Genetics Influence Neurocognitive Performance at Baseline but Not Concussion History in Collegiate Student-Athletes

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This study investigates 4 single-nucleotide polymorphisms [Apolipoprotein E (APOE), APOE promoter, catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT), and dopamine D2 receptor] that have been implicated in concussion susceptibility and/or cognitive ability in collegiate student-athletes.


Cross-sectional study.


Neuroscience laboratory at Elon University.


Two hundred fifty division I collegiate student-athletes (66 women, 184 men) from various sports.


All participants completed Immediate Postconcussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) testing at baseline concussion testing and had a buccal swab taken for DNA for genotyping.

Main Outcome Measures:

Self-reported history of concussions and neurocognitive performance were taken from ImPACT.


Individuals carrying an ε4 allele in their APOE gene had a significantly slower reaction time (P = 0.001). Individuals homozygous for the Val allele of the COMT gene showed significantly worse impulse control scores (P = 0.014). None of the genotypes were able to predict self-reported concussion history in collegiate student-athletes.


These results indicate that certain genotypes may influence performance on cognitive testing at baseline and that the APOE genotypes may not influence concussion susceptibility as suggested by past studies.

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