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Title: Epidemiology and genetic architecture of blood pressure : a family based study of generation Scotland
Author: Alghamdi, Jahad
ISNI:       0000 0004 5989 1979
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2016
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Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality, and a growing global public health concern, with up to one-third of the world’s population affected. Despite the vast amount of evidence for the benefits of blood pressure (BP) lowering accumulated to date, elevated BP is still the leading risk factor for disease and disability worldwide. It is well established that hypertension and BP are common complex traits, where multiple genetic and environmental factors contribute to BP variation. Furthermore, family and twin studies confirmed the genetic component of BP, with a heritability estimate in the range of 30-50%. Contemporary genomic tools enabling the genotyping of millions of genetic variants across the human genome in an efficient, reliable, and cost-effective manner, has transformed hypertension genetics research. This is accompanied by the presence of international consortia that have offered unprecedentedly large sample sizes for genome-wide association studies (GWASs). While GWAS for hypertension and BP have identified more than 60 loci, variants in these loci are associated with modest effects on BP and in aggregate can explain less than 3% of the variance in BP. The aims of this thesis are to study the genetic and environmental factors that influence BP and hypertension traits in the Scottish population, by performing several genetic epidemiological analyses. In the first part of this thesis, it aims to study the burden of hypertension in the Scottish population, along with assessing the familial aggregation and heritialbity of BP and hypertension traits. In the second part, it aims to validate the association of common SNPs reported in the large GWAS and to estimate the variance explained by these variants. In this thesis, comprehensive genetic epidemiology analyses were performed on Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study (GS:SFHS), one of the largest population-based family design studies. The availability of clinical, biological samples, self-reported information, and medical records for study participants has allowed several assessments to be performed to evaluate factors that influence BP variation in the Scottish population. Of the 20,753 subjects genotyped in the study, a total of 18,470 individuals (grouped into 7,025 extended families) passed the stringent quality control (QC) criteria and were available for all subsequent analysis. Based on the BP-lowering treatment exposure sources, subjects were further classified into two groups. First, subjects with both a self-reported medications (SRMs) history and electronic-prescription records (EPRs; n =12,347); second, all the subjects with at least one medication history source (n =18,470). In the first group, the analysis showed a good concordance between SRMs and EPRs (kappa =71%), indicating that SRMs can be used as a surrogate to assess the exposure to BP-lowering medication in GS:SFHS participants. Although both sources suffer from some limitations, SRMs can be considered the best available source to estimate the drug exposure history in those without EPRs. The prevalence of hypertension was 40.8% with higher prevalence in men (46.3%) compared to women (35.8%). The prevalence of awareness, treatment and controlled hypertension as defined by the study definition were 25.3%, 31.2%, and 54.3%, respectively. These findings are lower than similar reported studies in other populations, with the exception of controlled hypertension prevalence, which can be considered better than other populations. Odds of hypertension were higher in men, obese or overweight individuals, people with a parental history of hypertension, and those living in the most deprived area of Scotland. On the other hand, deprivation was associated with higher odds of treatment, awareness and controlled hypertension, suggesting that people living in the most deprived area may have been receiving better quality of care, or have higher comorbidity levels requiring greater engagement with doctors. These findings highlight the need for further work to improve hypertension management in Scotland. The family design of GS:SFHS has allowed family-based analysis to be performed to assess the familial aggregation and heritability of BP and hypertension traits. The familial correlation of BP traits ranged from 0.07 to 0.20, and from 0.18 to 0.34 for parent-offspring pairs and sibling pairs, respectively. A higher correlation of BP traits was observed among first-degree relatives than other types of relative pairs. A variance-component model that was adjusted for sex, body mass index (BMI), age, and age-squared was used to estimate heritability of BP traits, which ranged from 24% to 32% with pulse pressure (PP) having the lowest estimates. The genetic correlation between BP traits showed a high correlation between systolic (SBP), diastolic (DBP) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) (G: 81% to 94%), but lower correlations with PP (G: 22% to 78%). The sibling recurrence risk ratio (λS) for hypertension and treatment were calculated as 1.60 and 2.04 respectively. These findings confirm the genetic components of BP traits in GS:SFHS, and justify further work to investigate genetic determinants of BP. Genetic variants reported in the recent large GWAS of BP traits were selected for genotyping in GS:SFHS using a custom designed TaqMan® OpenArray®. The genotyping plate included 44 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that have been previously reported to be associated with BP or hypertension at genome-wide significance level. A linear mixed model that is adjusted for age, age-squared, sex, and BMI was used to test for the association between the genetic variants and BP traits. Of the 43 variants that passed the QC, 11 variants showed statistically significant association with at least one BP trait. The phenotypic variance explained by these variant for the four BP traits were 1.4%, 1.5%, 1.6%, and 0.8% for SBP, DBP, MAP, and PP, respectively. The association of genetic risk score (GRS) that were constructed from selected variants has showed a positive association with BP level and hypertension prevalence, with an average effect of one mmHg increase with each 0.80 unit increases in the GRS across the different BP traits. The impact of BP-lowering medication on the genetic association study for BP traits has been established, with typical practice of adding a fixed value (i.e. 15/10 mmHg) to the measured BP values to adjust for BP treatment. Using the subset of participants with the two treatment exposure sources (i.e. SRMs and EPRs), the influence of using either source to justify the addition of fixed values in SNP association signal was analysed. BP phenotypes derived from EPRs were considered the true phenotypes, and those derived from SRMs were considered less accurate, with some phenotypic noise. Comparing SNPs association signals between the four BP traits in the two model derived from the different adjustments showed that MAP was the least impacted by the phenotypic noise. This was suggested by identifying the same overlapped significant SNPs for the two models in the case of MAP, while other BP traits had some discrepancy between the two sources.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: R Medicine (General) ; RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology