Genetic architecture of resilience of executive functioning

Shubhabrata Mukherjee, Sungeun Kim, Laura E. Gibbons, Kwangsik Nho, Shannon L. Risacher, M. Maria Glymour, Christian Habeck, Grace J. Lee, Elizabeth Mormino, Nilüfer Ertekin-Taner, Thomas J. Montine, Charles DeCarli, Andrew J. Saykin, Paul K. Crane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The genetic basis of resilience, defined as better cognitive functioning than predicted based on neuroimaging or neuropathology, is not well understood. Our objective was to identify genetic variation associated with executive functioning resilience. We computed residuals from regression models of executive functioning, adjusting for age, sex, education, Hachinski score, and MRI findings (lacunes, cortical thickness, volumes of white matter hyperintensities and hippocampus). We estimated heritability and analyzed these residuals in models for each SNP. We further evaluated our most promising SNP result by evaluating cis-associations with brain levels of nearby (±100 kb) genes from a companion data set, and comparing expression levels in cortex and cerebellum from decedents with AD with those from other non-AD diseases. Complete data were available for 750 ADNI participants of European descent. Executive functioning resilience was highly heritable (H2 = 0. 76; S. E. = 0. 44). rs3748348 on chromosome 14 in the region of RNASE13 was associated with executive functioning resilience (p-value = 4. 31 × 10-7). rs3748348 is in strong linkage disequilibrium (D′ of 1. 00 and 0. 96) with SNPs that map to TPPP2, a member of the α-synuclein family of proteins. We identified nominally significant associations between rs3748348 and expression levels of three genes (FLJ10357, RNASE2, and NDRG2). The strongest association was for FLJ10357 in cortex, which also had the most significant difference in expression between AD and non-AD brains, with greater expression in cortex of decedents with AD (p-value = 7 × 10-7). Further research is warranted to determine whether this signal can be replicated and whether other loci may be associated with cognitive resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-633
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Executive functioning
  • GWAS
  • Memory
  • Psychometrics
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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