Carriers of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ?4 gene are at a significantly increased risk for developing Alzheimer?s disease (AD). Although numerous theories have been proposed, the cause of this association remains unclear. My own research has uncovered novel effects of APOE4 expression on important processes in the brain, including neuronal activity, the endosomal-lysosomal system and bioenergetic regulation. However, substantial questions remain about when, where and how these systems are effected by differential APOE isoform expression. In order to answer these questions and gain a more comprehensive understanding of how differential APOE isoform expression affects vital brain processes and pathways, I propose a series of cutting-edge experiments, performed on a newly created APOE mouse model. By conducting behavioral experiments, histological examinations, imaging and an array of spatial multi-omics experiments, this project aims to define the temporal, spatial and cellular progression of differential APOE isoform effects in the brain. Each of these experiments will be performed on young (4-6 month-old), aged (14-16 month-old), and old (24-26 month-old) APOE2, APOE3 and APOE4-KI mice.
In Aim 1, we will conduct a series of behavioral tests, including Barnes maze, novel object recognition, and fear conditioning, as well as a histological analysis for endosomal-lysosomal disruptions, bioenergetic deficits, and changes in AD pathology markers. We will also conduct a detailed imaging analysis using fMRI to observe activity and structural changes in these mice.
In Aim 2, we will conduct an in- depth spatial multi-omics analysis on these mice, including spatial transcriptomics and spatial metabolomics/lipidomics. And in Aim 3, we will explore the cellular contributions to differential APOE isoform expression, including a novel bioinformatics approach and conditionally knockout of APOE from astrocytes and microglia in the APOE-KI mice. We anticipate that the full study proposed herein will uncover important APOE isoform effects on multiple brain processes and pathways in a systems-biology manner, which will dramatically increase our understanding of how APOE isoform differences affect an individual?s susceptibility to AD, potentially leading to new therapeutic strategies for AD, especially among APOE4 carriers.

Public Health Relevance

Carriers of the APOE4 gene are at a significantly increased risk of developing Alzheimer?s disease. In order to understand the cause of this increased Alzheimer?s risk, we will conduct a comprehensive investigation of how the APOE genotype affects normal biological pathways in the brain, defining how these effects progress with time and within brain regions and cell-types. Using a new APOE mouse line and cutting-edge technology, these experiments will dramatically improve our understanding of why APOE4 carriers are more susceptible to AD and how this susceptibility can be prevented.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Cell Death in Neurodegeneration Study Section (CDIN)
Program Officer
Dibattista, Amanda
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Columbia University (N.Y.)
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
Zip Code