Genetic risk for neurodegenerative disorders, and its overlap with cognitive ability and physical function

Saskia P. Hagenaars, Ratko Radaković, Christopher Crockford, Chloe Fawns-Ritchie, Sarah E. Harris, Catharine R. Gale, Ian J. Deary

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Neurodegenerative disorders are associated with impaired cognitive function and worse physical health outcomes. This study aims to test whether polygenic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is associated with cognitive function and physical health in the UK Biobank, a cohort of healthy individuals. Group-based analyses were then performed to compare the top and bottom 10% for the three neurodegenerative polygenic risk scores; these groups were compared on the cognitive and physical health variables. Higher polygenic risk for AD, ALS, and FTD was associated with lower cognitive performance. Higher polygenic risk for FTD was also associated with increased forced expiratory volume in 1s and peak expiratory flow. A significant group difference was observed on the symbol digit substitution task between individuals with high polygenic risk for FTD and high polygenic risk for ALS. The results suggest some overlap between polygenic risk for neurodegenerative disorders, cognitive function and physical health.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0198187
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

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