Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified thousands of loci associated wtih complex traits, but it is challenging to pinpoint causal genes in these loci and to exploit subtle association signals. We used tissue-specific quantitative interaction proteomics to map a network of five genes involved in the Mendelian disorder long QT syndrome (LQTS). We integrated the LQTS network with GWAS loci from the corresponding common complex trait, QT interval variation, to identify candidate genes that were subsequently confirmed in Xenopus laevis oocytes and zebrafish. We used the LQTS protein network to filter weak GWAS signals by identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in proximity to genes in the network supported by strong proteomic evidence. Three SNPs passing this filter reached genome-wide significance after replication genotyping. Overall, we present a general strategy to propose candidates in GWAS loci for functional studies and to systematically filter subtle association signals using tissue-specific quantitative interaction proteomics.
The QT interval, an electrocardiographic measure reflecting myocardial repolarization, is a heritable trait. QT prolongation is a risk factor for ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD) and could indicate the presence of the potentially lethal Mendelian Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). Using a genome-wide association and replication study in up to 100,000 individuals we identified 35 common variant QT interval loci, that collectively explain ∼8-10% of QT variation and highlight the importance of calcium regulation in myocardial repolarization. Rare variant analysis of 6 novel QT loci in 298 unrelated LQTS probands identified coding variants not found in controls but of uncertain causality and therefore requiring validation. Several newly identified loci encode for proteins that physically interact with other recognized repolarization proteins. Our integration of common variant association, expression and orthogonal protein-protein interaction screens provides new insights into cardiac electrophysiology and identifies novel candidate genes for ventricular arrhythmias, LQTS,and SCD.
genome-wide association study; QT interval; Long QT Syndrome; sudden cardiac death; myocardial repolarization; arrhythmias
Statins increase the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus. We aimed to assess whether this increase in risk is a consequence of inhibition of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCR), the intended drug target.
We used single nucleotide polymorphisms in the HMGCR gene, rs17238484 (for the main analysis) and rs12916 (for a subsidiary analysis) as proxies for HMGCR inhibition by statins. We examined associations of these variants with plasma lipid, glucose, and insulin concentrations; bodyweight; waist circumference; and prevalent and incident type 2 diabetes. Study-specific effect estimates per copy of each LDL-lowering allele were pooled by meta-analysis. These findings were compared with a meta-analysis of new-onset type 2 diabetes and bodyweight change data from randomised trials of statin drugs. The effects of statins in each randomised trial were assessed using meta-analysis.
Data were available for up to 223 463 individuals from 43 genetic studies. Each additional rs17238484-G allele was associated with a mean 0·06 mmol/L (95% CI 0·05–0·07) lower LDL cholesterol and higher body weight (0·30 kg, 0·18–0·43), waist circumference (0·32 cm, 0·16–0·47), plasma insulin concentration (1·62%, 0·53–2·72), and plasma glucose concentration (0·23%, 0·02–0·44). The rs12916 SNP had similar effects on LDL cholesterol, bodyweight, and waist circumference. The rs17238484-G allele seemed to be associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes (odds ratio [OR] per allele 1·02, 95% CI 1·00–1·05); the rs12916-T allele association was consistent (1·06, 1·03–1·09). In 129 170 individuals in randomised trials, statins lowered LDL cholesterol by 0·92 mmol/L (95% CI 0·18–1·67) at 1-year of follow-up, increased bodyweight by 0·24 kg (95% CI 0·10–0·38 in all trials; 0·33 kg, 95% CI 0·24–0·42 in placebo or standard care controlled trials and −0·15 kg, 95% CI −0·39 to 0·08 in intensive-dose vs moderate-dose trials) at a mean of 4·2 years (range 1·9–6·7) of follow-up, and increased the odds of new-onset type 2 diabetes (OR 1·12, 95% CI 1·06–1·18 in all trials; 1·11, 95% CI 1·03–1·20 in placebo or standard care controlled trials and 1·12, 95% CI 1·04–1·22 in intensive-dose vs moderate dose trials).
The increased risk of type 2 diabetes noted with statins is at least partially explained by HMGCR inhibition.
