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Impact of common KIBRA allele on human cognitive functions

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Wersching, H., Guske, K., Hasenkamp, S., Hagedorn, C., Schiwek, S., Jansen, S., et al. (2011). Impact of common KIBRA allele on human cognitive functions. Neuropsychopharmacology, 36, 1296-1304. doi:10.1038/npp.2011.16.

The rs17070145 polymorphism (C right arrow T substitution, intron 9) of the KIBRA gene has recently been associated with episodic memory and cognitive flexibility. These findings were inconsistent across reports though, and largely lacked gene–gene or gene–environment interactions. The aim of the present study was to determine the impact of the rs17070145 polymorphism on clinically relevant cognitive domains and its interaction with the modifiers ‘lifestyle’ and ‘cardiovascular risk factors’. Five-hundred forty-five elderly volunteers (mean age 64 years, ±7 years, 56% women) accomplished a comprehensive cognitive testing. Principal component analysis was used to reveal the internal structure of the data, rendering four composite scores: verbal memory, word fluency, executive function/psychomotor speed, and working memory. Lifestyle was assessed with a detailed questionnaire, age-associated risk factors by clinical interview and examination. There was no main effect of the rs17070145 genotype on any cognitive composite scores. However, we found worse performance in executive functions for T-allele carriers in the presence of arterial hypertension (β=−0.365, p=0.0077 and 0.031 after Bonferroni correction). This association was further modified by gender, showing the strongest association in hypertensive females (β=−0.500, p=0.0072 and 0.029 after Bonferroni correction). The effect of KIBRA on cognitive function seems to be complex and modified by gender and arterial hypertension.