SCN1A affects brain structure and the neural activity of the aging brain

Sandra Meier, Traute Demirakca, Wencke Brusniak, Isabella Wolf, Kristin Liebsch, Nuran Tunc-Skarka, Vanessa Nieratschker, Stephanie H. Witt, Franziska Matthäus, Gabriele Ende, Herta Flor, Marcella Rietschel, Carsten Diener, Thomas G. Schulze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: The aging of the human brain is accompanied by changes in cortical structure as well as functional activity and variable degrees of cognitive decline. One-third of the observable inter-individual differences in cognitive decline are thought to be heritable. SCN1A encodes the sodium channel α subunit and is considered to be a susceptibility gene for several neurological disorders with prominent cognitive deficits. In a recent genome-wide association study the C allele of the SCN1A variant rs10930201 was observed to be significantly associated with poor short-term memory performance. rs10930201 was further observed to be related to differences in neural activity during a working memory task. Methods: The aim of the present study was to explore whether SCN1A modifies the vulnerability to aging processes of the human brain. Therefore we assessed the interacting effects of the SCN1A vulnerability allele rs10930201 and age in terms of brain activity and brain morphology in 62 healthy volunteers between 21 and 82 years of age. Results: In C allele carriers, activity in the right inferior frontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex increased with age. Moreover, exploratory analysis revealed regional effects of rs10930201 on brain structure, indicating reduced gray matter densities in the frontal and insular regions in the C allele carriers. Conclusions: Collectively, the present results suggest that the SCN1A polymorphism has modulatory effects on brain morphology and vulnerability to age-related alterations in brain activity of cortical regions that subserve working memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-683
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume72
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 15 2012
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Aging
  • cognition
  • frontal cortex
  • posterior cingulate cortex
  • SCN1A
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

Cite this

Meier, S., Demirakca, T., Brusniak, W., Wolf, I., Liebsch, K., Tunc-Skarka, N., Nieratschker, V., Witt, S. H., Matthäus, F., Ende, G., Flor, H., Rietschel, M., Diener, C., & Schulze, T. G. (2012). SCN1A affects brain structure and the neural activity of the aging brain. Biological Psychiatry, 72(8), 677-683. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.03.017