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Genome-wide analysis of blood lipid metabolites in over 5000 South Asians reveals biological insights at cardiometabolic disease loci.

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Harshfield, Eric L 
Fauman, Eric B 
Stacey, David 
Ziemek, Daniel 



Genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors can lead to perturbations in circulating lipid levels and increase the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. However, how changes in individual lipid species contribute to disease risk is often unclear. Moreover, little is known about the role of lipids on cardiovascular disease in Pakistan, a population historically underrepresented in cardiovascular studies.


We characterised the genetic architecture of the human blood lipidome in 5662 hospital controls from the Pakistan Risk of Myocardial Infarction Study (PROMIS) and 13,814 healthy British blood donors from the INTERVAL study. We applied a candidate causal gene prioritisation tool to link the genetic variants associated with each lipid to the most likely causal genes, and Gaussian Graphical Modelling network analysis to identify and illustrate relationships between lipids and genetic loci.


We identified 253 genetic associations with 181 lipids measured using direct infusion high-resolution mass spectrometry in PROMIS, and 502 genetic associations with 244 lipids in INTERVAL. Our analyses revealed new biological insights at genetic loci associated with cardiometabolic diseases, including novel lipid associations at the LPL, MBOAT7, LIPC, APOE-C1-C2-C4, SGPP1, and SPTLC3 loci.


Our findings, generated using a distinctive lipidomics platform in an understudied South Asian population, strengthen and expand the knowledge base of the genetic determinants of lipids and their association with cardiometabolic disease-related loci.


Funder: Pfizer

Funder: Novartis

Funder: National Institute for Health Research

Funder: Merck


Genetics, Lipidomics, Network Analysis, South Asian, Gaussian Graphical Modelling

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BMC medicine

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Wellcome Trust (105602/Z/14/Z)
British Heart Foundation (SP/09/002, RG/18/13/33946, RG/13/13/30194)
Medical Research Council (MC_PC_13030, MC_UP_A090_1006, G0800270, G0800783, MR/L003120/1)
Sixth Framework Programme (Bloodomics Integrated Project)