Genetic Determinants of Circulating Glycine Levels and Risk of Coronary Artery Disease

J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 May 21;8(10):e011922. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.119.011922.


Background Recent studies have revealed sexually dimorphic associations between the carbamoyl-phosphate synthase 1 locus, intermediates of the metabolic pathway leading from choline to urea, and risk of coronary artery disease ( CAD ) in women. Based on evidence from the literature, the atheroprotective association with carbamoyl-phosphate synthase 1 could be mediated by the strong genetic effect of this locus on increased circulating glycine levels. Methods and Results We sought to identify additional genetic determinants of circulating glycine levels by carrying out a meta-analysis of genome-wide association study data in up to 30 118 subjects of European ancestry. Mendelian randomization and other analytical approaches were used to determine whether glycine-associated variants were associated with CAD and traditional risk factors. Twelve loci were significantly associated with circulating glycine levels, 7 of which were not previously known to be involved in glycine metabolism ( ACADM , PHGDH , COX 18- ADAMTS 3, PSPH , TRIB 1, PTPRD , and ABO ). Glycine-raising alleles at several loci individually exhibited directionally consistent associations with decreased risk of CAD . However, these effects could not be attributed directly to glycine because of associations with other CAD -related traits. By comparison, genetic models that only included the 2 variants directly involved in glycine degradation and for which there were no other pleiotropic associations were not associated with risk of CAD or blood pressure, lipid levels, and obesity-related traits. Conclusions These results provide additional insight into the genetic architecture of glycine metabolism, but do not yield conclusive evidence for a causal relationship between circulating levels of this amino acid and risk of CAD in humans.

Keywords: Mendelian randomization; causality; coronary artery disease; genome‐wide association study; glycine; meta‐analysis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Coronary Artery Disease / blood*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Loci*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Glycine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Glycine