Revisiting the role of insulin-like growth factor-I receptor stimulating activity and the apolipoprotein E in Alzheimer's disease

Sara A. Galle, Ashley Van Der Spek, Madeleine L. Drent, Michael P. Brugts, Erik J.A. Scherder, Joseph A.M.J.L. Janssen, M. Arfan Ikram, Cornelia M. Van Duijn

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Background: Alterations in insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) signaling have been associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Studies on the association between IGF-I levels and dementia risk have been inconclusive. We reported earlier that higher levels of IGF-I receptor stimulating activity are associated with a higher prevalence and incidence of dementia. Objective: In the present study, we test the robustness of the association between IGF-I receptor stimulating activity and dementia by extending the follow-up period to 16 years and investigate possible effect modification by apolipoprotein E (ApoE). Methods: At baseline, circulating IGF-I receptor stimulating activity was determined by the IGF-I kinase receptor activation (KIRA) assay in 1,014 elderly from the Rotterdam Study. Dementia was assessed from baseline (1997-1999) to follow-up in January 2015. Associations of IGF-I receptor stimulating activity and incident dementia were assessed with Cox proportional hazards models. Results: During 10,752 person-years of follow-up, 174 people developed dementia. In the extended follow-up we no longer observed a dose-response relationship between IGF-I receptor stimulating activity and risk of dementia [adjusted odds ratio 1.11; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.97-1.28]. Interestingly, we found evidence of an interaction between ApoE-ε4 and tertiles of IGF-I receptor stimulating activity. IGF-I receptor stimulating activity in the median and top tertiles was related to increased dementia incidence in hetero- and homozygotes of the ApoE-ε4 allele, but did not show any association with dementia risk in people without the ApoE-ε4 allele (adjusted odds ratio medium vs. low IGF-I receptor stimulating activity in ApoE-ε4 carriers: 1.45; 95% CI 1.00-2.12). These findings suggest a threshold effect in ApoE-ε4 carriers. In line with the hypothesis that downregulation of IGF-I signaling is associated with increased dementia risk, ApoE-ε4 homozygotes without prevalent dementia displayed lower levels of IGF-I receptor stimulating activity than heterozygotes and non-carriers. Conclusion: The findings shed new light on the association between IGF-I signaling and the neuropathology of dementia and ask for replication in other cohorts, using measures of IGF-I receptor stimulating activity rather than total serum levels as putative markers of dementia risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in aging neuroscience
Issue numberFEBRUARY
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2019


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Apolipoprotein E
  • Dementia
  • Genetic epidemiology
  • Insulin-like growth factor I
  • KIRA assay

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