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The aim of our study is to investigate whether single-nucleotide dystrophin gene (DMD) variants associate with variability in cognitive functions in healthy populations. The study included 1240 participants from the Erasmus Rucphen family (ERF) study and 1464 individuals from the Rotterdam Study (RS). The participants whose exomes were sequenced and who were assessed for various cognitive traits were included in the analysis. To determine the association between DMD variants and cognitive ability, linear (mixed) modeling with adjustment for age, sex and education was used. Moreover, Sequence Kernel Association Test (SKAT) was used to test the overall association of the rare genetic variants present in the DMD with cognitive traits. Although no DMD variant surpassed the prespecified significance threshold (P<1 × 10(-4)), rs147546024:A>G showed strong association (β = 1.786, P-value = 2.56 × 10(-4)) with block-design test in the ERF study, while another variant rs1800273:G>A showed suggestive association (β = -0.465, P-value = 0.002) with Mini-Mental State Examination test in the RS. Both variants are highly conserved, although rs147546024:A>G is an intronic variant, whereas rs1800273:G>A is a missense variant in the DMD which has a predicted damaging effect on the protein. Further gene-based analysis of DMD revealed suggestive association (P-values = 0.087 and 0.074) with general cognitive ability in both cohorts. In conclusion, both single variant and gene-based analyses suggest the existence of variants in the DMD which may affect cognitive functioning in the general populations.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Hum Genet

Publication Date





837 - 843


Adult, Cognition, Dystrophin, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide