ApoE4 – The Ancestral Allele

For ApoE4 carriers interested in primal diets and science

Archive for February 2013

Omega-3s, ApoE Genotype and Cognitive Decline (Paper)

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Googling for the rate of APOE4 among Native Americans, I found this paper on omega-3 fats and ApoE4:

The most recent statistics indicate that dietary intake of omega-3 PUFA is insufficient in >95% of Americans. Deficits in omega-3s have been shown to contribute to inflammatory signaling, apoptosis, and neuronal dysfunction in all cause dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. DHA (22:6[n-3]), specifically, is a critical contributor to cell structure and function in the nervous system, and a recently identified DHA-derived messenger, neuroprotecting D1 (NPD1) has been found to regulate brain cell survival and to promote non-amyloidogenic processing of amyloid precursor protein, thus protecting against Alzheimer’s disease by inhibiting formation of β-amyloid. Studies utilizing omega-3 supplementation to improve cognitive function in elders, however, have had mixed outcomes, an inconsistency which newly published research indicates is related to ApoE genotype. ApoE ε4 carriers have not been able to benefit from omega-3s. This article discusses why and what can be done to enable carriers of the ApoeE ε4 allele to receive the neuroprotective benefits of omega-3s.

The important thing for us is the dietary recommendations.  Some highlights:

ApoE ε4 carriers are the canaries in the mine of the Western way of life. Individuals with this genetic heritage cannot afford the “normal” level of dietary and lifestyle insults typical of life in the modern industrialized world because the ApoE ε4 allele magnifies the risks inherent in the Western diet and lifestyle.

Despite the disproportionately high prevalence of ApoE ε4, cardiovascular disease and diabetes among Native Americans, and the Pima Indians, specifically, research examining a Native American rural population in nearby New Mexico clearly shows that carrying the ApoE ε4 allele does not increase the risk for any of these conditions in people eating a low fat diet and following an active lifestyle.

Another important point the paper makes is that while O3s provide many benefits, they are also vulnerable to oxidative damage.  Depending on the body’s redox state, O3s can be neurotrophic (good for the brain) or neurotoxic (not so good).

The paper seems to conflate a low fat diet with a plant-centered, unprocessed one.  While it has some great information on omega-3s, it doesn’t have much to answer other key primal / e4 fat questions like whether saturated fats are good (as in primal) or bad (because of differences in lipid metabolism for e4s).


Written by patrissimo

February 21, 2013 at 7:13 am

Posted in Diet, Preventative, Research