Published: 10 August 2022

Authors: Aabida Saferali, Dandi Qiao, Wonji Kim, Karen Raraigh, Hara Levy, Alejandro A. Diaz, Garry R. Cutting, Michael H. Cho, Craig P. Hersh on behalf of NHLBI TransOmics in Precision Medicine (TOPMed)

Source: This abstract has been sourced from NZ Respiratory Research Review Issue 203


    Introduction Loss-of-function variants in both copies of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene cause cystic fibrosis (CF); however, there is evidence that reduction in CFTR function due to the presence of one deleterious variant can have clinical consequences. Here, we hypothesise that CFTR variants in individuals with a history of smoking are associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and related phenotypes.

    Methods Whole-genome sequencing was performed through the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute TOPMed (TransOmics in Precision Medicine) programme in 8597 subjects from the COPDGene (Genetic Epidemiology of COPD) study, an observational study of current and former smokers. We extracted clinically annotated CFTR variants and performed single-variant and variant-set testing for COPD and related phenotypes. Replication was performed in 2118 subjects from the ECLIPSE (Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints) study.

    Results We identified 301 coding variants within the CFTR gene boundary: 147 of these have been reported in individuals with CF, including 36 CF-causing variants. We found that CF-causing variants were associated with chronic bronchitis in variant-set testing in COPDGene (one-sided p=0.0025; OR 1.53) and in meta-analysis of COPDGene and ECLIPSE (one-sided p=0.0060; OR 1.52). Single-variant testing revealed that the F508del variant was associated with chronic bronchitis in COPDGene (one-sided p=0.015; OR 1.47). In addition, we identified 32 subjects with two or more CFTR variants on separate alleles and these subjects were enriched for COPD cases (p=0.010).

    Conclusions Cigarette smokers who carry one deleterious CFTR variant have higher rates of chronic bronchitis, while presence of two CFTR variants may be associated with COPD. These results indicate that genetically mediated reduction in CFTR function contributes to COPD related phenotypes, in particular chronic bronchitis.

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