The funding sources are cited at the end of the paper.
single nucleotide polymorphism; telomerase; telomere; glioma; TERT; TERC; RTEL1
Heart rate variability is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. The acetylcholine pathway plays a key role in explaining heart rate variability in humans. We assessed whether 443 genotyped and imputed common genetic variants in eight key genes (CHAT, SLC18A3, SLC5A7, CHRNB4, CHRNA3, CHRNA, CHRM2 and ACHE) of the acetylcholine pathway were associated with variation in an established measure of heart rate variability reflecting parasympathetic control of the heart rhythm, the root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) of normal RR intervals. The association was studied in a two stage design in individuals of European descent. First, analyses were performed in a discovery sample of four cohorts (n = 3429, discovery stage). Second, findings were replicated in three independent cohorts (n = 3311, replication stage), and finally the two stages were combined in a meta-analysis (n = 6740). RMSSD data were obtained under resting conditions. After correction for multiple testing, none of the SNPs showed an association with RMSSD. In conclusion, no common genetic variants for heart rate variability were identified in the largest and most comprehensive candidate gene study on the acetylcholine pathway to date. Future gene finding efforts for RMSSD may want to focus on hypothesis free approaches such as the genome-wide association study.
Variation in plasma levels of cortisol, an essential hormone in the stress response, is associated in population-based studies with cardio-metabolic, inflammatory and neuro-cognitive traits and diseases. Heritability of plasma cortisol is estimated at 30–60% but no common genetic contribution has been identified. The CORtisol NETwork (CORNET) consortium undertook genome wide association meta-analysis for plasma cortisol in 12,597 Caucasian participants, replicated in 2,795 participants. The results indicate that <1% of variance in plasma cortisol is accounted for by genetic variation in a single region of chromosome 14. This locus spans SERPINA6, encoding corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG, the major cortisol-binding protein in plasma), and SERPINA1, encoding α1-antitrypsin (which inhibits cleavage of the reactive centre loop that releases cortisol from CBG). Three partially independent signals were identified within the region, represented by common SNPs; detailed biochemical investigation in a nested sub-cohort showed all these SNPs were associated with variation in total cortisol binding activity in plasma, but some variants influenced total CBG concentrations while the top hit (rs12589136) influenced the immunoreactivity of the reactive centre loop of CBG. Exome chip and 1000 Genomes imputation analysis of this locus in the CROATIA-Korcula cohort identified missense mutations in SERPINA6 and SERPINA1 that did not account for the effects of common variants. These findings reveal a novel common genetic source of variation in binding of cortisol by CBG, and reinforce the key role of CBG in determining plasma cortisol levels. In turn this genetic variation may contribute to cortisol-associated degenerative diseases.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone from the adrenal glands that is essential in the response to stress. Most cortisol in blood is bound to corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG). Diseases causing cortisol deficiency (Addison's disease) or excess (Cushing's syndrome) are life-threatening. Variations in plasma cortisol have been associated with cardiovascular and psychiatric diseases and their risk factors. To dissect the genetic contribution to variation in plasma cortisol, we formed the CORtisol NETwork (CORNET) consortium and recruited collaborators with suitable samples from more than 15,000 people. The results reveal that the major genetic influence on plasma cortisol is mediated by variations in the binding capacity of CBG. This is determined by differences in the circulating concentrations of CBG and also in the immunoreactivity of its ‘reactive centre loop’, potentially influencing not only binding affinity for cortisol but also the stability of CBG and hence the tissue delivery of cortisol. These findings provide the first evidence for a common genetic effect on levels of this clinically important hormone, suggest that differences in CBG between individuals are biologically important, and pave the way for further research to dissect causality in the associations of plasma cortisol with common diseases.
Skin fluorescence (SF) is a non-invasive marker of AGEs and is associated with the long-term complications of diabetes. SF increases with age and is also greater among individuals with diabetes. A familial correlation of SF suggests that genetics may play a role. We therefore performed parallel genome-wide association studies of SF in two cohorts.
