Mapping the effect of APOE epsilon4 on gray matter loss in Alzheimer's disease in vivo.

LENITEM Laboratory of Epidemiology, Neuroimaging and Telemedicine, IRCCS Centro San Giovanni di Dio - FBF, Brescia, Italy.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.13). 05/2009; 45(4):1090-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.01.009
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Previous studies suggest that in Alzheimer's disease (AD) the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) epsilon4 allele is associated with greater vulnerability of medial temporal lobe structures. However, less is known about its effect on the whole cortical mantle. Here we aimed to identify APOE-related patterns of cortical atrophy in AD using an advanced computational anatomy technique. We studied 15 AD patients carriers (epsilon4+, age: 72+/-10 SD years, MMSE: 20+/-3 SD) and 14 non-carriers (epsilon4-, age: 69+/-9, MMSE: 20+/-5) of the epsilon4 allele and compared them to 29 age-and-sex matched controls (age: 70+/-9, MMSE: 28+/-1). Each subject underwent a clinical evaluation, a neuropsychological battery, and high-resolution MRI. UCLA's cortical pattern matching technique was used to identify regions of local cortical atrophy. epsilon4+ and epsilon4- patients showed similar performance on neuropsychological tests (p>.05, t-test). Diffuse cortical atrophy was detected for both epsilon4+ (p=.0001, permutation test) and epsilon4- patients (p=.0001, permutation test) relative to controls, and overall gray matter loss was about 15% in each patients group. Differences in gray matter loss between carriers and non-carriers mapped to the temporal cortex and right occipital pole (20% greater loss in carriers) and to the posterior cingulate, left orbitofrontal and dorsal fronto-parietal cortex (5-15% greater loss in non-carriers). APOE effect in AD was not significant (p>.74, ANOVA), but a significant APOE by region (temporal vs fronto-parietal cortex) interaction was detected (p=.002, ANOVA), in both early and late-onset patients (p<.05, ANOVA). We conclude that the epsilon4 allele modulates disease phenotype in AD, being associated with a pattern of differential temporal and fronto-parietal vulnerability.

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