Objective: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) has emerged as a leading cause of death in systemic sclerosis (SSc). The genetic basis of PAH has been unraveled in recent years, with a major role played by transforming growth factor β receptors; however, some other candidate genes have also been advocated, including potassium voltage-gated channel, shaker-related subfamily, member 5 (KCNA5). We undertook this study to determine whether KCNA5 polymorphisms confer susceptibility to SSc and its vascular phenotype, including PAH.
Methods: Four KCNA5 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs10744676, rs1860420, rs3741930, and rs2284136, were genotyped in a discovery set of 638 SSc patients and 469 controls. In addition, rs10744676 was genotyped in an independent replication sample (938 SSc patients and 564 controls) and in a cohort of 168 patients with different PAH subtypes.
Results: The KCNA5 rs10744676 variant was found to be associated with SSc in the discovery sample, with an odds ratio (OR) of 0.62 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.48-0.79, adjusted P = 0.0003) in comparison with controls (C allele frequency 11.4% versus 17.2%). When subphenotypes were investigated, an association was found solely for PAH associated with SSc (OR 0.31 [95% CI 0.13-0.71], adjusted P = 0.04). The other KCNA5 SNPs tested were not associated with any SSc subset. The above association with PAH associated with SSc was replicated in the second set. In the combined population, rs10744676 was strongly associated with PAH associated with SSc in comparison with controls (OR 0.36 [95% CI 0.21-0.63], P = 0.0002). In the independent cohort of patients with PAH, after investigating PAH subtypes, only rs10744676 showed an association with PAH associated with SSc.
Conclusion: Our results provide the first evidence for an association between the KCNA5 rs10744676 variant and PAH associated with SSc.