Polygenic risk score for ACE-inhibitor-associated cough based on the discovery of new genetic loci

Eur Heart J. 2022 Jun 25;ehac322. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehac322. Online ahead of print.


Aims: To search for sequence variants associated with ACEi discontinuation and to test their association with ACEi-associated adverse drug reactions (ADRs).

Methods and results: A genome-wide association study (GWAS) on ACEi discontinuation was conducted, including 33 959 ACEi-discontinuers and 44 041 controls. Cases were defined as persons who switched from an ACEi treatment to an angiotensin receptor blocker. Controls were defined as persons who continued ACEi treatment for at least 1 year. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were computed for ACEi discontinuation risk by mixed model regression analysis. Summary statistics from the individual cohorts were meta-analyzed with a fixed-effects model. To test for association with specific ACEi-associated ADRs, any genome-wide significant (P < 5 × 10-8) ACEi discontinuation variants was tested for association with ACEi-associated cough and angioedema. A polygenetic risk score (PRS) based on ACEi discontinuation GWAS data was constructed and tested for association with ACEi-associated cough and angioedema in two population-based samples. In total, seven genetic genome-wide loci were identified, of which six were previously unreported. The strongest association with ACEi discontinuation was at 20q13.3 (NTSR1; OR: 1.21; 95% CI: 1.17-1.24; P = 2.1 × 10-34). Five of seven lead variants were associated with ACEi-associated cough, whereas none were associated with ACEi-associated angioedema. The ACEi discontinuation PRS was associated with ACEi-associated cough in a dose-response manner but not with ACEi-associated angioedema. ACEi discontinuation was genetically correlated with important causes for cough, including gastro-esophageal reflux disease, allergic rhinitis, hay fever, and asthma, which indicates partly shared genetic underpinning between these traits.

Conclusion: This study showed the advantage of using prescription patterns to discover genetic links with ADRs. In total, seven genetic loci that associated with ACEi discontinuation were identified. There was evidence of a strong association between our ADR phenotype and ACEi-associated cough. Taken together, these findings increase insight into the pathophysiological processes that underlie ACEi-associated ADRs.

Keywords: ACE inhibitors; ACE-inhibitor associated cough; ADR; Adverse drug reaction; Drug discontinuation; GWAS; Genome-wide association study.