Women have stronger link between APOE-ε4, CSF tau levels

(HealthDay)—The correlation between the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene allele APOE-ε4 and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau levels is stronger among women than men, according to a study published online May 7 in JAMA Neurology.

Timothy J. Hohman, Ph.D., from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., and colleagues examined sex differences in the correlation between APOE and markers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) neuropathology measured in CSF in a multicohort study using data from 10 longitudinal cohort studies. Data were included for 1,798 patients in a CSF biomarker cohort, of whom 862 were women and 226 had AD. A total of 5,109 patients were included in the autopsy cohort, of whom 2,813 were women.

The researchers observed a significant interaction between APOE-ε4 and sex on CSF total tau and phosphorylated tau, with a stronger correlation for APOE among women than men. In post-hoc analyses, this sex difference was seen in amyloid-positive, but not amyloid-negative, individuals. Sex differences were not seen in the correlation between APOE and β-amyloid 42, neuritis plaque burden, or neurofibrillary tangle burden.

“Together, the sex difference in the association between APOE and CSF measures of tau and the lack of a sex difference in the association with neurofibrillary tangles at autopsy suggest that APOE may modulate risk for neurodegeneration in a sex-specific manner, particularly in the presence of amyloidosis,” the authors write.

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