2018 › Trails



GWAS: A large-scale multi-ancestry genome-wide study accounting for smoking behavior identifies multiple significant loci for blood pressure

Authors: Sung YJ, Winkler TW, de Las Fuentes L, Bentley AR, Brown MR, Kraja AT, Schwander K, e.a.

Genome-wide association analysis advanced understanding of blood pressure (BP), a major risk factor for vascular conditions such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Accounting for smoking behavior may help identify BP loci and extend our knowledge of its genetic architecture. We performed genome-wide association meta-analyses of systolic and diastolic BP incorporating gene-smoking interactions in 610,091 individuals. Stage 1 analysis examined ∼18.8 million SNPs and small insertion/deletion variants in 129,913 individuals from four ancestries (European, African, Asian, and Hispanic) with follow-up analysis of promising variants in 480,178 additional individuals from five ancestries. We identified 15 loci that were genome-wide significant (p < 5 × 10-8) in stage 1 and formally replicated in stage 2. A combined stage 1 and 2 meta-analysis identified 66 additional genome-wide significant loci (13, 35, and 18 loci in European, African, and trans-ancestry, respectively). A total of 56 known BP loci were also identified by our results (p < 5 × 10-8). Of the newly identified loci, ten showed significant interaction with smoking status, but none of them were replicated in stage 2. Several loci were identified in African ancestry, highlighting the importance of genetic studies in diverse populations. The identified loci show strong evidence for regulatory features and support shared pathophysiology with cardiometabolic and addiction traits. They also highlight a role in BP regulation for biological candidates such as modulators of vascular structure and function (CDKN1B, BCAR1-CFDP1, PXDN, EEA1), ciliopathies (SDCCAG8, RPGRIP1L), telomere maintenance (TNKS, PINX1, AKTIP), and central dopaminergic signaling (MSRA, EBF2).

Copyright © 2018 American Society of Human Genetics. All rights reserved.

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GWAS: GWAS of lifetime cannabis use reveals new risk loci, genetic overlap with psychiatric traits, and a causal influence of schizophrenia

Authors: Pasman JA, Verweij KJH, Gerring Z, Stringer S, Sanchez-Roige S, Treur JL, Abdellaoui A, et al.

Cannabis use is a heritable trait that has been associated with adverse mental health outcomes. In the largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) for lifetime cannabis use to date (N = 184,765), we identified eight genome-wide significant independent single nucleotide polymorphisms in six regions. All measured genetic variants combined explained 11% of the variance. Gene-based tests revealed 35 significant genes in 16 regions, and S-PrediXcan analyses showed that 21 genes had different expression levels for cannabis users versus nonusers. The strongest finding across the different analyses was CADM2, which has been associated with substance use and risk-taking. Significant genetic correlations were found with 14 of 25 tested substance use and mental health-related traits, including smoking, alcohol use, schizophrenia and risk-taking. Mendelian randomization analysis showed evidence for a causal positive influence of schizophrenia risk on cannabis use. Overall, our study provides new insights into the etiology of cannabis use and its relation with mental health.

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GWAS: Genetic analysis of over 1 million people identifies 535 new loci associated with blood pressure traits

Authors: Evangelou E, Warren HR, Mosen-Ansorena D, Mifsud B, Pazoki R, Gao H, Ntritsos G, et al.

High blood pressure is a highly heritable and modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. We report the largest genetic association study of blood pressure traits (systolic, diastolic and pulse pressure) to date in over 1 million people of European ancestry. We identify 535 novel blood pressure loci that not only offer new biological insights into blood pressure regulation but also highlight shared genetic architecture between blood pressure and lifestyle exposures. Our findings identify new biological pathways for blood pressure regulation with potential for improved cardiovascular disease prevention in the future.

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GWAS: Genome Analyses of >200,000 Individuals Identify 58 Loci for Chronic Inflammation and Highlight Pathways that Link Inflammation and Complex Disorders

