Have you or a family member been recently diagnosed with Apolipoprotein E? Click here to find out what you need to know about APOE.
Your body has numerous cells. Every cell has a purpose. But some cells help and hurt.
Apolipoprotein E is not well-known to the general public. It should be. It helps you manage your heart and blood health, but it can also hurt your brain health.
Here is a quick guide to apolipoprotein E.
What Is Apolipoprotein E?
The APOE gene produces apolipoprotein E. Apolipoprotein E is a protein in your brain. It combines with fats, also called lipids, to form molecules called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins package cholesterol and other fats and carry them through your bloodstream.
By carrying lipids throughout your body, apolipoprotein E controls your level of cholesterol. You need a moderate amount of cholesterol to live a healthy life. Low cholesterol can cause cancer and anxiety, while high cholesterol can cause heart attacks and strokes.
There are three different versions, also called alleles, of the APOE gene. They are called e2, e3, and e4. The most common version is e3, which more than half of the general population has.
You inherit your genes from your parents. You can receive one version of the APOE gene from your mother and another version from your father. Having two different versions of APOE does not in itself cause health problems.
If you have two e3 genes, you have nothing to worry about. e3 controls your cholesterol and keeps your heart healthy.
What Diseases Are Related to APOE?
If you have e2 or e4, you may not have health problems. But e2 and e4 can increase the risk of developing certain diseases.
The e4 version of APOE increases a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that causes memory loss and inability to function. People who inherit one copy of e4 have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and people who inherit two copies are at greater risk.
It is unclear why e4 is related to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. e4 is present in the brain, and it can clump proteins together. This may cause damage to nerve cells, triggering Alzheimer’s.
e4 also increases the risk of developing dementia with Lewy bodies. Dementia with Lewy bodies is a nervous system disorder that causes intellectual decline, hallucinations, and movement problems. It is unclear how e4 contributes to dementia.
e2 can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. However, e2 can greatly increase the risk of developing a disease called hyperlipoproteinemia type III. This disease can cause heart disease and buildups in your arteries.
How Do We Treat APOE Diseases?
Scientists only recently discovered the links between APOE and diseases. There is no known way to edit the APOE gene, and there is no way to replace harmful alleles with helpful ones.
There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia with Lewy bodies. Doctors can manage their symptoms, but patients eventually die from those diseases. Hyperlipoproteinemia is treated with medications, a low-cholesterol diet, and exercise.
Scientists have started testing for the APOE gene. They are measuring the lengths of DNA to change treatments for patients. You can learn more about these treatments.
Remain in the Know
Apolipoprotein E helps your body under most circumstances. In certain people, it can produce negative health effects.
We don’t know right now why that is. But scientists are always working to find those answers. Follow our blog to remain informed about the latest developments.