Background: Pulmonary function decline is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality among smokers. Post bronchodilator FEV1 and FEV1/FVC ratio are considered the standard assessment of airflow obstruction. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 9919 current and former smokers in the COPDGene study (6659 non-Hispanic Whites [NHW] and 3260 African Americans [AA]) to identify associations with spirometric measures (post-bronchodilator FEV1 and FEV1/FVC). We also conducted meta-analysis of FEV1 and FEV1/FVC GWAS in the COPDGene, ECLIPSE, and GenKOLS cohorts (total n = 13,532).
Results: Among NHW in the COPDGene cohort, both measures of pulmonary function were significantly associated with SNPs at the 15q25 locus [containing CHRNA3/5, AGPHD1, IREB2, CHRNB4] (lowest p-value = 2.17 × 10(-11)), and FEV1/FVC was associated with a genomic region on chromosome 4 [upstream of HHIP] (lowest p-value = 5.94 × 10(-10)); both regions have been previously associated with COPD. For the meta-analysis, in addition to confirming associations to the regions near CHRNA3/5 and HHIP, genome-wide significant associations were identified for FEV1 on chromosome 1 [TGFB2] (p-value = 8.99 × 10(-9)), 9 [DBH] (p-value = 9.69 × 10(-9)) and 19 [CYP2A6/7] (p-value = 3.49 × 10(-8)) and for FEV1/FVC on chromosome 1 [TGFB2] (p-value = 8.99 × 10(-9)), 4 [FAM13A] (p-value = 3.88 × 10(-12)), 11 [MMP3/12] (p-value = 3.29 × 10(-10)) and 14 [RIN3] (p-value = 5.64 × 10(-9)).
Conclusions: In a large genome-wide association study of lung function in smokers, we found genome-wide significant associations at several previously described loci with lung function or COPD. We additionally identified a novel genome-wide significant locus with FEV1 on chromosome 9 [DBH] in a meta-analysis of three study populations.