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Genetic variants related to antihypertensive targets inform drug efficacy and side effects

By Dipender Gill, Marios K Georgakis, Fotios Koskeridis, Lan Jiang, Qiping Feng, Wei-Qi Wei, Evropi Theodoratou, Paul Elliott, Joshua C Denny, Rainer Malik, Evangelos Evangelou, Abbas Dehghan, Martin Dichgans, Ioanna Tzoulaki

Posted 05 Nov 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/460543 (published DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.038814)

Background: Drug effects can be investigated through natural variation in the genes for their protein targets. We aimed to use this approach to explore the potential side effects and repurposing potential of antihypertensive drugs, which are amongst the most commonly used medications worldwide. Methods: We identified genetic instruments for antihypertensive drug classes as variants in the gene for the corresponding target that associated with systolic blood pressure at genome-wide significance. To validate the instruments, we compared Mendelian randomisation (MR) estimates for drug effects on coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke risk to randomised controlled trial (RCT) results. Phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) in the UK Biobank was performed to identify potential side effects and repurposing opportunities, with findings investigated in the Vanderbilt University Biobank (BioVU) and in observational analysis of the UK Biobank. Findings: We identified suitable genetic instruments for beta-blockers (BBs) and calcium channel blockers (CCBs). MR estimates for their effect on CHD and stroke risk respectively were comparable to results from RCTs against placebo. PheWAS in the UK Biobank identified an association of the CCB genetic risk score (scaled to drug effect) with increased risk of diverticulosis (odds ratio [OR] 1.23, 95%CI 1.10-1.38), with a consistent estimate found in BioVU (OR 1.16, 95%CI 0.94-1.44). Association with diverticulosis was further supported in observational analysis of CCB use in the UK Biobank (OR 1.08, 95%CI 1.02-1.15). Interpretation: We identified valid genetic instruments for BBs and CCBs. Using genetic and observational approaches, we highlighted a previously unreported potential detrimental effect of CCBs on risk of diverticulosis. This work serves as a proof of concept that investigation of genetic variants can offer a complementary approach to exploring the efficacy and side effects of anti-hypertensive medications.

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