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Neuropsychology. 2015 May;29(3):382-387. doi: 10.1037/neu0000147. Epub 2014 Nov 3.

Association of the apolipoprotein E genotype with memory performance and executive functioning in cognitively intact elderly.

Author information

Institute of Social Medicine, Occupational Health and Public Health and LIFE - Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases, University of Leipzig.
Institute of Social Medicine, Occupational Health and Public Health, University of Leipzig.
University of Leipzig.
Institute of Laboratory Medicine, Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics, University Hospital Leipzig.
Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics and Epidemiology, University of Leipzig.
Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences.



To test for a possible effect of the apolipoprotein E epsilon 4 (APOE ε4) allele on memory performance and executive functioning (EF) in cognitively intact elderly.


The authors studied 202 randomly selected and cognitively intact older adults (65+ years) of the Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases Health Care Study. Intact global cognitive functioning was defined using a Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) score ≥ 28. Performance in memory was assessed with the CERAD Word List and Constructional Praxis Recall, performance in EF with the Trail Making Test Part B (TMT-B). Multivariable linear regressions were used to evaluate the association between cognitive performance and APOE status, controlled for covariates.


Among the cognitively intact older adults, 21.3% (n = 43) were carriers of the APOE ε4 allele. Carriers did not differ significantly from noncarriers in terms of age, gender, intelligence level, or performance in memory but showed a significantly lower TMT-B performance as a measure of EF (TMT-B M time/SD = 105.6/36.2 vs. 91.9/32.7 s; Mann-Whitney U = 4,313.000; p = .009). The association between lower TMT-B performance and APOE ε4 genotype remained significant in multivariable linear regression analysis. Similar findings were found for the subsample of those 78 elderly, who reached a perfect MMSE-score of 30.


A lower EF performance in cognitively intact older APOE ε4 allele carriers might be related to an early Alzheimer's dementia (AD) prodrome. In this case, a stronger focus on first subtle changes in EF may help to improve early AD detection in those being at genetic risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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