Background: The genetic background of atrial fibrillation (AF) in whites and African Americans is largely unknown. Genes in cardiovascular pathways have not been systematically investigated.
Methods and results: We examined a panel of approximately 50,000 common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 2095 cardiovascular candidate genes and AF in 3 cohorts with participants of European (n=18,524; 2260 cases) or African American descent (n=3662; 263 cases) in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Candidate Gene Association Resource. Results in whites were followed up in the German Competence Network for AF (n=906, 468 cases). The top result was assessed in relation to incident ischemic stroke in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology Stroke Consortium (n=19,602 whites, 1544 incident strokes). SNP rs4845625 in the IL6R gene was associated with AF (relative risk [RR] C allele, 0.90; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.85-0.95; P=0.0005) in whites but did not reach statistical significance in African Americans (RR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.72-1.03; P=0.09). The results were comparable in the German AF Network replication, (RR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.57-0.89; P=0.003). No association between rs4845625 and stroke was observed in whites. The known chromosome 4 locus near PITX2 in whites also was associated with AF in African Americans (rs4611994; hazard ratio, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.16-1.69; P=0.0005).
Conclusions: In a community-based cohort meta-analysis, we identified genetic association in IL6R with AF in whites. Additionally, we demonstrated that the chromosome 4 locus known from recent genome-wide association studies in whites is associated with AF in African Americans.