Antioxidants, Exercise, APOE Genotype and Brain Function




Chaudhari, Kiran


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Apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) is a well-established and extensively prevalent genetic risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The presence of APOE4 allele accelerates the pathophysiology and symptomology of AD. A large set (36%) of the population suffering from AD expresses APOE4. Being a chronic progressive disease with very few pharmaco-therapeutic agents approved by FDA, non-drug lifestyle modifications have been an important part of management of AD. People often eat healthy diet rich in antioxidants and focus on healthy living habits such as exercise. Health care providers frequently suggest combining antioxidants with physical activity for higher benefits. Antioxidants have been beneficial in counteracting oxidative stress and improving learning and memory. Similarly, different regimens of exercise also improved cognition and delayed development of AD. However, the nature of the interaction between antioxidants and exercise remain elusive and complicated. While some studies reported additive effects, others have also shown a concerning antagonistic action of the antioxidants on the beneficial effects of exercise. In the context of APOE genotype, we set our study to determine the nature of such interaction between antioxidants and exercise. Using vitamins C and E and a treadmill-based forced exercise in a genetically modified mouse model expressing human APOE3 and APOE4 (GFAP-APOE3, GFAP-APOE4), we explored the nature of that interaction on functional and biochemical outcomes. We examined the mice for spatial learning and memory, working memory and executive function, coordinated running performance, muscular reflexes, spontaneous locomotor activity, anxiety and muscle strength. Interestingly, we observed that the young adult mice expressing E4 allele performed better on higher brain functions including spatial learning and memory and short term memory in contrast to middle age mice, which developed a cognitive deficit as expected. Motor functions, reflexes and coordination were poor among all the mice carrying E4 allele irrespective of age. Antioxidants and exercise interventions led to outcomes that were dependent on genotype, age and the brain function under consideration. There was additive beneficial effect of combination of antioxidants and exercise on cognitive outcomes but not on motor outcomes in middle age groups. However, in young adults, an antagonistic interaction was observed on motor outcomes but no such interaction was observed on cognitive outcomes. Hence we can conclude that, combination of antioxidants and exercise is not a “fit for all” approach and needs to be tailored base on individual’s age and genotype.