Single-cell whole genome sequencing reveals no evidence for common aneuploidy in normal and Alzheimer's disease neurons

Hilda van den Bos, Diana C J Spierings, Aaron S Taudt, Bjorn Bakker, David Porubský, Ester Falconer, Carolina Novoa, Nancy Halsema, Hinke G Kazemier, Karina Hoekstra-Wakker, Victor Guryev, Wilfred F A den Dunnen, Floris Foijer, Maria Colomé Tatché, Hendrikus W G M Boddeke, Peter M Lansdorp

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Background: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease of the brain and the most common form of dementia in the elderly. Aneuploidy, a state in which cells have an abnormal number of chromosomes, has been proposed to play a role in neurodegeneration in AD patients. Several studies using fluorescence in situ hybridization have shown that the brains of AD patients contain an increased number of aneuploid cells. However, because the reported rate of aneuploidy in neurons ranges widely, a more sensitive method is needed to establish a possible role of aneuploidy in AD pathology.

Results: In the current study, we used a novel single-cell whole genome sequencing (scWGS) approach to assess aneuploidy in isolated neurons from the frontal cortex of normal control individuals (n = 6) and patients with AD (n = 10). The sensitivity and specificity of our method was shown by the presence of three copies of chromosome 21 in all analyzed neuronal nuclei of a Down's syndrome sample (n = 36). Very low levels of aneuploidy were found in the brains from control individuals (n = 589) and AD patients (n = 893). In contrast to other studies, we observe no selective gain of chromosomes 17 or 21 in neurons of AD patients.

Conclusion: scWGS showed no evidence for common aneuploidy in normal and AD neurons. Therefore, our results do not support an important role for aneuploidy in neuronal cells in the pathogenesis of AD. This will need to be confirmed by future studies in larger cohorts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116
Number of pages9
JournalGenome Biology
Issue number116
Publication statusPublished - 31-May-2016


  • Aneuploidy
  • Single-cell sequencing
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Brain
  • Neurons


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