Synergistic effects of APOE and sex on the gut microbiome of young EFAD transgenic mice

Juan Maldonado Weng, Ishita Parikh, Ankur Naqib, Jason York, Stefan J. Green, Steven Estus, Mary Jo Ladu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. APOE4 is the greatest genetic risk factor for AD, increasing risk up to 15-fold compared to the common APOE3. Importantly, female (♀) APOE4 carriers have a greater risk for developing AD and an increased rate of cognitive decline compared to male (♂) APOE4 carriers. While recent evidence demonstrates that AD, APOE genotype, and sex affect the gut microbiome (GM), how APOE genotype and sex interact to affect the GM in AD remains unknown. Methods: This study analyzes the GM of 4-month (4 M) ♂ and ♀ E3FAD and E4FAD mice, transgenic mice that overproduce amyloid-β 42 (Aβ42) and express human APOE3 +/+ or APOE4 +/+ . Fecal microbiotas were analyzed using high-throughput sequencing of 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicons and clustered into operational taxonomic units (OTU). Microbial diversity of the EFAD GM was compared across APOE, sex and stratified by APOE + sex, resulting in 4-cohorts (♂E3FAD, ♀E3FAD, ♂E4FAD and ♀E4FAD). Permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA) evaluated differences in bacterial communities between cohorts and the effects of APOE + sex. Mann-Whitney tests and machine-learning algorithms identified differentially abundant taxa associated with APOE + sex. Results: Significant differences in the EFAD GM were associated with APOE genotype and sex. Stratification by APOE + sex revealed that APOE-associated differences were exhibited in ♂EFAD and ♀EFAD mice, and sex-associated differences were exhibited in E3FAD and E4FAD mice. Specifically, the relative abundance of bacteria from the genera Prevotella and Ruminococcus was significantly higher in ♀E4FAD compared to ♀E3FAD, while the relative abundance of Sutterella was significantly higher in ♂E4FAD compared to ♂E3FAD. Based on 29 OTUs identified by the machine-learning algorithms, heatmap analysis revealed significant clustering of ♀E4FAD separate from other cohorts. Conclusions: The results demonstrate that the 4 M EFAD GM is modulated by APOE + sex. Importantly, the effect of APOE4 on the EFAD GM is modulated by sex, a pattern similar to the greater AD pathology associated with ♀E4FAD. While this study demonstrates the importance of interactive effects of APOE + sex on the GM in young AD transgenic mice, changes associated with the development of pathology remain to be defined.

Original languageEnglish
Article number47
JournalMolecular Neurodegeneration
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 20 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • APOE genotype
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Gut microbiome
  • Sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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