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Brain Imaging Behav. 2014 Mar;8(1):110-8. doi: 10.1007/s11682-013-9259-7.

Gene-based GWAS and biological pathway analysis of the resilience of executive functioning.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Box 359780, 325 Ninth Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98104, USA,


Resilience in executive functioning (EF) is characterized by high EF measured by neuropsychological test performance despite structural brain damage from neurodegenerative conditions. We previously reported single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genome-wide association study (GWAS) results for EF resilience. Here, we report gene- and pathway-based analyses of the same resilience phenotype, using an optimal SNP-set (Sequence) Kernel Association Test (SKAT) for gene-based analyses (conservative threshold for genome-wide significance = 0.05/18,123 = 2.8 × 10(-6)) and the gene-set enrichment package GSA-SNP for biological pathway analyses (False discovery rate (FDR) < 0.05). Gene-based analyses found a genome-wide significant association between RNASE13 and EF resilience (p = 1.33 × 10(-7)). Genetic pathways involved with dendritic/neuron spine, presynaptic membrane, postsynaptic density, etc., were enriched with association to EF resilience. Although replication of these results is necessary, our findings indicate the potential value of gene- and pathway-based analyses in research on determinants of cognitive resilience.

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