Apolipoprotein E epsilon4 and incidence of Alzheimer disease in a community population of older persons

JAMA. 1997 Mar 12;277(10):822-4.


Objective: To examine the relation between apolipoprotein E status and risk of Alzheimer disease (AD) in a defined population and estimate the fraction of incident AD attributable to the epsilon4 allele.

Design: Community-based cohort study.

Setting: East Boston, Mass.

Participants: A random sample of 578 community residents aged 65 years and older free of AD.

Main outcome measure: Clinical diagnosis of AD by uniform, structured evaluation.

Results: The increased risk of AD associated with the presence of the epsilon4 allele was less than that found in most family and case-control studies. Persons with the epsilon4/epsilon4 or epsilon3/epsilon4 genotypes had 2.27 (95% confidence interval, 1.06-4.89) times the risk of incident disease compared with those with the epsilon3/epsilon3 genotype. The epsilon4 allele accounted for a fairly small fraction of the incidence of AD; if the allele did not exist or had no effect on disease risk, the incidence would be reduced by only 13.7%. The effect of the epsilon4 allele on risk of AD did not appear to vary with age.

Conclusions: The apolipoprotein E epsilon4 allele is an important genetic risk factor for AD but accounts for a fairly small fraction of disease occurrence in this population-based study. Continued efforts to identify other environmental and genetic risk factors are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alleles
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk Factors


  • Apolipoproteins E