Education and Genetic Risk Modulate Hippocampal Structure in Alzheimer’s Disease
Donix, Katharina L.
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AbstractGenetic and environmental protective factors and risks modulate brain structure and function in neurodegenerative diseases and their preclinical stages. We wanted to investigate whether the years of formal education, a proxy measure for cognitive reserve, would influence hippocampal structure in Alzheimer’s disease patients, and whether apolipoprotein Eε4 (APOE4) carrier status and a first-degree family history of the disease would change a possible association. Fifty-eight Alzheimer’s disease patients underwent 3T magnetic resonance imaging. We applied a cortical unfolding approach to investigate individual subregions of the medial temporal lobe. Among patients homozygous for the APOE4 genotype or carrying both APOE4 and family history risks, lower education was associated with a thinner cortex in multiple medial temporal regions, including the hippocampus. Our data suggest that the years of formal education and genetic risks interact in their influence on hippocampal structure in Alzheimer’s disease patients.