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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.

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



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


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).


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-).


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.


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.


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

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