Genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may be conferred by the susceptibility polymorphism apolipoprotein E (APOE), where the ε4 allele increases the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease but is not a definitive predictor of the disease, or by autosomal dominant mutations (e.g., the presenilins), which almost inevitably result in early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of this study was to compare the psychological impact of using these two different types of genetic information to disclose genetic risk for AD to family members of affected patients.
Data were compared from two separate protocols. The Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer’s Disease (REVEAL) Study is a randomized, multi-site clinical trial that evaluated the impact of susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease with APOE in 101 adult children of Alzheimer’s disease patients. A separate study, conducted at the University of Washington, assessed the impact of deterministic genetic testing by disclosing presenilin-1, presenilin-2, or TAU genotype to 22 individuals at risk for familial Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. In both protocols, participants received genetic counseling and completed the Impact of Event Scale (IES), a measure of test-specific distress. Scores were analyzed at the time point closest to one year post-disclosure at which IES data were available. The role of genetic test result (positive vs. negative) and type of genetic testing (deterministic vs. susceptibility) in predicting log-transformed IES scores was assessed with linear regression, controlling for age, gender, and time from disclosure.
Subjects from the REVEAL Study who learned that they were positive for the susceptibility gene APOE ε4+ experienced similar, low levels of test-specific distress compared to those who received positive results of deterministic testing in the University of Washington study (p= 0.78). APOE ε4+ individuals in the susceptibility protocol experienced more test-specific distress than those who tested ε4− in the same study (p= 0.04); however, among those receiving deterministic test disclosure, the subjects who received positive results did not experience significantly higher levels of distress when compared to those who received negative results (p= 0.88).
The findings of this preliminary study, with limited sample size, suggest that the test-related distress experienced by those receiving positive results for a deterministic mutation is similar to the distress experienced by those receiving positive results from genetic susceptibility testing, and that the majority of participants receiving genotype disclosure do not experience clinically significant distress as indicated by IES scores one year after learning of their test results.
genetic susceptibility testing; deterministic testing; Alzheimer’s disease; APOE; genetic counseling
With Alzheimer’s disease increasing in prevalence and public awareness, more people are becoming interested in learning their chances of developing this condition. Disclosing Alzheimer’s disease risk has been discouraged because of the limited predictive value of available tests, lack of prevention and treatment options, and concerns regarding potential psychological and social harms. However, challenges to this status quo include the availability of direct-to-consumer health risk information (e.g., genetic susceptibility tests), as well as a growing literature suggesting that people seeking risk information for Alzheimer’s disease through formal education and counseling protocols generally find it useful and do not experience adverse effects. This paper reviews current and potential methods of risk assessment for Alzheimer’s disease, discusses the process and impact of disclosing risk to interested patients and consumers, and considers the practical and ethical challenges in this emerging area. Anticipated future directions are addressed.
Alzheimer’s disease; genetic testing; risk assessment; risk communication
This study evaluates the extent to which psychological adaptation (validated measures of depressive symptoms, anxiety, and test-specific distress) after genetic susceptibility testing is influenced by changes in beliefs about Alzheimer's disease (AD) and sharing of test results with others. Adult children of AD patients (N=269) from a randomized clinical trial involving genetic testing for apolipoprotein E (APOE) provided information before, as well as 6 weeks and 12 months after results disclosure. The levels of adaptation varied highly among participants at 12-month assessment. Participants who learned that they were ε4 negative (lower risk) had a reduction in perceived risk and concern about developing AD compared with those who learned that they were ε4 positive. Those who received results through an extended educational protocol (three in-person visits) had a larger decline in AD concern than those in a condensed protocol (educational brochure and two in-person visits). Increase in AD concern 6 weeks after disclosure was associated with increase in depression scores (b=0.20, P<0.01) and anxiety levels (b=0.20, P<0.01), and higher distress associated with AD genetic testing (b=0.18, P=0.02) 1 year after testing. Increase in perceived risk (b=0.16, P=0.04) was also associated with higher AD genetic testing distress. Sharing the test results with health professionals and friends (but not family) was associated with decrease in depression (b= −0.11, P=0.05) and anxiety levels (b= −0.16, P<0.01), respectively after a year. Enhancing discussion with regard to risks and concerns about AD during pretesting counseling and obtaining support through sharing the results after testing may help facilitate test recipients' long-term psychological adaptation.
