Alcohol consumption is a known risk factor for hypertension, with recent candidate studies implicating gene-alcohol interactions in blood pressure (BP) regulation. We used 6882 (predominantly) Caucasian participants aged 20-80 years from the Framingham SNP Health Association Resource (SHARe) to perform a genome-wide analysis of SNP-alcohol interactions on BP traits. We used a two-step approach in the ABEL suite to examine genetic interactions with three alcohol measures (ounces of alcohol consumed per week, drinks consumed per week, and the number of days drinking alcohol per week) on four BP traits [systolic (SBP), diastolic (DBP), mean arterial (MAP), and pulse (PP) pressure]. In the first step, we fit a linear mixed model of each BP trait onto age, sex, BMI, and antihypertensive medication while accounting for the phenotypic correlation among relatives. In the second step, we conducted 1 degree-of-freedom (df) score tests of the SNP main effect, alcohol main effect, and SNP-alcohol interaction using the maximum likelihood estimates (MLE) of the parameters from the first step. We then calculated the joint 2 df score test of the SNP main effect and SNP-alcohol interaction using MixABEL. The effect of SNP rs10826334 (near SLC16A9) on SBP was significantly modulated by both the number of alcoholic drinks and the ounces of alcohol consumed per week (p-values of 1.27E-08 and 3.92E-08, respectively). Each copy of the G-allele decreased SBP by 3.79 mmHg in those consuming 14 drinks per week vs. a 0.461 mmHg decrease in non-drinkers. Index SNPs in 20 other loci exhibited suggestive (p-value ≤ 1E-06) associations with BP traits by the 1 df interaction test or joint 2 df test, including 3 rare variants, one low-frequency variant, and SNPs near/in genes ESRRG, FAM179A, CRIPT-SOCS5, KAT2B, ADCY2, GLI3, ZNF716, SLIT1, PDE3A, KERA-LUM, RNF219-AS1, CLEC3A, FBXO15, and IGSF5. SNP-alcohol interactions may enhance discovery of novel variants with large effects that can be targeted with lifestyle modifications.
Keywords: GWAS; alcohol; blood pressure; gene-alcohol interactions; gene-lifestyle interactions; genome-wide; hypertension; interaction.