DNA Methylation of BDNF and RASA2 Genes Is Associated With Cognitive Function in Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer

Myeong-ga Cho

Susan M. Sereika

Meredith H. Cummings

Kirk I. Erickson

Catherine M. Bender

Yvette P. Conley

DNA methylation, cognition, processing speed, perceived cognitive function, breast cancer
ONF 2024, 51(4), 349-360. DOI: 10.1188/24.ONF.349-360

Objectives: To determine associations among DNA methylation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and RAS p21 protein activator 2 (RASA2) genes with processing speed and perceived cognitive function.

Sample & Setting: This was a cross-sectional, secondary analysis of baseline data from a randomized controlled trial, the Exercise Program in Cancer and Cognition Study.

Methods & Variables: Data included M values for DNA methylation of the BDNF and RASA2 genes; processing speed, objectively measured using the Grooved Pegboard and Digit Vigilance Test scores; and perceived cognitive function, self-reported using the Patient Assessment of Own Functioning Inventory. Regression analysis was conducted.

Results: Greater methylation of cg21291635 of the BDNF gene (p = 0.01) and cg20247102 of the RASA2 gene (p = 0.013) were associated with poorer processing speed, whereas greater methylation of cg20108357 of the BDNF gene (p < 0.001) and cg00567892 of the RASA2 gene (p = 0.019) were associated with better perceived cognitive function.

Implications for Nursing: Gene methylation variations were demonstrated, suggesting the genes’ potential roles and two possible distinct mechanisms of cognitive function in cancer. 

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