Increasing evidence indicates that there are reductions in estrogen and androgen levels in aged men and women. These hormonal reductions might be risk factors for cognitive impairments and the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Aged people show improved cognition after treatments with sex steroids. Therefore, ongoing clinical AD trials have been designed to evaluate the potential benefits of estrogen therapy in women and testosterone therapy in men. Apolipoprotein E (apoE) plays an important role in the metabolism and redistribution of lipoproteins and cholesterol. The three major human apoE isoforms, apoE2, apoE3, and apoE4, differ in their effects on AD risk and pathology. Here I review various mechanisms proposed to mediate the differential effects of apoE isoforms on brain function and highlight the potential contribution of detrimental isoform-dependent effects of apoE on androgen- and androgen receptor (AR)-mediated pathways. I also discuss potential interactions of androgens with other AD-related factors.
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