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Neurology. 1999 Jul 22;53(2):331-6.

APOE genotype and gender effects on Alzheimer disease in 100 adults with Down syndrome.

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The Laboratories for Molecular Neuroscience, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA.



Alzheimer disease (AD) neuropathology is present in Down syndrome (DS) after age 35, but dementia onset varies from ages 40 to 70 years. Because of small sample sizes and nonuniform determination of dementia, previous studies produced differing results on the influence of APOE subtypes on AD in DS.


To determine the influence of the APOE genotype and gender on development of AD in adults with DS to ascertain similarities with AD in the general population.


A total of 100 adults with DS (ages 35 to 79 years), almost all of whom were longitudinally assessed by neurologists, underwent APOE genotyping. Dementia onset was determined using criteria applied from the Tenth International Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders. This cohort contains the largest number of DS subjects with dementia (n = 57) in a single study, thus increasing reliability of the results.


The epsilon2 allele frequency was 4% in those with dementia versus 13% in those without dementia (p = 0.03); epsilon4 allele frequency was 18% in those with dementia versus 13% in those without dementia (p = 0.45). Using APOE-epsilon3/3 as the reference group, the risk ratio for the development of AD at any given time was 0.34 for the APOE-epsilon2/3 group (p = 0.04) and 1.44 for the APOE-epsilon(3/4,4/4) group (p = 0.25). Women were 1.77 times as likely to dement as men at any given point in time (p = 0.04).


The epsilon2 allele confers a protective effect, and women with DS have an increased risk for AD, as in the general population. In this sample, epsilon4 does not confer a significantly increased risk for AD in DS.

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