Genome-wide association studies of cerebral white matter lesion burden

Myriam Fornage, Stephanie Debette, Joshua C. Bis, Helena Schmidt, M. Arfan Ikram, Carole Dufouil, Sigurdur Sigurdsson, Thomas Lumley, Anita L. Destefano, Franz Fazekas, Henri A. Vrooman, Dean K. Shibata, Pauline Maillard, Alex Zijdenbos, Albert V. Smith, Haukur Gudnason, Renske De Boer, Mary Cushman, Bernard Mazoyer, Gerardo HeissMeike W. Vernooij, Christian Enzinger, Nicole L. Glazer, Alexa Beiser, David S. Knopman, Margherita Cavalieri, Wiro J. Niessen, Tamara B. Harris, Katja Petrovic, Oscar L. Lopez, Rhoda Au, Jean Charles Lambert, Albert Hofman, Rebecca F. Gottesman, Melissa Garcia, Susan R. Heckbert, Larry D. Atwood, Diane J. Catellier, Andre G. Uitterlinden, Qiong Yang, Nicholas L. Smith, Thor Aspelund, Jose R. Romero, Kenneth Rice, Kent D. Taylor, Michael A. Nalls, Jerome I. Rotter, Richey Sharrett, Cornelia M. Van Duijn, Philippe Amouyel, Philip A. Wolf, Vilmundur Gudnason, Aad Van Der Lugt, Eric Boerwinkle, Bruce M. Psaty, Sudha Seshadri, Christophe Tzourio, Monique M.B. Breteler, Thomas H. Mosley, Reinhold Schmidt, W. T. Longstreth, Charles Decarli, Lenore J. Launer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


Objective: White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) detectable by magnetic resonance imaging are part of the spectrum of vascular injury associated with aging of the brain and are thought to reflect ischemic damage to the small deep cerebral vessels. WMHs are associated with an increased risk of cognitive and motor dysfunction, dementia, depression, and stroke. Despite a significant heritability, few genetic loci influencing WMH burden have been identified. Methods: We performed a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWASs) for WMH burden in 9,361 stroke-free individuals of European descent from 7 community-based cohorts. Significant findings were tested for replication in 3,024 individuals from 2 additional cohorts. Results: We identified 6 novel risk-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 1 locus on chromosome 17q25 encompassing 6 known genes including WBP2, TRIM65, TRIM47, MRPL38, FBF1, and ACOX1. The most significant association was for rs3744028 (p discovery = 4.0 × 10-9; preplication = 1.3 × 10-7; pcombined = 4.0 × 10 -15). Other SNPs in this region also reaching genome-wide significance were rs9894383 (p = 5.3 × 10-9), rs11869977 (p = 5.7 × 10-9), rs936393 (p = 6.8 × 10-9), rs3744017 (p = 7.3 × 10-9), and rs1055129 (p = 4.1 × 10-8). Variant alleles at these loci conferred a small increase in WMH burden (4-8% of the overall mean WMH burden in the sample). Interpretation: This large GWAS of WMH burden in community-based cohorts of individuals of European descent identifies a novel locus on chromosome 17. Further characterization of this locus may provide novel insights into the pathogenesis of cerebral WMH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)928-939
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of neurology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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