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Neurology-related protein biomarkers are associated with general fluid cognitive ability and brain volume in older age

By Sarah Harris, Simon R Cox, Steven Bell, Riccardo E Marioni, Bram P. Prins, Alison Pattie, Janie Corley, Susana Muñoz Maniega, Maria Valdés Hernández, Zoe Morris, Sally John, Paola G Bronson, Elliot M Tucker-Drob, John M. Starr, Mark E Bastin, Joanna M. Wardlaw, Adam Butterworth, Ian J Deary

Posted 04 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/692459

Identifying the biological correlates of late life cognitive function is important if we are to ascertain biomarkers for, and develop treatments to help reduce, age-related cognitive decline. This study investigated the associations between plasma levels of 91 neurology-related proteins (Olink Proteomics) and general fluid cognitive ability in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (LBC1936, N=798), the Lothian Birth Cohort 1921 (LBC1921, N=165), and the INTERVAL BioResource, (N=4,451). In LBC1936, we also examined mediation of protein-cognitive ability associations by MRI-derived indices of brain structure. In the LBC1936, 22 of the proteins and the first principal component (PC) created from a PC analysis of the 91 proteins, were associated with general fluid cognitive ability (β between -0.11 and -0.17, p<0.0029). Total brain volume partially mediated the association between 10 of these proteins and general fluid cognitive ability. Effect sizes for the 22 proteins, although smaller, were all in the same direction as in LBC1936 in an age-matched subsample of INTERVAL. Similar effect sizes were found for the majority of these 22 proteins in the older LBC1921. The associations were not replicated in a younger subset of INTERVAL. In conclusion, we identified plasma levels of a number of neurology-related proteins that were associated with general fluid cognitive ability in later life, some of which were mediated by brain volume.

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