Genetic Analysis in African American Children Supports Ancestry-Specific Neuroblastoma Susceptibility

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2022 Apr 1;31(4):870-875. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-21-0782.


Background: Neuroblastoma is rarer in African American (AA) children compared with American children of European descent. AA children affected with neuroblastoma, however, more frequently develop the high-risk form of the disease.

Methods: We have genotyped an AA cohort of 629 neuroblastoma cases (254 high-risk) and 2,990 controls to investigate genetic susceptibility to neuroblastoma in AAs.

Results: We confirmed the known neuroblastoma susceptibility gene BARD1 at genome-wide significance in the subset of high-risk cases. We also estimated local admixture across the autosomal genome in the AA cases and controls and detected a signal at 4q31.22 where cases show an increase in European ancestry. A region at 17p13.1 showed increased African ancestry in the subgroup of high-risk cases with respect to intermediate- and low-risk cases. Using results from our published European American (EA) genome-wide association study (GWAS), we found that a polygenic score that included all independent SNPs showed a highly significant association (P value = 1.8 × 10-73) and explained 19% of disease risk variance in an independent EA cohort. In contrast, the best fit polygenic score (P value = 3.2 × 10-11) in AAs included only 22 independent SNPs with association P value < 2.75 × 10-6 in the EA GWAS, and explained 2% of neuroblastoma risk variance. The significance of the polygenic score dropped rapidly with inclusion of additional SNPs.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that several common variants contribute to risk of neuroblastoma in an ancestry-specific fashion.

Impact: This work supports the need for GWAS to be performed in populations of all races and ethnicities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American* / genetics
  • Child
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Neuroblastoma* / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide