CXCL12 regulates coronary artery dominance in diverse populations and links development to disease

medRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Oct 27:2023.10.27.23297507. doi: 10.1101/2023.10.27.23297507.


Mammalian cardiac muscle is supplied with blood by right and left coronary arteries that form branches covering both ventricles of the heart. Whether branches of the right or left coronary arteries wrap around to the inferior side of the left ventricle is variable in humans and termed right or left dominance. Coronary dominance is likely a heritable trait, but its genetic architecture has never been explored. Here, we present the first large-scale multi-ancestry genome-wide association study of dominance in 61,043 participants of the VA Million Veteran Program, including over 10,300 Africans and 4,400 Admixed Americans. Dominance was moderately heritable with ten loci reaching genome wide significance. The most significant mapped to the chemokine CXCL12 in both Europeans and Africans. Whole-organ imaging of human fetal hearts revealed that dominance is established during development in locations where CXCL12 is expressed. In mice, dominance involved the septal coronary artery, and its patterning was altered with Cxcl12 deficiency. Finally, we linked human dominance patterns with coronary artery disease through colocalization, genome-wide genetic correlation and Mendelian Randomization analyses. Together, our data supports CXCL12 as a primary determinant of coronary artery dominance in humans of diverse backgrounds and suggests that developmental patterning of arteries may influence one's susceptibility to ischemic heart disease.

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