Reviews in Clinical Gerontology

Biological gerontology

The APOE gene and cognitive function in non-demented and Alzheimer's disease patients

Antony Paytona1 c1

a1 Centre for Integrated Genomic Medical Research, University of Manchester, UK


This review discusses the role that the APOE gene plays in cognitive dysfunction both in demented and non-demented elderly people. The increasing problem of cognitive impairment in developed countries makes finding new and effective treatments a research priority. Understanding the biological basis of this impairment is therefore paramount. APOE has received much attention in the field of cognitive genetics due to it being a major susceptibility gene for Alzheimer's disease, which itself is characterized by a rapid and irreversible loss in memory function. Over the past 14 years this has generated a considerable number of publications that have produced conflicting findings, making it difficult for the reader to interpret whether the APOE gene regulates cognition or not. This review attempts to summarize the mass of information on this gene in relation to cognition, by weighting the pros and cons of the methodologies used, and offers suggestions for future study designs.

(Online publication October 19 2009)


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Antony Payton, Centre for Integrated Genomic Medical Research, Stopford Building, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT, UK. Email: