ApoE4 and increased risk of Alzheimer’s

My significant other (SO) has a good chance of getting Alzheimer’s, based on his family history and genetics (he’s ApoE4 homozygous). We discovered this when he got his DNA tested.

So my goal (that sounds really ambitious – maybe I should say “aim”? Trying again…)

My aim is to find preventive measures for Alzheimer’s, specifically for ApoE4 carriers. My partner is 42 years old right now. Can we prevent Alzheimer’s or delay it? If we start early, maybe he can have another 5 years of sanity. I know taking care of him will be exhausting. I’m trying to spend some time now to see if I can delay/prevent his dementia.

Yes, drugs are in development. Even if a drug gets to the market by the time he needs it, it could have side effects, be too pricey, or may not work effectively on him.

So if there are natural, preventive measures, then why not give it a try? I’m going to read the research, and using my biology/genetics/disease background, see if it makes sense at a biology/molecular level. Maybe we can do an experiment!

Let’s start at the beginning — how did we find out that my SO is at risk for Alzheimer’s?

The regulations are always changing on whether a person has the right to know if they’re at risk for Alzheimer’s. In 2017, FDA permitted 23andMe to provide Alzheimer’s predictions[1 , 2]

My SO had been tested prior to this approval. We were able to still get the Alzheimer’s risk and others by

  1. Get the raw 23andMe data.
    (DNA never changes, the information is always there. Regulation was preventing customers from this information)
  2. Getting the interpretations from Promethease, a 3rd party service for $5
  3. APOE4 genotype from Promethease

Early 23andMe customers got Alzheimer’s predictions (2007-2013), but he ordered his test during the FDA ban period.

If you want to save money and not pay 23andMe’s $199 ancestry+health offering, you could pay for 23andMe’s $99 ancestry service, and then pay $5 to Promethease for the disease risk predictions. The diseases in the 23andMe report are well-studied, so no matter if you use Promethease or 23andMe, the results should be the same. (No guarantees as we haven’t paid for the $199 service, so I can’t check it.)

However, it’s not easy to look at Promethease’s report. The easiest way is to look at the interactive report (report_ui2.html) and see how many copies of APO-ε4 he had. ε4 is bad, while ε3 and ε2 are OK. Unfortunately, my SO had 2 copies of APO-ε4

Honestly, unless you have a strong background in genetics or Alzheimer’s, I’d pay the extra money to get the 23andMe report, because this is the type of stuff you don’t want to misinterpret. (I saw the early reports from 2007-2013, and they’re much clearer than Promethease.)

Still, looking specifically at Alzheimer’s and Promethease’s $5 report, I could tell that Promethease was looking at the right genetic mutations. Because he has two copies of the ‘bad’ allele, his risk for Alzheimer’s disease is increased 12x. He also has a family history of Alzheimer’s, so unfortunately, I think it’s only matter a time.

Here are the resources I’ve found so far:

  1. ALZFORUM has a lot of academic papers on ApoE4’s role in Alzheimer’s, which is great!
  2. Apoe4.info – People who have ApoE4 come to share on this forum. I especially like the I like “Our Stories” where people share what diet and exercise regiment they’re trying.

    Community Biomarker Archive is where people share their cholesterol, weight, and other body markers. I wish there were some test results that measure memory/cognitive decline, so people could know if what they’re doing/eating works.

Do you know any other resources out there for ApoE4?