Cognitive impairment is the most prominent symptom in neurodegenerative disorders affecting quality of life and mortality. However, despite years of research, the molecular mechanism underlying the regulation of cognitive function and its impairment is poorly understood. This study aims to elucidate the role of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) expression and lncRNA-mRNA interaction networks, by analyzing lncRNA expression in whole blood samples of 400 middle and old aged monozygotic twins in association with cognitive function using both linear models and a generalized correlation coefficient (GCC) to capture the diverse patterns of correlation. We detected 13 probes (p < 1e-03) displaying nonlinear and 7 probes (p < 1e-03) showing linear correlations. After combining the results, we identified 20 lncRNA probes with p < 1e-03. The top lncRNA probes were annotated to genes, along with the non-coding MALAT1, that play roles in neurodegenerative diseases. The top lncRNAs were linked to functional clusters including peptidyl-glycine modification, vascular smooth muscle cells, mitotic spindle organization and protein tyrosine phosphatase. In addition, mapping of the top significant lncRNAs to the lncRNA-mRNA interaction network detected significantly enriched biological pathways involving neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction, proteasome and chemokines. We show that GCC served as a complementary approach in detecting lncRNAs missed by the conventional linear models. A combination of GCC and linear models identified lncRNAs of diverse patterns of association enriched for GO biological and molecular functions meaningful in cognitive performance and cognitive decline. The novel lncRNA regulatory network further contributed to detect significant pathways implicated in cognition.
- Cognitive function
- Generalized correlation coefficient
- Linear models