Pasar al contenido principal

Interactive effect of age and APOE-ε4 allele load on white matter myelin content in cognitively normal middle-aged subjects


The apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) ε4 allele has a strong and manifold impact on cognition and neuroimaging phenotypes in cognitively normal subjects, including alterations in the white matter (WM) microstructure. Such alterations have often been regarded as a reflection of potential thinning of the myelin sheath along axons, rather than pure axonal degeneration. Considering the main role of APOE in brain lipid transport, characterizing the impact of APOE on the myelin coating is therefore of crucial interest, especially in healthy APOE-ε4 homozygous individuals, who are exposed to a twelve-fold higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD), compared to the rest of the population. We examined T1w/T2w ratio maps in 515 cognitively healthy middle-aged participants from the ALFA study (ALzheimer and FAmilies) cohort, a single-site population-based study enriched for AD risk (68 APOE-ε4 homozygotes, 197 heterozygotes, and 250 non-carriers). Using tract-based spatial statistics, we assessed the impact of age and APOE genotype on this ratio taken as an indirect descriptor of myelin content. Healthy APOE-ε4 carriers display decreased T1w/T2w ratios in extensive regions in a dose-dependent manner. These differences were found to interact with age, suggesting faster changes in individuals with more ε4 alleles. These results obtained with T1w/T2w ratios, confirm the increased vulnerability of WM tracts in APOE-ε4 healthy carriers. Early alterations of myelin content could be the result of the impaired function of the ε4 isoform of the APOE protein in cholesterol transport. These findings help to clarify the possible interactions between the APOE-dependent non-pathological burden and age-related changes potentially at the source of the AD pathological cascade.
Enlace al artículo


Operto G, Molinuevo JL, Cacciaglia R, Falcon C, Brugulat-Serrat A, Suárez-Calvet M, Grau-Rivera O, Bargalló N, Morán S, Esteller M; ALFA Study, Gispert JD. Interactive effect of age and APOE-ε4 allele load on white matter myelin content in cognitively normal middle-aged subjects. Neuroimage Clin. 2019 Aug 16;24:101983. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2019.101983