susceptibility genetic testing; AD; APOE; results disclosure; communication; risk perceptions
This study evaluates the extent to which psychological adaptation (validated measures of depressive symptoms, anxiety, and test-specific distress) after genetic susceptibility testing is influenced by changes in beliefs about Alzheimer's disease (AD) and sharing of test results with others. Adult children of AD patients (N=269) from a randomized clinical trial involving genetic testing for apolipoprotein E (APOE) provided information before, as well as 6 weeks and 12 months after results disclosure. The levels of adaptation varied highly among participants at 12-month assessment. Participants who learned that they were ɛ4 negative (lower risk) had a reduction in perceived risk and concern about developing AD compared with those who learned that they were ɛ4 positive. Those who received results through an extended educational protocol (three in-person visits) had a larger decline in AD concern than those in a condensed protocol (educational brochure and two in-person visits). Increase in AD concern 6 weeks after disclosure was associated with increase in depression scores (b=0.20, P<0.01) and anxiety levels (b=0.20, P<0.01), and higher distress associated with AD genetic testing (b=0.18, P=0.02) 1 year after testing. Increase in perceived risk (b=0.16, P=0.04) was also associated with higher AD genetic testing distress. Sharing the test results with health professionals and friends (but not family) was associated with decrease in depression (b = −0.11, P = 0.05) and anxiety levels (b=−0.16, P<0.01), respectively after a year. Enhancing discussion with regard to risks and concerns about AD during pretesting counseling and obtaining support through sharing the results after testing may help facilitate test recipients' long-term psychological adaptation.
susceptibility genetic testing; AD; APOE; results disclosure; communication; risk perceptions
Risk information for Alzheimer disease (AD) may be communicated through susceptibility gene disclosure, even though this is not currently in clinical use. The REVEAL Study is the first randomized clinical trial of risk assessment for AD with apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype and numerical risk estimate disclosure. We examined whether APOE genotype and numerical risk disclosure to asymptomatic individuals at high risk for AD alters health behaviors. One hundred sixty-two participants were randomized to either intervention (APOE disclosure) or control (no genotype disclosure) groups. Subjects in both groups received numerical lifetime risk estimates of future AD development based on sex and family history of AD. The intervention group received their APOE genotype. Subjects were informed that no proven preventive measures for AD existed and given an information sheet on preventative therapies under investigation. Participants who learned they were ε4 positive were significantly more likely than ε4 negative participants to report AD-specific health behavior change 1 year after disclosure (adjusted odds ratio: 2.73; 95% confidence interval: 1.14, 6.54; P = 0.02). Post hoc analyses revealed similar significant associations between numerical lifetime risk estimates and self-report of AD-specific health behavior change. Despite lack of preventive measures for AD, knowledge of APOE genotype, numerical lifetime risk, or both, influences health behavior.
Alzheimer; memory; health behavior change; risk assessment
This paper explores whether and how the behavioral impact of genotype disclosure can be disentangled from the impact of numerical risk estimates generated by genetic tests. Secondary data analyses are presented from a randomized controlled trial of 162 first-degree relatives of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients. Each participant received a lifetime risk estimate of AD. Control group estimates were based on age, gender, family history, and assumed ε4-negative apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype; intervention group estimates were based upon the first three variables plus true APOE genotype, which was also disclosed. AD-specific self-reported behavior change (diet, exercise, and medication use) was assessed at 12 months. Behavior change was significantly more likely with increasing risk estimates, and also more likely, but not significantly so, in ε4-positive intervention group participants (53% changed behavior) than in control group participants (31%). Intervention group participants receiving ε4-negative genotype feedback (24% changed behavior) and control group participants had similar rates of behavior change and risk estimates, the latter allowing assessment of the independent effects of genotype disclosure. However, collinearity between risk estimates and ε4-positive genotypes, which engender high-risk estimates, prevented assessment of the independent effect of the disclosure of an ε4 genotype. Novel study designs are proposed to determine whether genotype disclosure has an impact upon behavior beyond that of numerical risk estimates.
The apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype provides information on the risk of Alzheimer's disease, but the genotyping of patients and their family members has been discouraged. We examined the effect of genotype disclosure in a prospective, randomized, controlled trial.
We randomly assigned 162 asymptomatic adults who had a parent with Alzheimer's disease to receive the results of their own APOE genotyping (disclosure group) or not to receive such results (nondisclosure group). We measured symptoms of anxiety, depression, and test-related distress 6 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year after disclosure or nondisclosure.
There were no significant differences between the two groups in changes in time-averaged measures of anxiety (4.5 in the disclosure group and 4.4 in the nondisclosure group, P = 0.84), depression (8.8 and 8.7, respectively; P = 0.98), or test-related distress (6.9 and 7.5, respectively; P=0.61). Secondary comparisons between the non-disclosure group and a disclosure subgroup of subjects carrying the APOE ε4 allele (which is associated with increased risk) also revealed no significant differences. However, the ε4-negative subgroup had a significantly lower level of test-related distress than did the ε4-positive subgroup (P=0.01). Subjects with clinically meaningful changes in psychological outcomes were distributed evenly among the nondisclosure group and the ε4-positive and ε4-negative subgroups. Baseline scores for anxiety and depression were strongly associated with post-disclosure scores of these measures (P<0.001 for both comparisons).
The disclosure of APOE genotyping results to adult children of patients with Alzheimer's disease did not result in significant short-term psychological risks. Test-related distress was reduced among those who learned that they were APOE ε4–negative. Persons with high levels of emotional distress before undergoing genetic testing were more likely to have emotional difficulties after disclosure. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00571025.)
Perceived risk is a complex concept that influences the genetic counseling process and can affect client coping and behavior. Although the association between family history and risk perception is well recognized in the literature, no studies have explored this relationship specifically in those seeking genetic susceptibility testing for a common chronic condition. REVEAL is a randomized trial assessing the impact of APOE disclosure and genetic risk assessment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Using baseline REVEAL data, we hypothesized that there would be a significant association between the degree of AD family history and risk perception of AD, and that this relationship would be stronger in those who believed that genetics is a very important AD risk factor. In our sample of 293 participants, we found that a higher self-perceived risk of AD was associated with strength of family history of AD (p<0.001), belief in genetics as an important AD risk factor (p<0.001), being female (p<0.001) and being Caucasian (p=0.02). These results are the first to demonstrate the association between family history and risk perception in persons volunteering for genetic susceptibility testing for a common complex disease.
Risk perception; Alzheimer’s disease; APOE; Genetic susceptibility testing; Risk assessment
Perceptions about the pros and cons of genetic susceptibility testing are among the best predictors of test utilization. How actual testing changes such perceptions has yet to be examined.
In a clinical trial, first-degree relatives of patients with Alzheimer disease received genetic risk assessments for Alzheimer disease including APOE disclosure. Participants rated 11 possible benefits associated with genetic testing (pros) and 10 risks or limitations (cons) before genetic risk disclosure and again 12 months afterward.
Pros were rated higher than cons at baseline (3.53 vs. 1.83, P < 0.001) and at 12 months after risk disclosure (3.33 vs. 1.88, P < 0.001). Ratings of pros decreased during the 12-month period (3.33 vs. 3.53, P < 0.001). Ratings of cons did not change (1.88 vs. 1.83, P = 0.199) except for a three-item discrimination subscale which increased (2.07 vs. 1.92, P = 0.012). Among specific pros and cons, three items related to prevention and treatment changed the most.
The process of APOE genetic risk assessment for Alzheimer disease sensitizes some to its limitations and the risks of discrimination; however, 1-year after disclosure, test recipients still consider the pros to strongly outweigh the cons.
