DOI: 10.3390/genes15010030 ISSN: 2073-4425

Association Study of a Comprehensive Panel of Neuropeptide-Related Polymorphisms Suggest Potential Roles in Verbal Learning and Memory

Nesli Avgan, Heidi G. Sutherland, Rod A. Lea, Larisa M. Haupt, David H. K. Shum, Lyn R. Griffiths
  • Genetics (clinical)
  • Genetics

Neuropeptides are mostly expressed in regions of the brain responsible for learning and memory and are centrally involved in cognitive pathways. The majority of neuropeptide research has been performed in animal models; with acknowledged differences between species, more research into the role of neuropeptides in humans is necessary to understand their contribution to higher cognitive function. In this study, we investigated the influence of genetic polymorphisms in neuropeptide genes on verbal learning and memory. Variants in genes encoding neuropeptides and neuropeptide receptors were tested for association with learning and memory measures using the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test—Revised (HVLT-R) in a healthy cohort of individuals (n = 597). The HVLT-R is a widely used task for verbal learning and memory assessment and provides five sub-scores: recall, delay, learning, retention, and discrimination. To determine the effect of candidate variants on learning and memory performance, genetic association analyses were performed for each HVLT-R sub-score with over 1300 genetic variants from 124 neuropeptide and neuropeptide receptor genes, genotyped on Illumina OmniExpress BeadChip arrays. This targeted analysis revealed numerous suggestive associations between HVLT-R test scores and neuropeptide and neuropeptide receptor gene variants; candidates include the SCG5, IGFR1, GALR1, OXTR, CCK, and VIPR1 genes. Further characterization of these genes and their variants will improve our understanding of the genetic contribution to learning and memory and provide insight into the importance of the neuropeptide network in humans.

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