Gene Set Enrichment Analsyes Identify Pathways Involved in Genetic Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy. Am J Ophthalmol 2022;233:111-123.Abstract.
To identify functionally related genes associated with diabetic retinopathy (DR) risk using gene set enrichment analyses applied to genome-wide association study meta-analyses. METHODS: We analyzed DR GWAS meta-analyses performed on 3246 Europeans and 2611 African Americans with type 2 diabetes. Gene sets relevant to 5 key DR pathophysiology processes were investigated: tissue injury, vascular events, metabolic events and glial dysregulation, neuronal dysfunction, and inflammation. Keywords relevant to these processes were queried in 4 pathway and ontology databases. Two GSEA methods, Meta-Analysis Gene set Enrichment of variaNT Associations (MAGENTA) and Multi-marker Analysis of GenoMic Annotation (MAGMA), were used. Gene sets were defined to be enriched for gene associations with DR if the P value corrected for multiple testing (Pcorr) was <.05. RESULTS: Five gene sets were significantly enriched for numerous modest genetic associations with DR in one method (MAGENTA or MAGMA) and also at least nominally significant (uncorrected P < .05) in the other method. These pathways were regulation of the lipid catabolic process (2-fold enrichment, Pcorr = .014); nitric oxide biosynthesis (1.92-fold enrichment, Pcorr = .022); lipid digestion, mobilization, and transport (1.6-fold enrichment, P = .032); apoptosis (1.53-fold enrichment, P = .041); and retinal ganglion cell degeneration (2-fold enrichment, Pcorr = .049). The interferon gamma (IFNG) gene, previously implicated in DR by protein-protein interactions in our GWAS, was among the top ranked genes in the nitric oxide pathway (best variant P = .0001). CONCLUSIONS: These GSEA indicate that variants in genes involved in oxidative stress, lipid transport and catabolism, and cell degeneration are enriched for genes associated with DR risk. NOTE: Publication of this article is sponsored by the American Ophthalmological Society.