Genome-wide association study of offspring birth weight in 86,577 women identifies five novel loci and highlights maternal genetic effects that are independent of fetal genetics
Early Growth Genetics (EGG) Consortium
Human Molecular Genetics
Oxford University Press (OUP)
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of birth weight have focused on fetal genetics, while relatively little is known about the role of maternal genetic variation. We aimed to identify maternal genetic variants associated with birth weight that could highlight potentially relevant maternal determinants of fetal growth. We meta-analysed data on up to 8.7 million SNPs in up to 86,577 women of European descent from the Early Growth Genetics (EGG) Consortium and the UK Biobank. We used structural equation modelling (SEM) and analyses of mother-child pairs to quantify the separate maternal and fetal genetic effects. Maternal SNPs at 10 loci (MTNR1B, HMGA2, SH2B3, KCNAB1, L3MBTL3, GCK, EBF1, TCF7L2, ACTL9, CYP3A7) were associated with offspring birth weight at P<5x10-8. In SEM analyses, at least 7 of the 10 associations were consistent with effects of the maternal genotype acting via the intrauterine environment, rather than via effects of shared alleles with the fetus. Variants, or correlated proxies, at many of the loci had been previously associated with adult traits, including fasting glucose (MTNR1B, GCK and TCF7L2) and sex hormone levels (CYP3A7), and one (EBF1) with gestational duration. The identified associations indicate genetic effects on maternal glucose, cytochrome P450 activity and gestational duration, and potentially on maternal blood pressure and immune function, are relevant for fetal growth. Further characterization of these associations in mechanistic and causal analyses will enhance understanding of the potentially modifiable maternal determinants of fetal growth, with the goal of reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with low and high birth weights.
Researchers were funded by investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) Convergence Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly [J.T.]; European Research Council (ERC) [grant: SZ-245 50371-GLUCOSEGENES-FP7-IDEAS-ERC to T.M.F., A.R.W.], [ERC Consolidator Grant, ERC-2014-CoG-648916 to V.W.V.J.], [P.R.N.]; University of Bergen, KG Jebsen and Helse Vest [P.R.N.]; Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Awards [A.T.H. (WT098395), M.I.M. (WT098381)]; National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator Award (NF-SI-0611–10219); Sir Henry Dale Fellowship (Wellcome Trust and Royal Society grant: WT104150) [R.M.F., R.N.B.]; 4-year studentship (Grant Code: WT083431MF) [R.C.R]; the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007–2013)/ERC Grant Agreement (grant number 669545; DevelopObese) [D.A.L.]; US National Institute of Health (grant: R01 DK10324) [D.A.L, C.L.R]; Wellcome Trust GWAS grant (WT088806) [D.A.L] and NIHR Senior Investigator Award (NF-SI-0611–10196) [D.A.L]; Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Award (WT097835MF) [M.A.T.]; The Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation Non-Clinical Fellowship [J.T.]; Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellowship (APP1104818) [N.M.W.]; Daniel B. Burke Endowed Chair for Diabetes Research [S.F.A.G.]; UK Medical Research Council Unit grants MC_UU_12013_5 [R.C.R, L.P, S.R, C.L.R, D.M.E., D.A.L.] and MC_UU_12013_4 [D.M.E.]; Medical Research Council (grant: MR/M005070/1) [M.N.W., S.E.J.]; Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT130101709) [D.M.E] and (FT110100548) [S.E.M.]; NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC); Oak Foundation Fellowship and Novo Nordisk Foundation (12955) [B.F.]; FRQS research scholar and Clinical Scientist Award by the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Maud Menten Award from the Institute of Genetics–Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) [MFH]; CIHR—Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships [C.A.]; FRQS [L.B.]; Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw–VIDI 016.136.361) [V.W.V.J.]; National Institute on Aging (R01AG29451) [J.M.M.]; 2010–2011 PRIN funds of the University of Ferrara—Holder: Prof. Guido Barbujani, Supervisor: Prof. Chiara Scapoli—and in part sponsored by the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes (EFSD) Albert Renold Travel Fellowships for Young Scientists, ‘5 per mille’ contribution assigned to the University of Ferrara, income tax return year 2009 and the ENGAGE Exchange and Mobility Program for ENGAGE training funds, ENGAGE project, grant agreement HEALTH-F4–2007-201413 [L.M.]; ESRC (RES-060–23-0011) [C.L.R.]; National Institute of Health Research ([S.D., M.I.M.], Senior Investigator Award (NF-SI-0611–10196) [D.A.L]); Australian NHMRC Fellowships Scheme (619667) [G.W.M]. For study-specific funding, please see Supplementary Material. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. Funding to pay the Open Access publication charges for this article was provided by the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF)
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from OUP via the DOI in this record
Published online 3 January 2018
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