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

Cochrane, Graham D. BS*; Sundman, Mark H. BS; Hall, Eric E. PhD*; Kostek, Matthew C. PhD; Patel, Kirtida MD§; Barnes, Kenneth P. MD, MSc*,¶; Ketcham, Caroline J. PhD*

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: March 2018 - Volume 28 - Issue 2 - p 125–129
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000443
Original Research

Objective: 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.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Neuroscience laboratory at Elon University.

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

Intervention: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusions: 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.

*Department of Exercise Science, Elon University, Elon, North Carolina;

Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona;

Department of Physical Therapy, Duquense University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;

§Department of Athletics, Elon University, Elon, North Carolina; and

Greensboro Orthopaedics, Greensboro, North Carolina.

Corresponding Author: Eric E. Hall, PhD, Department of Exercise Science, Elon University, 2525 Campus Box, Elon, NC 27244 (

This study was partially funded by foundation grants from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine to authors K. P. Barnes and E. E. Hall.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received September 22, 2016

Accepted March 02, 2017

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