Reimagining Alzheimer’s (Part 6): The Many Effects Of The APOE4 Variant

This article is the sixth installment in my series on Alzheimer’s disease. Read more about Alzheimer’s disease in part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 , and part 5 of the series.

A recent paper published in the journal Nature has revealed a new mechanism by which the genetic risk factor, APOE4, may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

The E4 variant of the APOE gene is the predominant genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Those who contain one copy of the E4 variant are three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, while those who contain two copies of the E4 variant are nearly ten times more likely to develop the disease. The E4 variant has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease for years. However, it is still not understood exactly why or how this genetic variant contributes to the debilitating biological and cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Now, studies conducted by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggest that the E4 variant of the APOE gene disrupts how fat molecules are processed in the brain. It appears that the disruption of these fat molecules could be the fundamental reason why those that contain the E4 variant are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s symptoms including brain cell death, memory issues, and cognitive decline.

Read the full article on Forbes.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.