Identification of new susceptibility loci associated with rheumatoid arthritis

Ann Rheum Dis. 2020 Dec;79(12):1565-1571. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2020-217351. Epub 2020 Aug 31.


Objectives: The present study aimed to discover novel susceptibility loci associated with risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: We performed a new genome-wide association study (GWAS) in Chinese subjects (1027 RA cases and 2879 controls) and further conducted an expanded meta-analysis with previous GWAS summary data and replication studies. The functional roles of the associated loci were interrogated using publicly available databases. Dual-luciferase reporter and cytokine assay were also used for exploring variant function.

Results: We identified five new susceptibility loci (IL12RB2, BOLL-PLCL1, CCR2, TCF7 and IQGAP1; pmeta <5.00E-08) with same effect direction in each study cohort. The sensitivity analyses showed that the genetic association of at least three loci was reliable and robust. All these lead variants are expression quantitative trait loci and overlapped with epigenetic marks in immune cells. Furthermore, genes within the five loci are genetically associated with risk of other autoimmune diseases, and genes within four loci are known functional players in autoimmunity, which supports the validity of our findings. The reporter assay showed that the risk allele of rs8030390 in IQGAP1 have significantly increased reporter activity in HEK293T cells. In addition, the cytokine assay found that the risk allele of rs244672 in TCF7 was most significantly associated with increased plasma IL-17A levels in healthy controls. Finally, identified likely causal genes in these loci significantly interacted with RA drug targets.

Conclusion: This study identified novel RA risk loci and highlighted that comprehensive genetic study can provide important information for RA pathogenesis and drug therapy.

Keywords: arthritis; genetic; polymorphism; rheumatoid; therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / genetics*
  • Asian People / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Humans