Using Alzheimer's disease as a model for genetic risk disclosure: Implications for personal genomics

Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, 48109, USA.
Clinical Genetics (Impact Factor: 3.93). 06/2011; 80(5):407-14. DOI: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2011.01739.x
Source: PubMed


Susceptibility testing for common, complex adult-onset diseases is projected to become more commonplace as the rapid pace of genomic discoveries continues, and evidence regarding the potential benefits and harms of such testing is needed to inform medical practice and health policy. Apolipoprotein E (APOE) testing for risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) provides a paradigm in which to examine the process and impact of disclosing genetic susceptibility for a prevalent, severe and incurable neurological condition. This review summarizes findings from a series of multi-site randomized clinical trials examining psychological and behavioral responses to various methods of genetic risk assessment for AD using APOE disclosure. We discuss challenges involved in disease risk estimation and communication and the extent to which participants comprehend and perceive utility in their genetic risk information. Findings on the psychological impact of test results are presented (e.g. distress), along with data on participants' health behavior and insurance purchasing responses (e.g. long-term care). Finally, we report comparisons of the safety and efficacy of intensive genetic counseling approaches to briefer models that emphasize streamlined processes and educational materials. The implications of these findings for the emerging field of personal genomics are discussed, with directions identified for future research.

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    • "The potential for genomic advances to impact population health will not be realized unless and until we engage in translational research on implementation and outcomes of genomic testing [16]. Few studies to date have examined multiple health behavior change outcomes within the context of pre-and post-test cancer genomic education and testing [9] [10] [13]. We conducted a pilot study with primary care patients to evaluate people's responses to SNP testing for colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. "
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    ABSTRACT: We conducted a translational genomics pilot study to evaluate the impact of genomic information related to colorectal cancer (CRC) risk on psychosocial, behavioral and communication outcomes. In 47 primary care participants, 96% opted for testing of three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) related to CRC risk. Participants averaged 2.5 of 6 possible SNP risk alleles (10% lifetime risk). At 3-months, participants did not report significant increases in cancer worry/distress; over half reported physical activity and dietary changes. SNP risk scores were unrelated to behavior change at 3-months. Many participants (64%) shared their SNP results, including 28% who shared results with a physician. In this pilot, genomic risk education, including discussion of other risk factors, appeared to impact patients' health behaviors, regardless of the level of SNP risk. Future work can compare risk education with and without SNP results to evaluate if SNP information adds value to existing approaches.
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    • "These results also indicate the importance of genetic background in determining likelihood and extent of amyloid accumulation, even in preclinical stages, which may be particularly important in clinical trial enrollment. Further, in the era of personalized medicine, the implications of APOE genotype disclosure to patients in a clinical setting must be carefully considered, given the impact of APOE on AD risk and amyloid deposition (Green et al., 2009; Roberts et al., 2011 "
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