Association of APOE with tau-tangle pathology with and without β-amyloid.Neurobiol Aging 2016; 37:19-25NA
This study tested the hypothesis that the association of apolipoprotein E (APOE) with paired helical filament tau (PHF-tau) tangle pathology differs in brains with and without β-amyloid. Participants were 1056 autopsied individuals from 2 clinical-pathologic cohort studies of aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD), the Religious Orders Study, and the Rush Memory and Aging Project. Neuropathologic measures were obtained using immunohistochemistry targeting β-amyloid and PHF-tau tangles in 8 brain regions. Linear regression was used to compare the relation of APOE ε4 and ε2 to PHF-tau-tangle density in persons with β-amyloid relative to persons without β-amyloid. We found an interaction between APOE ε4 carriers and presence of β-amyloid (β = -0.968, p = 0.013) such that the association of APOE ε4 with PHF-tau tangles was much stronger in brains with β-amyloid. Stratified analysis shows that the association of APOE ε4 with PHF-tau tangles was considerably stronger among those with β-amyloid (β = 0.757, p = 1.1 × 10(-15)) compared to those without β-amyloid which was not significant (β = -0.201, p = 0.424). Separately, APOE ε2 was associated with fewer tangles in brains with β-amyloid (β = -0.425, p = 7.6 × 10(-4)) compared to those without β-amyloid which was not significant (β = -0.102, p = 0.506). Thus, the presence of APOE ε4 and ε2 alleles was not associated with PHF-tau tangles in the absence of β-amyloid. The data provide additional evidence that PHF-tau tangles in the absence of β-amyloid may reflect a pathologic process distinct from Alzheimer's disease.