Altered synaptic structure and function is a major hallmark of fragile X syndrome (FXS), autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), and other intellectual disabilities (IDs), which are therefore classified as synaptopathies. FXS and ASDs, while clinically and genetically distinct, share significant comorbidity, suggesting that there may be a common molecular and/or cellular basis, presumably at the synapse.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is considered a polygenic disorder. This view is clouded, however, by lingering uncertainty over how to treat the quasi “monogenic” role of apolipoprotein E (APOE). The APOE4 allele is not only the strongest genetic risk factor for AD, it also affects risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other neurodegenerative disorders. This review, based mostly on data from human studies, ranges across a variety of APOE-related pathologies, touching on evolutionary genetics and risk mitigation by ethnicity and sex.