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The effects of apolipoprotein ε 4 on aging brain in cognitively normal Chinese elderly: a surface-based morphometry study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 April 2016

Hanna Lu*
Department of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, G/F Multicenter, Tai Po Hospital, Hong Kong, SAR China
Suk Ling Ma
Department of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, G/F Multicenter, Tai Po Hospital, Hong Kong, SAR China
Sandra Sau Man Chan
Department of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, G/F Multicenter, Tai Po Hospital, Hong Kong, SAR China
Linda Chiu Wa Lam
Department of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, G/F Multicenter, Tai Po Hospital, Hong Kong, SAR China
Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr. Hanna Lu Address, Department of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, G/F Multicenter, Tai Po Hospital, Tai Po, Hong Kong. Phone: +(852) 6464-1397; Fax: +(852) 2667-5464. Email:



Default mode network (DMN) has been reported to be susceptible to APOE ε 4 genotype. However, the APOE ε 4-related brain changes in young carriers are different from the ones in elderly carriers. The current study aimed to evaluate the cortical morphometry of DMN subregions in cognitively normal elderly with APOE ε 4.


11 cognitively normal senior APOE ε 4 carriers and 27 matched healthy controls (HC) participated the neuropsychological tests, genotyping, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis was used to assess the global volumetric changes. Surface-based morphometry (SBM) analysis was performed to measure regional gray matter volume (GMV) and gray matter thickness (GMT).


Advancing age was associated with decreased GMV of DMN subregions. Compared to HC, APOE ε 4 carriers presented cortical atrophy in right cingulate gyrus (R_CG) (GMV: APOE carriers: 8475.23 ± 1940.73 mm3, HC: 9727.34 ± 1311.57 mm3, t = 2.314, p = 0.026, corrected) and left insular (GMT: APOE ε 4 carriers: 3.83 ± 0.37 mm, HC: 4.05 ± 0.25 mm, t = 2.197, p = 0.033, corrected).


Our results highlight the difference between different cortical measures and suggest that the cortical reduction of CG and insular maybe a potential neuroimaging marker for APOE 4 ε senior carriers, even in the context of relatively intact cognition.

Research Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2016 

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