Can genetic pleiotropy replicate common clinical constellations of cardiovascular disease and risk?

PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e46419. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046419. Epub 2012 Sep 28.

Abstract

The relationship between obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease (CVD) is established when looked at from a clinical, epidemiological or pathophysiological perspective. Yet, when viewed from a genetic perspective, there is comparatively little data synthesis that these conditions have an underlying relationship. We sought to investigate the overlap of genetic variants independently associated with each of these commonly co-existing conditions from the NHGRI genome-wide association study (GWAS) catalog, in an attempt to replicate the established notion of shared pathophysiology and risk. We used pathway-based analyses to detect subsets of pleiotropic genes involved in similar biological processes. We identified 107 eligible GWAS studies related to CVD and its established comorbidities and risk factors and assigned genes that correspond to the associated signals based on their position. We found 44 positional genes shared across at least two CVD-related phenotypes that independently recreated the established relationship between the six phenotypes, but only if studies representing non-European populations were included. Seven genes revealed pleiotropy across three or more phenotypes, mostly related to lipid transport and metabolism. Yet, many genes had no relationship to each other or to genes with established functional connection. Whilst we successfully reproduced established relationships between CVD risk factors using GWAS findings, interpretation of biological pathways involved in the observed pleiotropy was limited. Further studies linking genetic variation to gene expression, as well as describing novel biological pathways will be needed to take full advantage of GWAS results.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / ethnology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / genetics*
  • Data Mining
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Genetic Pleiotropy*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / ethnology
  • Hyperlipidemias / genetics*
  • Hypertension / ethnology
  • Hypertension / genetics*
  • Kidney Diseases / ethnology
  • Kidney Diseases / genetics*
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology