Genome-wide association study of population-standardised cognitive performance phenotypes in a rural South African community.

Cassandra C Soo, Jean-Tristan Brandenburg, Almut Nebel, Stephen Tollman, Lisa Berkman, Michèle Ramsay, Ananyo Choudhury
Year of publication:
Journal title abbreviated:
Commun Biol
Journal title long:
Communications biology
Impact factor:
Cognitive function is an indicator for global physical and mental health, and cognitive impairment has been associated with poorer life outcomes and earlier mortality. A standard cognition test, adapted to a rural-dwelling African community, and the Oxford Cognition Screen-Plus were used to capture cognitive performance as five continuous traits (total cognition score, verbal episodic memory, executive function, language, and visuospatial ability) for 2,246 adults in this population of South Africans. A novel common variant, rs73485231, reached genome-wide significance for association with episodic memory using data for ~14 million markers imputed from the H3Africa genotyping array data. Window-based replication of previously implicated variants and regions of interest support the discovery of African-specific associated variants despite the small population size and low allele frequency. This African genome-wide association study identifies suggestive associations with general cognition and domain-specific cognitive pathways and lays the groundwork for further genomic studies on cognition in Africa.