Genetic comparison of sickle cell anaemia cohorts from Brazil and the United States reveals high levels of divergence

Sci Rep. 2019 Jul 26;9(1):10896. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-47313-2.


Genetic analysis of admixed populations raises special concerns with regard to study design and data processing, particularly to avoid population stratification biases. The point mutation responsible for sickle cell anaemia codes for a variant hemoglobin, sickle hemoglobin or HbS, whose presence drives the pathophysiology of disease. Here we propose to explore ancestry and population structure in a genome-wide study with particular emphasis on chromosome 11 in two SCA admixed cohorts obtained from urban populations of Brazil (Pernambuco and São Paulo) and the United States (Pennsylvania). Ancestry inference showed different proportions of European, African and American backgrounds in the composition of our samples. Brazilians were more admixed, had a lower African background (43% vs. 78% on the genomic level and 44% vs. 76% on chromosome 11) and presented a signature of positive selection and Iberian introgression in the HbS region, driving a high differentiation of this locus between the two cohorts. The genetic structures of the SCA cohorts from Brazil and US differ considerably on the genome-wide, chromosome 11 and HbS mutation locus levels.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / genetics*
  • Brazil
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 11 / genetics*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Continental Population Groups / genetics*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetics, Population / methods*
  • Genome
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype*
  • Haplotypes
  • Hemoglobin, Sickle / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Population Groups*
  • United States


  • Hemoglobin, Sickle