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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2004 Dec;19(12):1131-9.

No association between subjective memory complaints and apolipoprotein E genotype in cognitively intact elderly.

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Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.



This cross-sectional study examined the relationship between subjective memory complaints and the apolipoprotein epsilon 4 allele (epsilon4), a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD), among cognitively normal subjects identified from a community memory screening.


The sample comprised 232 consecutive white non-Hispanic older adults who presented to a free community-based memory-screening program at a University affiliated memory disorders center. Participants were classified as cognitively normal based on scores on the age and educated adjusted Folstein Mini-Mental Status Exam (MMSAdj) and a brief Delayed Verbal Recall Test (DRT). Subjects were assessed for APOE genotype, subjective memory complaints (Memory Questionnaire, MQ), depressive symptoms (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, HDRS), and history of four major medical conditions that have been associated with memory loss (stroke/transient ischemic attack [TIA], atherosclerotic heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes). A hierarchical regression analysis was performed to examine the association between APOE genotype and memory complaints after controlling for a host of potential confounding factors.


The APOE epsilon4 allele frequency for cognitively normal subjects was 0.13. Subjective memory complaints were predicted by depressive symptoms and a history of stroke/TIA. They were not associated with APOE genotype, MMSAdj score, DRT score, age, education, gender, and reported history of atherosclerotic heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes.


The results did not suggest an association between subjective memory complaints and the APOE epsilon4 allele in this sample of cognitively intact subjects. This indicates that memory complaints may confer risk for future dementia through pathways independent of APOE genotype. The results also show that older adults with memory complaints are at increased risk for underlying depression.

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