Metabolic Traits and Stroke Risk in Individuals of African Ancestry: Mendelian Randomization Analysis

Stroke. 2021 Aug;52(8):2680-2684. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.121.034747. Epub 2021 Jun 3.


Background and purpose: Metabolic traits affect ischemic stroke (IS) risk, but the degree to which this varies across different ethnic ancestries is not known. Our aim was to apply Mendelian randomization to investigate the causal effects of type 2 diabetes (T2D) liability and lipid traits on IS risk in African ancestry individuals, and to compare them to estimates obtained in European ancestry individuals.

Methods: For African ancestry individuals, genetic proxies for T2D liability and circulating lipids were obtained from a meta-analysis of the African Partnership for Chronic Disease Research study, the UK Biobank, and the Million Veteran Program (total N=77 061). Genetic association estimates for IS risk were obtained from the Consortium of Minority Population Genome-Wide Association Studies of Stroke (3734 cases and 18 317 controls). For European ancestry individuals, genetic proxies for the same metabolic traits were obtained from Million Veteran Program (lipids N=297 626, T2D N=148 726 cases, and 965 732 controls), and genetic association estimates for IS risk were obtained from the MEGASTROKE study (34 217 cases and 406 111 controls). Random-effects inverse-variance weighted Mendelian randomization was used as the main method, complemented with sensitivity analyses more robust to pleiotropy.

Results: Higher genetically proxied T2D liability, LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), total cholesterol and lower genetically proxied HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) were associated with increased risk of IS in African ancestry individuals (odds ratio per doubling the odds of T2D liability [95% CI], 1.09 [1.07-1.11]; per standard-deviation increase in LDL-C, 1.12 [1.04-1.21]; total cholesterol: 1.23 [1.06-1.43]; HDL-C, 0.93 [0.89-0.99]). There was no evidence for differences in these estimates when performing analyses in European ancestry individuals.

Conclusions: Our analyses support a causal effect of T2D liability and lipid traits on IS risk in African ancestry individuals, with Mendelian randomization estimates similar to those obtained in European ancestry individuals.

Keywords: cholesterol; ischemic stroke; lipid; mortality; risk factor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black People / genetics*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / genetics
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / epidemiology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / blood*
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / genetics*
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Triglycerides / genetics
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Triglycerides