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Interactions between Apolipoprotein E Genes and Religiosity in Relation to Mild Cognitive Impairment

Author(s): Liqun Wang, Zhizhong Wang, Harold G Koenig, Saad Alshohaib


Religion is a social determinant that is positively associated with cognitive function. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the link between religion and cognitive function; however, no studies have yet examined the interactions between religion and risk genes. The current study sought to examine the effects of religiosity on cognitive functioning in a large Chinese sample.


A total of 2,410 community residents aged 55 years and older were recruited from the Ningxia province of China. Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene polymorphisms were detected using the high-resolution melting curve method. The Mini-Mental State Exam and Duke University Religion Index were administered to assess cognitive function and religiosity. The logistic regression model was used to examine the relationships.


Participants with the Ɛ4 allele and without high religiosity had the highest risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (OR=1.95; 95% CI: 1.24-3.07); the synergy index was 0.40 for religiosity and the Ɛ4 allele and was 1.55 for religiosity and the Ɛ2 allele. The logistic regression model revealed a significant negative interaction effect between the Ɛ4 carrier status and high religiosity (OR=0.45; 95% CI: 0.25-0.84).


This study provides the initial evidence of a beneficial modifying effect for religiosity on relationship between the APOE Ɛ4 carrier and MCI, however, further prospective studies are needed to confirm the finding.

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