To examine the association between the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene and age-related maculopathy (ARM) in an older population.
Two thousand one hundred seventy persons 65 years and older sampled from 4 US communities had ARM signs assessed from retinal photographs using a modified Wisconsin Age-Related Maculopathy Grading System. DNA extracted from blood samples was analyzed for common APOE alleles.
After controlling for age, sex, cigarette smoking, and other factors, white participants carrying the ε2 allele had an increased risk of late ARM (odds ratio, 2.53 [95% confidence interval, 1.08-5.90]) while carriers of the ε4 allele had a lower risk of late ARM (odds ratio, 0.69 [95% confidence interval, 0.19-2.50]). There were too few late ARM cases in African American individuals for analysis.
APOE polymorphism is associated with late ARM in older white persons 65 years and older. Consistent with previous studies, the APOE ε2 allele is associated with a significant increased risk of late ARM development, whereas the ε4 allele may confer some protection.