Identification of Clinical Drivers of Left Atrial Enlargement Through Genomics of Left Atrial Size

Circ Heart Fail. 2024 Jan;17(1):e010557. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.123.010557. Epub 2023 Dec 21.


Background: Greater left atrial size is associated with a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease and mortality, but the full spectrum of diagnoses associated with left atrial enlargement in sex-stratified clinical populations is not well known. Our study sought to identify genetic risk mechanisms affecting left atrial diameter (LAD) in a clinical cohort.

Methods: Using Vanderbilt deidentified electronic health record, we studied 6163 females and 5993 males of European ancestry who had at least 1 LAD measure and available genotyping. A sex-stratified polygenic score was constructed for LAD variation and tested for association against 1680 International Classification of Diseases code-based phenotypes. Two-sample univariable and multivariable Mendelian randomization approaches were used to assess etiologic relationships between candidate associations and LAD.

Results: A phenome-wide association study identified 25 International Classification of Diseases code-based diagnoses in females and 11 in males associated with a polygenic score of LAD (false discovery rate q<0.01), 5 of which were further evaluated by Mendelian randomization (waist circumference [WC], atrial fibrillation, heart failure, systolic blood pressure, and coronary artery disease). Sex-stratified differences in the genetic associations between risk factors and a polygenic score for LAD were observed (WC for females; heart failure, systolic blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and WC for males). By multivariable Mendelian randomization, higher WC remained significantly associated with larger LAD in females, whereas coronary artery disease, WC, and atrial fibrillation remained significantly associated with larger LAD in males.

Conclusions: In a clinical population, we identified, by genomic approaches, potential etiologic risk factors for larger LAD. Further studies are needed to confirm the extent to which these risk factors may be modified to prevent or reverse adverse left atrial remodeling and the extent to which sex modifies these risk factors.

Keywords: Mendelian randomization analysis; atrial fibrillation; body mass index; coronary artery disease; genotype.

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation* / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / genetics
  • Coronary Artery Disease*
  • Female
  • Genomics
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Failure, Systolic*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis
  • Risk Factors

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