Background Research has suggested that variations within the IDE/HHEX gene region may underlie the association of type 2 diabetes with Alzheimer disease (AD). We sought to explore whether IDE genes play a role in the association of diabetes with dementia, AD, and structural brain changes using data from two community-based cohorts of older adults and a subsample with structural MRI. Methods and Findings The first cohort, which included dementia-free adults aged >= 75 y (n = 970) at baseline, was followed for 9 y to detect incident dementia (n = 358) and AD (n = 271) cases. The second cohort (for replication), which included 2,060 dementia-free participants aged >= 60 y at baseline, was followed for 6 y to identify incident dementia (n = 166) and AD (n = 121) cases. A subsample (n = 338) of dementia-free participants from the second cohort underwent MRI. HHEX_23 and IDE_9 were genotyped, and diabetes (here including type 2 diabetes and prediabetes) was assessed. In the first cohort, diabetes led to an adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of 1.73 (95% CI 1.19-2.32) and 1.66 (95% CI 1.06-2.40) for dementia and AD, respectively, among all participants. Compared to people carrying the GG genotype without diabetes, AA genotype carriers with diabetes had an adjusted HR of 5.54 (95% CI 2.407.18) and 4.81 (95% CI 1.88-8.50) for dementia and AD, respectively. There was a significant interaction between HHEX_23-AA and diabetes on dementia (HR 4.79, 95% CI 1.63-8.90, p = 0.013) and AD (HR 3.55, 95% CI 1.45-9.91, p = 0.025) compared to the GG genotype without diabetes. In the second cohort, the HRs were 1.68 (95% CI 1.04-2.99) and 1.64 (1.02-2.33) for the diabetes-AD and dementia-AD associations, respectively, and 4.06 (95% CI 1.06-7.58, p = 0.039) and 3.29 (95% CI 1.02-8.33, p = 0.044) for the interactions, respectively. MRI data showed that HHEX_23-AA carriers with diabetes had significant structural brain changes compared to HHEX_23-GG carriers without diabetes. No joint effects of IDE_9 and diabetes on dementia were shown. As a limitation, the sample sizes were small for certain subgroups. Conclusions A variant in the HHEX_23 gene interacts with diabetes to be associated with a substantially increased risk of dementia and AD, and with structural brain changes among dementia-free elderly people.
2015. Vol. 12, no 7