ApoE4 – The Ancestral Allele

For ApoE4 carriers interested in primal diets and science

Archive for the ‘Causes’ Category

More evidence on ApoE4 / HSV / Alzheimer’s connection

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Turns out there is a fair bit of study on this connection we recently reported on. Here’s another paper (gated): Herpes simplex virus type 1, apolipoprotein E, and cholesterol: a dangerous liaison in Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders. ApoE4 appears to predispose the brain to multiple weaknesses against stressors, we’ve already covered how E4s should not get hit in the head, and this HSV vulnerability is another thing to watch out for.

Written by patrissimo

May 3, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Could HSV1 be the cause of Alzheimer’s in APOE4s?

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A reader sent in this fascinating article, which offers evidence that Alzheimer’s Disease in APOE4s might be caused or partially caused by a side effect of the body’s reaction to the Herpes Simplex 1 virus (the primary cause of cold sores). Here is the paper (Note: you may need to be logged into a Google Account to see the paper embedded. Otherwise, click on the link and then download the file.)

The evidence cited includes the presence of HSV1-related DNA in the brain regions most affected by AD, that APOE4 confers an increased risk for HSV1, and direct linkage between HSV1 and the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles which are the main features of AD. If continued work validates the theory, this would not be the first time that a common virus was found to underly a major disease – consider the discovery that HPV causes cervical cancer, for which Harald zur Hausen won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine, and which made it possible to create a vaccine preventing cervical cancer.

If this theory pans out, then in addition to vaccines, antivirals such as acyclovir might be able to slow or stop the progress of AD. The author’s caution that plaques in AD develop over many years, and there is no reason to think that antivirals will reverse the course of the disease. However, given the prevalence of genetic testing and the role of APOE4, perhaps long-term prophylactic treatment of identified APOE4s (perhaps also seropositive for HSV1) with acyclovir might significantly slow the development of plaques and symptoms.

Kudos to the authors, Ruth F Itzhaki and Matthew A Wozniak, of the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester, for this innovative work.

Written by patrissimo

April 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

ApoE4s Should Avoid Getting Hit In The Head

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punch to the headEven more than other people, I mean.  A fascinating new post in the Atlantic on sports & genetics, interviewing the author of a new book The Sports Gene cites an ApoE4 result I hadn’t heard of:

I’ve written about it three or four times and it never seems to get any traction whatsoever—but it’s been known for quite a while now that this gene called ApoE4. First it was discovered as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s…

It was first discovered in the mid-1990s that this gene is sort of—I don’t want to overstate it too much, but it’s like this master brain-injury recovery key. And it’s involved in all manner of recovery from any trauma, so people who get in car accidents are more likely to die, or more likely to have brain bleeding and less likely to recover, more likely to have post-injury seizures, if they have a copy of this ApoE4 gene. And now all the data today shows that the same kind of head trauma that’s in the news all the time now for sports, people with the ApoE4 gene don’t do as well with it.

One thing that was really lost in the headline when they came out with a study a few years ago about all these brain injuries in boxers and football players with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, was the overrepresentation of the ApoE4 gene. So clearly, now, I think it’s indisputable that this gene is overrepresented among people who get brain damage from getting hit in the head.

Apparently there has been a lot of resistance to the idea of testing people for ApoE4 and using this information, with people offering the bogus argument that “You can’t change your genetics”. The author responds:

When I was asking doctors why we aren’t offering this to athletes, they said, “Well, basically, the thinking in the genetics community has been twofold. One: It’s just predisposition risk. You either have this disease or you don’t, and people have difficulty understanding that. And two: There’s nothing you can do about it.”

I’ve said, “Well, it’s a risk factor. You tell people that smoking is a risk factor,” and the doctors’ response is, “They can stop smoking. They can’t change their DNA.”

And I’ve said, “Yeah, but they can choose not to play football! Or not to be a boxer!”

We’re going to see a lot more of these arguments in the coming years as genetic sequencing continues to explode, so let’s all practice this response:

“Do you want to know your parents medical history? Yeah, me too. You can’t change it, but you can make choices based on it. Well, DNA is the same way. In fact, much of the value of your parent’s medical history is that it tells you about your DNA.”

Written by patrissimo

August 7, 2013 at 5:54 am