The field of genomics is the principal avenue in the ongoing development of precision/personalised medicine for a variety of health conditions. However, relating genes to outcomes is notoriously complex, especially when considering that other variables can change, or moderate, gene-outcome associations. Here, we comprehensively discuss moderation of gene-outcome associations in the context of traumatic brain injury (TBI), a common, chronically debilitating, and costly neurological condition that is under complex polygenic influence. We focus our narrative review on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of three of the most studied genes (apolipoprotein E, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and catechol-O-methyltransferase) and on three demographic variables believed to moderate associations between these SNPs and TBI outcomes (age, biological sex, and ethnicity). We speculate on the mechanisms which may underlie these moderating effects, drawing widely from biomolecular and behavioural research (n = 175 scientific reports) within the TBI population (n = 72) and other neurological, healthy, ageing, and psychiatric populations (n = 103). We conclude with methodological recommendations for improved exploration of moderators in future genetics research in TBI and other populations.
- Antagonistic pleiotropy
- Apolipoprotein E
- Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
- Precision medicine
- Traumatic brain injury