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BMC Geriatr. 2008 Jul 14;8:14. doi: 10.1186/1471-2318-8-14.

The association of APOE genotype and cognitive decline in interaction with risk factors in a 65-69 year old community sample.

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  • 1The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.



While the evidence of an association between the apolipoprotein E (APOE) *E4 allele and Alzheimer's disease is very strong, the effect of the *E4 allele on cognitive decline in the general population is more equivocal. A cross-sectional study on the lifespan effects of the *E4 allele 1 failed to find any effect of the *E4 allele on cognitive performance at ages 20-24, 40-44 or 60-64 years.


In this four year follow-up study, we reexamine the effect of *E4 in the sample of 2,021 individuals, now aged 65-69 years.


Performance on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) was significantly poorer for *E4 homozygotes than heterozygotes or non-carriers. The effects of the *E4 genotype on cognitive decline over four years were found on the MMSE and Symbol-Digit Modalities test but only when controlling for risk factors such as head injury and education. Analyses were repeated with the exclusion of participants diagnosed with a mild cognitive disorder, with little change.


It is possible that *E4 carriers become vulnerable to greater cognitive decline in the presence of other risk factors at 65-69 years of age.

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