A genome-wide screen for interactions reveals a new locus on 4p15 modifying the effect of waist-to-hip ratio on total cholesterol

Ida Surakka*, Aaron Isaacs, Lennart C Karssen, Pirkka-Pekka P Laurila, Rita P S Middelberg, Emmi Tikkanen, Janina S Ried, Claudia Lamina, Massimo Mangino, Wilmar Igl, Jouke-Jan Hottenga, Vasiliki Lagou, Pim van der Harst, Irene Mateo Leach, Tõnu Esko, Zoltán Kutalik, Nicholas W Wainwright, Maksim V Struchalin, Antti-Pekka Sarin, Antti J KangasJorma S Viikari, Markus Perola, Taina Rantanen, Ann-Kristin Petersen, Pasi Soininen, Asa Johansson, Nicole Soranzo, Andrew C Heath, Theodore Papamarkou, Inga Prokopenko, Anke Tönjes, Florian Kronenberg, Angela Döring, Fernando Rivadeneira, Grant W Montgomery, John B Whitfield, Mika Kähönen, Terho Lehtimäki, Nelson B Freimer, Gonneke Willemsen, Eco J C de Geus, Aarno Palotie, Manj S Sandhu, Dawn M Waterworth, Andres Metspalu, Michael Stumvoll, André G Uitterlinden, Antti Jula, Gerjan Navis, Bruce H R Wolffenbuttel, ENGAGE Consortium

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Recent genome-wide association (GWA) studies described 95 loci controlling serum lipid levels. These common variants explain ∼25% of the heritability of the phenotypes. To date, no unbiased screen for gene-environment interactions for circulating lipids has been reported. We screened for variants that modify the relationship between known epidemiological risk factors and circulating lipid levels in a meta-analysis of genome-wide association (GWA) data from 18 population-based cohorts with European ancestry (maximum N = 32,225). We collected 8 further cohorts (N = 17,102) for replication, and rs6448771 on 4p15 demonstrated genome-wide significant interaction with waist-to-hip-ratio (WHR) on total cholesterol (TC) with a combined P-value of 4.79×10(-9). There were two potential candidate genes in the region, PCDH7 and CCKAR, with differential expression levels for rs6448771 genotypes in adipose tissue. The effect of WHR on TC was strongest for individuals carrying two copies of G allele, for whom a one standard deviation (sd) difference in WHR corresponds to 0.19 sd difference in TC concentration, while for A allele homozygous the difference was 0.12 sd. Our findings may open up possibilities for targeted intervention strategies for people characterized by specific genomic profiles. However, more refined measures of both body-fat distribution and metabolic measures are needed to understand how their joint dynamics are modified by the newly found locus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1002333
JournalPlos Genetics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adipose Tissue/metabolism
  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Cadherins/genetics
  • Cholesterol/blood
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 4/genetics
  • European Continental Ancestry Group/genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Lipids/blood
  • Lipoproteins/blood
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Quantitative Trait Loci/genetics
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides/blood
  • Waist-Hip Ratio

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