Mitochondrial TXNRD2 and ME3 Genetic Risk Scores Are Associated with Specific Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma Phenotypes

Ophthalmology. 2023 Feb 20;S0161-6420(23)00129-X. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2023.02.018. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: Genetic variants in regions that include the mitochondrial genes thioredoxin reductase 2 (TXNRD2) and malic enzyme 3 (ME3) are associated with primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) in genome-wide association studies (GWASs). To assess their clinical impact, we investigated whether TXNRD2 and ME3 genetic risk scores (GRSs) are associated with specific glaucoma phenotypes.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Participants: A total of 2617 patients with POAG and 2634 control participants from the National Eye Institute Glaucoma Human Genetics Collaboration Hereditable Overall Operational Database (NEIGHBORHOOD) consortium.

Methods: All POAG-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TXNRD2 and ME3 loci were identified using GWAS data (P < 0.05). Of these, 20 TXNRD2 and 24 ME3 SNPs were selected after adjusting for linkage disequilibrium. The correlation between SNP effect size and gene expression levels was investigated using the Gene-Tissue Expression database. Genetic risk scores were constructed for each individual using the unweighted sum of TXNRD2, ME3, and TXNRD2 + ME3 combined risk alleles. Age- and sex-adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for POAG diagnosis were calculated per decile for each GRS. Additionally, the clinical features of patients with POAG in the top 1%, 5%, and 10% of each GRS were compared with those in the bottom 1%, 5%, and 10%, respectively.

Main outcome measures: Primary open-angle glaucoma OR per GRS decile, maximum treated intraocular pressure (IOP), and prevalence of paracentral visual field loss among patients with POAG with high versus low GRSs.

Results: A larger SNP effect size strongly correlated with higher TXNRD2 and lower ME3 expression levels (r = 0.95 and r = -0.97, respectively; P < 0.05 for both). Individuals in decile 10 of the TXNRD2 + ME3 GRS had the highest odds of POAG diagnosis (OR, 1.79 compared with decile 1; 95% confidence interval, 1.39-2.30; P < 0.001). Patients with POAG in the top 1% of the TXNRD2 GRS showed higher mean maximum treated IOP compared with the bottom 1% (19.9 mmHg vs. 15.6 mmHg; adjusted P = 0.03). Patients with POAG in the top 1% of the ME3 and TXNRD2 + ME3 GRS showed a higher prevalence of paracentral field loss than the bottom 1% (72.7% vs. 14.3% for ME3 GRS and 88.9% vs. 33.3% for TXNRD2+ME3 GRS; adjusted P = 0.03 for both).

Conclusions: Patients with POAG with higher TXNRD2 and ME3 GRSs showed higher treated IOP and a greater prevalence of paracentral field loss. Functional studies exploring how these variants impact mitochondrial function in patients with glaucoma are warranted.

Financial disclosure(s): Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found after the references.

Keywords: genetic risk score; glaucoma genetics; mitochondria; precision medicine.