The major genetic risk factor for sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the lipid binding and transporting carrier protein apolipoprotein E, epsilon 4 allele (ApoE4). One of the unsolved mysteries of AD is how the presence of ApoE4 elicits this age-associated, currently incurable neurodegenerative disease. Recently, we showed that ApoE4 acts as a transcription factor and binds to the promoters of genes involved in a range of processes linked to aging and AD disease pathogenesis. These findings point to novel therapeutic strategies for AD and aging, resulting in an extension of human healthspan, the disease-free and functional period of life. Here, we review the effects and implications of the putative transcriptional role of ApoE4 and propose a model of Alzheimer's disease that focuses on the transcriptional nature of ApoE4 and its downstream effects, with the aim that this knowledge will help to define the role ApoE4 plays as a risk factor for AD, aging, and other processes such as inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; ApoE4; Apolipoprotein E; Neurodegeneration; Transcription.