Background: Forearm fractures affect 1.7 million individuals worldwide each year and most occur earlier in life than hip fractures. While the heritability of forearm bone mineral density (BMD) and fracture is high, their genetic determinants are largely unknown. Aim: To identify genetic variants associated with forearm BMD and forearm fractures. Methods: BMD at distal radius, measured by dualenergy x-ray absorptiometry, was tested for association with common genetic variants. We conducted a metaanalysis of genome-wide association studies for BMD in 5866 subjects of European descent and then selected the variants for replication in 715 Mexican American samples. Gene-based association was carried out to supplement the single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) association test. We then tested the BMD-associated SNPs for association with forearm fracture in 2023 cases and 3740 controls. Results: We found that five SNPs in the introns of MEF2C were associated with forearm BMD at a genome-wide significance level (p<5×10-8) in metaanalysis (lead SNP, rs11951031[T] -0.20 SDs per allele, p=9.01×10-9). The gene-based association test suggested an association between MEF2C and forearm BMD ( p=0.003). The association between MEF2C variants and risk of fracture did not achieve statistical significance (SNP rs12521522[A]: OR=1.14 (95% CI 0.92 to 1.35), p=0.14). Meta-analysis also revealed two genome-wide suggestive loci at CTNNA2 and 6q23.2. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that variants at MEF2C were associated with forearm BMD, implicating this gene in the determination of BMD at forearm.
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