Genetic contributions to variation in general cognitive function: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in the CHARGE consortium (N=53 949)

G Davies, N. Armstrong, J. C. Bis, J. Bressler, V. Chouraki, S. Giddaluru, E. Hofer, C. A. Ibrahim-Verbaas, M. Kirin, J. Lahti, S. J. van der Lee, S. Le Hellard, T. Liu, R E Marioni, C. Oldmeadow, I. Postmus, A V Smith, J. A. Smith, A. Thalamuthu, R. ThomsonV Vitart, J. Wang, L Yu, L Zgaga, W. Zhao, R. Boxall, S E Harris, W D Hill, D C Liewald, M Luciano, H. Adams, D. Ames, N. Amin, P. Amouyel, A. A. Assareh, R Au, J T Becker, A Beiser, C Berr, L Bertram, E Boerwinkle, B M Buckley, H. Campbell, J. Corley, P L De Jager, C Dufouil, J G Eriksson, T Espeseth, J D Faul, I Ford, Generation Scotland, R F Gottesman, M E Griswold, V Gudnason, T B Harris, G Heiss, A Hofman, E G Holliday, J Huffman, S L R Kardia, N Kochan, D S Knopman, J B Kwok, J-C Lambert, T Lee, G Li, S-C Li, M Loitfelder, O L Lopez, A J Lundervold, A Lundqvist, K A Mather, S S Mirza, L Nyberg, B A Oostra, A Palotie, G Papenberg, A. Pattie, K Petrovic, O. Polasek, B M Psaty, P. Redmond, S Reppermund, J I Rotter, H Schmidt, M Schuur, P W Schofield, R J Scott, V M Steen, D J Stott, J C van Swieten, K. D. Taylor, J Trollor, S Trompet, A G Uitterlinden, G Weinstein, E Widen, B G Windham, J W Jukema, A. F. Wright, M J Wright, Q Yang, H Amieva, J R Attia, D. A. Bennett, H Brodaty, A J M de Craen, C. Hayward, M A Ikram, U Lindenberger, L-S Nilsson, D J Porteous, K Räikkönen, I Reinvang, I Rudan, P S Sachdev, R Schmidt, P R Schofield, V Srikanth, J M Starr, S T Turner, D R Weir, J F Wilson, C van Duijn, L Launer, A L Fitzpatrick, S Seshadri, T H Mosley Jr, I J Deary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

General cognitive function is substantially heritable across the human life course from adolescence to old age. We investigated the genetic contribution to variation in this important, health- and well-being-related trait in middle-aged and older adults. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of 31 cohorts (N=53 949) in which the participants had undertaken multiple, diverse cognitive tests. A general cognitive function phenotype was tested for, and created in each cohort by principal component analysis. We report 13 genome-wide significant single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associations in three genomic regions, 6q16.1, 14q12 and 19q13.32 (best SNP and closest gene, respectively: rs10457441, P=3.93 × 10−9, MIR2113; rs17522122, P=2.55 × 10−8, AKAP6; rs10119, P=5.67 × 10−9, APOE/TOMM40). We report one gene-based significant association with the HMGN1 gene located on chromosome 21 (P=1 × 10−6). These genes have previously been associated with neuropsychiatric phenotypes. Meta-analysis results are consistent with a polygenic model of inheritance. To estimate SNP-based heritability, the genome-wide complex trait analysis procedure was applied to two large cohorts, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (N=6617) and the Health and Retirement Study (N=5976). The proportion of phenotypic variation accounted for by all genotyped common SNPs was 29% (s.e.=5%) and 28% (s.e.=7%), respectively. Using polygenic prediction analysis, ~1.2% of the variance in general cognitive function was predicted in the Generation Scotland cohort (N=5487; P=1.5 × 10−17). In hypothesis-driven tests, there was significant association between general cognitive function and four genes previously associated with Alzheimer’s disease: TOMM40, APOE, ABCG1 and MEF2C.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-192
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number2
Early online date3 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2015

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