Cohort 1 included 1,082 participants, 35–67 years of age with type 1 diabetes. Cohort 2 included 8,721 participants without diabetes, aged 18–90 years.
rs1495741 was significantly associated with SF in Cohort 1 (p < 6 × 10−10), which is known to tag the NAT2 acetylator phenotype. The fast acetylator genotype was associated with lower SF, explaining up to 15% of the variance. In Cohort 2, the top signal associated with SF (p = 8.3 × 10−42) was rs4921914, also in NAT2, 440 bases upstream of rs1495741 (linkage disequilibrium r2 = 1.0 for rs4921914 with rs1495741). We replicated these results in two additional cohorts, one with and one without type 1 diabetes. Finally, to understand which compounds are contributing to the NAT2–SF signal, we examined 11 compounds assayed from skin biopsies (n = 198): the fast acetylator genotype was associated with lower levels of the AGEs hydroimidazolones of glyoxal (p = 0.017).
We identified a robust association between NAT2 and SF in people with and without diabetes. Our findings provide proof of principle that genetic variation contributes to interindividual SF and that NAT2 acetylation status plays a major role.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-014-3286-9) contains peer-reviewed but unedited supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
Acetylation; Genome-wide association study; NAT2; Skin autofluorescence; Skin fluorescence; Skin intrinsic fluorescence
Oxidative stress plays a key role in the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus. We previously showed that the circulating antioxidant peroxiredoxin 4 (Prx4) is associated with cardiometabolic risk factors. We aimed to evaluate the association of Prx4 with type 2 diabetes risk in the general population.
We analysed data on 7,972 individuals from the Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-stage Disease (PREVEND) study (49% men, aged 28–75 years) with no diabetes at baseline. Logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex, smoking, waist circumference, hypertension and family history of diabetes were used to estimate the ORs for type 2 diabetes.
During a median follow up of 7.7 years, 496 individuals (288 men; 58%) developed type 2 diabetes. The median (Q1–Q3) Prx4 level was 0.84 (0.53–1.40) U/l in individuals who developed type 2 diabetes and 0.68 (0.43–1.08) U/l in individuals who did not develop type 2 diabetes. For every doubling of Prx4 levels, the adjusted OR (95% CI) for type 2 diabetes was 1.16 (1.05–1.29) in the whole population; by sex, it was 1.31 (1.14–1.50) for men and 1.03 (0.87–1.21) for women. Further adjustment for other clinical measures did not materially change the results. The addition of Prx4 to a validated diabetes risk score significantly improved the prediction of type 2 diabetes in men (p = 0.002 for reclassification improvement).
Our findings suggest that elevated serum Prx4 levels are associated with a higher risk of incident type 2 diabetes. For men, taking Prx4 into consideration can improve type 2 diabetes prediction over a validated diabetes risk score; in contrast, there is no improvement in risk prediction for women.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-014-3278-9) contains peer-reviewed but unedited supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
Epidemiology; Peroxiredoxin 4; Risk prediction; Sex difference; Type 2 diabetes
Elevated resting heart rate is associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. In a 2-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in up to 181,171 individuals, we identified 14 new loci associated with heart rate and confirmed associations with all 7 previously established loci. Experimental downregulation of gene expression in Drosophila melanogaster and Danio rerio identified 20 genes at 11 loci that are relevant for heart rate regulation and highlight a role for genes involved in signal transmission, embryonic cardiac development and the pathophysiology of dilated cardiomyopathy, congenital heart failure and/or sudden cardiac death. In addition, genetic susceptibility to increased heart rate is associated with altered cardiac conduction and reduced risk of sick sinus syndrome, and both heart rate–increasing and heart rate–decreasing variants associate with risk of atrial fibrillation. Our findings provide fresh insights into the mechanisms regulating heart rate and identify new therapeutic targets.
Inter-individual variation in mean leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is associated with cancer and several age-associated diseases. Here, in a genome-wide meta-analysis of 37,684 individuals with replication of selected variants in a further 10,739 individuals, we identified seven loci, including five novel loci, associated with mean LTL (P<5x10−8). Five of the loci contain genes (TERC, TERT, NAF1, OBFC1, RTEL1) that are known to be involved in telomere biology. Lead SNPs at two loci (TERC and TERT) associate with several cancers and other diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Moreover, a genetic risk score analysis combining lead variants at all seven loci in 22,233 coronary artery disease cases and 64,762 controls showed an association of the alleles associated with shorter LTL with increased risk of CAD (21% (95% CI: 5–35%) per standard deviation in LTL, p=0.014). Our findings support a causal role of telomere length variation in some age-related diseases.
