Genome-wide association studies reveal differences in genetic susceptibility between single events vs. recurrent events of atrial fibrillation and myocardial infarction: the HUNT study

Front Cardiovasc Med. 2024 Apr 25:11:1372107. doi: 10.3389/fcvm.2024.1372107. eCollection 2024.


Genetic research into atrial fibrillation (AF) and myocardial infarction (MI) has predominantly focused on comparing afflicted individuals with their healthy counterparts. However, this approach lacks granularity, thus overlooking subtleties within patient populations. In this study, we explore the distinction between AF and MI patients who experience only a single disease event and those experiencing recurrent events. Integrating hospital records, questionnaire data, clinical measurements, and genetic data from more than 500,000 HUNT and United Kingdom Biobank participants, we compare both clinical and genetic characteristics between the two groups using genome-wide association studies (GWAS) meta-analyses, phenome-wide association studies (PheWAS) analyses, and gene co-expression networks. We found that the two groups of patients differ in both clinical characteristics and genetic risks. More specifically, recurrent AF patients are significantly younger and have better baseline health, in terms of reduced cholesterol and blood pressure, than single AF patients. Also, the results of the GWAS meta-analysis indicate that recurrent AF patients seem to be at greater genetic risk for recurrent events. The PheWAS and gene co-expression network analyses highlight differences in the functions associated with the sets of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and genes for the two groups. However, for MI patients, we found that those experiencing single events are significantly younger and have better baseline health than those with recurrent MI, yet they exhibit higher genetic risk. The GWAS meta-analysis mostly identifies genetic regions uniquely associated with single MI, and the PheWAS analysis and gene co-expression networks support the genetic differences between the single MI and recurrent MI groups. In conclusion, this work has identified novel genetic regions uniquely associated with single MI and related PheWAS analyses, as well as gene co-expression networks that support the genetic differences between the patient subgroups of single and recurrent occurrence for both MI and AF.

Keywords: GWAS meta-analysis; HUNT; PheWAS; atrial fibrillation; myocardial infarction; networks; recurrent events.

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