Independent and cumulative coeliac disease-susceptibility loci are associated with distinct disease phenotypes

Juliana X.M. Cerqueira, Päivi Saavalainen, Kalle Kurppa, Pilvi Laurikka, Heini Huhtala, Matti Nykter, Lotta L. E. Koskinen, Dawit A. Yohannes, Elina Kilpeläinen, Anastasia Shcherban, Aarno Palotie, Katri Kaukinen, Katri Lindfors

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The phenotype of coeliac disease varies considerably for incompletely understood reasons. We investigated whether established coeliac disease susceptibility variants (SNPs) are individually or cumulatively associated with distinct phenotypes. We also tested whether a polygenic risk score (PRS) based on genome-wide associated (GWA) data could explain the phenotypic variation. The phenotypic association of 39 non-HLA coeliac disease SNPs was tested in 625 thoroughly phenotyped coeliac disease patients and 1817 controls. To assess their cumulative effects a weighted genetic risk score (wGRS39) was built, and stratified by tertiles. In our PRS model in cases, we took the summary statistics from the largest GWA study in coeliac disease and tested their association at eight P value thresholds (PT) with phenotypes. Altogether ten SNPs were associated with distinct phenotypes after correction for multiple testing (PEMP2 ≤ 0.05). The TLR7/TLR8 locus was associated with disease onset before and the SH2B3/ATXN2, ITGA4/UBE2E3 and IL2/IL21 loci after 7 years of age. The latter three loci were associated with a more severe small bowel mucosal damage and SH2B3/ATXN2 with type 1 diabetes. Patients at the highest wGRS39 tertiles had OR > 1.62 for having coeliac disease-related symptoms during childhood, a more severe small bowel mucosal damage, malabsorption and anaemia. PRS was associated only with dermatitis herpetiformis (PT = 0.2, PEMP2 = 0.02). Independent coeliac disease-susceptibility loci are associated with distinct phenotypes, suggesting that genetic factors play a role in determining the disease presentation. Moreover, the increased number of coeliac disease susceptibility SNPs might predispose to a more severe disease course.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613–623
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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