Apolipoprotein E is a cholesterol transport protein and has been found in the amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease. It comes in several types or “alleles” -2, 3, and 4. Each person has two alleles (one from each parent) which you can have in any combination of the three types. Apolipoprotein E-4 has been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease but does not cause Alzheimer’s disease, whereas apolipoprotein E-2 decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Apolipoprotein E-3, the allele that occurs most commonly, neither increases nor decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. (Finding out one’s apolipoprotein E type is NOT a genetic test for Alzheimer’s disease. Although more people with E-4 eventually get the disease than those with E-3 or 2, some people with E-4 never get Alzheimer’s.)
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