In the largest study of the genetics of memory ever undertaken, an international researcher team including scientists from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), have discovered two common genetic variants that are believed to be associated with memory performance. The findings, which appear in the journal Biological Psychiatry, are a significant step towards better understanding how memory loss is inherited.
Longer life spans and the increased prevalence of memory impairment and dementia world-wide underscore the critical public health importance of efforts aimed at deciphering the underlying mechanisms of human memory.
The Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium was developed to facilitate the study of the entire genome through pooling of data from research centers all across the world. Nearly 30,000 participants who did not have dementia were included in the study.
Each participant completed memory tests, such as word recall, and their entire genome was genotyped. Using sophisticated statistical analysis, the genome was examined for segments that were associated with low memory scores.
The researchers found genetic variants near the Apolipoprotein E gene, known to harbor an increased risk of dementia (especially Alzheimer disease), were associated with poorer memory performance, mostly so in the oldest participants and for the short story recall. In a sub-study with post-mortem brain samples, participants with an increasing load of memory risk variants also had more pathological features of Alzheimer disease, perhaps reflecting in some instances early pre-clinical stages of the disease.
According to the researchers two additional regions of the genome, pointing to genes involved in immune response, were associated with the ability to recall word lists, providing new support for an important role of immune system dysfunction in age-related memory decline.
"Interestingly genetic variants associated with memory performance also predicted altered levels of expression of certain genes in the hippocampus, a key region of the brain for the consolidation of information. These were mainly genes involved in the metabolism of ubiquitin that plays a pivotal role in protein degradation," explained lead author Stéphanie Debette, MD, PhD, adjunct associate professor of neurology at BUSM.
This unprecedented world-wide collaboration has generated novel important hypotheses on the biological underpinnings of memory decline in old age, however the researchers caution that more research is clearly needed to confirm these findings. "The differential associations according to memory test characteristics and age should be accounted for in future studies. Exploring other types of genetic variation, including rare variants and epigenetic modifications, will be crucial to decipher the full spectrum of memory heritability," added Debette.
This study was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's (NHLBI) Framingham Heart Study, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Aging (NIA) AG033193, 081220 and U0149505 (Seshadri) and NHLBI HL096917 (Mosley).
Gina DiGravio | EurekAlert!
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences