Impact of Apolipoprotein E Genotype on Neurocognitive Function in Patients With Brain Metastases: An Analysis of NRG Oncology's RTOG 0614

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2023 Dec 13:S0360-3016(23)08238-X. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2023.12.004. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: Whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT) is a common treatment for brain metastases and is frequently associated with decline in neurocognitive functioning (NCF). The e4 allele of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene is associated with increased risk of Alzheimer disease and NCF decline associated with a variety of neurologic diseases and insults. APOE carrier status has not been evaluated as a risk factor for onset time or extent of NCF impairment in patients with brain metastases treated with WBRT.

Methods and materials: NRG/Radiation Therapy Oncology Group 0614 treated adult patients with brain metastases with 37.5 Gy of WBRT (+/- memantine), performed longitudinal NCF testing, and included an optional blood draw for APOE analysis. NCF test results were compared at baseline and over time with mixed-effects models. A cause-specific Cox model for time to NCF failure was performed to assess the effects of treatment arm and APOE carrier status.

Results: APOE results were available for 45% of patients (n = 227/508). NCF did not differ by APOE e4 carrier status at baseline. Mixed-effects modeling showed that APOE e4 carriers had worse memory after WBRT compared with APOE e4 noncarriers (Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised total recall [least square mean difference, 0.63; P = .0074], delayed recognition [least square mean difference, 0.75; P = .023]). However, APOE e4 carrier status was not associated with time to NCF failure (hazard ratio, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.60-1.23; P = .40). Memantine delayed the time to NCF failure, regardless of carrier status (hazard ratio, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.52-1.01; P = .054).

Conclusions: APOE e4 carriers with brain metastases exhibited greater decline in learning and memory, executive function, and the Clinical Trial Battery Composite score after treatment with WBRT (+/- memantine), without acceleration of onset of difference in time to NCF failure.