Multi-population genome-wide association study implicates immune and non-immune factors in pediatric steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome

Nat Commun. 2023 Apr 29;14(1):2481. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-37985-w.


Pediatric steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome (pSSNS) is the most common childhood glomerular disease. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identified a risk locus in the HLA Class II region and three additional independent risk loci. But the genetic architecture of pSSNS, and its genetically driven pathobiology, is largely unknown. Here, we conduct a multi-population GWAS meta-analysis in 38,463 participants (2440 cases). We then conduct conditional analyses and population specific GWAS. We discover twelve significant associations-eight from the multi-population meta-analysis (four novel), two from the multi-population conditional analysis (one novel), and two additional novel loci from the European meta-analysis. Fine-mapping implicates specific amino acid haplotypes in HLA-DQA1 and HLA-DQB1 driving the HLA Class II risk locus. Non-HLA loci colocalize with eQTLs of monocytes and numerous T-cell subsets in independent datasets. Colocalization with kidney eQTLs is lacking but overlap with kidney cell open chromatin suggests an uncharacterized disease mechanism in kidney cells. A polygenic risk score (PRS) associates with earlier disease onset. Altogether, these discoveries expand our knowledge of pSSNS genetic architecture across populations and provide cell-specific insights into its molecular drivers. Evaluating these associations in additional cohorts will refine our understanding of population specificity, heterogeneity, and clinical and molecular associations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Nephrotic Syndrome* / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Risk Factors