Authors: Ligthart S, Vaez A, Võsa U, Stathopoulou MG, de Vries PS, Prins BP, Van der Most PJ, et al.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a sensitive biomarker of chronic low-grade inflammation and is associated with multiple complex diseases. The genetic determinants of chronic inflammation remain largely unknown, and the causal role of CRP in several clinical outcomes is debated. We performed two genome-wide association studies (GWASs), on HapMap and 1000 Genomes imputed data, of circulating amounts of CRP by using data from 88 studies comprising 204,402 European individuals. Additionally, we performed in silico functional analyses and Mendelian randomization analyses with several clinical outcomes. The GWAS meta-analyses of CRP revealed 58 distinct genetic loci (p < 5 × 10-8). After adjustment for body mass index in the regression analysis, the associations at all except three loci remained. The lead variants at the distinct loci explained up to 7.0% of the variance in circulating amounts of CRP. We identified 66 gene sets that were organized in two substantially correlated clusters, one mainly composed of immune pathways and the other characterized by metabolic pathways in the liver. Mendelian randomization analyses revealed a causal protective effect of CRP on schizophrenia and a risk-increasing effect on bipolar disorder. Our findings provide further insights into the biology of inflammation and could lead to interventions for treating inflammation and its clinical consequences.

Copyright © 2018 American Society of Human Genetics. All rights reserved.

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GWAS: Genome-wide association meta-analysis of age at first cannabis use

Authors: Minică CC, Verweij KJH, van der Most PJ, Mbarek H, Bernard M, van Eijk KR, Lind PA, et al.

Background and aims. Cannabis is one of the most commonly used substances among adolescents and young adults. Earlier age at cannabis initiation is linked to adverse life outcomes, including multi-substance use and dependence. This study estimated the heritability of age at first cannabis use and identified associations with genetic variants. Methods. A twin-based heritability analysis using 8055 twins from three cohorts was performed. We then carried out a genome-wide association meta-analysis of age at first cannabis use in a discovery sample of 24 953 individuals from nine European, North American and Australian cohorts, and a replication sample of 3735 individuals. Results. The twin-based heritability for age at first cannabis use was 38% [95% confidence interval (CI) = 19-60%]. Shared and unique environmental factors explained 39% (95% CI = 20-56%) and 22% (95% CI = 16-29%). The genome-wide association meta-analysis identified five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on chromosome 16 within the calcium-transporting ATPase gene (ATP2C2) at P < 5E-08. All five SNPs are in high linkage disequilibrium (LD) (r2  > 0.8), with the strongest association at the intronic variant rs1574587 (P = 4.09E-09). Gene-based tests of association identified the ATP2C2 gene on 16q24.1 (P = 1.33e-06). Although the five SNPs and ATP2C2 did not replicate, ATP2C2 has been associated with cocaine dependence in a previous study. ATP2B2, which is a member of the same calcium signalling pathway, has been associated previously with opioid dependence. SNP-based heritability for age at first cannabis use was non-significant. Conclusion. Age at cannabis initiation appears to be moderately heritable in western countries, and individual differences in onset can be explained by separate but correlated genetic liabilities. The significant association between age of initiation and ATP2C2 is consistent with the role of calcium signalling mechanisms in substance use disorders.

© 2018 Society for the Study of Addiction.

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GWAS: Novel genetic associations for blood pressure identified via gene-alcohol interaction in up to 570K individuals across multiple ancestries

Authors: Feitosa MF, Kraja AT, Chasman DI, Sung YJ, Winkler TW, Ntalla I, Guo X, et al.

Heavy alcohol consumption is an established risk factor for hypertension; the mechanism by which alcohol consumption impact blood pressure (BP) regulation remains unknown. We hypothesized that a genome-wide association study accounting for gene-alcohol consumption interaction for BP might identify additional BP loci and contribute to the understanding of alcohol-related BP regulation. We conducted a large two-stage investigation incorporating joint testing of main genetic effects and single nucleotide variant (SNV)-alcohol consumption interactions. In Stage 1, genome-wide discovery meta-analyses in ≈131K individuals across several ancestry groups yielded 3,514 SNVs (245 loci) with suggestive evidence of association (P < 1.0 x 10-5). In Stage 2, these SNVs were tested for independent external replication in ≈440K individuals across multiple ancestries. We identified and replicated (at Bonferroni correction threshold) five novel BP loci (380 SNVs in 21 genes) and 49 previously reported BP loci (2,159 SNVs in 109 genes) in European ancestry, and in multi-ancestry meta-analyses (P < 5.0 x 10-8). For African ancestry samples, we detected 18 potentially novel BP loci (P < 5.0 x 10-8) in Stage 1 that warrant further replication. Additionally, correlated meta-analysis identified eight novel BP loci (11 genes). Several genes in these loci (e.g., PINX1, GATA4, BLK, FTO and GABBR2) have been previously reported to be associated with alcohol consumption. These findings provide insights into the role of alcohol consumption in the genetic architecture of hypertension.

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