Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Abstract Apolipoprotein E ε 4 and ACE genes have been related to several conditions involving cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer's disease, normal ageing and cerebrovascular disease. However, it has not been established whether their genotypes are associated with alcoholism or its cognitive functioning. Genotypic distributions of 140 chronic alcoholic patients were compared with a non-alcoholic sample, and the cognitive performance of a subsample of the alcoholic subjects was assessed with standard neuropsychological tests. No differences in allele or genotype distributions of Apo E or ACE genes were found when comparing controls and alcoholics (Apo E ε 2/2; patients 1.4%, controls 0% p 〈 0.06; ε 2/ε 3; patients 9.3%, controls 6.6% p 〈 0.29; ε 2/ε 4; patients 0%, controls 1% p 〈 0.31; ε 3/ε 3 patients 71.4%, controls 72% p 〈 0.89; ε 3/ε 4; patients 15.7%, controls 19.2%, p 〈 0.36; ε 4/ε 4; patients 2.1%, controls 1.2% p 〈 0.44; ACE D/D; patients 35%, controls 28.5% p 〈 0.14; I/D; patients 47.5%, controls 51.1% p 〈 0.51; I/I; patients 14.5%, controls 20.4% p 〈 0.19). In terms of cognitive performance, ε 4/ε 3 patients did better on visuoconstructive (p 〈 0.001) and visual memory (p 〈 0.04) functions compared with ε 2/ε 3 bearers. Furthermore, ACE D/D patients performed better on a test of abstract reasoning (p 〈 0.03) compared with the ACE I/I homozygous group. The cognitive results suggest that Apo E or ACE genotypes may modify the effects of ethanol on cognitive deterioration in alcoholic patients. However, the data do not support an association between the Apo E ε 4 allele and reduced cognitive performance in alcoholism.
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