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Short telomere length is associated with impaired cognitive performance in European ancestry cohorts

Hagg, S; Zhan, Y; Karlsson, R; Gerritsen, L; Ploner, A; van der Lee, SJ; Broer, L; ... Pedersen, NL; + view all (2017) Short telomere length is associated with impaired cognitive performance in European ancestry cohorts. Translational Psychiatry , 7 , Article e1100. 10.1038/tp.2017.73. Green open access

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Abstract

The association between telomere length (TL) dynamics on cognitive performance over the life-course is not well understood. This study meta-analyses observational and causal associations between TL and six cognitive traits, with stratifications on APOE genotype, in a Mendelian Randomization (MR) framework. Twelve European cohorts (N=17 052; mean age=59.2±8.8 years) provided results for associations between qPCR-measured TL (T/S-ratio scale) and general cognitive function, mini-mental state exam (MMSE), processing speed by digit symbol substitution test (DSST), visuospatial functioning, memory and executive functioning (STROOP). In addition, a genetic risk score (GRS) for TL including seven known genetic variants for TL was calculated, and used in associations with cognitive traits as outcomes in all cohorts. Observational analyses showed that longer telomeres were associated with better scores on DSST (β=0.051 per s.d.-increase of TL; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.024, 0.077; P=0.0002), and MMSE (β=0.025; 95% CI: 0.002, 0.047; P=0.03), and faster STROOP (β=−0.053; 95% CI: −0.087, −0.018; P=0.003). Effects for DSST were stronger in APOE ɛ4 non-carriers (β=0.081; 95% CI: 0.045, 0.117; P=1.0 × 10−5), whereas carriers performed better in STROOP (β=−0.074; 95% CI: −0.140, −0.009; P=0.03). Causal associations were found for STROOP only (β=−0.598 per s.d.-increase of TL; 95% CI: −1.125, −0.072; P=0.026), with a larger effect in ɛ4-carriers (β=−0.699; 95% CI: −1.330, −0.069; P=0.03). Two-sample replication analyses using CHARGE summary statistics showed causal effects between TL and general cognitive function and DSST, but not with STROOP. In conclusion, we suggest causal effects from longer TL on better cognitive performance, where APOE ɛ4-carriers might be at differential risk.

Type: Article
Title: Short telomere length is associated with impaired cognitive performance in European ancestry cohorts
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/tp.2017.73
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2017.73
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2017 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine > MRC Unit for Lifelong Hlth and Ageing
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1553804
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