Background & aims: Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have associated approximately 50 loci with risk of colorectal cancer (CRC)-nearly one third of these loci were initially associated with CRC in studies conducted in East Asian populations. We conducted a GWAS of East Asians to identify CRC risk loci and evaluate the generalizability of findings from GWASs of European populations to Asian populations.
Methods: We analyzed genetic data from 22,775 patients with CRC (cases) and 47,731 individuals without cancer (controls) from 14 studies in the Asia Colorectal Cancer Consortium. First, we performed a meta-analysis of 7 GWASs (10,625 cases and 34,595 controls) and identified 46,554 promising risk variants for replication by adding them to the Multi-Ethnic Global Array (MEGA) for genotype analysis in 6445 cases and 7175 controls. These data were analyzed, along with data from an additional 5705 cases and 5961 controls genotyped using the OncoArray. We also obtained data from 57,976 cases and 67,242 controls of European descent. Variants at identified risk loci were functionally annotated and evaluated in correlation with gene expression levels.
Results: A meta-analyses of all samples from people of Asian descent identified 13 loci and 1 new variant at a known locus (10q24.2) associated with risk of CRC at the genome-wide significance level of P < 5 × 10-8. We did not perform experiments to replicate these associations in additional individuals of Asian ancestry. However, the lead risk variant in 6 of these loci was also significantly associated with risk of CRC in European descendants. A strong association (44%-75% increase in risk per allele) was found for 2 low-frequency variants: rs201395236 at 1q44 (minor allele frequency, 1.34%) and rs77969132 at 12p11.21 (minor allele frequency, 1.53%). For 8 of the 13 associated loci, the variants with the highest levels of significant association were located inside or near the protein-coding genes L1TD1, EFCAB2, PPP1R21, SLCO2A1, HLA-G, NOTCH4, DENND5B, and GNAS. For other intergenic loci, we provided evidence for the possible involvement of the genes ALDH7A1, PRICKLE1, KLF5, WWOX, and GLP2R. We replicated findings for 41 of 52 previously reported risk loci.
Conclusions: We showed that most of the risk loci previously associated with CRC risk in individuals of European descent were also associated with CRC risk in East Asians. Furthermore, we identified 13 loci significantly associated with risk for CRC in Asians. Many of these loci contained genes that regulate the immune response, Wnt signaling to β-catenin, prostaglandin E2 catabolism, and cell pluripotency and proliferation. Further analyses of these genes and their variants is warranted, particularly for the 8 loci for which the lead CRC risk variants were not replicated in persons of European descent.
Keywords: Colon Cancer; Epidemiology; Genetic Variants; Immunology.
Copyright © 2019 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.