Blood pressure (BP) is a heritable determinant of risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). To investigate genetic associations with systolic BP (SBP), diastolic BP (DBP), mean arterial pressure (MAP) and pulse pressure (PP), we genotyped ∼50 000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that capture variation in ∼2100 candidate genes for cardiovascular phenotypes in 61 619 individuals of European ancestry from cohort studies in the USA and Europe. We identified novel associations between rs347591 and SBP (chromosome 3p25.3, in an intron of HRH1) and between rs2169137 and DBP (chromosome1q32.1 in an intron of MDM4) and between rs2014408 and SBP (chromosome 11p15 in an intron of SOX6), previously reported to be associated with MAP. We also confirmed 10 previously known loci associated with SBP, DBP, MAP or PP (ADRB1, ATP2B1, SH2B3/ATXN2, CSK, CYP17A1, FURIN, HFE, LSP1, MTHFR, SOX6) at array-wide significance (P < 2.4 × 10−6). We then replicated these associations in an independent set of 65 886 individuals of European ancestry. The findings from expression QTL (eQTL) analysis showed associations of SNPs in the MDM4 region with MDM4 expression. We did not find any evidence of association of the two novel SNPs in MDM4 and HRH1 with sequelae of high BP including coronary artery disease (CAD), left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) or stroke. In summary, we identified two novel loci associated with BP and confirmed multiple previously reported associations. Our findings extend our understanding of genes involved in BP regulation, some of which may eventually provide new targets for therapeutic intervention.
Not all obese subjects have an adverse metabolic profile predisposing them to developing type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. The BioSHaRE-EU Healthy Obese Project aims to gain insights into the consequences of (healthy) obesity using data on risk factors and phenotypes across several large-scale cohort studies. Aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of obesity, metabolic syndrome (MetS) and metabolically healthy obesity (MHO) in ten participating studies.
Ten different cohorts in seven countries were combined, using data transformed into a harmonized format. All participants were of European origin, with age 18–80 years. They had participated in a clinical examination for anthropometric and blood pressure measurements. Blood samples had been drawn for analysis of lipids and glucose. Presence of MetS was assessed in those with obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) based on the 2001 NCEP ATP III criteria, as well as an adapted set of less strict criteria. MHO was defined as obesity, having none of the MetS components, and no previous diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.
Data for 163,517 individuals were available; 17% were obese (11,465 men and 16,612 women). The prevalence of obesity varied from 11.6% in the Italian CHRIS cohort to 26.3% in the German KORA cohort. The age-standardized percentage of obese subjects with MetS ranged in women from 24% in CHRIS to 65% in the Finnish Health2000 cohort, and in men from 43% in CHRIS to 78% in the Finnish DILGOM cohort, with elevated blood pressure the most frequently occurring factor contributing to the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome. The age-standardized prevalence of MHO varied in women from 7% in Health2000 to 28% in NCDS, and in men from 2% in DILGOM to 19% in CHRIS. MHO was more prevalent in women than in men, and decreased with age in both sexes.
Through a rigorous harmonization process, the BioSHaRE-EU consortium was able to compare key characteristics defining the metabolically healthy obese phenotype across ten cohort studies. There is considerable variability in the prevalence of healthy obesity across the different European populations studied, even when unified criteria were used to classify this phenotype.
Harmonization; Obesity; Metabolic syndrome; Cardiovascular disease; Metabolically healthy
This study sought to investigate the role of secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2)-IIA in cardiovascular disease.
Higher circulating levels of sPLA2-IIA mass or sPLA2 enzyme activity have been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events. However, it is not clear if this association is causal. A recent phase III clinical trial of an sPLA2 inhibitor (varespladib) was stopped prematurely for lack of efficacy.
We conducted a Mendelian randomization meta-analysis of 19 general population studies (8,021 incident, 7,513 prevalent major vascular events [MVE] in 74,683 individuals) and 10 acute coronary syndrome (ACS) cohorts (2,520 recurrent MVE in 18,355 individuals) using rs11573156, a variant in PLA2G2A encoding the sPLA2-IIA isoenzyme, as an instrumental variable.
