Genome-wide associaton scan of serum urea in European populations identifies two novel loci
Background/objectives: Serum urea level is a heritable trait commonly used as a diagnostic marker for kidney function. GWAS in East-Asian populations identified a number of genetic loci related to serum urea but there is a paucity of data for European populations.
Subjects/methods: We performed a two-stage meta-analysis of GWASs on serum urea in 13,312 participants, with independent replication in 7379 participants of European ancestry.
Results: We identified six genome-wide significant SNPs in or near six loci, of which two were novel (POU2AF1 and ADAMTS9-AS2). Replication of East-Asian and Scottish data provided evidence for an additional eight loci. SNPs tag regions previously associated with anthropometric traits, serum magnesium, and urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio, as well as expression quantitative trait loci for genes preferentially expressed in kidney and gastro-intestinal tissues.
Conclusions: Our findings provide insights in the genetic underpinnings of urea metabolism, with potential relevance to kidney function.