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March 11, 1998

APOE Polymorphisms and Late-Onset Alzheimer DiseaseThe Importance of Ethnicity

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Epidemiology (Dr Kukull), Pathology (Dr Martin), and Genetics (Dr Martin) and the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (Drs Kukull and Martin), University of Washington, Seattle.

JAMA. 1998;279(10):788-789. doi:10.1001/jama.279.10.788

Ethnic groups traditionally have been underrepresented in research, and research in diseases of aging is no exception. To increase recruitment of underrepresented ethnic groups, the National Institute on Aging has provided supplementary funds to Alzheimer disease (AD) centers around the country for the purpose of recruiting cohorts of patients and controls. In this issue of THE JOURNAL, we see an example of the fruits of such research with these patient populations. Tang and colleagues,1 who have helped pioneer the development of epidemiologic research on late-life dementias, report that African Americans and Hispanics living in Manhattan have a higher relative risk of possible or probable AD than whites. Unlike their white neighbors, however, there is little evidence that their risk of developing this devastating disorder is enhanced by carrying 1 of 3 relatively common variants of the gene that codes for apolipoprotein E (APOE). That variant, the ∊4 variant (APOE-∊4), was first shown to be a risk factor in 19932 and has since been confirmed in numerous other populations.3

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