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APOE gene-dependent BOLD responses to a breath-hold across the adult lifespan

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Age and apolipoprotein E (APOE) e4 genotype are two of the strongest known risk factors for sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD). Neuroimaging has shown hemodynamic response changes with age, in asymptomatic carriers of the APOE e4 allele, and in AD. In this study, we aimed to characterize and differentiate age- and APOE gene-specific hemodynamic changes to breath-hold and visual stimulation. A further aim was to study whether these responses were modulated by 3-day intake of nitrate, a nitric oxide (NO) source. The study was designed as a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover study, and the study cohort comprised 41 APOE e4 carriers (e3/e4 or e4/e4 genotype) and 40 non-carriers (e3/e3 genotype) aged 30-70 years at enrollment. The participants underwent two scanning sessions, each preceded by ingestion of sodium nitrate or sodium chloride (control). During functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) sessions, participants performed two concurrent tasks; a breath-hold task to probe cerebrovascular reactivity and a visual stimulation task to evoke functional hyperemia, respectively. We found that the blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) hemodynamic response to breath-hold was altered in APOE e4 carriers relative to non-carriers. Mid-aged (50-60 years of age) e4 carriers exhibited a significantly increased peak time relative to mid-aged e3 carriers, and peak time for younger (30-40 years of age) e4 carriers was significantly shorter than that of mid-aged e4 carriers. The response width was significantly increased for e4 carriers. The response peak magnitude significantly decreased with age. For the visual stimulation task, we found age-related changes, with reduced response magnitude with age but no significant effect of APOE allele type. We found no effect of nitrate ingestion on BOLD responses evoked by the breath-hold and visual stimulation tasks. The APOE gene-dependent response to breath-hold may reflect NO-independent differences in vascular function.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101955
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Volume24
ISSN2213-1582
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2019

    Research areas

  • Ageing, Alzheimer's disease, Apolipoprotein E, BOLD fMRI, Breath-hold, Cerebrovascular reactivity

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