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Background: Latin Americans and Chilean Amerindians have the highest prevalence of cholesterol gallstone disease (GSD) and gallbladder cancer (GBC) in the world. A handful of loci have been associated with GSD in populations of predominantly European ancestry, however they only explain a small portion of the population-attributable risk of the disease. Methods: We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for GSD in 1,095 admixed Latinos with Mapuche Native American Ancestry, followed by a replication analysis of 10 candidate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with suggestive genome-wide significance (P<1x10-5) in 1,643 individuals. Disease status was assessed by cholecystectomy or abdominal ultrasonography. Logistic regression analyses were adjusted for age, sex, BMI, Type 2 Diabetes and Amerindian ancestry. Associated variants were further examined in two large GSD European populations and in a Chilean gallbladder cancer (GBC) cohort. We determined the expression levels of a novel GSD-candidate gene in normal and GSD-tissue samples. Results: We consistently replicated the ABCG8 gene (rs11887534; P=3.24x10-8, OR=1.74) associated with GSD in admixed Latinos and identified a novel candidate signal within the TRAF3 gene on chromosome 14 (rs12882491; P=1.11x10-7, OR=1.40). ABCG8 and TRAF3 variants also conferred risk to GBC. Gene expression analyses indicated that TRAF3 levels were significantly decreased in the gallbladder (P=0.015) and the duodenal mucosa (P=0.001) of affected GSD individuals compared to healthy controls. Conclusions: We confirmed ABCG8 and identified TRAF3 both associated with GSD and GBC in admixed Latinos. Decreased TRAF3 expression levels could enhance gallbladder inflammation as is observed in GSD and GSD-associated GBC.

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