Elevated serum uric acid levels cause gout and are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. To investigate the polygenetic basis of serum uric acid levels, we conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association scans from 14 studies totalling 28,141 participants of European descent, resulting in identification of 954 SNPs distributed across nine loci that exceeded the threshold of genome-wide significance, five of which are novel. Overall, the common variants associated with serum uric acid levels fall in the following nine regions: SLC2A9 (p = 5.2×10−201), ABCG2 (p = 3.1×10−26), SLC17A1 (p = 3.0×10−14), SLC22A11 (p = 6.7×10−14), SLC22A12 (p = 2.0×10−9), SLC16A9 (p = 1.1×10−8), GCKR (p = 1.4×10−9), LRRC16A (p = 8.5×10−9), and near PDZK1 (p = 2.7×10−9). Identified variants were analyzed for gender differences. We found that the minor allele for rs734553 in SLC2A9 has greater influence in lowering uric acid levels in women and the minor allele of rs2231142 in ABCG2 elevates uric acid levels more strongly in men compared to women. To further characterize the identified variants, we analyzed their association with a panel of metabolites. rs12356193 within SLC16A9 was associated with DL-carnitine (p = 4.0×10−26) and propionyl-L-carnitine (p = 5.0×10−8) concentrations, which in turn were associated with serum UA levels (p = 1.4×10−57 and p = 8.1×10−54, respectively), forming a triangle between SNP, metabolites, and UA levels. Taken together, these associations highlight additional pathways that are important in the regulation of serum uric acid levels and point toward novel potential targets for pharmacological intervention to prevent or treat hyperuricemia. In addition, these findings strongly support the hypothesis that transport proteins are key in regulating serum uric acid levels.
Elevated serum uric acid levels cause gout and are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The regulation of serum uric acid levels is under a strong genetic control. This study describes the first meta-analysis of genome-wide association scans from 14 studies totalling 28,141 participants of European descent. We show that common DNA variants at nine different loci are associated with uric acid concentrations, five of which are novel. These variants are located within the genes coding for organic anion transporter 4 (SLC22A11), monocarboxylic acid transporter 9 (SLC16A9), glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR), Carmil (LRRC16A), and near PDZ domain-containing 1 (PDZK1). Gender-specific effects are shown for variants within the recently identified genes coding for glucose transporter 9 (SLC2A9) and the ATP-binding cassette transporter (ABCG2). Based on screening of 163 metabolites, we show an association of one of the identified variants within SLC16A9 with DL-carnitine and propionyl-L-carnitine. Moreover, DL-carnitine and propionyl-L-carnitine were strongly correlated with serum UA levels, forming a triangle between SNP, metabolites and UA levels. Taken together, these associations highlight pathways that are important in the regulation of serum uric acid levels and point toward novel potential targets for pharmacological intervention to prevent or treat hyperuricemia.