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Mendelian randomization analysis of 37 clinical factors and coronary artery disease in East Asian and European populations

Genome Med. 2022 Jun 14;14(1):63. doi: 10.1186/s13073-022-01067-1.


BACKGROUND: Coronary artery disease (CAD) remains the leading cause of mortality worldwide despite enormous efforts devoted to its prevention and treatment. While many genetic loci have been identified to associate with CAD, the intermediate causal risk factors and etiology have not been fully understood. This study assesses the causal effects of 37 heritable clinical factors on CAD in East Asian and European populations.

METHODS: We collected genome-wide association summary statistics of 37 clinical factors from the Biobank Japan (42,793 to 191,764 participants) and the UK Biobank (314,658 to 442,817 participants), paired with summary statistics of CAD from East Asians (29,319 cases and 183,134 controls) and Europeans (91,753 cases and 311,344 controls). These clinical factors covered 12 cardiometabolic traits, 13 hematological indices, 7 hepatological and 3 renal function indices, and 2 serum electrolyte indices. We performed univariable and multivariable Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses in East Asians and Europeans separately, followed by meta-analysis.

RESULTS: Univariable MR analyses identified reliable causal evidence (P < 0.05/37) of 10 cardiometabolic traits (height, body mass index [BMI], blood pressure, glycemic and lipid traits) and 4 other clinical factors related to red blood cells (red blood cell count [RBC], hemoglobin, hematocrit) and uric acid (UA). Interestingly, while generally consistent, we identified population heterogeneity in the causal effects of BMI and UA, with higher effect sizes in East Asians than those in Europeans. After adjusting for cardiometabolic factors in multivariable MR analysis, red blood cell traits (RBC, meta-analysis odds ratio 1.07 per standard deviation increase, 95% confidence interval 1.02-1.13; hemoglobin, 1.10, 1.03-1.16; hematocrit, 1.10, 1.04-1.17) remained significant (P < 0.05), while UA showed an independent causal effect in East Asians only (1.12, 1.06-1.19, P = 3.26×10-5).

CONCLUSIONS: We confirmed the causal effects of 10 cardiometabolic traits on CAD and identified causal risk effects of RBC, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and UA independent of traditional cardiometabolic factors. We found no causal effects for 23 clinical factors, despite their reported epidemiological associations. Our findings suggest the physiology of red blood cells and the level of UA as potential intervention targets for the prevention of CAD.

PMID:35698167 | DOI:10.1186/s13073-022-01067-1

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