Abstract 18836: Integrative Pathway Analysis of Genome-wide Association Studies of Carotid Plaque Phenotypes
Introduction: The composition of atherosclerotic plaques differs between individuals and contributes to the incidence of cardiovascular events. A better understanding of the biology underlying variability in plaque composition will provide insights into the progression of cardiovascular diseases. We carried out genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to investigate the genetic underpinnings of the plaque.
Methods: We included carotid endarterectomy patients from the Athero-Express Biobank Study (n = 1,439). We quantified the percentage of macrophages and smooth muscle cells, the number of intraplaque vessels, the amount of collagen and calcification, the atheroma size, and the presence of plaque hemorrhage. GWAS was performed for all 9 plaque traits, and combined with summary level from GWAS consortia data on coronary artery disease (CAD), and ischemic stroke. Next, these data were integrated with data from human expression quantitative trait loci analyses, and pathway analyses of the plaque traits.
Results: No individual locus reached genome-wide significance, likely due to the moderate sample size involved. However, it is plausible that perturbations of diverse pathways by a large number of genetic loci with small effects together contribute to the regulation of plaque composition. We identified 42-97 pathways significantly associated with each plaque phenotype, with many specific to each trait, supporting the presence of unique genetic components of individual plaque phenotypes. We also detected 39 pathways associated with at least four plaque phenotypes, among which were CAD-associated processes such as “extracellular matrix”, “complement and coagulation cascades” and stroke-associated pathways such as “Toll-like receptor signaling”. Interestingly, we found that smooth muscle cell percentage and atheroma size shared more genetic loci and pathways with intraplaque hemorrhage (such as “Sphingolipid metabolism”); the latter trait is associated with secondary cardiovascular events.
Conclusion: There are genetic correlations among plaque phenotypes as well as between plaque phenotypes that provide mechanistic insight into the composition of the plaque and progression to secondary events.
- Genome Wide Association Studies
- Pathway analysis
- Carotid atherosclerotic plaque
- Coronary artery disease
Author Disclosures: Y. Zhao: None. S.M. van der Laan: None. H.M. den Ruijter: None. S. Haitjema: None. G. Pasterkamp: None. X. Yang: None.
- © 2015 by American Heart Association, Inc.