Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Apolipoprotein E-4 Genetic (DNA) Test
Most people who develop
Alzheimer's disease do not have a history of the
disease in their families. But if you do have a family history of Alzheimer's disease
(one or more members of a family have had the disease), then your risk of getting it is higher. When a disease is found in families, the cause could be genetic (heredity), something in the environment, lifestyle choices, or a combination of these things.
A blood test can look for a substance that seems to increase a person's risk for Alzheimer's disease. The gene is called apolipoprotein E-4 (ApoE-4). The presence of ApoE-4 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. Most experts do not consider ApoE-4 testing a necessary
or useful part of evaluating a person with suspected Alzheimer's
Sometimes people develop Alzheimer's disease at a young age, between the ages of 30 and 60. This is referred to as
early-onset Alzheimer's disease or autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease. It is not common (less than 5 out of 100 cases), and this form of the disease has been linked to defects in specific genes. There is a 50% risk that these genes will be passed on. A person who inherits the genetic
defect will most likely develop Alzheimer's disease.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerMyron F. Weiner, MD - Psychiatry, Neurology
Current as ofJune 2, 2016
Current as of:
June 2, 2016
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Myron F. Weiner, MD - Psychiatry, Neurology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.