APOE Genotype and Alzheimer Disease Risk Across Age, Sex, and Population Ancestry

Michael E. Belloy, Shea J. Andrews, Yann Le Guen, Michael Cuccaro, Lindsay A. Farrer, Valerio Napolioni, Michael D. Greicius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Importance: Apolipoprotein E (APOE)*2 and APOE*4 are, respectively, the strongest protective and risk-increasing, common genetic variants for late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD), making APOE status highly relevant toward clinical trial design and AD research broadly. The associations of APOE genotypes with AD are modulated by age, sex, race and ethnicity, and ancestry, but these associations remain unclear, particularly among racial and ethnic groups understudied in the AD and genetics research fields. Objective: To assess the stratified associations of APOE genotypes with AD risk across sex, age, race and ethnicity, and global population ancestry. Design, Setting, Participants: This genetic association study included case-control, family-based, population-based, and longitudinal AD-related cohorts that recruited referred and volunteer participants. Data were analyzed between March 2022 and April 2023. Genetic data were available from high-density, single-nucleotide variant microarrays, exome microarrays, and whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing. Summary statistics were ascertained from published AD genetic studies. Main Outcomes and Measures: The main outcomes were risk for AD (odds ratios [ORs]) and risk of conversion to AD (hazard ratios [HRs]), with 95% CIs. Risk for AD was evaluated through case-control logistic regression analyses. Risk of conversion to AD was evaluated through Cox proportional hazards regression survival analyses. Results: Among 68756 unique individuals, analyses included 21852 East Asian (demographic data not available), 5738 Hispanic (68.2% female; mean [SD] age, 75.4 [8.8] years), 7145 non-Hispanic Black (hereafter referred to as Black) (70.8% female; mean [SD] age, 78.4 [8.2] years), and 34021 non-Hispanic White (hereafter referred to as White) (59.3% female; mean [SD] age, 77.0 [9.1] years) individuals. There was a general, stepwise pattern of ORs for APOE*4 genotypes and AD risk across race and ethnicity groups. Odds ratios for APOE*34 and AD risk attenuated following East Asian (OR, 4.54; 95% CI, 3.99-5.17),White (OR, 3.46; 95% CI, 3.27-3.65), Black (OR, 2.18; 95% CI, 1.90-2.49) and Hispanic (OR, 1.90; 95% CI, 1.65-2.18) individuals. Similarly, ORs for APOE*22+23 and AD risk attenuated following White (OR, 0.53, 95% CI, 0.48-0.58), Black (OR, 0.69, 95% CI, 0.57-0.84), and Hispanic (OR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.72-1.10) individuals, with no association for Hispanic individuals. Deviating from the global pattern of ORs, APOE*22+23 was not associated with AD risk in East Asian individuals (OR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.77-1.23). Global population ancestry could not explain why Hispanic individuals showed APOE associations with less pronounced AD risk compared with Black and White individuals. Within Black individuals, decreased global African ancestry or increased global European ancestry showed a pattern of APOE*4 dosage associated with increasing AD risk, but no such pattern was apparent for APOE*2 dosage with AD risk. The sex-by-age-specific interaction effect of APOE*34 among White individuals (higher risk in women) was reproduced but shifted to ages 60 to 70 years (OR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.10-2.01) and was additionally replicated in a meta-analysis of Black individuals and Hispanic individuals (OR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.01-2.94). Conclusion and Relevance: Through recent advances in AD-related genetic cohorts, this study provided the largest-to-date overview of the association of APOE with AD risk across age, sex, race and ethnicity, and population ancestry. These novel insights are critical to guide AD clinical trial design and research..

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1284-1294
Number of pages11
JournalJAMA Neurology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 11 2023


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