A Candidate Gene Study Revealed Sex-Specific Association Between the OLR1 Gene and Carotid Plaque
Background and Purpose—Sex differences have been recognized in stroke risk; however, the sex-dependent genetic contribution to stroke is unclear. We sought to examine the sex-dependent associations between genes involved in lipid metabolism and carotid atherosclerotic plaque, a subclinical precursor of stroke.
Methods—For the Genetic Determinant of Subclinical Carotid Disease study, 287 Dominicans ascertained through the Northern Manhattan Study were examined for carotid plaque using high-resolution ultrasound. Sixty-four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 11 lipid-related genes were genotyped. Plaque presence and plaque subphenotypes, including multiple, thick, irregular, and calcified plaque, were analyzed. First, the interaction between each SNP and sex was evaluated for association with each plaque phenotype using multiple logistic regression and controlling for age, smoking, and the main effects of sex and SNP. For SNPs with suggestive evidence for interaction with sex (P<0.1 for the interaction term), stratification analysis by sex was performed to evaluate the sex-specific association between the SNP and plaque phenotypes.
Results—The most compelling finding is with the missense SNP rs11053646 (K167N) in the OLR1 gene, which encodes lectin-like oxidized low-density lipoprotein receptor. Stratification analysis revealed a strong association between rs11053646 and all plaque phenotypes in women (OR, 2.44 to 5.86; P=0.0003 to 0.0081) but not in men (OR, 0.85 to 1.22; P=0.77 to 0.92).
Conclusions—Genetic variation in genes involved in lipid metabolism may have sex-dependent effects on carotid plaque burden. Our findings provide a plausible biological basis underlying the sex difference in cardiovascular risk.
- Received July 16, 2010.
- Revision received September 23, 2010.
- Accepted October 1, 2010.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.