Global expression profiling of cognitive level and decline in middle-aged monozygotic twins

Marianne Nygaard, Martin J. Larsen, Mads Thomassen, Matt McGue, Kaare Christensen, Qihua Tan, Lene Christiansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Only few studies have investigated the genomewide transcriptome of normative cognitive aging. We therefore aimed at investigating blood gene expression patterns associated with cognitive aging using a population-based sample of 235 middle-aged monozygotic twin pairs with longitudinal data on cognitive function. This unique setup enabled examination of gene expression differences associated with individual and intrapair differences in cognitive level and change while controlling for underlying genetic variation and shared early environment. Overall, increased expression of several gene sets was found to strongly correlate with a lower cognitive level and cognitive decline. The most significantly correlated gene sets were related to protein metabolism, translation, RNA metabolism, infectious disease, and the immune system, which are all processes previously linked to transcription signatures of pathological and normal brain aging, and aging in blood. The results of our study thus suggest that gene expression patterns of cognitive level and decline in our sample mirror those seen in cognitively impaired individuals, which could point toward a more generic response to cognitive aging and aging in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-147
Number of pages7
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Aging
  • Cognitive aging
  • Cognitive function
  • Gene expression
  • Longitudinal study
  • Monozygotic twins

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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