Genome-wide association study of body fat distribution traits in Hispanics/Latinos from the HCHS/SOL

Hum Mol Genet. 2021 Nov 1;30(22):2190-2204. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddab166.


Central obesity is a leading health concern with a great burden carried by ethnic minority populations, especially Hispanics/Latinos. Genetic factors contribute to the obesity burden overall and to inter-population differences. We aimed to identify the loci associated with central adiposity measured as waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), waist circumference (WC) and hip circumference (HIP) adjusted for body mass index (adjBMI) by using the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL); determine if differences in associations differ by background group within HCHS/SOL and determine whether previously reported associations generalize to HCHS/SOL. Our analyses included 7472 women and 5200 men of mainland (Mexican, Central and South American) and Caribbean (Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican) background residing in the USA. We performed genome-wide association analyses stratified and combined across sexes using linear mixed-model regression. We identified 16 variants for waist-to-hip ratio adjusted for body mass index (WHRadjBMI), 22 for waist circumference adjusted for body mass index (WCadjBMI) and 28 for hip circumference adjusted for body mass index (HIPadjBMI), which reached suggestive significance (P < 1 × 10-6). Many loci exhibited differences in strength of associations by ethnic background and sex. We brought a total of 66 variants forward for validation in cohorts (N = 34 161) with participants of Hispanic/Latino, African and European descent. We confirmed four novel loci (P < 0.05 and consistent direction of effect, and P < 5 × 10-8 after meta-analysis), including two for WHRadjBMI (rs13301996, rs79478137); one for WCadjBMI (rs3168072) and one for HIPadjBMI (rs28692724). Also, we generalized previously reported associations to HCHS/SOL, (8 for WHRadjBMI, 10 for WCadjBMI and 12 for HIPadjBMI). Our study highlights the importance of large-scale genomic studies in ancestrally diverse Hispanic/Latino populations for identifying and characterizing central obesity susceptibility that may be ancestry-specific.