APOE Epsilon 4 Allele Predicts Faster Cognitive Decline in Mild Alzheimer Disease

Cosentino, Stephanie; Scarmeas, Nikolaos; Helzner, Elizabeth P.; Glymour, M. Maria; Brandt, Jason; Albert, Marilyn; Blacker, Deborah; Stern, Yaakov

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether APOE epsilon 4 predicts rate of cognitive change in incident and prevalent Alzheimer disease (AD). METHODS: Individuals were recruited from two longitudinal cohort studies-the Washington Heights and Inwood Columbia Aging Project (WHICAP; population-based) and the Predictors Study (clinic-based)--and were followed for an average of 4 years. Three samples of participants diagnosed with AD, with diverse demographic characteristics and baseline cognitive functioning, were studied: 1) 199 (48%) of the incident WHICAP cases; 2) 215 (54%) of the prevalent WHICAP cases; and 3) 156 (71%) of the individuals diagnosed with AD in the Predictors Study. Generalized estimating equations were used to test whether rate of cognitive change, measured using a composite cognitive score in WHICAP and the Mini-Mental State Examination in Predictors, varied as a function of epsilon 4 status in each sample. RESULTS: The presence of at least one epsilon 4 allele was associated with faster cognitive decline in the incident population-based AD group (p = 0.01). Parallel results were produced for the two prevalent dementia samples only when adjusting for disease severity or excluding the most impaired participants from the analyses. CONCLUSION: APOE epsilon 4 may influence rate of cognitive decline most significantly in the earliest stages of Alzheimer disease.


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February 22, 2018