We evaluated how the impact of apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) differs according to age in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. We recruited 846 AD patients and 815 cognitively normal controls and categorized into three groups with respect to their age (<65, 65-74, and ≥75 years). We evaluated the risk of AD in APOE4 carriers and compared cortical thickness and cognitive function according to APOE4 status in each age group. At the point of this study, in young (<65 years) AD, APOE4 noncarriers had the most severe frontal and perisylvian atrophy, while in old (≥75 years) AD, APOE4 carriers had the most severe medial temporal atrophy. In AD under 75 years, APOE4 noncarriers and heterozygotes showed worse performance in language, visuospatial, and frontal function compared to homozygotes, while, in old (≥75 years) AD, APOE4 homozygotes showed worse performance in memory compared to noncarriers. As the detrimental effects of APOE4 seen in older AD patients were not found in younger AD patients, we suggest that some unrevealed factors are associated with cortical atrophy and non-amnestic cognitive dysfunction in young AD with APOE4 noncarriers.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4); cognitive dysfunction; magnetic resonance imaging.