Alzheimer; pros; cons; benefits; discrimination; genetics; risk; APOE; susceptibility testing; education
This study explored the extent to which recipients of genetic susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) communicated their results to others. It also examined demographic characteristics, along with beliefs about AD, associated with such communication. Participants (N = 271) in a randomized clinical trial involving genetic testing for Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene variants among first-degree relatives of AD patients reported their communication behaviors 6 weeks after the results disclosure. Information on beliefs about AD and genetic testing was collected at baseline. Eighty-two percent of participants receiving APOE genotype information shared their results with someone. Specifically, 64% shared with family members, 51% with spouse or significant others, 35% with friends, and 12% with health care professionals. Greater AD treatment optimism was associated with communicating results to family (OR=1.43), spouse (OR=1.62), friends (OR =1.81), and health care professionals (OR=2.20). Lower perceived risk (OR=0.98) and higher perceived importance of genetics in the development of AD (OR=1.93) were associated with results communication in general. Lower perceived drawbacks of AD genetic testing was associated with results communication to friends (OR=0.65). Beliefs about AD risks and causes, genetic testing, and development of treatments may partly determine the interpersonal communication patterns of genetic susceptibility test results.
Susceptibility genetic testing; Alzheimer’s disease; APOE communication; disclosure
This study evaluates the Alzheimer disease risk perceptions of individuals who accurately recall their genetics-based Alzheimer disease risk assessment.
Two hundred forty-six unaffected first-degree relatives of patients with Alzheimer disease were enrolled in a multisite randomized controlled trial examining the effects of communicating APOE genotype and lifetime Alzheimer disease risk information.
Among the 158 participants who accurately recalled their Alzheimer disease risk assessment 6 weeks after risk disclosure, 75 (47.5%) believed their Alzheimer disease risk was more than 5% points different from the Alzheimer disease risk estimate they were given. Within this subgroup, 69.3% believed that their Alzheimer disease risk was higher than what they were told (discordant high), whereas 30.7% believed that their Alzheimer disease risk was lower (discordant low). Participants with a higher baseline risk perception were more likely to have a discordant-high risk perception (P < 0.05). Participants in the discordant-low group were more likely to be APOE ε4 positive (P < 0.05) and to score higher on an Alzheimer disease controllability scale (P < 0.05).
Our results indicate that even among individuals who accurately recall their Alzheimer disease risk assessment, many people do not take communicated risk estimates at face value. Further exploration of this clinically relevant response to risk information is warranted.
risk recall; risk perception; Alzheimer disease; genetic susceptibility testing
Background: The ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene is a major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease but appears to be associated with greater risk in women than in men. Some studies suggest that the level of APOE may of its own modulate the risk for Alzheimer's disease. Sex differences and an apparent benefit of oestrogen therapy suggest a role for oestrogen. APOE expression is influenced by oestrogen and oestrogen therapy may not benefit women bearing an APOE ε4 allele. These findings suggest an interaction between oestrogen and APOE in the Alzheimer's disease process.
Aim: To explore the hypothesis that APOE expression is regulated by a genomic mechanism and is modified by the polymorphisms in APOE associated with risk for Alzheimer's disease.
Methods: In vitro binding studies were undertaken between oestrogen receptors and fragments of the human APOE gene. APOE gene expression was studied to investigate a possible functional interaction.
Results: APOE ε2/ε3/ε4 coding and –219 G/T promoter polymorphisms influenced binding to the oestrogen receptor and altered transcriptional activity in response to oestrogen.
Conclusions: An allele dependent modulation of oestrogen induced regulation of APOE might be involved in the increased risk for Alzheimer's disease in women bearing an ε4 allele.
This paper describes the development and psychometric properties of a new scale for assessing the psychological impact of genetic susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The new instrument, The REVEAL Impact of Genetic Testing for Alzheimer’s disease (IGT-AD) was designed to examine the unique nature of genetic information and the disease course of AD. The scale was tested as a part of a multicenter clinical trial designed to evaluate the impact of AD risk assessment and data was collected from 276 participants in the study. Using an iterative process of Principal Component Analysis and Cronbach’s alpha, the final 16 item IGT-AD was found to have a two factor structure with excellent internal reliability. Construct validity was established by patterns of correlation with other standardized self-reported measures. This scale should be useful in the identification of patients who maybe susceptible to the negative effects of receiving genetic information, monitoring of patients who have received genetic information, and as a tool for researchers who wish to study the effects of genetic susceptibility testing for AD.
