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Genetics. 1996 May;143(1):463-78.

Genotype-environment interaction: apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene effects and age as an index of time and spatial context in the human.

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  • 1Department of Human Genetics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109, USA.


We analyzed the age-dependence of the estimates of the parameters of the genetic architecture of plasma ApoE levels associated with ApoE gene variation. Our study sample included 1988 individuals in multigeneration pedigrees from the Rochester, MN, population. We used a 30-yr sliding window across the age range (5-90 yr) to estimate the age dependency of parameters. Additive ApoE allelic variance of transformed plasma ApoE values for both genders, heritabilities for males and phenotypic and residual variance for females peaked in the 20-40-yr age windows and decreased significantly with age (P < 0.05). Phenotypic and residual variance for males and dominance variance for both genders did not vary significantly with age. All parameter estimates were significantly different from zero across all age windows for both genders. Most studies of ApoE have focused on its functions in the pathophysiology of coronary artery disease (CAD) in middle-aged and older individuals. Our findings suggest the greatest role of this gene is in determining phenotype differences among younger and middle-aged individuals. These observed genotypic effects on the plasma ApoE levels may contribute to age-dependent differences in physiological health, growth, and risk of disease.

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