DNA methylation in the apolipoprotein-A1 gene is associated with episodic memory performance in healthy older individuals

Jessica Lazarus, Karen A. Mather, Nicola J. Armstrong, Fei Song, Anne Poljak, Anbupalam Thalamuthu, Teresa Lee, Nicole A. Kochan, Henry Brodaty, Margaret J. Wright, David Ames, Perminder S. Sachdev, John B J Kwok*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: DNA methylation variation has been implicated in memory, cognitive performance, and dementia. Plasma apolipoprotein-A1 (ApoA1) levels may act as a biomarker of age-associated cognitive performance and decline. Objectives: To estimate the heritability of plasma ApoA1 protein levels; to examine DNA methylation variation within the APOA1 gene; and to investigate whether APOA1 methylation is associated with plasma ApoA1 levels and episodic memory performance. Method: Heritability of ApoA1 protein levels in Older Australian Twins Study (OATS) was assessed using structural equation modelling. APOA1 methylation levels were assayed in two cohorts of cognitively normal older individuals. The methylation status of 12 CpGs in 24 twin pairs from OATS was assayed using the Illumina 450K methylation array. Candidate CpGs were assayed in 454 individuals from Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (Sydney MAS) using pyrosequencing. Regression analyses assessed associations between APOA1 methylation levels, ApoA1 plasma levels, and memory performance. Results: No significant heritability was observed for ApoA1 protein levels. APOA1 candidate-gene analyses revealed CpG sites associated with memory performance in the twin study (p < 0.050). Replication of an association between methylation of a specific CpG (cg03010018) in APOA1 and memory performance was observed in Sydney MAS (β =-0.145, p = 0.010). Methylation of this CpG site was also significantly correlated with ApoA1 protein levels (β = 0.161, p = 0.019). However, no relationship between a composite memory domain score and methylation was observed (p = 0.389). Conclusion: Findings demonstrated that epigenetic control of APOA1 expression and DNA methylation levels are associated with episodic memory performance in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • aging
  • Apolipoprotein A1
  • DNA methylation
  • epigenomics
  • episodic memory


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