Dental caries continues to be the most common chronic disease in children today. Despite the substantial involvement of genetics in the process of caries development, the specific genes contributing to dental caries remain largely unknown. We performed separate genome-wide association studies of smooth and pit-and-fissure tooth surface caries experience in the primary dentitions of self-reported white children in two samples from Iowa and rural Appalachia. In total, 1,006 children (ages 3-12 years) were included for smooth surface analysis, and 979 children (ages 4-14 years) for pit-and-fissure surface analysis. Associations were tested for more than 1.2 million single nucleotide polymorphisms, either genotyped or imputed. We detected genome-wide significant signals in KPNA4 (p value = 2.0E-9), and suggestive signals in ITGAL (p value = 2.1E-7) and PLUNC family genes (p value = 2.0E-6), thus nominating these novel loci as putative caries susceptibility genes. We also replicated associations observed in previous studies for MPPED2 (p value = 6.9E-6), AJAP1 (p value = 1.6E-6) and RPS6KA2 (p value = 7.3E-6). Replication of these associations in additional samples, as well as experimental studies to determine the biological functions of associated genetic variants, are warranted. Ultimately, efforts such as this may lead to a better understanding of caries etiology, and could eventually facilitate the development of new interventions and preventive measures.
© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.