Multi-ancestry study of blood lipid levels identifies four loci interacting with physical activity

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Many genetic loci affect circulating lipid levels, but it remains unknown whether lifestyle factors, such as physical activity, modify these genetic effects. To identify lipid loci interacting with physical activity, we performed genome-wide analyses of circulating HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in up to 120,979 individuals of European, African, Asian, Hispanic, and Brazilian ancestry, with follow-up of suggestive associations in an additional 131,012 individuals. We find four loci, in/near CLASP1, LHX1, SNTA1, and CNTNAP2, that are associated with circulating lipid levels through interaction with physical activity; higher levels of physical activity enhance the HDL cholesterol-increasing effects of the CLASP1, LHX1, and SNTA1 loci and attenuate the LDL cholesterol-increasing effect of the CNTNAP2 locus. The CLASP1, LHX1, and SNTA1 regions harbor genes linked to muscle function and lipid metabolism. Our results elucidate the role of physical activity interactions in the genetic contribution to blood lipid levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number376
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present work was largely supported by a grant from the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (R01HL118305). The full list of acknowledgments appears in the Supplementary Notes 3 and 4.

Funding Information:
Competing interests: Bruce M. Psaty serves on the DSMB of a clinical trial funded by the manufacturer (Zoll LifeCor) and on the Steering Committee of the Yale Open Data Access Project funded by Johnson & Johnson. Brenda W.J.H. Penninx has received research funding (nonrelated to the work reported here) from Jansen Research and Boehringer Ingelheim. Mike A. Nalls’ participation is supported by a consulting contract between Data Tecnica International and the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA. Dr. Nalls also consults for Illumina Inc, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and University of California Healthcare among others, and has a Commercial affiliation with Data Technica International, Glen Echo, MD, USA. Jost B. Jonas serves as a consultant for Mundipharma Co. (Cambridge, UK), patent holder with Biocompatibles UK Ltd. (Franham, Surrey, UK) (Title: Treatment of eye diseases using encapsulated cells encoding and secreting neuroprotective factor and/or anti-angiogenic factor; Patent number: 20120263794), and is patent applicant with University of Heidelberg (Heidelberg, Germany) (Title: Agents for use in the therapeutic or prophylactic treatment of myopia or hyperopia; Europäische Patentanmeldung 15,000 771.4). Paul W. Franks has been a paid consultant in the design of a personalized Nutrition trial (PREDICT) as part of a private-public partnership at Kings College London, UK, and has received research support from several pharmaceutical Companies as part of European Union Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) Projects. Terho Lehtimäki is employed by Fimlab Ltd. Ozren Polasek is employed by Gen-info Ltd. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (all)
  • Chemistry (all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)


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