APOE & BDNF polymorphisms interact to affect memory performance at baseline in adolescent athletes

Child Neuropsychol. 2022 Oct;

Riegler, K. E., Fink, S., Guty, E. T., Echemendia, R. J., Arnett, P. A., & Merritt, V. C..



Although several single-nucleotide polymorphisms have been associated with cognitive functioning in a variety of healthy and clinical samples, the influence of gene x gene interactions on cognition is poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to examine interactive relationships between apolipoprotein E (APOE) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) polymorphisms on cognitive functioning in a sample of healthy adolescent athletes. Participants of this cross-sectional study included 78 student-athletes (52.6% male; age: M = 13.31, SD = 1.23). Athletes completed the Immediate Post-Concussion and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) computerized battery at baseline. APOE and BDNF genotypes were determined with buccal samples (APOE epsilon4+: n = 26; APOE epsilon4-: n = 52; BDNF Met+: n = 23; BDNF Met-: n = 55). Two-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used to evaluate the associations among APOE (epsilon4+ vs. epsilon4-) and BDNF (Met+ vs. Met-) genotypes and the ImPACT cognitive composites and two-factor model. No main effects were observed for either APOE or BDNF genotypes across the cognitive outcomes. However, there was a significant APOE x BDNF genotype interaction for the verbal (p=.009, etap(2)=.091) and visual (p = .012, etap(2)=.082) memory composites and the memory factor (p = .001, etap(2)=.133), such that epsilon4+/Met+ carriers demonstrated poorer performance relative to other allele combinations. No significant interactions were observed for the visual motor speed (p = .263, etap(2)=.017) or reaction time (p = .825, etap(2)=.001) composites or the speed factor (p = .205, etap(2)=.022). Our findings suggest an important relationship between APOE and BDNF genotypes on verbal and visual memory performance in healthy adolescent athletes. Clinicians may use this information to offer individualized concussion management based on individual athlete characteristics related to genetics and cognition.

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