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May 1996

Apolipoprotein E Genotype Determines Survival in the Oldest Old (85 Years or Older) Who Have Good Cognition

Author Affiliations

From the Center for Demographic Studies, Duke University, Durham, NC (Drs E. H. Corder, L. S. Corder, and Manton); Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge, Sweden (Drs E. H. Corder, Lannfelt, Viitanen, Winblad, and Basun); and the Stockholm (Sweden) Gerontology Research Center (Drs E. H. Corder, Viitanen, Winblad, and Basun).

Arch Neurol. 1996;53(5):418-422. doi:10.1001/archneur.1996.00550050048022

Objective:  To quantify the influence of apolipoprotein E (APOE) polymorphism on cognition and survival in a population sample aged 75 years or older.

Design:  The Kungsholmen Project established a cohort of 1810 residents in a district in Stockholm, Sweden, aged 75 years or older in 1987. Information on cognition at cohort inception is available for all subjects. Subjects were followed up for mortality to January 1,1995.

Subjects:  Included in this study are 1077 subjects (of 1124 genotyped for APOE) with the common ϵ2/3, ϵ3/3, and ϵ3/4 APOE genotypes.

Results:  The odds of cognitive impairment for the ϵ3/4 vs ϵ3/3 genotype declined with age: 4.8 for age 75 through 79 years; 1.7 for age 80 through 84 years; and 1.0 (ie, no association) for age 85 years or older. Despite this association, APOE polymorphism did not significantly predict survival in subjects younger than 85 years, nor did it predict survival in subjects 85 years or older who were cognitively impaired. Instead, survival varied fourfold with respect to APOE polymorphism in those 85 years or older who had good cognition: Mortality in subjects with the ϵ2/3 genotype was half that in those who carried the ϵ3/3 genotype (hazard ratio, 0.5; 95% confidence interval, 0.2 to 0.9), and mortality in subjects with the ϵ3/4 genotype was twice that in those who carried the ϵ3/3 genotype (hazard ratio, 2.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 3.5). This fourfold variation resulted in 2-year differences in survival.

Conclusions:  The minor sequence variation in the apolipoprotein E isoforms resulted in a fourfold difference in the risk of death among the oldest old (age ≥85 years) with good cognition. The observed variation in mortality was unlikely to have been caused by cognitive impairment, as APOE polymorphism was not a risk factor for cognitive impairment in this age group.

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