The study was designed to evaluate putative mechanisms by which lipid-associated loci identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are involved in the molecular pathogenesis of coronary artery disease (CAD) using a comprehensive statistical and bioinformatics analysis. A total of 1700 unrelated individuals of Slavic origin from the Central Russia, including 991 CAD patients and 709 healthy controls were examined. Sixteen lipid-associated GWAS loci were selected from European studies and genotyped using the MassArray-4 system. The polymorphisms were associated with plasma lipids such as total cholesterol (rs12328675, rs4846914, rs55730499, and rs838880), LDL-cholesterol (rs3764261, rs55730499, rs1689800, and rs838880), HDL-cholesterol (rs3764261) as well as carotid intima-media thickness/CIMT (rs12328675, rs11220463, and rs1689800). Polymorphisms such as rs4420638 of APOC1 (p = 0.009), rs55730499 of LPA (p = 0.0007), rs3136441 of F2 (p < 0.0001), and rs6065906 of PLTP (p = 0.002) showed significant associations with the risk of CAD, regardless of sex, age, and body mass index. A majority of the observed associations were successfully replicated in large independent cohorts. Bioinformatics analysis allowed establishing (1) phenotype-specific and shared epistatic gene-gene and gene-smoking interactions contributing to all studied cardiovascular phenotypes; (2) lipid-associated GWAS loci might be allele-specific binding sites for transcription factors from gene regulatory networks controlling multifaceted molecular mechanisms of atherosclerosis.
Keywords: carotid intima-media thickness; coronary artery disease; disease susceptibility; genome-wide association study; plasma lipids.