Apolipoprotein E (APOE) ϵ4 Allele Is Associated with Increased Symptom Reporting Following Sports Concussion

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2016 Jan;22(1):89-94. doi: 10.1017/S1355617715001022. Epub 2015 Oct 20.


Exploring the relationship between genetic factors and outcome following brain injury has received increased attention in recent years. However, few studies have evaluated the influence of genes on specific sequelae of concussion. The purpose of this study was to determine how the ϵ4 allele of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene influences symptom expression following sports-related concussion. Participants included 42 collegiate athletes who underwent neuropsychological testing, including completion of the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS), within 3 months after sustaining a concussion (73.8% were evaluated within 1 week). Athletes provided buccal samples that were analyzed to determine the make-up of their APOE genotype. Dependent variables included a total symptom score and four symptom clusters derived from the PCSS. Mann-Whitney U tests showed higher scores reported by athletes with the ϵ4 allele compared to those without it on the total symptom score and the physical and cognitive symptom clusters. Furthermore, logistic regression showed that the ϵ4 allele independently predicted those athletes who reported physical and cognitive symptoms following concussion. These findings illustrate that ϵ4+ athletes report greater symptomatology post-concussion than ϵ4- athletes, suggesting that the ϵ4 genotype may confer risk for poorer post-concussion outcome. (JINS, 2016, 22, 89-94).

Keywords: APOE gene; Collegiate athletes; Genetics; Mild traumatic brain injury; Post-concussion symptoms; Sports injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alleles
  • Apolipoprotein E4 / genetics*
  • Athletic Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Concussion / etiology*
  • Brain Concussion / genetics*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Young Adult


  • Apolipoprotein E4