The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism Journal Article

Genetic Association Study of Eight Steroid Hormones and Implications for Sexual Dimorphism of Coronary Artery Disease

June 06, 2019

Janne Pott, Yoon Ju Bae, Katrin Horn, Andrej Teren, Andreas Kühnapfel, Holger Kirsten, Uta Ceglarek, Markus Loeffler, Joachim Thiery, Jürgen Kratzsch, Markus Scholz
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 104, Issue 11, November 2019, Pages 5008–5023
https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2019-00757

Abstract

Context

Steroid hormones are important regulators of physiological processes in humans and are under genetic control. A link to coronary artery disease (CAD) is supposed.

Objective

Our main objective was to identify genetic loci influencing steroid hormone levels. As a secondary aim, we searched for causal effects of steroid hormones on CAD.

Design

We conducted genome-wide meta-association studies for eight steroid hormones: cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), estradiol, and testosterone in two independent cohorts (LIFE-Adult, LIFE-Heart, maximum n = 7667), and progesterone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, androstenedione, and aldosterone in LIFE-Heart only (maximum n = 2070). All genome-wide significant loci were tested for sex interactions. Furthermore, we tested whether previously reported CAD single-nucleotide polymorphisms were associated with our steroid hormone panel and investigated causal links between hormone levels and CAD status using Mendelian randomization (MR) approaches.

Results

We discovered 15 novel associated loci for 17-hydroxyprogesterone, progesterone, DHEAS, cortisol, androstenedione, and estradiol. Five of these loci relate to genes directly involved in steroid metabolism, that is, CYP21A1, CYP11B1, CYP17A1, STS, and HSD17B12, almost completing the set of steroidogenic enzymes with genetic associations. Sexual dimorphisms were found for seven of the novel loci. Other loci correspond, for example, to the WNT4/β-catenin pathway. MR revealed that cortisol, androstenedione, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, and DHEA-S had causal effects on CAD. We also observed enrichment of cortisol and testosterone associations among known CAD hits.

Conclusion

Our study greatly improves insight into genetic regulation of steroid hormones and their dependency on sex. These results could serve as a basis for analyzing sexual dimorphism in other complex diseases.

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