Subjective memory complaints in APOE ε4 carriers are associated with high Amyloid-β Burden

Marissa D. Zwan, Victor L. Villemagne, Vincent Doré, Rachel Buckley, Pierrick Bourgeat, Robyn Veljanoski, Olivier Salvado, Rob Williams, Laura Margison, Alan Rembach, S. Lance Macaulay, Ralph Martins, David Ames, Wiesje M. Van Der Flier, Kathryn A. Ellis, Philip Scheltens, Colin L. Masters, Christopher C. Rowe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Background: APOEε4 genotype and aging have been identified as risk factors for Alzheimer's disease (AD). In addition, subjective memory complaints (SMC) might be a first clinical expression of the effect of AD pathology on cognitive functioning. Objective: To assess whether APOEε4 genotype, age, SMC, and episodic memory are risk factors for high amyloid-β (Aβ) burden in cognitively normal elderly. Methods: 307 cognitively normal participants (72.7±6.8 years, 53% female, 55% SMC) from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle (AIBL) study underwent amyloid PET and APOE genotyping. Logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the association of APOEε4 genotype, age, SMC, and episodic memory with Aβ pathology. Results: Odds of high Aβ burden were greater at an older age (OR = 3.21; 95% CI = 1.68-6.14), when SMC were present (OR = 1.90; 95% CI = 1.03-3.48), and for APOEε4 carriers (OR = 7.49; 95% CI = 3.96-14.15), while episodic memory was not associated with odds of high Aβ burden. Stratified analyses showed that odds of SMC for high Aβ burden were increased in specifically APOEε4 carriers (OR = 4.58, 95% CI = 1.83-11.49) and younger participants (OR = 3.73, 95% CI = 1.39-10.01). Conclusion: Aging, APOEε4 genotype, and SMC were associated with high Aβ burden. SMC were especially indicative of high Aβ burden in younger participants and in APOEε4 carriers. These findings suggest that selection based on the presence of SMC, APOEε4 genotype and age may help identify healthy elderly participants with high Aβ burden eligible for secondary prevention trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1115-1122
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • amyloid-β
  • apolipoprotein E
  • episodic memory
  • positron emission tomography
  • [11C]-PiB
  • [18F]flutemetamol

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