C-reactive protein (CRP) is a systemic inflammation marker that predicts future cardiovascular risk. CRP levels are higher in African Americans and Hispanic Americans than in European Americans, but the genetic determinants of CRP in these admixed United States minority populations are largely unknown. We performed genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of 8,280 African American (AA) and 3,548 Hispanic American (HA) postmenopausal women from the Women's Health Initiative SNP Health Association Resource. We discovered and validated a CRP-associated variant of triggering receptors expressed by myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) in chromosomal region 6p21 (p = 10(-10)). The TREM2 variant associated with higher CRP is common in Africa but rare in other ancestral populations. In AA women, the CRP region in 1q23 contained a strong admixture association signal (p = 10(-17)), which appears to be related to several independent CRP-associated alleles; the strongest of these is present only in African ancestral populations and is associated with higher CRP. Of the other genomic loci previously associated with CRP through GWASs of European populations, most loci (LEPR, IL1RN, IL6R, GCKR, NLRP3, HNF1A, HNF4A, and APOC1) showed consistent patterns of association with CRP in AA and HA women. In summary, we have identified a common TREM2 variant associated with CRP in United States minority populations. The genetic architecture underlying the CRP phenotype in AA women is complex and involves genetic variants shared across populations, as well as variants specific to populations of African descent.
Copyright © 2012 The American Society of Human Genetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.