Apolipoprotein E, brain injury and neurodevelopmental outcome of children


Corresponding author: Dr M. Korja, Neurosurgery Unit, Australian School of Advanced Medicine, Suite 201, 2 Technology Place, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia. E-mail: mkorja@mqneurosurgery.com


Apolipoprotein E plays an important role in neurodegenerative processes in adulthood, whereas its neurodevelopmental role is uncertain. We aimed to study the effect of apolipoprotein E on neurodevelopment in a cohort liable to neurodevelopmental changes. The cohort consisted of very preterm (<32 gestational weeks) and/or very low birth weight (<1500 g) children, and the longitudinal follow-up protocol included sequential cranial ultrasounds during infancy, brain magnetic resonance imaging at term-equivalent age, neurological and cognitive assessment (Mental Developmental Index) at the corrected age of 2 years and cognitive and neuropsychological assessments (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence and Developmental NEuroPSYchological Assessment) at the chronological age of 5 years. Apolipoprotein E genotypes were determined from 322 children. Ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging data were available for 321 (99.7%) and 151 (46.9%) children, respectively. Neurodevelopmental assessment data were available for 138 (42.9%) to 171 (53.1%) children. Abnormal findings in ultrasounds and magnetic resonance imaging were found in 163 (50.8%) and 64 (42.4%) children, respectively. Mild cognitive delay at the corrected age of 2 years and the chronological age of 5 years was suspected in 21 (12.3%) of 171 and 19 (13.8%) of 138 children, respectively. In the Developmental NEuroPSYchological Assessment, 47 (32.6%) of 144 children had significantly impaired performances in more than one study subtest. No associations between the apolipoprotein E genotypes and imaging findings or measured neurodevelopmental variables were found. Apolipoprotein E genotypes do not appear to have major impact on brain vulnerability or neurodevelopment in children.