Several heterozygous missense mutations in the triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) have recently been linked to risk for a number of neurological disorders including Alzheimer disease (AD), Parkinson disease, and frontotemporal dementia.
We used next generation sequencing of the whole gene (n = 700), exon 2 Sanger sequencing (n = 2634), p.R47H genotyping (n = 3518), and genome wide association study imputation (n = 13,048) to determine whether TREM2 variants are risk factors or phenotypic modifiers in patients with AD (n = 1002), frontotemporal dementia (n = 358), sporadic (n = 2500), and variant (n = 115) Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).
A decrease in soluble TREM2 was also observed in the CSF of patients with AD and FTD, further suggesting that reduced TREM2 function may contribute to increased risk for two neurodegenerative disorders.
Our data corroborate and extend previous findings to include an increased frequency of rare heterozygous TREM2 variations in AD and FTD, and show that TREM2 variants may play a role in neurodegenerative diseases in general.