The human gene for apolipoprotein E (APOE) comes in three variants. APOE4 is linked to a higher risk for Alzheimer’s, and is carried by about 14% of the general population, but by almost half of all Alzheimer’s patients. In contrast, APOE2 is considered protective, and APOE3, the most common variant, is neutral.
[G]rowing APOE4 yeast cells on a very nutrient-rich growth medium helped them to survive better than APOE4 yeast cells grown on the typical growth medium. The team’s experiments identified choline as the nutrient that helped the APOE4 cells to survive.
Choline is naturally found in foods such as eggs, meat, fish, and some beans and nuts. The minimum recommended intake of choline is 550 milligrams per day for men and 425 milligrams per day for women, but most people don’t consume that much, [researcher Li-Huei] Tsai said. The new study offers preliminary evidence that people who carry the APOE4 gene may benefit from taking choline supplements, although this suggestion will need to be confirmed in clinical trials.
“Our work provides a framework for understanding APOE4 function in disease risk and provides a rationale for genotype-specific dietary supplementation to diminish the detrimental consequences of the APOE4 genetic polymorphism,” the scientists concluded.