Physical activity may modulate the adverse effects of apoE genotype

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Increasing physical activity seems to compensate for the potentially deleterious effects of the apoE4 genotype on the lipid profile.

Dr. Martine S. Bernstein, of Hopitaux Universitaires de Geneve, Switzerland, and colleagues report this finding in the January issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Mounting evidence suggests that individuals who carry the apoE2 allele have a more favorable lipid profile, while those who carry the apoE4 allele have a more atherogenic lipid profile. Increased physical activity favorably effects the lipid profile, but it is unclear whether this effect is identical across apoE genotypes.

To find out, Dr. Bernstein's team conducted a population-based cross-sectional survey of 1708 randomly selected 35- to 74-year-olds. "An important point in the present study was that all energy expenditures (total and activity-specific) were measured using a self-administered questionnaire, developed and validated in the target population," Dr. Bernstein told Reuters Health.

In multiple linear regression models, the apoE4 allele had an adverse effect on plasma HDL and triglycerides only among "more sedentary persons," the team reports. "Indeed, among more active people, there were no differences in the lipid profile values across apoE genotypes," Dr. Bernstein and colleagues report.

This suggests that a physically active lifestyle "may counteract the atherogenic effects of the apoE4 allele on the lipid profile." Individuals with the highest triglycerides and lowest HDL levels may benefit most from increased physical activity.

Dr. Bernstein told Reuters Health, "the protection may be obtained by performing any high-intensity physical activity, expending four times the basal metabolism rate (BMR) or more." This can be achieved by walking quickly or uphill (4.5 BMR), climbing stairs (6 BMR), or playing sports, or performing heavy construction work (> 6 BMR), he said. "The required minimal sufficient duration of any such activity still needs to be determined," Dr. Bernstein said.

Dr. Bernstein and colleagues add that an intervention study is needed to confirm their conclusions.

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