Apolipoprotein E4 polymorphism and outcomes from traumatic brain injury: a living systematic review and meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon


  • The mortality of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been largely static despite advances in monitoring and imaging techniques. Substantial variance exists in outcome, not fully accounted for by baseline characteristics or injury severity, and genetic factors likely play a role in this variance. The aims of this systematic review were to examine the evidence for a link between the apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) polymorphism and TBI outcomes and where possible, to quantify the effect size via meta-analysis. We searched EMBASE, MEDLINE, CINAHL, and gray literature in December 2017. We included studies of APOE genotype in relation to functional adult TBI outcomes. Methodological quality was assessed using the Quality in Prognostic Studies Risk of Bias Assessment Instrument and the prognostic studies adaptation of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation tool. In addition, we contacted investigators and included an additional 160 patients whose data had not been made available for previous analyses, giving a total sample size of 2593 patients. Meta-analysis demonstrated higher odds of a favorable outcome following TBI in those not possessing an ApoE ɛ4 allele compared with ɛ4 carriers and homozygotes (odds ratio 1.39, 95% confidence interval 1.05 to 1.84; p = 0.02). The influence of APOE4 on neuropsychological functioning following TBI remained uncertain, with multiple conflicting studies. We conclude that the ApoE ɛ4 allele confers a small risk of poor outcome following TBI, with analysis by TBI severity not possible based on the currently available published data. Further research into the long-term neuropsychological impact and risk of dementia is warranted.


  • McFadyen, Charles A
  • Zeiler, Frederick A
  • Newcombe, Virginia
  • Synnot, Anneliese
  • Steyerberg, Ewout
  • Gruen, Russel L
  • Rosand, Jonathan
  • Palotie, Aarno
  • Maas, Andrew IR
  • Menon, David K

publication date

  • 2019