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Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Sep 1;62(5):472-8. Epub 2007 Jun 4.

The effects of prolonged stress and APOE genotype on memory and cortisol in older adults.

Author information

1
Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, California, USA. gpeavy@ucsd.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Chronic elevations in cortisol associated with prolonged stress have been associated with memory loss, as has the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE-epsilon4) genotype. Combined effects of stress and APOE status on memory and cortisol in humans have not been studied.

METHODS:

A semistructured interview with standardized scoring was used to measure stress level and univariate analysis of variance to assess effects of stress and APOE-epsilon4 status on memory and salivary cortisol in 91 nondemented subjects (mean age 78.8 years).

RESULTS:

Low-stress subjects performed better than high-stress subjects on delayed recall of stories (p = .04), word lists (p = .02), and visual designs (p = .04). APOE-epsilon4-negative subjects obtained better scores than epsilon4-positive subjects on immediate (p = < .01) and delayed (p < .01) recall of visual designs. Significant stress by APOE-epsilon4 interaction effects on memory (p = .03) and cortisol (p < .01) resulted from consistently worse memory and higher cortisol concentrations in the high stress, epsilon4-positive group.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings are consistent with a model in which prolonged exposure of older, nondemented individuals to stress in the presence of an epsilon4 allele leads to memory decline. Further studies will assess whether stress and APOE-epsilon4 interact to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

PMID:
17544378
PMCID:
PMC2002507
DOI:
10.1016/j.biopsych.2007.03.013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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