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Genome-wide association study of plasma triglycerides, phospholipids and relation to cardio-metabolic risk factors

By Ayse Demirkan, Rene Pool, Joris Deelen, Marian Beekman, Jun Liu, Amy C Harms, Anika Varhoorst, Fiona A. Hagenbeek, Gonneke Willemsen, Aswin Verhoeven, Najaf Amin, Ko Willems van Dijk, Thomas Hankemeier, Dorret I Boomsma, Eline Slagboom, Cornelia M. van Duijn

Posted 03 May 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/621334

There is continuous interest in the genetic determinants of plasma triglycerides (TGs) and phospholipids and their role in the etiology of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Here, we report the results of a Dutch genome wide association study (GWAS) of an in-house developed lipidomics platform, focusing on 90 plasma lipids. Lipids were assessed by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry in participants from the Leiden Longevity Study, the Netherlands Twin Register and the Erasmus Rucphen Family (ERF) study and meta-analysed, resulting in a sample size of 5537 participants. In addition, we performed genetic correlation analyses between the 90 plasma lipids and markers of metabolic health, as well as vascular pathology and CVD combining our GWAS results with publicly available GWAS outputs. We replicated previously known associations between 34 lipids and 10 lipid quantitative trait loci (lipQTL) (GCKR, APOA1, FADS1, SGPP1,TMEM229B, LIPC, PDXDC1, CETP, CERS4 and SPTLC3) with metabolome-wide (P < 1.61 x 10-9 ) significance. Moreover, we report 6 novel phospholipid-related and 5 triglyceride (TG)-related loci: SGGP1 (SM21:0), SPTLC3 (SM21:0 and SM25:1), FADS1 (LPCO16:1, PC38:2, PEO36:5, PEO38:5, TG56:5, TG56:6, and TG56:7), TMEM229 (LPCO16:1), GCKR (TG50:2), and APOA1 (TG54:4). In addition, we report suggestively significant (P < 5 x 10-8) associations mapping to eleven novel lipid quantitative trait loci (lipQTLs), three of which are supported by mining previous GWAS data: MAU (PC34:4), LDLR (SM16:0), and MLXIPL (TG48:1 and TG50:1)). Genetic correlation analysis indicates that one specific sphingomyelin, SM22:0, shares common genetic background with CVD. Levels of SM22:0 also positively associate with carotid artery intima-media thickness in the ERF study, and this observation is independent of LDL-C level. Our findings yield higher resolution of plasma lipid species and new insights in the biology of circulating phosholipids and their relation to CVD risk.

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