The APOE gene encodes for apolipoprotein E, a component of lipoproteins which are vehicles for the transport of cholesterol (fat) in blood. Polymorphisms in this gene are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Two important allele types associated with the disease are e4 and e2. The difference is that where e4 is associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, e2 lowers the risk.
People with Alzheimer’s disease have the allele e4 3 times more commonly than normal individuals. The allele decides the risk and age of disease onset especially in families where late-onset Alzheimer’s disease has occurred. It is 20% and 84 years for non-e4 carriers, 47% and 76 years for heterozygous carriers and 91% and 68 years for homozygous carriers of the e4 allele. Moreover, the allele also provides pharmacogenetic targets for the development of new Alzheimer medications.
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