Mortality and Apolipoprotein E in Hispanic, African-American, and Caucasian Elders

Lee, Joseph H.; Tang, Mingxin; Schupf, Nicole; Stern, Yaakov; Jacobs, Diane; Tycko, Benjamin; Mayeux, Richard Paul

To investigate whether mortality risk is influenced by apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype and whether the risk differs by ethnicity, we compared the mortality risk in 2,112 individuals ≥ 65 years of age residing in northern Manhattan in New York. Mortality risks associated with the APOE genotype, adjusted for sex, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and triglycerides, differed significantly by ethnic group. Among Caucasian and Hispanics, the E2/E3 genotype was associated with the lowest mortality risk in the multivariate Cox proportional hazards modeling, adjusted for lipid levels, whereas mortality risk did not differ substantially between the E4/E3 and E3/E3 genotypes. Among African-Americans, the E2/E3 genotype was not associated with the lowest mortality risk, but the E4/E3 genotype was. Adjustment for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke reduced mortality risk associated with each genotype by about 50% for all ethnic groups, but the patterns remained the same. Although we cannot rule out the possibility of a healthy survival bias, our analyses designed to examine healthy survival by comparing risk of mortality in groups who were younger or older at entry do not support this possibility. Our findings suggest that the APOE genotype is associated with mortality and that the genotypic risks differ by ethnic group. Nearly 50% of the mortality risk associated with the APOE genotype appears to act through major chronic diseases, but those diseases only partially explain the mechanism by which the genotypic risk acts. To better understand the observed ethnic differences in mortality risk by genotype, a detailed prospective study is needed to examine the relationships among APOE, other candidate genes, health conditions, and eventual death.


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American Journal of Medical Genetics

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February 23, 2018