Memory self-appraisal in middle-aged and older adults with the apolipoprotein E-4 allele

Am J Psychiatry. 1999 Jul;156(7):1035-8. doi: 10.1176/ajp.156.7.1035.


Objective: Because subjective memory complaints may indicate subtle functional brain abnormalities, the authors studied the influence of the major genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease, the apolipoprotein E-4 (APOE-4) allele, on self-reports of memory performance in middle-aged and older adults.

Method: Subjective and objective assessments of memory performance were compared in relation to the presence or absence of the APOE-4 allele in 39 cognitively intact persons with mild memory complaints.

Results: Subjects with the APOE-4 allele had lower scores on objective verbal memory and on the subjective memory measure for retrospective functioning. Among the subjects in the age range where APOE-4 has its greatest influence on the risk of Alzheimer's disease (55-74 years), the APOE-4 group had lower scores on the subjective memory measure for frequency of forgetting. Moreover, the standardized difference in retrospective functioning scores between the two genetic risk groups increased when the mid-age-range group was examined rather than the whole study group.

Conclusions: The APOE-4 allele is associated with increased subjective memory impairment in middle-aged and older adults. Longitudinal studies of age-related memory loss should include genetic risk and subjective memory measures as potential predictors of decline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging / genetics*
  • Alleles
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Apolipoprotein E4
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Apolipoprotein E4
  • Apolipoproteins E