Summary of APOE

Apolipoprotein E (APOE) transports fat-soluble vitamins and cholesterol into the lymph system and then into the blood. APOE has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, and reduce inflammation [R][R][R].

There are at least three slightly different versions (alleles) of the APOE gene. The major alleles are called e2, e3, and e4. The most common allele is e3, which is found in more than half of the general population.

Certain APOE varieties may lead to increased risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, inflammation, depression and cancer [R]. In particular, the APOE4 variety cannot accomplish the beneficial functions as well that the other varieties can do.  People with two APOE4 alleles are 20X more likely to get Alzheimer's.

  • Low APOE results in higher cholesterol.
  • Low APOE causes increased oxidative stress, inflammation.
  • Low APOE is most notably a causal factor in Alzheimer’s.

APOE is anti-inflammatory.  It suppresses T cell proliferation, macrophage functioning regulation, natural killer T cell activation and overall decreases inflammation and oxidation.

APOE helps break down the amyloid beta that is believed to contribute to Alzheimer's.

  • Cholesterol levels: APOE participates in cholesterol redistribution from cells with excess cholesterol to those requiring it, thus reducing cholesterol levels [R].
  • Prevents Atherosclerosis (cardiovascular disease): In a study done on mice that were missing the APOE gene, it was showed that people with APOE4 had a higher risk of getting atherosclerosis, a disease where plaque is built up in the arteries [R].
  • Inflammation: APOE reduces the risk to develop age-related macular degeneration and inflammation [R].
  • Sleep disturbances (snoring, sleep apnea): APOE decreased problems in snoring and sleep apnea (in adults without dementia) [R].
  • Alzheimer’s: APOE2 can serve a protective role in fighting against Alzheimer’s [R], while th APOE4 variant is a large risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease [R].
  • Weight Management: APOE3 more efficiently harvests dietary energy and deposits fat in fat tissue compared to APOE4 [R].
  • Fatigue: APOE4 gene is associated with fatigue in people who had minor brain injuries [R].
  • Depression: High APOE4 levels lead to depression in people with Alzheimer’s Disease [R].
  • Migraines: APOE4 was positively linked to headaches [R].
  • Brain Hemorrhages: APOE interacts with lipid levels in the brain to play a role in causing brain hemorrhages [R].
  • Cancer (renal cell carcinoma and colon adenocarcinoma):  Interactions between APOE and other genes are related to higher cancer susceptibility [R].

APOE gene variants have also been studied as a potential risk factor for age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that is a leading cause of vision loss among older people worldwide. Some studies have suggested that having at least one copy of the APOE e4 allele may help protect against this disease or delay the onset of vision loss, while having at least one copy of the APOE e2 allele may increase the risk of this disease or cause symptoms to appear earlier.

APOE is synthesized principally in the liver, and can bind to the LDL receptor.

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Protein names

Recommended name:

Apolipoprotein E

Alternative name(s):


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Top Gene-Substance Interactions

APOE Interacts with These Diseases


Substances That Increase APOE

Substances That Decrease APOE

Conditions with Increased Gene Activity

Conditions with Decreased Gene Activity