Genetic Discovery Provides New Insight Into Cognitive Disorders

Summary: A new study reports researchers have discovered some of the genes responsible for cognitive ability. They believe the findings could help in the development of treatments for cognitive disorders such as schizophrenia.

Source: Northwell Health.

Findings published in Molecular Psychiatry could ultimately lead to new treatments for disorders such as schizophrenia and ADHD.

An international team of scientists, led by Todd Lencz, PhD, professor at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at Northwell Health and Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, have unlocked some of the genes responsible for cognitive ability.

Dr. Lencz and fellow researchers studied the genes of 35,000 people and discovered new genetic variations related to cognitive ability. The findings bring scientists a step closer to developing new – and potentially better – treatments for cognitive disorders of the brain, such as schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The findings are published today online in Molecular Psychiatry.

The team of 60 international scientists is called the Cognitive Genomics Consortium (COGENT). COGENT researchers measured brain function of the participants through tests of learning, memory and other components of cognitive function. In addition to zeroing in on a few specific genes related to cognitive ability, the team also showed a significant genetic overlap between risk for several psychiatric disorders and reduction in cognitive ability. Impairments in general cognitive ability, such as reasoning, problems solving, learning, and memory, are critical components for a number of serious mental illnesses, including schizophrenia.

“This research provides new clues into how the brain works at the molecular level,” said Dr. Lencz. “Our long-term goal is to identify potential new targets for treatments of cognitive disorders of the brain, such as schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”

COGENT scientists also discovered for the first time a molecular genetic overlap between cognitive ability and personality. Specifically, they found that a genetic predisposition towards higher cognitive ability was associated with greater “openness to experience.” This means that some of the genes that make people more likely to be curious about new ideas and trying new experiences are the same as those that enhance cognitive function.

Image shows DNA strands.

Scientists also discovered for the first time a molecular genetic overlap between cognitive ability and personality. NeuroscienceNews.com image is on the public domain.

Dr. Lencz and the COGENT team are currently working with partners in Europe to expand the collaborative team. Their goal is to increase the size of the study to more than 100,000 DNA samples. Dr. Lencz notes, “Today, we know of hundreds of genes related to traits such as height and weight, but only a few related to cognitive ability. We have a lot of work to do if we want to understand the molecular basis of brain function.”

About this genetics research article

Source: Heather E. Ball – Northwell Health
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is on the public domain.
Original Research: Full open access research for “GWAS meta-analysis reveals novel loci and genetic correlates for general cognitive function: a report from the COGENT consortium” by J W Trampush, M L Z Yang, J Yu, E Knowles, G Davies, D C Liewald, J M Starr, S Djurovic, I Melle, K Sundet, A Christoforou, I Reinvang, P DeRosse, A J Lundervold, V M Steen, T Espeseth, K Räikkönen, E Widen, A Palotie, J G Eriksson, I Giegling, B Konte, P Roussos, S Giakoumaki, K E Burdick, A Payton, W Ollier, M Horan, O Chiba-Falek, D K Attix, A C Need, E T Cirulli, A N Voineskos, N C Stefanis, D Avramopoulos, A Hatzimanolis, D E Arking, N Smyrnis, R M Bilder, N A Freimer, T D Cannon, E London, R A Poldrack, F W Sabb, E Congdon, E D Conley, M A Scult, D Dickinson, R E Straub, G Donohoe, D Morris, A Corvin, M Gill, A R Hariri, D R Weinberger, N Pendleton, P Bitsios, D Rujescu, J Lahti, S Le Hellard, M C Keller, O A Andreassen, I J Deary, D C Glahn, A K Malhotra & T Lencz in Molecular Psychiatry. Published online January 17 2017 doi:10.1038/mp.2016.244

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
Northwell Health “Genetic Discovery Provides New Insight Into Cognitive Disorders.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 17 January 2017.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/genetics-cognitive-disorders-5951/>.
Northwell Health (2017, January 17). Genetic Discovery Provides New Insight Into Cognitive Disorders. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved January 17, 2017 from http://neurosciencenews.com/genetics-cognitive-disorders-5951/
Northwell Health “Genetic Discovery Provides New Insight Into Cognitive Disorders.” http://neurosciencenews.com/genetics-cognitive-disorders-5951/ (accessed January 17, 2017).

Abstract

GWAS meta-analysis reveals novel loci and genetic correlates for general cognitive function: a report from the COGENT consortium

The complex nature of human cognition has resulted in cognitive genomics lagging behind many other fields in terms of gene discovery using genome-wide association study (GWAS) methods. In an attempt to overcome these barriers, the current study utilized GWAS meta-analysis to examine the association of common genetic variation (~8M single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) with minor allele frequency greater than or equal to1%) to general cognitive function in a sample of 35 298 healthy individuals of European ancestry across 24 cohorts in the Cognitive Genomics Consortium (COGENT). In addition, we utilized individual SNP lookups and polygenic score analyses to identify genetic overlap with other relevant neurobehavioral phenotypes. Our primary GWAS meta-analysis identified two novel SNP loci (top SNPs: rs76114856 in the CENPO gene on chromosome 2 and rs6669072 near LOC105378853 on chromosome 1) associated with cognitive performance at the genome-wide significance level (P<5 × 10−8). Gene-based analysis identified an additional three Bonferroni-corrected significant loci at chromosomes 17q21.31, 17p13.1 and 1p13.3. Altogether, common variation across the genome resulted in a conservatively estimated SNP heritability of 21.5% (s.e.=0.01%) for general cognitive function. Integration with prior GWAS of cognitive performance and educational attainment yielded several additional significant loci. Finally, we found robust polygenic correlations between cognitive performance and educational attainment, several psychiatric disorders, birth length/weight and smoking behavior, as well as a novel genetic association to the personality trait of openness. These data provide new insight into the genetics of neurocognitive function with relevance to understanding the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric illness.

“GWAS meta-analysis reveals novel loci and genetic correlates for general cognitive function: a report from the COGENT consortium” by J W Trampush, M L Z Yang, J Yu, E Knowles, G Davies, D C Liewald, J M Starr, S Djurovic, I Melle, K Sundet, A Christoforou, I Reinvang, P DeRosse, A J Lundervold, V M Steen, T Espeseth, K Räikkönen, E Widen, A Palotie, J G Eriksson, I Giegling, B Konte, P Roussos, S Giakoumaki, K E Burdick, A Payton, W Ollier, M Horan, O Chiba-Falek, D K Attix, A C Need, E T Cirulli, A N Voineskos, N C Stefanis, D Avramopoulos, A Hatzimanolis, D E Arking, N Smyrnis, R M Bilder, N A Freimer, T D Cannon, E London, R A Poldrack, F W Sabb, E Congdon, E D Conley, M A Scult, D Dickinson, R E Straub, G Donohoe, D Morris, A Corvin, M Gill, A R Hariri, D R Weinberger, N Pendleton, P Bitsios, D Rujescu, J Lahti, S Le Hellard, M C Keller, O A Andreassen, I J Deary, D C Glahn, A K Malhotra & T Lencz in Molecular Psychiatry. Published online January 17 2017 doi:10.1038/mp.2016.244

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