Background: Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is a common neurocognitive complication after surgery and anesthesia, particularly in elderly patients. Various studies have suggested genetic risk factors for POCD. The study aimed to detect genome-wide associations of POCD in older patients.
Methods: In this prospective observational cohort study, participants aged ≥65 years completed a set of neuropsychological tests before, at 1 week, and 3 months after major noncardiac surgery. Test variables were converted into standard scores (z-scores) based on demographic characteristics. POCD was diagnosed if the decline was >1 standard deviation in ≥2 of the 15 variables in the assessment battery. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed to determine potential alleles that are linked to the POCD phenotype. In addition, candidate genes for POCD were identified in a literature search for further analysis.
Results: Sixty-three patients with blood samples were included in the study. POCD was diagnosed in 47.6% of patients at 1 week and in 34.2% of patients at 3 months after surgery. Insufficient sample quality led to exclusion of 26 patients. In the remaining 37 patients, a GWAS was performed, but no association (P < 5*10-8) with POCD was found. The subsequent gene set enrichment analysis of 34 candidate genes did not reveal any significant associations.
Conclusion: In this patient cohort, a GWAS did not reveal an association between specific genetic alleles and POCD at 1 week and 3 months after surgery. Future genetic analysis should focus on specific candidate genes for POCD.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02864173)