A systematic review and meta-analysis of 130,000 individuals shows smoking does not modify the association of APOE genotype on risk of coronary heart disease

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

November 15, 2014


Conflicting evidence exists on whether smoking acts as an effect modifier of the association between APOE genotype and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
Methods and results
We searched PubMed and EMBASE to June 11, 2013 for published studies reporting APOE genotype, smoking status and CHD events and added unpublished data from population cohorts. We tested for presence of effect modification by smoking status in the relationship between APOE genotype and risk of CHD using likelihood ratio test.
In total 13 studies (including unpublished data from eight cohorts) with 10,134 CHD events in 130,004 individuals of European descent were identified. The odds ratio (OR) for CHD risk from APOE genotype (ε4 carriers versus non-carriers) was 1.06 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01, 1.12) and for smoking (present vs. past/never smokers) was OR 2.05 (95%CI: 1.95, 2.14). When the association between APOE genotype and CHD was stratified by smoking status, compared to non-ε4 carriers, ε4 carriers had an OR of 1.11 (95%CI: 1.02, 1.21) in 28,789 present smokers and an OR of 1.04 (95%CI 0.98, 1.10) in 101,215 previous/never smokers, with no evidence of effect modification (P-value for heterogeneity = 0.19). Analysis of pack years in individual participant data of >60,000 with adjustment for cardiovascular traits also failed to identify evidence of effect modification.
In the largest analysis to date, we identified no evidence for effect modification by smoking status in the association between APOE genotype and risk of CHD.

Published in


Volume and page numbers

Volume: 237 , p.5 -12







Full author list: Holmes, Michael V.; Frikke-Schmidt, Ruth; Melis, Daniela; Luben, Robert; Asselbergs, Folkert W.; Boer, Jolanda M. A.; Cooper, Jackie; Palmen, Jutta; Horvat, Pia; Engmann, Jorgen; Li, Ka-Wah; Onland-Moret, N. Charlotte; Hofker, Marten H.; Kumari, Meena; Keating, Brendan J.; Hubacek, Jaroslav A.; Adamkova, Vera; Kubinova, Ruzena; Bobak, Martin; Khaw, Kay-Tee; Nordestgaard, Børge G.; Wareham, Nick; Humphries, Steve E.; Langenberg, Claudia; Tybjaerg-Hansen, Anne and Talmud, Philippa J.

Open Access article

Open Access funded by Medical Research Council



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