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A genome-wide association study finds genetic variants associated with neck or shoulder pain in UK Biobank

By Weihua Meng, Brian W Chan, Cameron Harris, Maxim Freidin, Harry L Hebert, Mark J Adams, Caroline Hayward, Hua Zheng, Xianwei Zhang, Lesley A Colvin, Tim G Hales, Colin N.A. Palmer, Frances MK Williams, Andrew M. McIntosh, Blair H Smith

Posted 21 Jan 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.20.913228 (published DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddaa058)

Background: Common types of musculoskeletal conditions include pain in the neck and shoulder areas. This study seeks to identify the genetic variants associated with neck or shoulder pain based on a genome-wide association approach using 203,309 subjects from the UK Biobank cohort and look for replication evidence from the Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study (GS:SFHS) and TwinsUK. Methods: Cases in the UK Biobank were determined by a question which asked the participants if they had experienced pain in the neck or shoulder in the previous month influencing daily activities. Controls were the UK Biobank participants who reported no pain anywhere in the last month. A genome-wide association study was performed adjusting for age, sex, BMI and 9 population principal components. Significant and independent genetic variants were then sent to GS:SFHS and TwinsUK for replication. Results: We identified 3 genetic loci that were associated with neck or shoulder pain in the UK Biobank samples. The most significant locus was in an intergenic region in chromosome 17, rs12453010, having P = 1.66 x 10-11. The second most significant locus was located in the FOXP2 gene in chromosome 7 with P = 2.38 x 10-10 for rs34291892. The third locus was located in the LINC01572 gene in chromosome 16 with P = 4.50 x 10-8 for rs62053992. In the replication stage, among 4 significant and independent genetic variants, rs2049604 in the FOXP2 gene and rs62053992 in the LINC01572 gene were weakly replicated in GS:SFHS (P = 0.024 and P = 0.020, respectively). None of the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were replicated in the TwinsUK cohort (P > 0.05). Conclusions: We have identified 3 loci associated with neck or shoulder pain in the UK Biobank cohort, two of which were weakly supported in a replication cohort. Further evidence is needed to confirm their roles in neck or shoulder pain. Key words: neck pain, shoulder pain, GWAS, genetics, FOXP2, UK Biobank

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