Influence of APOE status on lexical-semantic skills in mild cognitive impairment

Roberta Biundo, Simona Gardini, Paolo Caffarra, Letizia Concari, Davide Martorana, Tauro Maria Neri, Michael F. Shanks, Annalena Venneri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study characterized the relationship between apolipoprotein E (APOE) status and residual semantic abilities in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI). APOE status (ε4 carrier/non ε4 carrier) was determined in 30 amnestic MCIs and in 22 healthy matched non ε4 carrier controls. The lexical characteristics (age of acquisition, typicality, familiarity) of words produced in a category fluency task were determined. MCIs produced fewer words than controls and these were also earlier acquired and more familiar. The words produced by MCI ε4 carriers were earlier acquired than those of non ε4 carriers. Analyses limited to the first 10 words produced by patients and controls showed similar findings and also revealed that MCI subgroups retrieved first more typical words than controls. Follow up showed higher conversion to Alzheimer's disease (AD) in MCI ε4 carriers than in non ε4 carriers. These findings show that a significant proportion of phenotype variability in performance on category fluency in people at increased AD risk is influenced by genetic factors. These findings explain why category fluency deficits, together with episodic memory deficits, are the only consistent early deficits in MCI patients who convert to AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-430
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Age of acquisition
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • APOE
  • Dementia
  • Lexical
  • Semantic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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