Apolipoprotein E-4 Genetic (DNA) Test

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Apolipoprotein E-4 Genetic (DNA) Test

Topic Overview

Research into ways to test DNA (genes) to see if a person is likely to develop Alzheimer's disease is progressing rapidly.

People who have a gene for apolipoprotein E-4 (ApoE-4) may be more likely to develop the disease, but the presence of the gene cannot predict for sure whether a person will develop Alzheimer's disease. Many people who have the ApoE-4 gene do not get Alzheimer's disease, and many people who do not have the gene still develop the disease.

At this time, routine genetic testing for ApoE-4 is not recommended.1 Knowing that a person has ApoE-4 means only that the person may be at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. There most likely are several other factors that contribute to whether a person develops the disease. Most experts do not consider ApoE-4 testing a necessary or useful part of evaluating a person with suspected Alzheimer's disease.

Genetic testing is being used mostly in research centres to decide whether the test may be useful for more general screening.

Related Information



  1. Knopman DS, et al. (2001, reaffirmed 2004). Practice parameter: Diagnosis of dementia (an evidence-based review). Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology, 56: 1143–1153.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter J. Whitehouse, MD - Neurology
Last Revised January 11, 2011

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