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J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;62(2):887-900. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170909.

A Network of Genetic Effects on Non-Demented Cognitive Aging: Alzheimer's Genetic Risk (CLU + CR1 + PICALM) Intensifies Cognitive Aging Genetic Risk (COMT + BDNF) Selectively for APOEɛ4 Carriers.

Author information

1
Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Trajectories of complex neurocognitive phenotypes in preclinical aging may be produced differentially through selective and interactive combinations of genetic risk.

OBJECTIVE:

We organize three possible combinations into a "network" of genetic risk indices derived from polymorphisms associated with normal and impaired cognitive aging, as well as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Specifically, we assemble and examine three genetic clusters relevant to non-demented cognitive trajectories: 1) Apolipoprotein E (APOE), 2) a Cognitive Aging Genetic Risk Score (CA-GRS; Catechol-O-methyltransferase + Brain-derived neurotrophic factor), and 3) an AD-Genetic Risk Score (AD-GRS; Clusterin + Complement receptor 1 + Phosphatidylinositol-binding clathrin assembly protein).

METHOD:

We use an accelerated longitudinal design (n = 634; age range = 55-95 years) to test whether AD-GRS (low versus high) moderates the effect of increasing CA-GRS risk on executive function (EF) performance and change as stratified by APOE status (ɛ4+ versus ɛ4-).

RESULTS:

APOEɛ4 carriers with high AD-GRS had poorer EF performance at the centering age (75 years) and steeper 9-year decline with increasing CA-GRS but this association was not present in APOEɛ4 carriers with low AD-GRS.

CONCLUSIONS:

APOEɛ4 carriers with high AD-GRS are at elevated risk of cognitive decline when they also possess higher CA-GRS risk. Genetic risk from both common cognitive aging and AD-related indices may interact in intensification networks to differentially predict (1) level and trajectories of EF decline and (2) potential selective vulnerability for transitions into impairment and dementia.

KEYWORDS:

Alzheimer’s disease; Apolipoprotein E; Victoria Longitudinal Study; cognitive aging; executive function; genetic risk

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