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Up to 80% of Parkinson's disease patients develop dementia, but time to dementia varies widely from motor symptom onset. Dementia with Lewy bodies presents with clinical features similar to Parkinson's disease dementia, but cognitive impairment precedes or coincides with motor onset. It remains controversial whether dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease dementia are distinct conditions or represent part of a disease spectrum. The biological mechanisms underlying disease heterogeneity, in particular the development of dementia, remain poorly understood, but will likely be key to understanding disease pathways and ultimately therapy development. Previous genome-wide association studies in Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies/Parkinson's disease dementia have identified risk loci differentiating patients from controls. We collated data for 7,804 patients of European ancestry from Tracking Parkinson's (PRoBaND), The Oxford Discovery Cohort, and AMP-PD. We conducted a discrete phenotype genome-wide association studies comparing Lewy body diseases with and without dementia to decode disease heterogeneity by investigating the genetic drivers of dementia in Lewy body diseases. We found that risk alleles rs429358 tagging APOEe4 and rs7668531 near the MMRN1 and SNCA-AS1 genes, increase the odds of developing dementia and that an intronic variant rs17442721 tagging LRRK2 G2019S, on chromosome 12 is protective against dementia. These results should be validated in autopsy confirmed cases in future studies.

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