Alzheimer’s disease genetics; genetic testing; Alzheimer’s disease risk assessment
Anti-ApoE antibody reduces amyloid deposition and enhances the microglial response to Aβ plaques in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model.
The apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele is the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The influence of apoE on amyloid β (Aβ) accumulation may be the major mechanism by which apoE affects AD. ApoE interacts with Aβ and facilitates Aβ fibrillogenesis in vitro. In addition, apoE is one of the protein components in plaques. We hypothesized that certain anti-apoE antibodies, similar to certain anti-Aβ antibodies, may have antiamyloidogenic effects by binding to apoE in the plaques and activating microglia-mediated amyloid clearance. To test this hypothesis, we developed several monoclonal anti-apoE antibodies. Among them, we administered HJ6.3 antibody intraperitoneally to 4-mo-old male APPswe/PS1ΔE9 mice weekly for 14 wk. HJ6.3 dramatically decreased amyloid deposition by 60–80% and significantly reduced insoluble Aβ40 and Aβ42 levels. Short-term treatment with HJ6.3 resulted in strong changes in microglial responses around Aβ plaques. Collectively, these results suggest that anti-apoE immunization may represent a novel AD therapeutic strategy and that other proteins involved in Aβ binding and aggregation might also be a target for immunotherapy. Our data also have important broader implications for other amyloidosis. Immunotherapy to proteins tightly associated with misfolded proteins might open up a new treatment option for many protein misfolding diseases.
Apolipoprotein (apo) E4 isoform, a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), is more susceptible to proteolysis than apoE2 and apoE3 isoforms. ApoE4 fragments have been found in AD patients’ brain. In the present study, we examined the effect of full-length apoE4 and apoE4 fragments apoE4[Δ(186-299)] and apoE4[Δ(166-299)] on inflammation in human neuroblastoma SK-N-SH and human astrocytoma SW-1783 cells. Western blot and zymography analysis showed that treatment of SK-N-SH cells with apoE4[Δ(186-299)], but not full-length apoE4 or the shorter apoE4[Δ(166-299)] fragment, leads to increased extracellular levels of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP1). Real-time PCR showed that interleukin (IL)-1β gene expression is also increased in SK-N-SH cells treated with apoE4[Δ(186-299)]. Treatment of SK-N-SH cells with IL-1β leads to increased MMP9 and TIMP1 extracellular levels, suggesting that the induction of IL-1β may be the mechanism by which apoE4[Δ(186-299)] regulates MMP9 and TIMP1 levels in these cells. In contrast to SK-N-SH cells, treatment of SW-1783 cells with apoE4[Δ(186-299)] and to a lesser extent with apoE4, leads to increased TIMP1 extracellular levels without affecting MMP9 levels, Additionally, apoE4[Δ(186-299)] leads to decreased IL-10 gene expression in SK-N-SH cells, while both apoE4 and apoE4[Δ(186-299)] lead to decreased TNFα gene expression without affecting IL-1β and IL-10 gene expression in SW-1783 cells. Overall, our findings indicate that a specific apoE4 fragment (apoE4[Δ(186-299)]), with molecular mass similar that of apoE4 fragments detected in AD patients’ brain, can influence the level of inflammatory molecules in brain cell lines. It is possible that these phenomena contribute to AD pathogenesis.
apolipoprotein E; Alzheimer’s disease; apolipoprotein E4 fragments; cytokines; matrix metalloproteinase 9; neuroinflammation
New genetic tests for adult-onset diseases raise concerns about possible adverse selection in insurance markets. To test for this behavior, 148 cognitively normal individuals participating in a randomized clinical trial of genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) were tracked for one year after risk assessment and APOE genotype disclosure. Although no significant differences were found in health, life, or disability insurance purchases, those who tested positive were 5.76 times more likely to have altered their long-term care insurance than individuals who did not receive APOE genotype disclosure. If genetic testing for AD risk assessment becomes common, it could trigger adverse selection in the long-term care insurance market.
Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) is the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and has been implicated in the risk for other neurological disorders. The three common ApoE isoforms (ApoE2, E3, and E4) each differ by a single amino acid, with ApoE4 increasing and ApoE2 decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Both the isoform and amount of ApoE in the brain modulate AD pathology by altering the extent of amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide deposition. Therefore, quantifying ApoE isoform production and clearance rates may advance our understanding of the role of ApoE in health and disease. To measure the kinetics of ApoE in the central nervous system (CNS), we applied in vivo stable isotope labeling to quantify the fractional turnover rates of ApoE isoforms in 18 cognitively-normal adults and in ApoE3 and ApoE4 targeted-replacement mice. No isoform-specific differences in CNS ApoE3 and ApoE4 turnover rates were observed when measured in human CSF or mouse brain. However, CNS and peripheral ApoE isoform turnover rates differed substantially, which is consistent with previous reports and suggests that the pathways responsible for ApoE metabolism are different in the CNS and the periphery. We also demonstrate a slower turnover rate for CSF ApoE than that for amyloid beta, another molecule critically important in AD pathogenesis.
Whether to return individual research results from cancer genetics studies is widely debated, but little is known about how participants respond to results disclosure or about its time and cost burdens on investigators.
We recontacted participants at one site of a multicenter genetic epidemiologic study regarding their CDKN2A gene test results and implications for melanoma risk. Interested participants were disclosed their results by telephone and followed for 3 months.
Among 39 patients approached, 27 were successfully contacted, and 19 (70% uptake) sought results, including three with mutations. Prior to disclosure, participants endorsed numerous benefits of receiving results (mean = 7.7 of 9 posed), including gaining information relevant to their children’s disease risk. Mean psychological well-being scores did not change from baseline, and no decreases to melanoma prevention behaviors were noted. Fifty-nine percent of participants reported that disclosure made participation in future research more likely. Preparation for disclosure required 40 minutes and $611 per recontact attempt. An additional 78 minutes and $68 was needed to disclose results.
Cancer epidemiology research participants who received their individual genetic research results showed no evidence of psychological harm or false reassurance from disclosure and expressed strong trust in the accuracy of results. Burdens to our investigators were high, but protocols may differ in their demands and disclosure may increase participants’ willingness to enroll in future studies.
Providing individual study results to cancer genetics research participants poses potential challenges for investigators, but many participants desire and respond positively to this information.
The role of cholesterol in the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is still controversial. Some studies aiming to explore the association between lipids and/or lipid lowering treatment and AD indicate a harmful effect of dyslipidemia and a beneficial effect of statin therapy on AD risk. The findings are supported by genetic linkage and association studies that have clearly identified several genes involved in cholesterol metabolism or transport as AD susceptibility genes, including Apolipoprotein E (APOE), Apolipoprotein J (APOJ, CLU) and the sortilin-related receptor (SORL1). Functional cell biology studies support a critical involvement of lipid raft cholesterol in the modulation of AbetaPP processing by β- and γ-secretase resulting in altered Aβ production. Contradictory evidence comes from epidemiological studies showing no or controversial association between dyslipidemia and AD risk, cell biology studies suggesting that there is little exchange between circulating and brain cholesterol, that increased membrane cholesterol is protective by inhibiting loss of membrane integrity through amyloid cytotoxicity, and that cellular cholesterol inhibits co-localization of BACE1 and AbetaPP in non-raft membrane domains and thereby increasing generation of plasmin, an Aβ-degrading enzyme. The aim of this review is to summarize the findings of epidemiologic and cell biologic studies aiming to elucidate the role of cholesterol in AD etiology.
