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Milica A. Margeta, Sophia M. Letcher, Robert P. Igo, Jessica N. Cooke Bailey, Louis R. Pasquale, Jonathan L. Haines, Oleg Butovsky, Janey L. Wiggs, for the NEIGHBORHOOD consortium; Association of APOE With Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma Suggests a Protective Effect for APOE ε4. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(8):3. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.61.8.3.
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Prior studies have demonstrated that microglial activation is involved in the pathogenesis of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). Here we sought to identify genetic associations between POAG and variants in APOE and TREM2, genes associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) that critically regulate microglial neurodegeneration-associated molecular signature.
APOE genotypes were called using imputed data from the NEIGHBOR consortium (2120 POAG cases, 2262 controls) and a second cohort from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI; 486 cases, 344 controls). TREM2 coding variants were genotyped by means of the Illumina HumanExome BeadArray. The data set was analyzed for association with POAG overall, as well as the high-tension glaucoma (HTG) and normal-tension glaucoma (NTG) subgroups, using logistic regression adjusting for age and sex.
In the combined NEIGHBOR-MEEI data set, significant association was observed for APOE ε4 in POAG overall (odds ratio [OR], 0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.74–0.94; P = 0.0022) and in both the HTG subgroup (OR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.70–0.94; P = 0.0052) and NTG subgroup (OR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.58–0.87; P = 0.0014). A rare TREM2 variant (A105V) was found only in HTG cases (3 of 2863 cases) and in none of the controls (P = 0.03). Three TREM2 rare variants associated with AD were not significantly associated with POAG (P > 0.05).
We have found that the APOE ε4 allele is associated with a reduced risk of POAG. Interestingly, the same allele is adversely associated with AD, suggesting a mechanistic difference between neurodegenerative diseases of the eye and the brain. TREM2 variants associated with AD did not significantly contribute to POAG risk.
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