Selective familiarity deficits in otherwise cognitively intact aging individuals with genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2015 Dec 23;2:132-9. doi: 10.1016/j.dadm.2015.11.007. eCollection 2016.


Introduction: Familiarity has been associated with integrity of the rhinal cortex. Thus, impairment in familiarity is expected in very early stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele is a major risk factor for AD. Here, we investigated the effect of the APOE ε4 status on familiarity in cognitively normal aging individuals.

Methods: Eighty-one individuals aged between 55 and 80 years, 21 carriers and 60 noncarriers, were used in these analyses. A cognitive evaluation was performed on all participants to document the absence of objective cognitive deficits. The effect of APOE ε4 status on familiarity was tested using independent sample t test and an analysis of covariance controlling for age, gender, and education.

Results: The groups did not differ in term of age, education, and male/female ratio. APOE ε4 carriers showed a significant reduction in familiarity. No other cognitive deficit was observed in the group of ε4 carriers, relative to noncarriers.

Discussion: APOE ε4 is associated with a reduction in familiarity in the absence of other cognitive deficits. These results suggest that performance in familiarity could represent an early cognitive marker for individuals at risk of AD.

Keywords: Aging; Alzheimer's disease; Apolipoprotein E; Cognitive marker; Familiarity; Recollection.