ApoE alleles, depression and positive affect in multiple sclerosis

Laura J. Julian*, L. Vella, D. Frankel, S. L. Minden, J. R. Oksenberg, D. C. Mohr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: The role of apolipoprotein E (ApoE) alleles has received recent attention in depressive disorders, the ApoE ε4 conferring greater risk for poorer outcomes, and the ApoE ε2 allele providing some protective effects. Depression is common in multiple sclerosis (MS) and the role of ApoE alleles is unknown. Aims: To evaluate ApoE allelesin relation to symptoms of depression in a cohort of patients with MS participating in the Sonya Slifka Longitudinal Multiple Sclerosis Study (Slifka Study). To examine risk and protection, depressed mood and positive affect were each investigated with respect to the ApoE ε4 and ApoE ε2 alleles, respectively. Results: Of the total 101 participants, 22.8% were ApoE ε2 carriers and 21.8% were ApoE ε4 carriers. Hierarchical linear regression analyses suggested that after controlling for demographics, disease duration, and disability, ApoE ε2 significantly predicted increased positive affect (R2Δ = 0.05, F(1,94) = 5.44, P = 0.02) and was associated with decreased severity of depressive symptoms, although this did not reach statistical significance (R2 = 0.03, F(1,94) = 3.44, P = 0.06). ApoE ε4 did not significantly predict depression status. Conclusion: The presence of the ApoE ε2allele in this study is suggested to be protective against depressive symptoms in our subsample of patients recruited from the Slifka Study. These findings are consistent with reports in psychiatric populations linking ApoE ε2 with decreased incidence of depressive disorders. Further investigation would be warranted to understand the role of ApoE genotypes and risk for depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-315
Number of pages5
JournalMultiple Sclerosis
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Genetics
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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