Genetic Thyrotropin Regulation of Atrial Fibrillation Risk Is Mediated Through an Effect on Height

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2021 Jun 16;106(7):2124-2132. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgab272.


Context: A genetic predisposition to lower thyrotropin (TSH) levels is associated with increased atrial fibrillation (AF) risk through undefined mechanisms.

Objective: Defining the genetic mediating mechanisms could lead to improved targeted therapies to mitigate AF risk.

Methods: We used 2-sample mendelian randomization (MR) to test associations between TSH-associated single-nucleotide variations and 16 candidate mediators. We then performed multivariable mendelian randomization (MVMR) to test for a significant attenuation of the genetic association between TSH and AF, after adjusting for each mediator significantly associated with TSH.

Results: Four candidate mediators (free thyroxine, systolic blood pressure, heart rate, and height) were significantly inversely associated with genetically predicted TSH after adjusting for multiple testing. In MVMR analyses, adjusting for height significantly decreased the magnitude of the association between TSH and AF from -0.12 (SE 0.02) occurrences of AF per SD change in height to -0.06 (0.02) (P = .005). Adjusting for the other candidate mediators did not significantly attenuate the association.

Conclusion: The genetic association between TSH and increased AF risk is mediated, in part, by taller stature. Thus, some genetic mechanisms underlying TSH variability may contribute to AF risk through mechanisms determining height occurring early in life that differ from those driven by thyroid hormone-level elevations in later life.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation; height; mendelian randomization; thyrotropin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation / genetics*
  • Blood Pressure / genetics
  • Body Height / genetics*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism
  • Thyrotropin / blood*


  • Thyrotropin