Alpha-synuclein (SNCA) polymorphisms exert protective effects on memory after mild traumatic brain injury

Neurosci Lett. 2016 Sep 6:630:241-246. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2016.07.057. Epub 2016 Jul 29.


Problems with attention and short-term learning and memory are commonly reported after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Due to the known relationships between α-synuclein (SNCA), dopaminergic transmission, and neurologic deficits, we hypothesized that SNCA polymorphisms might be associated with cognitive outcome after mTBI. A cohort of 91 mTBI patients one month after injury and 86 healthy controls completed a series of cognitive tests assessing baseline intellectual function, attentional function, and memory, and was genotyped at 13 common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the SNCA gene. Significant differences in two memory measures (p=0.001 and 0.002), but not baseline intellectual function or attentional function tasks, were found between the mTBI group and controls. A highly significant protective association between memory performance and SNCA promoter SNP rs1372525 was observed in the mTBI patients (p=0.006 and 0.029 for the long and short delay conditions of the California Verbal Learning Tests, respectively), where the presence of at least one copy of the A (minor) allele was protective after mTBI. These results may help elucidate the pathophysiology of cognitive alterations after mTBI, and thus warrant further investigation.

Keywords: Alpha-synuclein; Memory; Neuropsychiatry; Parkinson’s disease; Traumatic brain injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / genetics*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / psychology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • alpha-Synuclein / genetics*


  • SNCA protein, human
  • alpha-Synuclein