Vascular aging consists of complex and multifaceted processes that may be influenced by genetic polymorphisms of the renin-angiotensin system. A polymorphism in the angiotensin II type 1 receptor gene (AGTR1/rs5186) has been associated with an increased risk for arterial stiffness, hypertension, and ischemic stroke. Despite these identified relationships, the impact of AGTR1 A1166C on white matter integrity and cognition is less clear in a healthy aging population. The present study utilized indices of neuroimaging and neuropsychological assessment to examine the impact of the A1166C polymorphism on subcortical hyperintensities (SH) and cognition in 49 healthy adults between ages 51-85. Using a dominant statistical model (CC + CA (risk) vs. AA), results revealed significantly larger SH volume for individuals with the C1166 variant (p<0.05, partial eta2 = 0.117) compared with those with the AA genotype. Post hoc analyses indicated that increased SH volume in C allele carriers could not be explained by vascular factors such as pulse pressure or body mass index. In addition, cognitive performance did not differ significantly between groups and was not significantly associated with SH in this cohort. Results suggest that presence of the C1166 variant may serve as a biomarker of risk for suboptimal brain integrity in otherwise healthy older adults prior to changes in cognition.
- Cerebrovascular aging
- Subcortical hyperintensities