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Gene. 2012 Sep 10;506(1):135-40. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2012.06.067. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Role of the apolipoprotein E and catechol-O-methyltransferase genes in prospective and retrospective memory traits.

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Genomics Research Centre, Griffith Health Institute and School of Medical Science, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.


Human memory is a complex neurocognitive process. By combining psychological and molecular genetics expertise, we examined the APOE ε4 allele, a known risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, and the COMT Val 158 polymorphism, previously implicated in schizophrenia, for association with lowered memory functioning in healthy adults. To assess memory type we used a range of memory tests of both retrospective and prospective memory. Genotypes were determined using RFLP analysis and compared with mean memory scores using univariate ANOVAs. Despite a modest sample size (n=197), our study found a significant effect of the APOE ε4 polymorphism in prospective memory. Supporting our hypothesis, a significant difference was demonstrated between genotype groups for means of the Comprehensive Assessment of Prospective Memory total score (p=0.036; ε4 alleles=1.99; all other alleles=1.86). In addition, we demonstrate a significant interactive effect between the APOE ε4 and COMT polymorphisms in semantic memory. This is the first study to investigate both APOE and COMT genotypes in relation to memory in non-pathological adults and provides important information regarding the effect of genetic determinants on human memory.

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