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APOE-ε4 Shapes the Cerebral Organization in Cognitively Intact Individuals as Reflected by Structural Gray Matter Networks.

Journal article
Authors Raffaele Cacciaglia
José Luis Molinuevo
Carles Falcón
Eider M Arenaza-Urquijo
Gonzalo Sánchez-Benavides
Anna Brugulat-Serrat
Kaj Blennow
Henrik Zetterberg
Juan Domingo Gispert
Published in Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
Volume 30
Issue 7
Pages 4110-4120
ISSN 1460-2199
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Pages 4110-4120
Language en
Keywords APOE, Alzheimer’s disease, gray matter networks, independent component analysis, processing speed
Subject categories Neurochemistry


Gray matter networks (GMn) provide essential information on the intrinsic organization of the brain and appear to be disrupted in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Apolipoprotein E (APOE)-ε4 represents the major genetic risk factor for AD, yet the association between APOE-ε4 and GMn has remained unexplored. Here, we determine the impact of APOE-ε4 on GMn in a large sample of cognitively unimpaired individuals, which was enriched for the genetic risk of AD. We used independent component analysis to retrieve sources of structural covariance and analyzed APOE group differences within and between networks. Analyses were repeated in a subsample of amyloid-negative subjects. Compared with noncarriers and heterozygotes, APOE-ε4 homozygotes showed increased covariance in one network including primarily right-lateralized, parietal, inferior frontal, as well as inferior and middle temporal regions, which mirrored the formerly described AD-signature. This result was confirmed in a subsample of amyloid-negative individuals. APOE-ε4 carriers showed reduced covariance between two networks encompassing frontal and temporal regions, which constitute preferential target of amyloid deposition. Our data indicate that, in asymptomatic individuals, APOE-ε4 shapes the cerebral organization in a way that recapitulates focal morphometric alterations observed in AD patients, even in absence of amyloid pathology. This suggests that structural vulnerability in neuronal networks associated with APOE-ε4 may be an early event in AD pathogenesis, possibly upstream of amyloid deposition.

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