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The apolipoprotein E (APOE) ɛ4 allele is the best established genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and has been previously associated with alterations in structural gray matter and changes in functional brain activity in healthy middle-aged individuals and older non-demented subjects. In order to determine the neural mechanism by which APOE polymorphisms affect white matter (WM) structure, we investigated the diffusion characteristics of WM tracts in carriers and non-carriers of the APOE ɛ4 and ɛ2 alleles using an unbiased whole brain analysis technique (Tract Based Spatial Statistics) in a healthy young adolescent (14 years) cohort. A large sample of healthy young adolescents (n = 575) were selected from the European neuroimaging-genetics IMAGEN study with available APOE status and accompanying diffusion imaging data. MR Diffusion data was acquired on 3T systems using 32 diffusion-weighted (DW) directions and 4 non-DW volumes (b-value = 1,300 s/mm² and isotropic resolution of 2.4×2.4×2.4  mm). No significant differences in WM structure were found in diffusion indices between carriers and non-carriers of the APOE ɛ4 and ɛ2 alleles, and dose-dependent effects of these variants were not established, suggesting that differences in WM structure are not modulated by the APOE polymorphism. In conclusion, our results suggest that microstructural properties of WM structure are not associated with the APOE ɛ4 and ɛ2 alleles in young adolescence, suggesting that the neural effects of these variants are not evident in 14-year-olds and may only develop later in life.

Original publication

DOI

10.3233/JAD-140519

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Alzheimers Dis

Publication Date

2015

Volume

47

Pages

977 - 984

Keywords

Apolipoprotein E, diffusion tensor imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, tract based spatial statistics, young healthy adolescents, Adolescent, Alzheimer Disease, Apolipoprotein E2, Apolipoprotein E4, Brain, Cohort Studies, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Europe, Female, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Heterozygote, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Male, White Matter