Neuromarkers of the common angiotensinogen polymorphism in healthy older adults: A comprehensive assessment of white matter integrity and cognition


The common angiotensinogen (AGT) M268T polymorphism (rs699; historically referred to as M235T) has been identified as a significant risk factor for cerebrovascular pathologies, yet it is unclear if healthy older adults carrying the threonine amino acid variant have a greater risk for white matter damage in specific fiber tracts. Further, the impact of the threonine variant on cognitive function remains unknown. The present study utilized multiple indices of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and neuropsychological assessment to examine the integrity of specific white matter tracts and cognition between individuals with homozygous genotypes of M268T (MetMet n=27, ThrThr n=27). Differences in subcortical hyperintensity (SH) volume were also examined between groups. Results indicated that the threonine variant was associated with significantly reduced integrity in the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) and the cingulate gyrus segment of the cingulum bundle (cingulum CG) compared to those with the methionine variant, and poorer cognitive performance on tests of attention/processing speed and language. Despite these associations, integrity of these tracts did not significantly mediate relationships between cognition and genetic status, and SH did not differ significantly between groups. Collectively our results suggest that the threonine variant of M268T is a significant risk factor for abnormalities in specific white matter tracts and cognitive domains in healthy older adults, independent of SH burden.

In Behavioral Brain Research 2016