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A genome-wide association study identifies distinct variants associated with pulmonary function among European and African ancestries from the UK Biobank

Commun Biol. 2023 Jan 14;6(1):49. doi: 10.1038/s42003-023-04443-8.


Pulmonary function is an indicator of well-being, and pulmonary pathologies are the third major cause of death worldwide. We analysed the UK Biobank genome-wide association summary statistics of pulmonary function for Europeans and individuals of recent African descent to identify variants associated with the trait in the two ancestries. Here, we show 627 variants in Europeans and 3 in Africans associated with three pulmonary function parameters. In addition to the 110 variants in Europeans previously reported to be associated with phenotypes related to pulmonary function, we identify 279 novel loci, including an ISX intergenic variant rs369476290 on chromosome 22 in Africans. Remarkably, we find no shared variants among Africans and Europeans. Furthermore, enrichment analyses of variants separately for each ancestry background reveal significant enrichment for terms related to pulmonary phenotypes in Europeans but not Africans. Further analysis of studies of pulmonary phenotypes reveals that individuals of European background are disproportionally overrepresented in datasets compared to Africans, with the gap widening over the past five years. Our findings extend our understanding of the different variants that modify the pulmonary function in Africans and Europeans, a promising finding for future GWASs and medical studies.

PMID:36641522 | DOI:10.1038/s42003-023-04443-8

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