The ε4 allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are both risk factors for the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). These factors may act synergistically, in that APOE4+ individuals are more likely to develop dementia after TBI. Because the mechanism underlying these effects is unclear, we questioned whether APOE4 and TBI interact either through effects on amyloid-β (Aβ) or by enhancing cell death/tissue injury. We assessed the effects of TBI in PDAPP mice (transgenic mice that develop AD-like pathology) expressing human APOE3 (PDAPP: E3), human APOE4 (PDAPP:E4), or no APOE (PDAPP:E-/-). Mice were subjected to a unilateral cortical impact injury at 9-10 months of age and allowed to survive for 3 months. Aβ load, hippocampal/cortical volumes, and hippocampal CA3 cell loss were quantified using stereological methods. All of the groups contained mice with Aβ-immunoreactive deposits (56% PDAPP: E4, 20% PDAPP:E3, 75% PDAPP:E-/-), but thioflavine-Spositive Aβ (amyloid) was present only in the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus in the PDAPP:E4 mice (44%). In contrast, our previous studies showed that in the absence of TBI, PDAPP:E3 and PDAPP:E4 mice have little to no Aβ deposition at this age. After TBI, all of the Aβ deposits present in PDAPP:E3 and PDAPP: E-/- mice were diffuse plaques. In contrast to the effect of APOE4 on amyloid, PDAPP:E3, PDAPP:E4, and PDAPP:E-/mice did not differ in the amount of brain tissue or cell loss. These data support the hypothesis that APOE4 influences the neurodegenerative cascade after TBI via an effect on Aβ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10083-10087
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • APP
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid
  • ApoE
  • Hippocampus
  • Traumatic brain injury


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