The longevity gene Klotho is differentially associated with cognition in subtypes of schizophrenia

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Cognitive impairment is a core feature of schizophrenia and impacts negatively the functioning of affected individuals. Cognitive decline correlates with aging, and is the primary cause of loss of independence and reduced quality of life. The klotho gene is a key modulator of aging, with expression deficiency resulting in premature aging, while overexpression extends lifespan and enhances cognition. A haplotype and functional human variant of the gene, KL-VS, increases expression and promotes longevity. KL-VS heterozygosity is associated with enhanced cognition and a larger volume of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region involved in planning and decision-making, which is especially susceptible to shrinkage with age. We examined the effect of KL-VS heterozygosity on cognition in 497 schizophrenia patients and 316 healthy controls from the Western Australian Family Study of Schizophrenia (WAFSS) who had been comprehensively characterised by neurocognitive tests and classified into cognitively deficient (CD) and cognitively "spared" (CS) clusters. An older, cognitively normal population sample from the Health in Men Study (HIMS) was included to allow assessment of heterozygosity and memory in aged individuals. We show that heterozygosity is associated with better learning and memory in the younger WAFSS healthy controls but not in the aging HIMS sample. However, in schizophrenia patients, KL-VS has a selective effect on memory, with heterozygotes in CD and CS clusters performing worse than non-carriers. This effect was significant and more severe in the CD cluster, reinforcing the utility of subtyping patients into CD and CS clusters that may differ in their genetic underpinnings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-353
Number of pages5
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


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