Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease which causes memory loss, cognitive impairment, behavioral changes, confusion, as well as mood alteration. This progressive type of dementia is the most common form in the elderly. It is estimated that around 13% of individuals over the age of 65 and 45% of people over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s disease (Liu et al., 2013). Although some causes for developing Alzheimer’s remain unclear, there is a familial component of this disease which explores genetic chromosomal mutations present in the body. APOE is a genetic marker currently being tested.
The APOE gene assists in the production of apolipoprotein E, a carrier of cholesterol to various cells and tissues in the body, particularly the brain. It works to gather amyloid plaques and clear these deposits from the brain. When the function of APOE is suboptimal a build-up of beta-amyloid plaques can occur; it is these plaques which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Three types of the APOE gene, known as alleles exist. APOE types include APOE2, APOE3, APOE4. As everyone has two copies, several combinations exist which make up your APOE genotype. In total six genetic combinations are possible: E2/E2, E2/E3, E2/E4, E3/E3, E3/E4, or E4/E4.
E3 is the most common form of the allele and is believed to neither make one’s risk for the development of Alzheimer’s disease more or less likely to occur. While carrying the E2 allele is actually considered rare, several studies suggest it may provide protection against the development of Alzheimer’s. It is important to note that although those who carry an E4 allele have been shown to have an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s, it DOES NOT automatically determine that one will actually have Alzheimer’s.
It is easy to test for APOE in the blood as a part of a comprehensive Cardiometabolic panel which extensively analyzes cholesterol, diabetic, inflammatory, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other genetic markers. Make your appointment today to obtain your APOE and Cardiometabolic assessment.
Liu, C-C., Kanekiyo, T., Xu, H., & Bu, G. (2013, February). Apolipoprotein E and Alzheimer disease: risk, mechanisms, and therapy. Nature Reviews Neurology. 9(2), 106-118. http://doi.org/10.1038/nrneurol.2012.263