Alzheimer’s disease; cholesterol; Aβ peptides; AbetaPP; neurodegeneration; amyloid; genetics
Epidemiological studies suggest a protective role of omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) against Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, most intervention studies of supplementation with n-3 PUFA have yielded disappointing results. One reason for such discordant results may result from inadequate targeting of individuals who might benefit from the supplementation, in particular because of their genetic susceptibility to AD. The ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E gene (ApoE) is a genetic risk factor for late-onset AD. ApoE plays a key role in the transport of cholesterol and other lipids involved in brain composition and functioning. The action of n-3 PUFA on the aging brain might therefore differ according to ApoE polymorphism. The aim of this review is to examine the interaction between dietary fatty acids and ApoE genotype on the risk for AD.
Carriers of the ε4 allele tend to be the most responsive to changes in dietary fat and cholesterol. Conversely, several epidemiological studies suggest a protective effect of long-chain n-3 PUFA on cognitive decline only in those who do not carry the ε4 but with inconsistent results. An intervention study showed that only non-carriers had increased concentrations of long-chain n-3 PUFA in response to supplementation. The mechanisms underlying this gene-by-diet interaction on AD risk may involve impaired fatty acids and cholesterol transport, altered metabolism of n-3 PUFA, glucose or ketones, or modification of other risk factors of AD in ε4 carriers. Further research is needed to explain the differential effect of n-3 PUFA on AD according to ApoE genotype.
Alzheimer Disease; genetics; metabolism; Animals; Apolipoproteins E; genetics; Diet; Fatty Acids, Omega-3; genetics; metabolism; Genetic Predisposition to Disease; Genotype; Humans; Alzheimer's disease; apolipoprotein E; fatty acids; omega 3; nutrition
Few data are available regarding the long-term psychological impact of uninformative BRCA1/2 test results. This study examines change in distress from pretesting to 12-months post-disclosure, with medical, family history, and psychological variables, such as pretesting perceived risk of carrying a deleterious mutation prior to testing and primary and secondary appraisals, as predictors.
209 women with uninformative BRCA1/2 test results completed questionnaires at pretesting and 1-, 6-, and 12-months post-disclosure, including measures of anxiety and depression, cancer-specific and genetic testing distress. We used a mixed models approach to predict change in post-disclosure distress.
Distress declined from pretesting to 1-month post-disclosure, but remained stable thereafter. Primary appraisals predicted all types of distress at 1-month post-disclosure. Primary and secondary appraisals predicted genetic testing distress at 1-month as well as change over time. Receiving a variant of uncertain clinical significance (VUCS) and entering testing with a high expectation for carrying a deleterious mutation predicted genetic testing distress that persisted through the year after testing.
As a whole, women receiving uninformative BRCA1/2 test results are a resilient group. For some women, distress experienced in the month after testing does not dissipate. Variables, such as heightened pretesting perceived risk and cognitive appraisals, predict greater likelihood for sustained distress in this group and could be amenable to intervention.
Apolipoprotein E (apoE) plays a crucial role in lipid transport in circulation and the brain. The apoE4 isoform is a major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). ApoE4 is more susceptible to proteolysis than other apoE isoforms and apoE4 fragments have been found in brains of AD patients. These apoE4 fragments have been hypothesized to be involved in the pathogenesis of AD, although the mechanism is not clear. In this study we examined the effect of lipid-free apoE4 on amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing and Aβ40 and Aβ42 levels in human neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells. We discovered that a specific apoE4 fragment, apoE4[Δ(166-299)], can promote the cellular uptake of extracellular Aβ40 and Aβ42 either generated after APP transfection or added exogenously. A longer length fragment, apoE4[Δ(186-299)], or full-length apoE4 failed to elicit this effect. ApoE4[Δ(166-299)] effected a 20% reduction of cellular sphingomyelin levels, as well as changes in cellular membrane micro-fluidity. Following uptake, approximately 50% of Aβ42 remained within the cell for at least 24h, and led to increased formation of reactive oxygen species. Overall, our findings suggest a direct link between two early events in the pathogenesis of AD, apoE4 proteolysis and intraneuronal presence of Aβ.
