Journal of Molecular Neuroscience

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 151–155

Apolipoprotein E4 as a target for developing new therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease

Original Article


The identification of factors that influence the onset or progression of the sporadic form of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a key step toward understanding its mechanism(s) and developing successful rational therapies. The apoE genotype has been identified as a powerful risk factor for AD that may account for as much as 50% of the sporadic form of the disease. As the major risk factor for late-onset AD, apolipoprotein E4 (apoE4) should be considered a good target for AD drug discovery. However, despite knowing for over a decade that apoE4 is detrimental to the disease process, we still remain uncertain about the molecular mechanisms subserving the risk-factor activity of apoE4. This, coupled with the fact that we know relatively little about the function(s) of apoE in brain, has presented a barrier to developing apoE-based therapeutics for AD. Progress has been made in understanding the neurobiology of apoE; a number of potentially overlapping functions have been ascribed, which include lipid transport, neuronal repair, dendritic growth, maintenance of synaptic plasticity, and anti-inflammatory activities. Until the gaps are filled in our understanding of the pathogenic function(s) of apoE4, therapeutic strategies targeting this protein will lag behind the development of other AD therapies. Putative pathological functions, or risk-factor activities, of apoE4 include its role in β-amyloid deposition, neurofibrillary tangle formation, synaptic loss, lipid dysfunction, neuroinflammation, and oxidative stress.

Index Entries

Risk factors drug discovery lipids vascular disease proteolysis neuroinflammation amyloid 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the Study of AgingNew York

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