Extreme Phenotype Approach Suggests Taste Transduction Pathway for Carotid Plaque in a Multi-Ethnic Cohort

Nicole D. Dueker, Brett Doliner, Hannah Gardener, Chuanhui Dong, Ashley Beecham, David Della-Morte, Ralph L. Sacco, Susan H. Blanton, Liyong Wang, Tatjana Rundek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Purpose: Carotid plaque is a heritable trait and a strong predictor of vascular events. Several loci have been identified for carotid plaque, however, studies in minority populations are lacking. Within a multi-ethnic cohort, we have identified individuals with extreme total carotid plaque area (TCPA), that is, higher or lower TCPA than expected based on traditional vascular risk factors (age, sex, smoking, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, etc). We hypothesized that these individuals are enriched with genetic variants accounting for the plaque burden that cannot be explained by traditional vascular risk factors. Herein, we sought to identify the genetic basis for TCPA using the multi-ethnic cohort. Methods: Three hundred forty participants (170 from each extreme group) from 3 race/ethnic groups (53% Hispanic, 29% non-Hispanic Black, and 18% non-Hispanic White) were genotyped using a genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array and imputed using 1000Genome data. SNP-based analyses using logistic regression and gene-based analyses using VEGAS2 were performed within each race/ethnic group and then meta-analyzed. Genes with P<0.001 were included in an overrepresentation enrichment pathway analysis using WebGestalt. Promising findings were tested for association with ischemic stroke using the MEGASTROKE Consortium data set. Results: No SNP or gene reached genome-wide significance. In the pathway analysis, GO:0050913 (sensory perception of bitter taste) gene set was significantly enriched (P=4.5×10-6, false discovery rate=0.04), which was confirmed in MEGASTROKE (P=0.01). Within the GO:0050913 gene set, 3 genes were associated with extreme TCPA in our study (P<0.001): TAS2R20, TAS2R50, and ITPR3. In TAS2R50, rs1376251 is the top SNP and has been associated with myocardial infarction by others. In ITPR3, a SNP with high regulatory potential (rs3818527, RegulomeScore=1f), and ITPR3 itself were among the top SNP-based and gene-based results and showed consistent evidence for association in all ethnic groups (P<0.05). Conclusions: Extreme TCPA analysis identified new candidate genes for carotid plaque in understudied populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2761-2769
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • atherosclerosis
  • diabetes mellitus
  • genome-wide association study
  • hypertension
  • population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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