PLA2G2A rs11573156 C allele associated with lower circulating sPLA2-IIA mass (38% to 44%) and sPLA2 enzyme activity (3% to 23%) per C allele. The odds ratio (OR) for MVE per rs11573156 C allele was 1.02 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.98 to 1.06) in general populations and 0.96 (95% CI: 0.90 to 1.03) in ACS cohorts. In the general population studies, the OR derived from the genetic instrumental variable analysis for MVE for a 1-log unit lower sPLA2-IIA mass was 1.04 (95% CI: 0.96 to 1.13), and differed from the non-genetic observational estimate (OR: 0.69; 95% CI: 0.61 to 0.79). In the ACS cohorts, both the genetic instrumental variable and observational ORs showed a null association with MVE. Instrumental variable analysis failed to show associations between sPLA2 enzyme activity and MVE.
Reducing sPLA2-IIA mass is unlikely to be a useful therapeutic goal for preventing cardiovascular events.
cardiovascular diseases; drug development; epidemiology; genetics; Mendelian randomization; ACS, acute coronary syndrome(s); CI, confidence interval; LDL-C, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol; MI, myocardial infarction; MVE, major vascular events; OR, odds ratio; RCT, randomized clinical trial; SNP, single-nucleotide polymorphism; sPLA2, secretory phospholipase A2
Background The extent to which adult height, a biomarker of the interplay of genetic endowment and early-life experiences, is related to risk of chronic diseases in adulthood is uncertain.
Methods We calculated hazard ratios (HRs) for height, assessed in increments of 6.5 cm, using individual–participant data on 174 374 deaths or major non-fatal vascular outcomes recorded among 1 085 949 people in 121 prospective studies.
Results For people born between 1900 and 1960, mean adult height increased 0.5–1 cm with each successive decade of birth. After adjustment for age, sex, smoking and year of birth, HRs per 6.5 cm greater height were 0.97 (95% confidence interval: 0.96–0.99) for death from any cause, 0.94 (0.93–0.96) for death from vascular causes, 1.04 (1.03–1.06) for death from cancer and 0.92 (0.90–0.94) for death from other causes. Height was negatively associated with death from coronary disease, stroke subtypes, heart failure, stomach and oral cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, mental disorders, liver disease and external causes. In contrast, height was positively associated with death from ruptured aortic aneurysm, pulmonary embolism, melanoma and cancers of the pancreas, endocrine and nervous systems, ovary, breast, prostate, colorectum, blood and lung. HRs per 6.5 cm greater height ranged from 1.26 (1.12–1.42) for risk of melanoma death to 0.84 (0.80–0.89) for risk of death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. HRs were not appreciably altered after further adjustment for adiposity, blood pressure, lipids, inflammation biomarkers, diabetes mellitus, alcohol consumption or socio-economic indicators.
Conclusion Adult height has directionally opposing relationships with risk of death from several different major causes of chronic diseases.
Height; cardiovascular disease; cancer; cause-specific mortality; epidemiological study; meta-analysis
We conducted genome-wide association analyses of mean leukocyte telomere length in 2,917 subjects and follow-up replication analyses in 9,492 and identified a locus on 3q26 encompassing the telomerase RNA component TERC, with compelling evidence for association (rs12696304, combined P value 3.72×10−14). Each copy of the minor allele of rs12696304 was associated with ≈75 base pairs shorter mean telomere length equivalent to ≈3.6 years of age-related attrition of mean telomere length.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD), the result of permanent loss of kidney function, is a major global problem. We identify common genetic variants at chr2p12-p13, chr6q26, chr17q23 and chr19q13 associated with serum creatinine, a marker of kidney function (P=10−10 to 10−15). SNPs rs10206899 (near NAT8, chr2p12-p13) and rs4805834 (near SLC7A9, chr19q13) were also associated with CKD. Our findings provide new insight into metabolic, solute and drug-transport pathways underlying susceptibility to CKD.
