Genetic Epidemiologic Analysis of Hypertensive Retinopathy in an Underrepresented and Rare Federally Recognized Native American Population of the Intermountain West

J Community Med Public Health. 2019;3(1):152. Epub 2019 Jun 10.


Understanding disease risk is challenging in multifactorial conditions as it can differ by environment, ethnicity and race. The Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation are one of the most isolated populations in the United States. Retinal changes are a reliable indicator for systemic disease. We conducted a cross-sectional study to identify correlations between genetic data and epidemiological risk factors for blinding retinal disease in this tribe. As part of the "Supporting Prediction and Prevention Blindness Project (SPBPP)" in the Native American Population of the Intermountain West, we found that hypertensive retinopathy was the most prevalent retinal disease. We found that forty-two percent of the Goshute population was affected. Blood samples, fundus photos and intraocular pressure were obtained for all participants. In addition, a standardized questionnaire was administered. DNA and total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, VLDL, triglycerides and HbA1c were also evaluated. Our study interrogated genetic variants from the PAGE study (ARMS2 rs10490924, CFH rs800292, rs1061170) and additional studies that looked at previously associated genetic variants with retinal disease associated with cardiovascular disease. We conducted univariate and multivariate logistic regression in Stata v15.0. We found an association between hypertriglyceridemia and HTR (adjp = .05) within the Goshute population. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate the prevalence of hypertensive retinopathy in a Native American population. Moreover, our study is the first to demonstrate an independently predictive relationship between hypertriglyceridemia and hypertensive retinopathy in an American Indian population. This study furthers our knowledge about prevalent blinding eye disease within the most geographically isolated federally recognized native United States American tribe, for which nothing has been published with respect to any disease. Although, this study furthers our understanding about the prevalence of genetic epidemiological risk factors within this population, it has greater implications for the screening of blinding diseases in underserved populations in general. This study can inform public health on planning and delivering of quality, accessible and relevant care to this population.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Genetic; Hypertensive retinopathy; Isolated population; Native American.