Leonard D, Svenungsson E, Sandling JK, Berggren O, Jönsen A, Bengtsson C, Wang C, Jensen-Urstad K, Granstam SO, Bengtsson AA, Gustafsson JT, Gunnarsson I, Rantapää-Dahlqvist S, Nordmark G, Eloranta ML, Syvänen AC, Rönnblom L
Circ Cardiovasc Genet 6 (3) 255-263 [2013-06-00; online 2013-05-11]
Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus have increased morbidity and mortality in coronary heart disease (CHD). We asked whether there was a genetic influence on CHD in systemic lupus erythematosus. The association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and CHD in 2 populations of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus was assessed. Patients were genotyped on a custom 12k Illumina Array. The allele frequencies were compared between patients with (n=66) and without (n=509) CHD. We found 61 SNPs with an association (P<0.01) to CHD, with the strongest association for 3 SNPs located in the interferon regulatory factor-8 (IRF8) gene. Comparison of the allele frequencies of these 61 SNPs in patients with (n=27) and without (n=212) CHD in the second study population revealed that 2 SNPs, rs925994 and rs10514610 in IRF8 (linkage disequilibrium, r²=0.84), were associated with CHD in both study populations. Meta-analysis of the SNP rs925994 gave an odds ratio of 3.6 (2.1-6.3), P value 1.9×10⁻⁶. The identified IRF8 allele remained as a risk factor for CHD after adjustment for traditional CHD risk factors. The IRF8 risk allele was associated with the presence of carotid plaques (P<0.001) and increased intima-media thickness (P=0.01). By electrophoretic mobility shift assays, we show weaker binding of protein to the risk allele of the highly linked SNP rs11117415, and by flow cytometry, a reduced frequency of circulating B cells was detected in patients with the IRF8 risk allele. There is a considerable genetic component for CHD in systemic lupus erythematosus, with IRF8 as a strong susceptibility locus.