Elevated serum urate concentrations can cause gout, a prevalent and painful inflammatory arthritis. By combining data from >140,000 individuals of European ancestry within the Global Urate Genetics Consortium (GUGC), we identified and replicated 28 genome-wide significant loci in association with serum urate concentrations (18 new regions in or near TRIM46, INHBB, SFMBT1, TMEM171, VEGFA, BAZ1B, PRKAG2, STC1, HNF4G, A1CF, ATXN2, UBE2Q2, IGF1R, NFAT5, MAF, HLF, ACVR1B-ACVRL1 and B3GNT4). Associations for many of the loci were of similar magnitude in individuals of non-European ancestry. We further characterized these loci for associations with gout, transcript expression and the fractional excretion of urate. Network analyses implicate the inhibins-activins signaling pathways and glucose metabolism in systemic urate control. New candidate genes for serum urate concentration highlight the importance of metabolic control of urate production and excretion, which may have implications for the treatment and prevention of gout.
We present an extension of the two-class multifactor dimensionality reduction (MDR) algorithm that enables detection and characterization of epistatic SNP-SNP interactions in the context of a quantitative trait. The proposed Quantitative MDR (QMDR) method handles continuous data by modifying MDR’s constructive induction algorithm to use a T-test. QMDR replaces the balanced accuracy metric with a T-test statistic as the score to determine the best interaction model. We used a simulation to identify the empirical distribution of QMDR’s testing score. We then applied QMDR to genetic data from the ongoing prospective Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-Stage Disease (PREVEND) study.
Given the anthropometric differences between men and women and previous evidence of sex-difference in genetic effects, we conducted a genome-wide search for sexually dimorphic associations with height, weight, body mass index, waist circumference, hip circumference, and waist-to-hip-ratio (133,723 individuals) and took forward 348 SNPs into follow-up (additional 137,052 individuals) in a total of 94 studies. Seven loci displayed significant sex-difference (FDR<5%), including four previously established (near GRB14/COBLL1, LYPLAL1/SLC30A10, VEGFA, ADAMTS9) and three novel anthropometric trait loci (near MAP3K1, HSD17B4, PPARG), all of which were genome-wide significant in women (P<5×10−8), but not in men. Sex-differences were apparent only for waist phenotypes, not for height, weight, BMI, or hip circumference. Moreover, we found no evidence for genetic effects with opposite directions in men versus women. The PPARG locus is of specific interest due to its role in diabetes genetics and therapy. Our results demonstrate the value of sex-specific GWAS to unravel the sexually dimorphic genetic underpinning of complex traits.
Men and women differ substantially regarding height, weight, and body fat. Interestingly, previous work detecting genetic effects for waist-to-hip ratio, to assess body fat distribution, has found that many of these showed sex-differences. However, systematic searches for sex-differences in genetic effects have not yet been conducted. Therefore, we undertook a genome-wide search for sexually dimorphic genetic effects for anthropometric traits including 133,723 individuals in a large meta-analysis and followed promising variants in further 137,052 individuals, including a total of 94 studies. We identified seven loci with significant sex-difference including four previously established (near GRB14/COBLL1, LYPLAL1/SLC30A10, VEGFA, ADAMTS9) and three novel anthropometric trait loci (near MAP3K1, HSD17B4, PPARG), all of which were significant in women, but not in men. Of interest is that sex-difference was only observed for waist phenotypes, but not for height or body-mass-index. We found no evidence for sex-differences with opposite effect direction for men and women. The PPARG locus is of specific interest due to its link to diabetes genetics and therapy. Our findings demonstrate the importance of investigating sex differences, which may lead to a better understanding of disease mechanisms with a potential relevance to treatment options.
Candidate gene association studies for peripheral artery disease (PAD), including subclinical disease assessed with the ankle-brachial index (ABI), have been limited by the modest number of genes examined. We conducted a two stage meta-analysis of ~50,000 SNPs across ~2100 candidate genes to identify genetic variants for ABI.
Methods and results
We studied subjects of European ancestry from 8 studies (n = 21,547, 55% women, mean age 44–73 years) and African American ancestry from 5 studies (n = 7267, 60% women, mean age 41–73 years) involved in the candidate gene association resource (CARe) consortium. In each ethnic group, additive genetic models were used (with each additional copy of the minor allele corresponding to the given beta) to test each SNP for association with continuous ABI (excluding ABI > 1.40) and PAD (defined as ABI < 0.90) using linear or logistic regression with adjustment for known PAD risk factors and population stratification. We then conducted a fixed-effects inverse-variance weighted meta-analyses considering a p < 2 × 10−6 to denote statistical significance.
