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Neurobiol Aging. 2010 Jun;31(6):1059-63. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2008.07.017. Epub 2008 Aug 29.

Apolipoprotein E epsilon4 influences on episodic recall and brain structures in aging pilots.

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Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.


The apolipoprotein (APOE) epsilon4 allele is associated with cognitive deficits and hippocampal atrophy in nondemented middle-aged and older adults. It is not known to what extent this genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD) impacts performance in late middle-aged and older workers in cognitively demanding occupations. This cross-sectional analysis examines brain-cognitive-genetic relationships in actively flying general aviation pilots, half of whom are APOE epsilon4 carriers. Fifty pilots were studied with structural MRI and memory tasks. Average visual paired associate memory recall performance was lower in APOE epsilon4 carriers than non-carriers. Memory performance correlated positively with hippocampal volume, but no structural differences were found in hippocampal or frontal volumes with respect to APOE epsilon4 allele. These results were evident in healthy professionals without any presenting memory problems and without selection for a family history of AD. These findings point to basic memory testing as a sensitive tool for detecting APOE epsilon4-related influences on memory in aging workers.

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