Apolipoprotein E gene polymorphisms and retinal vascular signs: the atherosclerosis risk in communities (ARIC) study

Arch Ophthalmol. 2007 Jun;125(6):813-8. doi: 10.1001/archopht.125.6.813.


Objective: To examine the association between apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene polymorphisms and retinal microvascular signs.

Methods: Population-based, cross-sectional study. Participants from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (n=10,036; aged 49-73 years) had retinal photographs taken in 1 randomly selected eye. Photographs were graded for presence of retinal microvascular signs using a standardized protocol; a computer-assisted method was used to measure retinal vessel diameter. DNA from blood samples was analyzed for common APOE alleles.

Results: After adjusting for age, sex, systolic blood pressure, total serum cholesterol, triglycerides, and other covariates, APOE epsilon 4 was associated with nondiabetic retinopathy in white (multivariate-adjusted odds ratio, 1.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.0-1.6) and black (multivariate-adjusted odds ratio, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.0-2.1) individuals. Other retinal microvascular signs were not strongly associated with APOE polymorphisms. Neither retinal arteriolar nor venular diameter was associated with APOE polymorphisms in white or black individuals.

Conclusions: Apolipoprotein E epsilon 4 was weakly associated with retinopathy in persons without diabetes. Other signs were less consistently associated with APOE polymorphisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group / genetics
  • Aged
  • Alleles
  • Apolipoprotein E2 / genetics*
  • Apolipoprotein E3 / genetics*
  • Apolipoprotein E4 / genetics*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Coronary Artery Disease / genetics*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Retinal Diseases / genetics*
  • Retinal Vessels / pathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Apolipoprotein E2
  • Apolipoprotein E3
  • Apolipoprotein E4