apolipoprotein E; Alzheimer's disease; apolipoprotein E4 fragments; amyloid peptide beta; intracellular accumulation; reactive oxygen species
Apolipoprotein (apo) E has important and diverse functions in neurobiology, and apoE4 is the major known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Here we report that adult neural stem/progenitor cells (NSCs) express apoE. In apoE knockout mice, neurogenesis in the hippocampus was ~60% lower than in wildtype mice, and most newborn cells developed into astrocytes rather than into neurons as in wildtype mice. This impairment was not observed in human apoE3 knock-in mice. In apoE4 knock-in mice, however, the maturation and dendritic development of newborn hippocampal neurons was significantly impaired as a result of apoE4 and its fragment-caused GABAergic interneuron dysfunction. This impairment was fully rescued by treatment with a GABAA receptor potentiator. These findings demonstrate the importance of apoE in adult hippocampal neurogenesis and show that apoE4 inhibits hippocampal neurogenesis by impairing neuronal maturation mediated by GABA signaling.
Apolipoprotein (apo) E4 is the major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). ApoE4 has sex-dependent effects, whereby the risk of developing AD is higher in apoE4-expressing females than males. However, the mechanism underlying the sex difference, in relation to apoE4, is unknown. Previous findings indicate that apoE4 causes age-dependent impairments of hilar GABAergic interneurons in female mice, leading to learning and memory deficits. Here, we investigate whether the detrimental effects of apoE4 on hilar GABAergic interneurons are sex-dependent using apoE knock-in (KI) mice across different ages. We found that in female apoE-KI mice, there was an age-dependent depletion of hilar GABAergic interneurons, whereby GAD67- or somatostatin-positive–but not NPY- or parvalbumin-positive–interneuron loss was exacerbated by apoE4. Loss of these neuronal populations was correlated with the severity of spatial learning deficits at 16 months of age in female apoE4-KI mice; however, this effect was not observed in female apoE3-KI mice. In contrast, we found an increase in the numbers of hilar GABAergic interneurons with advancing age in male apoE-KI mice, regardless of apoE genotype. Moreover, male apoE-KI mice showed a consistent ratio of hilar inhibitory GABAergic interneurons to excitatory mossy cells approximating 1.5 that is independent of apoE genotype and age, whereas female apoE-KI mice exhibited an age-dependent decrease in this ratio, which was exacerbated by apoE4. Interestingly, there are no apoE genotype effects on GABAergic interneurons in the CA1 and CA3 subregions of the hippocampus as well as the entorhinal and auditory cortexes. These findings suggest that the sex-dependent effects of apoE4 on developing AD is in part attributable to inherent sex-based differences in the numbers of hilar GABAergic interneurons, which is further modulated by apoE genotype.
Apolipoprotein-E (apoE) plays important roles in neurobiology and the apoE4 isoform increases risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD). ApoE3 and apoE2 are known to form disulphide-linked dimers in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid whereas apoE4 cannot form these dimers as it lacks a cysteine residue. Previous in vitro research indicates dimerisation of apoE3 has a significant impact on its functions related to cholesterol homeostasis and amyloid-beta peptide degradation. The possible occurrence of apoE dimers in cortical tissues has not been examined and was therefore assessed. Human frontal cortex and hippocampus from control and AD post-mortem samples were homogenised and analysed for apoE by western blotting under both reducing and non-reducing conditions.
In apoE3 homozygous samples, ~12% of apoE was present as a homodimer and ~2% was detected as a 43 kDa heterodimer. The level of dimerisation was not significantly different when control and AD samples were compared. As expected, these dimerised forms of apoE were not detected in apoE4 homozygous samples but were detected in apoE3/4 heterozygotes at a level approximately 60% lower than seen in the apoE3 homozygous samples. Similar apoE3 dimers were also detected in lysates of SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cells and in freshly prepared rabbit brain homogenates. The addition of the thiol trapping agent, iodoacetamide, to block reactive thiols during both human and rabbit brain sample homogenisation and processing did not reduce the amount of apoE homodimer recovered. These data indicate that the apoE dimers we detected in the human brain are not likely to be post-mortem artefacts.
The identification of disulphide-linked apoE dimers in human cortical and hippocampal tissues represents a distinct structural difference between the apoE3 and apoE4 isoforms that may have functional consequences.