“It seems that some of the very genetic mutations that help us succeed in more hazardous time periods and environments may actually become mismatched in our relatively safe and sterile post-industrial lifestyles,”
Tsimane who both carried ApoE4 and had a high parasitic burden displayed steadier or even improved cognitive function in the assessment versus non-carriers with a similar level of parasitic exposure. The researchers controlled for other potential confounders like age and schooling, but the effect still remained strong. This indicated that the allele potentially played a role in maintaining cognitive function even when exposed to environmental-based health threats.
For Tsimane ApoE4 carriers without high parasite burdens, the rates of cognitive decline were more similar to those seen in industrialized societies, where ApoE4 reduces cognitive performance.
“Alleles with harmful effects may remain in a population if such harm occurs late in life, and more so if those same alleles have other positive effects,”