The APOE ε4 allele increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, whereas the APOE ε2 allele reduces risk. We examined whether cognitive reserve (CR), as measured by an index consisting of education, reading, and vocabulary, modifies these associations. CR was measured at baseline in 257 cognitively normal individuals (mean age 57.2 years) who have been followed for up to 17 years (mean follow-up = 9.2 years). Cox regression models showed that CR and APOE ε4 independently affected the risk of progressing from normal cognition to onset of clinical symptoms: CR reduced risk by about 50% in both ε4 carriers and non-carriers, while ε4 increased risk by about 150%. In contrast, APOE ε2 interacted with CR, such that CR was more protective in ε2 carriers than non-carriers. This suggests that individuals with an ε2 genotype may disproportionately benefit from lifetime experiences that enhance cognition.
- Cognitive reserve
- Cohort studies
- Preclinical Alzheimer's disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience