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Disease Profile

Familial Alzheimer disease

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Familial Alzheimer disease; FAD


Familial Alzheimer disease (familial AD) is a degenerative disease of the brain that causes gradual loss of memory, judgment, and the ability to function socially. About 25% of all Alzheimer disease is familial (more than 2 people in a family have AD). When Alzheimer disease begins before 60 or 65 years of age (early-onset AD) about 60% of the cases are familial (also known as Early-onset familial AD). These cases appear to be inherited in an autosomal dominant manner.[1][2]

There are three subtypes of early-onset familial AD which are each associated with changes (mutations) in unique genes:[1]
(1) Alzheimer disease, type 1 is caused by mutations in the APP gene
(2) Alzheimer disease, type 3 is caused by mutations in the PSEN1 gene
(3) Alzheimer disease, type 4 is caused by mutations in the PSEN2 gene.

The condition known as late-onset familial AD includes only the subtype Alzheimer disease, type 2 and is associated with the APOE*4 allele on chromosome 19. This condition results in an increased risk of having AD.[1]


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Learn more

    These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

    Where to Start

    • Genetics Home Reference (GHR) contains information on Familial Alzheimer disease. This website is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
    • The National Institute on Aging (NIA) leads a national program of research on the biomedical, social, and behavioral aspects of the aging process; the prevention of age-related diseases and disabilities; and the promotion of a better quality of life for all older Americans. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
    • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed a fact sheet on Alzheimer's disease. To view this fact sheet, click on the link above.

      In-Depth Information

      • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
      • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Familial Alzheimer disease. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


        1. Alzheimer Disease Overview. GeneReviews. September 24, 2015; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1161/. Accessed 9/30/2015.
        2. Alzheimer disease. OMIM. Sepbember 9, 2014; https://omim.org/entry/104300. Accessed 9/30/2015.