Trans-ethnic meta-analysis identifies common and rare variants associated with hepatocyte growth factor levels in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)

Ann Hum Genet. 2015 Jul;79(4):264-74. doi: 10.1111/ahg.12119. Epub 2015 May 22.


Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a mesenchyme-derived pleiotropic factor that regulates cell growth, motility, mitogenesis, and morphogenesis in a variety of cells, and increased serum levels of HGF have been linked to a number of clinical and subclinical cardiovascular disease phenotypes. However, little is currently known regarding which genetic factors influence HGF levels, despite evidence of substantial genetic contributions to HGF variation. Based upon ethnicity-stratified single-variant association analysis and trans-ethnic meta-analysis of 6201 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), we discovered five statistically significant common and low-frequency variants: HGF missense polymorphism rs5745687 (p.E299K) as well as four variants (rs16844364, rs4690098, rs114303452, rs3748034) within or in proximity to HGFAC. We also identified two significant ethnicity-specific gene-level associations (A1BG in African Americans; FASN in Chinese Americans) based upon low-frequency/rare variants, while meta-analysis of gene-level results identified a significant association for HGFAC. However, identified single-variant associations explained modest proportions of the total trait variation and were not significantly associated with coronary artery calcium or coronary heart disease. Our findings indicate that genetic factors influencing circulating HGF levels may be complex and ethnically diverse.

Keywords: Protein; circulation; genetic association; genome-wide analysis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis / ethnology*
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Cohort Studies
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / blood*
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / genetics
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Serine Endopeptidases / genetics*
  • United States


  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • HGF activator
  • Serine Endopeptidases

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