Apolipoprotein E Gene Associations in Age-related Macular Degeneration: The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study

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The apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) has been found to be associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Reported associations have been questioned, as they are opposite those for Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease. The authors examined associations between APOE genotype and AMD using a case-control study (2,287 cases and 2,287 controls individually matched on age, sex, and country of origin) nested within Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study participants aged 48–86 years at AMD detection. The odds ratio for early AMD among participants with ε2-containing genotypes (ε2ε2/ε2ε3/ε2ε4) was 1.32 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.11, 1.58; P = 0.002) versus persons with genotype ε3ε3. Associations with early AMD varied by smoking status; ε2-containing genotypes were positively associated with early AMD for never and previous smokers (never smokers: odds ratio (OR) = 1.40, 95% CI: 1.12, 1.76 (P = 0.003); previous smokers: OR = 1.39, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.93 (P = 0.05)) but not for current smokers (OR = 0.66, 95% CI: 0.34, 1.30 (P = 0.2; interaction P = 0.05). The ε4-containing genotype group (ε3ε4/ε4ε4) had an inverse association with early AMD among current smokers only (OR = 0.41, 95% CI: 0.22, 0.77 (P = 0.005)). These results highlight the importance of stratifying by smoking status in elderly populations. Smokers who survive to old age may be more likely to possess unknown genotypes which modify exposure-disease associations.

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