Apolipoprotein E, survival in Alzheimer's disease patients, and the competing risks of death and Alzheimer's disease.
The apolipoprotein E (APOE) epsilon 4 allele carries an increased risk of a patient developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) while the epsilon 2 allele carries a decreased risk. We compared survival from the onset of AD in subjects with different numbers of epsilon 4 alleles and evaluated changes in genotypic frequencies with age. Two subject groups were investigated: unrelated AD case and control subjects, and affected and unaffected members from 74 multiplex AD families. In both subject groups, survival from onset decreased with increasing onset age, was longer in women, and was unrelated to epsilon 4 gene dose. The epsilon 2/epsilon 3 genotype became more common with age (p = 0.004). The epsilon 4 allele decreased in frequency with age in all patient groups but, unexpectedly, remained unchanged in control subjects. We conclude that the progression of AD is not strongly related to epsilon 4 gene dose, that the higher prevalence of AD in women may involve the longer survival of affected women, and that AD and death are competing risks involving APOE that change over time.
Corder, EH; Saunders, AM; Strittmatter, WJ; Schmechel, DE; Gaskell, PC; Rimmler, JB; Locke, PA; Conneally, PM; Schmader, KE; Tanzi, RE
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