Background: Blood-based markers of cognitive functioning might provide an accessible way to track neurodegeneration years prior to clinical manifestation of cognitive impairment and dementia.
Results: Using blood-based epigenome-wide analyses of general cognitive function, we show that individual differences in DNA methylation (DNAm) explain 35.0% of the variance in general cognitive function (g). A DNAm predictor explains ~4% of the variance, independently of a polygenic score, in two external cohorts. It also associates with circulating levels of neurology- and inflammation-related proteins, global brain imaging metrics, and regional cortical volumes.
Conclusions: As sample sizes increase, the ability to assess cognitive function from DNAm data may be informative in settings where cognitive testing is unreliable or unavailable.
Keywords: Cognitive ability; DNA methylation; EWAS; Epidemiology; Prediction.
© 2022. The Author(s).