Insights into the aetiology of snoring from observational and genetic investigations in the UK Biobank

Nat Commun. 2020 Feb 14;11(1):817. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-14625-1.


Although snoring is common in the general population, its aetiology has been largely understudied. Here we report a genetic study on snoring (n ~ 408,000; snorers ~ 152,000) using data from the UK Biobank. We identify 42 genome-wide significant loci, with an SNP-based heritability estimate of ~10% on the liability scale. Genetic correlations with body mass index, alcohol intake, smoking, schizophrenia, anorexia nervosa and neuroticism are observed. Gene-based associations identify 173 genes, including DLEU7, MSRB3 and POC5, highlighting genes expressed in the brain, cerebellum, lungs, blood and oesophagus. We use polygenic scores (PGS) to predict recent snoring and probable obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in an independent Australian sample (n ~ 8000). Mendelian randomization analyses suggest a potential causal relationship between high BMI and snoring. Altogether, our results uncover insights into the aetiology of snoring as a complex sleep-related trait and its role in health and disease beyond it being a cardinal symptom of OSA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Biological Specimen Banks*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis
  • Methionine Sulfoxide Reductases / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neuroticism
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Risk Factors*
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / genetics
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / genetics
  • Smoking
  • Snoring / epidemiology*
  • Snoring / etiology
  • Snoring / genetics*
  • United Kingdom


  • Carrier Proteins
  • DLEU7 protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • POC5 protein, human
  • Methionine Sulfoxide Reductases
  • MSRB3 protein, human