Also Known As
PS1
Presenilin 1 Gene
S182
Formal Name
PS1 or PSEN1 Genetic Mutation Analysis
This article was last reviewed on
This article waslast modified on June 5, 2019.
At a Glance
Why Get Tested?

To detect a rare mutation in the PSEN1 gene known to be associated with early onset familial Alzheimer disease (EOFAD)

When To Get Tested?

When you are an adult who has symptoms of dementia and a strong family history of Alzheimer disease that begins before age 60 to 65 or if you are an asymptomatic adult with a family member who has early onset Alzheimer disease and an identified PSEN1 genetic mutation

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein

Test Preparation Needed?

No test preparation is usually needed. However, prior to testing, you may wish to receive genetic counseling. This could be a helpful and important step in deciding if testing is right for you and for dealing with the result if you decide to be tested – especially if you currently have no symptoms of dementia.

You may be able to find your test results on your laboratory's website or patient portal. However, you are currently at Lab Tests Online. You may have been directed here by your lab's website in order to provide you with background information about the test(s) you had performed. You will need to return to your lab's website or portal, or contact your healthcare practitioner in order to obtain your test results.

Lab Tests Online is an award-winning patient education website offering information on laboratory tests. The content on the site, which has been reviewed by laboratory scientists and other medical professionals, provides general explanations of what results might mean for each test listed on the site, such as what a high or low value might suggest to your healthcare practitioner about your health or medical condition.

The reference ranges for your tests can be found on your laboratory report. They are typically found to the right of your results.

If you do not have your lab report, consult your healthcare provider or the laboratory that performed the test(s) to obtain the reference range.

Laboratory test results are not meaningful by themselves. Their meaning comes from comparison to reference ranges. Reference ranges are the values expected for a healthy person. They are sometimes called "normal" values. By comparing your test results with reference values, you and your healthcare provider can see if any of your test results fall outside the range of expected values. Values that are outside expected ranges can provide clues to help identify possible conditions or diseases.

While accuracy of laboratory testing has significantly evolved over the past few decades, some lab-to-lab variability can occur due to differences in testing equipment, chemical reagents, and techniques. This is a reason why so few reference ranges are provided on this site. It is important to know that you must use the range supplied by the laboratory that performed your test to evaluate whether your results are "within normal limits."

For more information, please read the article Reference Ranges and What They Mean.

What is being tested?

This test looks for mutations in the PSEN1 gene sequence that have been associated with early onset familial Alzheimer disease (EOFAD).

Although most Alzheimer disease (AD) cases present after the age of 65, about 5-10% of cases present in people younger than 65 years of age. Much of this early onset AD is familial – it runs in family lines and is caused by a genetic mutation. So far, there have been three genes that have been identified as being associated with EOFAD: PSEN1, PSEN2, and amyloid precursor protein (APP).

Of these three genes, PSEN1 is the most commonly involved and is thought to cause about 20% to 70% of early onset AD. Since PSEN1-associated AD is dominantly inherited (autosomal dominant), it only takes one mutated copy, inherited from either the mother or father, to lead to the development of EOFAD.

Why PSEN1 mutations cause EOFAD is not completely understood. Scientists think that the normal role of the PSEN1 gene is to make the presenilin 1, a protein used in the development of the brain and spinal cord. Presenilin 1 also works with other enzymes to cut certain proteins into smaller pieces (amyloid beta peptides). A mutation in PSEN1 produces an abnormal presenilin 1 protein that no longer functions properly, resulting in a breakdown of this process. This can lead to increased production of a longer, stickier configuration of the amyloid beta protein, which is toxic to the nervous system and eventually forms the characteristic amyloid plaques seen in individuals with AD.

A wide variety of PSEN1 mutations have been identified in the families studied to date, and there is no common or high frequency mutation known. Some mutations may be more common in specific populations. Testing is more straightforward if a specific PSEN1 mutation has already been identified in a person's family line. The PSEN1 genetic mutation analysis is a relatively new test and is offered by a limited number of laboratories.

Accordion Title
Common Questions
  • How is it used?

    PSEN1 genetic mutation analysis may be performed in adults who have a strong family history of early onset Alzheimer disease (EOFAD), especially when a specific PSEN1 mutation has been identified in other family members. It may be used to aid in the differential diagnosis of EOFAD versus other forms of early onset dementia but usually only in those with a strong family history of disease.

    The PSEN1 test is not useful as a screen for the general population or for those who have late onset familial AD or sporadic AD.

  • When is it ordered?

    This test may be ordered when you develop symptoms associated with Alzheimer disease before 65 years of age. Signs and symptoms may include:

    • Loss of memory that affects daily life—forgetting information that was recently learned. This can occur with normal aging, but the information is usually remembered later. This includes forgetting important dates or events, having to rely on memory aids, and asking for the same information again and again.
    • Difficulty planning or problem solving, such as keeping track of bills and payments
    • Problems completing usual tasks, such as forgetting how to get to a familiar location
    • Confusion about place or time—losing track of time, forgetting where you are or how you got there
    • Increasing difficulty reading or judging distances
    • Problems speaking or writing—forgetting words, repeating the same thing, struggling with vocabulary
    • Losing things more frequently and not being able to logically retrace steps to find them
    • Impaired judgment, such as giving away unusually large amounts of money
    • Increasing withdrawal from activities, including social, work or family events
    • Changes in mood and personality, such as increasing anxiety, fear, suspicion and depression


    PSEN1 mutation analysis may also be ordered when an asymptomatic adult has a strong family history of early onset Alzheimer disease, especially when there are multiple family members over several generations who have had or were thought to have had EOFAD.

  • What does the test result mean?

    If a person has a disease-causing PSEN1 mutation, it is highly likely that the person will eventually develop AD, usually at a similar age to other affected family members. The symptoms, severity, and rate of progression can vary from individual to individual. Since it is a dominant gene, each child will have a 50% chance of having the PSEN1 mutation passed on to them.

    If no PSEN1 mutation is identified, it is still possible that the person has EOFAD because the specific PSEN1 mutation is not able to be identified by the existing testing method or there is a mutation in a different gene.

  • Is there anything else I should know?

    PSEN1 mutations are not associated with late onset sporadic AD. Some individuals will not have a strong family history because their family is not informative (i.e., key people passed away before they would have developed symptoms or their full medical histories are not known). Other issues that could confound family history are non-paternity and undisclosed adoption.

  • Can this test be done at my local laboratory?

    The PSEN1 test is a relatively new test that has limited use and is still rarely ordered. It is performed in only a few laboratories, so if a healthcare practitioner recommends the test, the blood sample will need to be sent to a reference laboratory.

  • My father has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer disease. Can my doctor tell if my father has a genetic mutation without a blood test?

    No, the clinical symptoms of all forms of AD are often the same. They only differ by age of onset. You cannot tell whether someone has an inherited form of AD just by looking examining them. If there is a strong family history of early onset AD, especially if another family member has had positive genetic testing, your doctor may suspect a genetic problem that may be confirmed by a blood test.

  • Are there any other genetic tests that will diagnose AD?

    The other genes that have mutations associated with EOFAD are PSEN2 and APP (amyloid precursor protein). Testing is available, but these are less frequent causes of EOFAD.

View Sources

Sources Used in Current Review

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