Age, gender, and cancer but not neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases strongly modulate systemic effect of the Apolipoprotein E4 allele on lifespan.


Enduring interest in the Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) polymorphism is ensured by its evolutionary-driven uniqueness in humans and its prominent role in geriatrics and gerontology. We use large samples of longitudinally followed populations from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) original and offspring cohorts and the Long Life Family Study (LLFS) to investigate gender-specific effects of the ApoE4 allele on human survival in a wide range of ages from midlife to extreme old ages, and the sensitivity of these effects to cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders (ND). The analyses show that women's lifespan is more sensitive to the e4 allele than men's in all these populations. A highly significant adverse effect of the e4 allele is limited to women with moderate lifespan of about 70 to 95 years in two FHS cohorts and the LLFS with relative risk of death RR = 1.48 (p = 3.6 × 10(-6)) in the FHS cohorts. Major human diseases including CVD, ND, and cancer, whose risks can be sensitive to the e4 allele, do not mediate the association of this allele with lifespan in large FHS samples. Non-skin cancer non-additively increases mortality of the FHS women with moderate lifespans increasing the risks of death of the e4 carriers with cancer two-fold compared to the non-e4 carriers, i.e., RR = 2.07 (p = 5.0 × 10(-7)). The results suggest a pivotal role of non-sex-specific cancer as a nonlinear modulator of survival in this sample that increases the risk of death of the ApoE4 carriers by 150% (p = 5.3 × 10(-8)) compared to the non-carriers. This risk explains the 4.2 year shorter life expectancy of the e4 carriers compared to the non-carriers in this sample. The analyses suggest the existence of age- and gender-sensitive systemic mechanisms linking the e4 allele to lifespan which can non-additively interfere with cancer-related mechanisms.





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Publication Info

Kulminski, Alexander M, Konstantin G Arbeev, Irina Culminskaya, Liubov Arbeeva, Svetlana V Ukraintseva, Eric Stallard, Kaare Christensen, Nicole Schupf, et al. (2014). Age, gender, and cancer but not neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases strongly modulate systemic effect of the Apolipoprotein E4 allele on lifespan. PLoS Genet, 10(1). p. e1004141. 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004141 Retrieved from

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Konstantin Arbeev

Associate Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

Konstantin G. Arbeev received the M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics from Moscow State University (branch in Ulyanovsk, Russia) in 1995 and the Ph.D. degree in Mathematics and Physics (specialization in Theoretical Foundations of Mathematical Modeling, Numerical Methods and Programming) from Ulyanovsk State University (Russia) in 1999. He was a post-doctoral fellow in Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock (Germany) before moving to Duke University in 2004 to work as a Research Scientist and a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Sociology and the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI).  He is currently an Associate Research Professor in SSRI. Dr. Arbeev's major research interests are related to three interconnected fields of biodemography, biostatistics and genetic epidemiology as pertains to research on aging. The focus of his research is on discovering genetic and non-genetic factors that can affect the process of aging and determine longevity and healthy lifespan. He is interested in both methodological advances in this research area as well as their practical applications to analyses of large-scale longitudinal studies with phenotypic, genetic and, recently, genomic information. Dr. Arbeev authored and co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications in these areas.


Svetlana Ukraintseva

Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

Dr. Ukraintseva studies causes of human aging and related decline in resilience, to identify genetic and other factors responsible for the increase in mortality risk with age eventually limiting longevity. She explores complex relationships, including trade-offs, between physiological aging-changes and risks of major diseases (with emphasis on Alzheimer’s and cancer), as well as survival, to find new genetic and other targets for anti-aging interventions and disease prevention. She also investigates possibilities of repurposing of existing vaccines and treatments for AD prevention and interventions into the aging. For this, Dr. Ukraintseva and her team use data from several large human studies containing rich genetic and phenotypic information (including longitudinal measurements) on thousands of individuals. Dr. Ukraintseva is a PI and Key Investigator on several NIH funded grants, and has more than 130 peer-reviewed publications, including in major journals such as Nature Reviews, Stroke, European Journal of Human Genetics, and some other.


Anatoli I. Yashin

Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

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