Humans have exceptionally long lifespans compared with other mammals. However, our longevity evolved when our ancestors had two copies of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ɛ4 allele, a genotype that leads to a high risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD), cardiovascular disease, and increased mortality. How did human aging evolve within this genetic constraint? Drawing from neuroscience, anthropology, and brain-imaging research, we propose the hypothesis that the evolution of increased physical activity approximately 2 million years ago served to reduce the amyloid plaque and vascular burden of APOE ɛ4, relaxing genetic constraints on aging. This multidisciplinary approach links human evolution with health and provides a complementary perspective on aging and neurodegenerative disease that may help identify key mechanisms and targets for intervention.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; aerobic fitness; aging; apolipoprotein; dementia; vitamin D.
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