Carotid intima-media thickness in UK Biobank: Identification of novel genome-wide loci, sex-specific effects and genetic correlations with obesity and glucometabolic traits.
Rona J Strawbridge,
Mark E S Bailey,
Keira J.A. Johnston,
Laura M. Lyall,
Richard John Shaw,
Donald M. Lyall,
Daniel J Smith
Posted 30 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/718684
Posted 30 Jul 2019
Objectives: Atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of most cardiovascular disease, but mechanisms underlying atherosclerosis are incompletely understood. Ultra-sound measurement of the carotid artery intima-media thickness (cIMT) can be used to measure vascular remodelling, which is indicative of atherosclerosis. Genome-wide association studies have identified a number of genetic loci associated with cIMT, but heterogeneity of measurements collected by many small cohorts have been a major limitation in these efforts. Here we conducted genome-wide association analyses in UK Biobank (N=22,179), the largest single study with consistent cIMT measurements. Approach and results: We used BOLT-LMM to run linear regression of cIMT in UK Biobank, adjusted for age, sex, genotyping platform and population structure. In white British participants, we identified 4 novel loci associated with cIMT and replicated most previously reported loci. In the first sex-specific analyses of cIMT, we identified a female-specific locus on Chromosome 5, associated with cIMT in women only and highlight VCAN as a good candidate gene at this locus. Genetic correlations with body-mass index and glucometabolic traits were also observed. Conclusion: These findings replicate previously reported associations, highlight novel biology and provide new directions for investigating the sex differences observed in cardiovascular disease presentation and progression.
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