Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Common genetic variation of the APOE gene and personality

Christian Montag123*, Lukas Kunz45, Nikolai Axmacher45, Rayna Sariyska1, Bernd Lachmann1 and Martin Reuter123

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, University of Bonn, Kaiser-Karl-Ring 9, Bonn D-53111, Germany

2 Laboratory of Neurogenetics, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

3 Center for Economics and Neuroscience, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

4 Department of Epileptology, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

5 German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Bonn, Germany

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BMC Neuroscience 2014, 15:64  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-15-64

Published: 20 May 2014



A recent study yielded first evidence that personality plays an important role in explaining the influence of a prominent APOE polymorphism on cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in elderly humans. Adding to this, two earlier studies examined this polymorphism in the context of individual differences in temperament traits in young humans with mixed results. In general, research linking the prominent APOE ϵ2, ϵ3 and ϵ4 variants and human personality is of special interest, because an influence of this gene and its prominent polymorphism on personality in young adulthood could be of diagnostic value to predict AD and its development in later years.


In the present study N = 531 participants provided buccal swabs and filled in a self-report inventory measuring the Five Factor Model of Personality. No association between common genetic variations of the APOE gene (in detail the genotypes ϵ3/ϵ3, ϵ2/ϵ3 and ϵ3/ϵ4) and personality could be observed. The remaining genotypes, including the high risk constellation ϵ4/ϵ4 for AD, were too seldom to be tested.


In sum, the present study yielded no evidence for a direct link between common genetic variants of the APOE gene and personality in young adulthood.

Apolipoprotein; Personality; Molecular genetics; APOE ϵ4