Objective: APOE ε4 status has been associated with greater cortical amyloid deposition, whereas exercise has been associated with less in cognitively normal adults. The primary objective here was to examine whether physical exercise moderates the association between APOE genotype and amyloid deposition in cognitively normal adults.
Design: APOE genotyping data and answers to a questionnaire on physical exercise engagement over the last decade were obtained in conjunction with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples and amyloid imaging with carbon 11-labeled Pittsburgh Compound B ([(11)C]PiB) positron emission tomography. Participants were classified as either low or high exercisers based on exercise guidelines of the American Heart Association.
Setting: Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University, St Louis, Missouri.
Participants: A total of 201 cognitively normal adults (135 of whom were women) aged 45 to 88 years were recruited from the Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. Samples of CSF were collected from 165 participants. Amyloid imaging was performed for 163 participants.
Results: APOE ε4 carriers evidenced higher [(11)C]PiB binding (P<.001) and lower CSF Aβ42 levels (P<.001) than did noncarriers. Our previous findings of higher [(11)C]PiB binding (P=.005) and lower CSF Aβ42 levels (P=.009) in more sedentary individuals were replicated. Most importantly, we observed a novel interaction between APOE status and exercise engagement for [(11)C]PiB binding (P=.008) such that a more sedentary lifestyle was significantly associated with higher [(11)C]PiB binding for ε4 carriers (P=.013) but not for noncarriers (P=.20). All findings remained significant after controlling for age; sex; educational level; body mass index; the presence or history of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart problems, or depression; and the interval between assessments.
Conclusion: Collectively, these results suggest that cognitively normal sedentary APOE ε4-positive individuals may be at augmented risk for cerebral amyloid deposition.