The aim of this study was to determine, through a genome-wide association study (GWAS), the genetic components contributing to different clinical sub-phenotypes of systemic sclerosis (SSc). We considered limited (lcSSc) and diffuse (dcSSc) cutaneous involvement, and the relationships with presence of the SSc-specific auto-antibodies, anti-centromere (ACA), and anti-topoisomerase I (ATA). Four GWAS cohorts, comprising 2,296 SSc patients and 5,171 healthy controls, were meta-analyzed looking for associations in the selected subgroups. Eighteen polymorphisms were further tested in nine independent cohorts comprising an additional 3,175 SSc patients and 4,971 controls. Conditional analysis for associated SNPs in the HLA region was performed to explore their independent association in antibody subgroups. Overall analysis showed that non-HLA polymorphism rs11642873 in IRF8 gene to be associated at GWAS level with lcSSc (P = 2.32×10−12, OR = 0.75). Also, rs12540874 in GRB10 gene (P = 1.27 × 10−6, OR = 1.15) and rs11047102 in SOX5 gene (P = 1.39×10−7, OR = 1.36) showed a suggestive association with lcSSc and ACA subgroups respectively. In the HLA region, we observed highly associated allelic combinations in the HLA-DQB1 locus with ACA (P = 1.79×10−61, OR = 2.48), in the HLA-DPA1/B1 loci with ATA (P = 4.57×10−76, OR = 8.84), and in NOTCH4 with ACA P = 8.84×10−21, OR = 0.55) and ATA (P = 1.14×10−8, OR = 0.54). We have identified three new non-HLA genes (IRF8, GRB10, and SOX5) associated with SSc clinical and auto-antibody subgroups. Within the HLA region, HLA-DQB1, HLA-DPA1/B1, and NOTCH4 associations with SSc are likely confined to specific auto-antibodies. These data emphasize the differential genetic components of subphenotypes of SSc.
Scleroderma or systemic sclerosis is a complex autoimmune disease affecting one individual of every 100,000 in Caucasian populations. Even though current genetic studies have led to better understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease, much remains unknown. Scleroderma is a heterogeneous disease, which can be subdivided according to different criteria, such as the involvement of organs and the presence of specific autoantibodies. Such subgroups present more homogeneous genetic groups, and some genetic associations with these manifestations have already been described. Through reanalysis of a genome-wide association study data, we identify three novel genes containing genetic variations which predispose to subphenotypes of the disease (IRF8, GRB10, and SOX5). Also, we better characterize the patterns of associated loci found in the HLA region. Together, our findings lead to a better understanding of the genetic component of scleroderma.