What is ApoE?

ApoE, or Apolipoprotein E, is a gene. Three common variants of this gene exist, and they are called ApoE2, ApoE3, and ApoE4. Every person is born with two copies of ApoE. We receive one ApoE gene from each parent.

ApoE variants are relevant to Alzheimer’s disease because the ApoE variants that you carry alter your genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s. According to the most current research, ApoE2 is the rarest variant and seems to carry the least risk for developing Alzheimer's. ApoE3 seems to carry a neutral risk. According to a large body of evidence, ApoE4 carries a very high risk for Alzheimer's and is one of the strongest known genetic risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. Research shows that ApoE4 promotes the accumulation of beta amyloid plaques in the brain, which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

75 million Americans have one copy of ApoE4 and 7 million Americans have two copies of ApoE4. Studies vary, but generally if you take no steps to improve your cognitive health:

  • With 0 copies of ApoE4 your risk of developing AD is about 9%.
  • With 1 copy of ApoE4 your risk of developing AD is about 30%.
  • With 2 copies of ApoE4 your risk of developing AD may be as high as 90%.

While some of these percentages seem frighteningly high, these numbers represent risk in individuals who have not actively worked to reduce their risk through a program such as the Bredesen Protocol. Thus, the good news is that with all of these scenarios your odds of preventing Alzheimer’s disease can be dramatically improved with diligent implementation of the Bredesen Protocol through the Amos Institute Cognitive Health Program.

Should you be tested to determine your ApoE variants?

Many of our clients are initially apprehensive when it comes to genetic testing to identify their ApoE variants. It’s important to remember that these types of genetic tests are not diagnostic, meaning that just because you carry a genetic variant that puts you at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, such as ApoE4, does not necessarily mean that you will develop the disease. All the variant indicates is risk, and in many cases, knowing that you have greater genetic risk can be the motivation you need to embark on a program to prevent Alzheimer’s.

At the Amos Institute, we leverage information such as your ApoE variants to help you mitigate your risk and personalize a nutrition and lifestyle regimen that will best meet your unique needs. Your metabolic requirements if you carry ApoE4 are different than they are for an individual who does not carry ApoE4, specifically, your need to achieve a state of mild ketosis. In this way, knowing your ApoE variants is a valuable tool that your dietitian can utilize to best set you up for success on the Bredesen Protocol. For this reason, the Amos Institute encourages our clients to be tested to learn their ApoE variants, confidant in the fact that this knowledge is not something to fear, but rather an essential piece of information that we use to help you prevent and reverse Alzheimer’s disease.