Jillian Graham

Women may have it better for once: Biological Differences in the effect of APOE Genotypes on Cognition

Previous literature has suggested that women are more at risk, and have a higher prevalence rate of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). It is important to investigate risk factors that may explain these differences. For example, Apolipoprotein ε (APOE) genotypes may be associated with an increase in cognitive decline. Specifically, individuals with the ε4 allele are at greater risk for cognitive decline and the development of AD. Research is inconsistent regarding the effects that APOE has on cognition that may differ in women compared to men. In the current study, we investigate sex differences in the relationship between APOE genotypes and cognition. Data were extracted from the RADC Research Resource Sharing Hub. Results reveal that cognitively normal (CN) females who had one ε4 allele were worse in perceptual orientation (PO) while also scoring significantly higher in episodic memory (EP) and perceptual speed (PS) compared to their male counterparts. These differences were more pronounced in MCI as different APOE allele genotype combinations contributed to greater significance between the groups. In AD, episodic memory and perceptual orientation were no longer significant; however, women still scored better in PS and significant differences in working memory and global cognition emerged. Although the percentage of individuals with two ε4 alleles was higher in females, there were no significant sex differences in cognitive scores. The presence of an ε4 allele may be more associated with cognitive changes in men rather than women. Therefore, males with similar APOE genotype may be more likely to suffer from substantial cognitive decline.

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