Revision of the apolipoprotein E compensatory mechanism recruitment hypothesis

Alzheimers Dement. 2008 Jul;4(4):251-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2008.02.006. Epub 2008 Apr 24.


The association between the apolipoprotein E epsilon4 allele and Alzheimer's disease (AD) is well-established. Functional neuroimaging research has supported a compensatory mechanism recruitment hypothesis whereby nondemented epsilon4 participants use additional cognitive resources to buffer against episodic memory declines in older age, a mechanism that is presumably associated with encroaching disease. However, recent studies have implicated a beneficial effect associated with the epsilon4 allele early in the life span. These studies suggest a revised hypothesis whereby epsilon4 persons perform better on cognitive measures early in the life span and then show greater recruitment of brain regions during performance to compensate for declines in older age caused by preclinical AD.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Apolipoprotein E4 / genetics*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological / genetics*


  • Apolipoprotein E4