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Association of leisure-time physical activity with cognition by apolipoprotein-E genotype in persons aged 60 years and over: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III)

Authors Obisesan T, Umar, Plauvoi, Gillum

Received 4 October 2011

Accepted for publication 4 November 2011

Published 31 January 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 35—43


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Thomas O Obisesan, Nisser Umar, Nivedh Paluvoi, Richard F Gillum
Division of Geriatrics, Howard University Hospital, Washington, DC, USA

Objective: To test the hypothesis that aerobic-related leisure-time physical activity (PA) is associated with better cognitive function and that the effect varies among apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype groups.
Design: Cross-sectional study of persons examined in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III; 1988–1994).
Setting: US noninstitutionalized population.
Participants and methods: From a sample of 7159, aged ≥60 years, we analyzed data for 1799 older American men and women who had information on PA, a short mental status examination (SMSE), and were genotyped at the apolipoprotein E gene locus.
Results: In the initial bivariate analysis, non-ε4 carriers and ε4-heterozygotes performed better than ε4-homozygotes in the 60–69 age group. After controlling for multiple confounders including mobility limitation, PA correlated with a higher SMSE score in non-ε4 carriers (P = 0.014), but not in ε4 carriers (P = 0.887). At ≥70 years, PA also correlated with higher adjusted SMSE scores in non- ε4 carriers (P = 0.02); but this association became nonsignificant after controlling for mobility limitation (P = 0.12).
Conclusion: In a nationally representative sample, PA was associated with enhanced cognition, an effect that was differentially influenced by apolipoprotein E genotype. Experimental studies are needed to determine whether or not PA can attenuate cognitive decline.

Keywords: cognition, physical activity, apolipoprotein E gene, aging

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