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Polygenic risk for coronary artery disease is associated with cognitive ability in older adults

12 May 2016

Background: Coronary artery disease (CAD) is associated with cognitive decrements and risk of later dementia, but it is not known if shared genetic factors underlie this association. We tested whether polygenic risk for CAD was associated with cognitive ability in community-dwelling cohorts of middle-aged and older adults.

Methods: Individuals from Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study (GS:SFHS, N = 9865) and from the Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 (LBC1921, N = 517) and 1936 (LBC1936, N = 1005) provided cognitive data and genome-wide genotype data. Polygenic risk profile scores for CAD were calculated for all of the cohorts using the largest available genome-wide association studies (GWAS) data set, the CARDIoGRAM consortium (22 233 cases and 64 762 controls). Polygenic risk profile scores for CAD were then tested for their association with cognitive abilities in the presence and absence of manifest cardiovascular disease.

Results: A meta-analysis of all three cohorts showed a negative association between CAD polygenic risk and fluid cognitive ability (β = –0.022, P = 0.016), verbal intelligence (β = –0.024, P = 0.011) and memory (β = –0.021, P = 0.028).

Conclusions: Increased polygenic risk for CAD is associated with lower cognitive ability in older adults. Common genetic variants may underlie some of the association between age-related cognitive decrements and the risk for CAD.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in International Journal of Epidemiology