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Polygenic risk, lifestyle, and cardiovascular mortality: a prospective population-based UK Biobank study

By Jae-Seung Yun, Sang-Hyuk Jung, Manu Shivakumar, Brenda Xiao, Amit V Khera, Woong-Yang Park, Hong-Hee Won, Dokyoon Kim

Posted 17 Feb 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.15.21251790

OBJECTIVE: To assess the prognostic ability of polygenic risk scores (PRSs) for coronary artery disease (CAD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) for cardiovascular (CV) mortality, independent of traditional risk factors, and further investigate the additive effect between lifestyle behavior and PRS on CV mortality. DESIGN: Prospective population-based cohort study. SETTING: UK Biobank. PARTICIPANTS: A total 377,909 unrelated participants of white British descent were included in the analyses from the UK Biobank cohort. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Genome-wide PRSs were constructed using >6 million genetic variants. We stratified patients into four PRS risk groups: low (0 to 19th percentile), intermediate (20 to 79th percentile), high (80 to 98th percentile), and very high (99th percentile). We defined a favorable and unfavorable lifestyle with four modifiable lifestyle components, including smoking, obesity, physical activity, and diet. Cox proportional hazard models were used to analyze the relationship between PRS and CV mortality with stratification by age, sex, disease status, and lifestyle behavior. RESULTS: Of 377,909 UK Biobank participants having European ancestry, 3,210 (0.8%) died due to CV disease during a median follow-up of 8.9 years. CV mortality risk was significantly associated with CAD PRS (low vs. very high genetic risk groups, CAD PRS hazard ratio [HR] 2.61 [2.02 to 3.36]) and T2DM PRS (HR 2.08 [1.58 to 2.73]), respectively. These relationships remained significant even after adjustment for a comprehensive range of demographic and clinical factors. In the very high genetic risk group, adherence to an unfavorable lifestyle was further associated with a substantially increased risk of CV mortality (favorable versus unfavorable lifestyle with very high genetic risk for CAD PRS, HR 8.31 [5.12 to 13.49]; T2DM PRS, HR 5.84 [3.39 to 10.04]). Across all genetic risk groups, 32.1% of CV mortality was attributable to lifestyle behavior (population attributable fraction [PAF] 32.1% [95% CI 28.8 to 35.3%]) and 14.1% was attributable to smoking (PAF 14.1% [95% CI 12.4 to 15.7%]). There was no evidence of significant interaction between PRSs and age, sex, or lifestyle behavior in predicting the risk of CV mortality. CONCLUSION: PRSs for CAD or T2DM and lifestyle behaviors are independent predictive factors for future CV mortality in the white, middle-aged population. PRS-based risk assessment could be useful to identify individuals who need intensive behavioral or therapeutic interventions to reduce the risk of CV mortality.

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