Alzheimer Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, the cause and progression of which are poorly understood. The disease has strong genetic heritability and the pathology already affects the brain in the pre-clinical phase. There are several SNPs have been identified with Alzheimer Disease, but it is unknown how they affect different brain regions.
Imaging genetics is a rapidly growing field of research. Owing to the increasing availability of studies with both genetic and imaging data, novel methods come to real. The combination of genetic and phenotype data provides new opportunities to discover not only genetic disease factors, but also directly connect phenotype with genetic variants, for instance, differences in brain structure caused by genes. A main goal in imaging genetics is therefore to find specific genetic markers that influence brain structure and function.
Using a large scale voxel-based morphometry, we investigated associations between morphological changes in the brain and SNPs that have been linked to Alzheimer's Disease. We provide a list of candidate brain regions, which are potentially affected by these SNPs and are worthy of further study. In addition, visualization tool was developed, which enable easy access and interactive visualization of the results from this imaging genetics study.
Genetic analysis of brain volumetrics using MRI has revealed important biological associations. Voxel based morphometric analysis of brain could further help uncover more subtle associations irrespective of classical anatomical boundaries. Such undirected search would be greatly facilitated by identification of brain regions with high heritability. We performed a voxel based heritability analysis of the whole brain to identify patterns of heritability across the entire brain.