Vulnerability of white matter tracts and cognition to the SOD2 polymorphism: A preliminary study of antioxidant defense genes in brain aging


Oxidative stress is a key mechanism of the aging process that can cause damage to brain white matter and cognitive functions. Polymorphisms in the superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) and catalase (CAT) genes have been associated with abnormalities in antioxidant enzyme activity in the aging brain, suggesting a risk for enhanced oxidative damage to white matter and cognition among older individuals with these genetic variants. The present study compared differences in white matter microstructure and cognition among 96 older adults with and without genetic risk factors of SOD2 (rs4880) and CAT (rs1001179). Results revealed higher radial diffusivity in the anterior thalamic radiation among SOD2 CC genotypes compared to CT/TT genotypes. Further, the CC genotype moderated the relationship between the hippocampal cingulum and processing speed, though this did not survive multiple test correction. The CAT polymorphism was not associated with brain outcomes in this cohort. These results suggest that the CC genotype of SOD2 is an important genetic marker of suboptimal brain aging in healthy individuals.

Behavioural brain research