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Polygenic risk scores for Alzheimer’s disease, and academic achievement, cognitive and behavioural measures in children from the general population

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdyz080
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
DateAccepted/In press - 12 Apr 2019
DatePublished (current) - 5 May 2019


Objective: Several studies report a polygenic component of risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding whether this polygenic signal is associated with educational, cognitive and behavioural outcomes in children could provide an earlier window for intervention.

Method: We examined whether polygenic risk scores (PRS) at varying p-value thresholds in children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children were associated with academic achievement, cognitive and behavioural measures in childhood and adolescence.

Results: We did not detect any evidence that the genome-wide significant PRS (5x10-8) was associated with these outcomes. PRS at the highest p-value threshold examined (p≤5x10-1) was associated with lower academic achievement in adolescents (Key Stage 3; β: -0.03; 95% confidence interval: -0.05, -0.003) but the effect was attenuated when single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with educational attainment were removed. These PRS were associated with lower IQ (β: -0.04; 95% CI: -0.07, -0.02) at age 8 years with the effect remaining after removing SNPs associated with educational attainment.

Conclusion: SNPs mediating the biological effects of Alzheimer’s disease are unlikely to operate early in life. The evidence of association between PRS for Alzheimer’s disease at liberal thresholds and cognitive measures suggest shared genetic pathways between Alzheimer’s disease, academic achievement and cognition.

    Research areas

  • ALSPAC, Alzheimer's disease, behavioural, cognitive, polygenic risk scores

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