Genotypic variability based association identifies novel non-additive loci DHCR7 and IRF4 in sero-negative rheumatoid arthritis

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Sero-negative rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a highly heterogeneous disorder with only a few additive loci identified to date. We report a genotypic variability-based genome-wide association study (vGWAS) of six cohorts of sero-negative RA recruited in Europe and the US that were genotyped with the Immunochip. A two-stage approach was used: 1) a mixed model to partition dichotomous phenotypes into an additive component and non-additive residuals on the liability scale and 2) the Levene’s test to assess equality of the residual variances across genotype groups. The vGWAS identified rs2852853 (P = 1.3e-08, DHCR7) and rs62389423 (P = 1.8e-05, near IRF4) in addition to two previously identified loci (HLA-DQB1 and ANKRD55), which were all statistically validated using cross validation. DHCR7 encodes an enzyme important in cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D and DHCR7 mutations are believed to be important for early humans to adapt to Northern Europe where residents are lack of ultraviolet-B exposure and tend to have light skin color. IRF4 is a key locus responsible for skin color, with a vitamin D receptor-binding interval. These vGWAS results together suggest that vitamin D deficiency is potentially causal of sero-negative RA and provide new insights into the pathogenesis of the disorder.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number5261
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2017

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