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Open Access Research article

Effect of the G72 (DAOA) putative risk haplotype on cognitive functions in healthy subjects

Andreas Jansen1*, Sören Krach1, Axel Krug6, Valentin Markov2, Thomas Eggermann3, Klaus Zerres3, Markus Thimm12, Markus M Nöthen4, Jens Treutlein5, Marcella Rietschel5 and Tilo Kircher6

Author Affiliations

1 Section of BrainImaging, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany

2 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

3 Institute of Human Genetics, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

4 Department of Genomics, Life & Brain Center, University of Bonn, Germany

5 Division of Genetic Epidemiology in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, Germany

6 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany

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BMC Psychiatry 2009, 9:60  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-9-60

Published: 24 September 2009

Abstract

Background

In the last years, several susceptibility genes for psychiatric disorders have been identified, among others G72 (also named D-amino acid oxidase activator, DAOA). Typically, the high-risk variant of a vulnerability gene is associated with decreased cognitive functions already in healthy individuals. In a recent study however, a positive effect of the high-risk variant of G72 on verbal working memory was reported. In the present study, we therefore examined the relationship between G72 genotype status and a broad range of cognitive functions in 423 healthy individuals.

Methods

The G72 carrier status was assessed by the two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) M23 and M24. Subjects were divided into three risk groups (low, intermediate and high risk).

Results

G72 status influenced a number of cognitive functions, such as verbal working memory, attention, and, at a trend level, spatial working memory and executive functions. Interestingly, the high-risk allele carriers scored better than one or even both other groups.

Conclusion

Our data show that the putative high-risk haplotype (i.e. homozygote C/C-allele carriers in SNP M23 and homozygote T/T-allele carriers in SNP M24) is in healthy individuals not necessarily associated with worse performance in cognitive functions, but even with better performance in some domains. Further work is required to identify the mechanisms of G72 on brain functions.