Large-scale genome-wide association study of coronary artery disease in genetically diverse populations

Nat Med. 2022 Aug 1. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01891-3. Online ahead of print.


We report a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of coronary artery disease (CAD) incorporating nearly a quarter of a million cases, in which existing studies are integrated with data from cohorts of white, Black and Hispanic individuals from the Million Veteran Program. We document near equivalent heritability of CAD across multiple ancestral groups, identify 95 novel loci, including nine on the X chromosome, detect eight loci of genome-wide significance in Black and Hispanic individuals, and demonstrate that two common haplotypes at the 9p21 locus are responsible for risk stratification in all populations except those of African origin, in which these haplotypes are virtually absent. Moreover, in the largest GWAS for angiographically derived coronary atherosclerosis performed to date, we find 15 loci of genome-wide significance that robustly overlap with established loci for clinical CAD. Phenome-wide association analyses of novel loci and polygenic risk scores (PRSs) augment signals related to insulin resistance, extend pleiotropic associations of these loci to include smoking and family history, and precisely document the markedly reduced transferability of existing PRSs to Black individuals. Downstream integrative analyses reinforce the critical roles of vascular endothelial, fibroblast, and smooth muscle cells in CAD susceptibility, but also point to a shared biology between atherosclerosis and oncogenesis. This study highlights the value of diverse populations in further characterizing the genetic architecture of CAD.