Many different factors affect the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, the strongest genetic risk factor is the gene variant APOE4. This gene variant is found in 15-20 percent of the population and it increases the risk of disease by up to 15 times.
Despite many years of intensive research in the biological processes that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in APOE4 carriers, the association is not clear and consensus is lacking.
Now, the research project “An APOE-linked plasma profile and relevance to behavior and neurodegeneration” will find out if there is a link between an APOE4-specific profile in the liver and the levels of protein apolipoprotein E in the blood and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This connection has not been known before.

The project is granted $ 300,000 

Henrietta Nielsen, assistant professor of neurochemistry and molecular neurobiology at the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, is the responsible researcher in the project that has been granted $ 300,000 in funding from the Bright Focus Foundation (BFF), USA. The project is the first that BFF has ever financed in Sweden.

“We have previously shown that APOE4 carriers have a lack of apolipoprotein E in the blood and we have also linked the levels of this protein to pathological changes in the brain. Although apolipoprotein E cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, our preliminary data suggest that levels of apolipoprotein E have a strong effect on various processes linked to neurodegeneration in the brain. Apolipoprotein E in the blood is mainly produced by the liver and therefore we will also look at a direct link between APOE4 in the liver and pathological changes in the brain”, says Henrietta Nielsen.

The project will last for 36 months and the research is coordinated by Stockholm University and includes partners from three countries.

Read the press release from Bright Focus Foundation.