In the European ancestry discovery meta-analyses, rs2171209 in SYTL3 (β = −0.007, p = 6.02 × 10−7) and rs290481 in TCF7L2 (β = −0.008, p = 7.01 × 10−7) were significantly associated with ABI. None of the SNP associations for PAD were significant, though a SNP in CYP2B6 (p = 4.99 × 10−5) was among the strongest associations. These 3 genes are linked to key PAD risk factors (lipoprotein(a), type 2 diabetes, and smoking behavior, respectively). We sought replication in 6 population-based and 3 clinical samples (n = 15,440) for rs290481 and rs2171209. However, in the replication stage (rs2171209, p = 0.75; rs290481, p = 0.19) and in the combined discovery and replication analysis the SNP–ABI associations were no longer significant (rs2171209, p = 1.14 × 10−3; rs290481, p = 8.88 × 10−5). In African Americans, none of the SNP associations for ABI or PAD achieved an experiment-wide level of significance.
Genetic determinants of ABI and PAD remain elusive. Follow-up of these preliminary findings may uncover important biology given the known gene-risk factor associations. New and more powerful approaches to PAD gene discovery are warranted.
Ankle brachial index; Peripheral artery disease; Genetics; Candidate gene array; Meta-analysis; Ethnicity
There is evidence across several species for genetic control of phenotypic variation of complex traits1–4, such that the variance among phenotypes is genotype dependent. Understanding genetic control of variability is important in evolutionary biology, agricultural selection programmes and human medicine, yet for complex traits, no individual genetic variants associated with variance, as opposed to the mean, have been identified. Here we perform a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of phenotypic variation using 170,000 samples on height and body mass index (BMI) in human populations. We report evidence that the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs7202116 at the FTO gene locus, which is known to be associated with obesity (as measured by mean BMI for each rs7202116 genotype)5–7, is also associated with phenotypic variability. We show that the results are not due to scale effects or other artefacts, and find no other experiment-wise significant evidence for effects on variability, either at loci other than FTO for BMI or at any locus for height. The difference in variance for BMI among individuals with opposite homozygous genotypes at the FTO locus is approximately 7%, corresponding to a difference of 0.5 kilograms in the standard deviation of weight. Our results indicate that genetic variants can be discovered that are associated with variability, and that between-person variability in obesity can partly be explained by the genotype at the FTO locus. The results are consistent with reported FTO by environment interactions for BMI8, possibly mediated by DNA methylation9,10. Our BMI results for other SNPs and our height results for all SNPs suggest that most genetic variants, including those that influence mean height or mean BMI, are not associated with phenotypic variance, or that their effects on variability are too small to detect even with samples sizes greater than 100,000.
Anaemia is a chief determinant of globalill health, contributing to cognitive impairment, growth retardation and impaired physical capacity. To understand further the genetic factors influencing red blood cells, we carried out a genome-wide association study of haemoglobin concentration and related parameters in up to 135,367 individuals. Here we identify 75 independent genetic loci associated with one or more red blood cell phenotypes at P <10−8, which together explain 4–9% of the phenotypic variance per trait. Using expression quantitative trait loci and bioinformatic strategies, we identify 121 candidate genes enriched in functions relevant to red blood cell biology. The candidate genes are expressed preferentially in red blood cell precursors, and 43 have haematopoietic phenotypes in Mus musculus or Drosophila melanogaster. Through open-chromatin and coding-variant analyses we identify potential causal genetic variants at 41 loci. Our findings provide extensive new insights into genetic mechanisms and biological pathways controlling red blood cell formation and function.
Through genome-wide association meta-analyses of up to 133,010 individuals of European ancestry without diabetes, including individuals newly genotyped using the Metabochip, we have raised the number of confirmed loci influencing glycemic traits to 53, of which 33 also increase type 2 diabetes risk (q < 0.05). Loci influencing fasting insulin showed association with lipid levels and fat distribution, suggesting impact on insulin resistance. Gene-based analyses identified further biologically plausible loci, suggesting that additional loci beyond those reaching genome-wide significance are likely to represent real associations. This conclusion is supported by an excess of directionally consistent and nominally significant signals between discovery and follow-up studies. Functional follow-up of these newly discovered loci will further improve our understanding of glycemic control.