Tuesday, April 15, 2014

APOE-4 Allele May Confer Greater Alzheimer's Risk for Women, Study Suggests

Presence of the APOE-4 gene, the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer disease identified to date, appears to confer greater risk for women, according to a study published online in Annals of Neurology. Researchers at Stanford University examined the APOE-4-by-sex interaction in the risk for conversion from healthy aging to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in 5,496 controls and from MCI to Alzheimer’s disease in 2,588 patients with MCI. The interaction was also tested in cerebrospinal fluid biomarker levels of 980 subjects from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.

Among controls, male and female carriers of the gene were more likely to convert to MCI or Alzheimer's, but the effect was stronger in women. The APOE-4-by-sex interaction on biomarker levels was significant for MCI patients and showed that women carriers were more likely to have defects in the "tau" protein in the brain, which has been linked with the characteristic neurofibrillary tangles associated with dementia.

“These findings have important clinical implications and suggest novel research approaches into AD pathogenesis,” the researchers said.

To read more about research on this subject, see the Psychiatric News article, "Plasma APOE-4 Levels Linked to Dementia Risk." Also see the American Journal of Psychiatry study, "Effect of Knowledge of APOE Genotype on Subjective and Objective Memory Performance in Healthy Older Adults."

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