Background: Smoking is associated with carotid intima-media thickness (C-IMT). However, knowledge about how genetics may influence this association is limited. We aimed to perform nonhypothesis driven gene-smoking interaction analyses to identify potential genetic variants, among those included in immune and metabolic platforms, that may modify the effect of smoking on carotid intima-media thickness. Materials: We used baseline data from 1551 men and 1700 women, aged 55 to 79, included in a European multi-center study. Carotid intima-media thickness maximum, the maximum of values measured at different locations of the carotid tree, was dichotomized with cut point values ≥75, respectively. Genetic data were retrieved through use of the Illumina Cardio-Metabo- and Immuno- Chips. Gene-smoking interactions were evaluated through calculations of Synergy index (S). After adjustments for multiple testing, P values of <2.4×10-7 for S were considered significant. The models were adjusted for age, sex, education, physical activity, type of diet, and population stratification. Results: Our screening of 207 586 SNPs available for analysis, resulted in the identification of 47 significant gene-smoking synergistic interactions in relation to carotid intima-media thickness maximum. Among the significant SNPs, 28 were in protein coding genes, 2 in noncoding RNA and the remaining 17 in intergenic regions. Conclusions: Through nonhypothesis-driven analyses of gene-smoking interactions, several significant results were observed. These may stimulate further research on the role of specific genes in the process that determines the effect of smoking habits on the development of carotid atherosclerosis.
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