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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2009 Jul;116(7):897-903. doi: 10.1007/s00702-009-0238-5. Epub 2009 May 26.

Gene polymorphisms in prodynorphin (PDYN) are associated with episodic memory in the elderly.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Strasse 25, Bonn 53105, Germany.


Cognitive functions show large variation in elderly people and are substantially heritable. Animal studies revealed that dynorphins influence cognition and memory, especially in aged animals. Thus, we tested the effect of four SNPs (rs7272891, rs1997794, rs2235751 and rs910080) and the VNTR promoter polymorphism in the prodynorphin gene (PDYN) on episodic memory and verbal fluency in a large (n = 1619) sample of elderly people (mean age: 80 +/- 3.39 years; range 75-90 years) recruited through the German study on ageing, cognition and dementia in primary care patients (AgeCoDe). We found that carriers of the minor alleles of rs1997794 (P < 0.002) and rs910080 (P < 0.005) presented with higher episodic memory scores than homozygote carriers of the major allele. Also, a three marker haplotype including these two SNPs and rs2235751 was associated with better episodic memory scores. Verbal fluency scores were non-significantly better in carriers of these respective alleles. Thus, our results suggest a role of PDYN gene variations in determining memory function also in elderly humans.

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