Gene-by-environment interactions in Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Amy R Dunn, The Jackson Laboratory
Kristen M S O'Connell, The Jackson Laboratory
Catherine C Kaczorowski, The Jackson Laboratory


Diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD) arise from complex interactions of genetic and environmental factors, with genetic variants regulating individual responses to environmental exposures (i.e. gene-by-environment interactions). Identifying gene-by-environment interactions will be critical to fully understanding disease mechanisms and developing personalized therapeutics, though these interactions are still poorly understood and largely under-studied. Candidate gene approaches have shown that known disease risk variants often regulate response to environmental factors. However, recent improvements in exposome- and genome-wide association and interaction studies in humans and mice are enabling discovery of novel genetic variants and pathways that predict response to a variety of environmental factors. Here, we highlight recent approaches and ongoing developments in human and rodent studies to identify genetic modulators of environmental factors using AD and PD as exemplars. Identifying gene-by-environment interactions in disease will be critical to developing personalized intervention strategies and will pave the way for precision medicine.