Indexed on: 31 Mar '19Published on: 30 Mar '19Published in: American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been associated with numerous genetic variants, yet the extent to which its genetic risk is mediated by variation in lung structure remains unknown. To characterize associations between a genetic risk score (GRS) associated with COPD susceptibility and lung structure on computed tomography (CT). We analyzed data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Lung Study, a US general population-based cohort, and SPIROMICS, a study of COPD. A weighted GRS was calculated from 83 single nucleotide polymorphisms previously associated with lung function. Lung density, spatially-matched airway dimensions, and airway counts were assessed on full-lung CT. Generalized linear models were adjusted for age, age-squared, sex, height , principal components of genetic ancestry, smoking status, pack-years, CT model, milliamperes, and total lung volume. MESA Lung and SPIROMICS contributed 2,517 and 2,339 participants, respectively. Higher GRS was associated with lower lung function and increased COPD risk, as well as lower lung density, smaller airway lumens, and fewer small airways, without effect modification by smoking. Adjustment for CT lung structure, particularly small airways measures, attenuated associations between the GRS and FEV1/FVC by 100% and 60% in MESA and SPIROMICS, respectively. Lung structure (P<.0001), but not the GRS (P>.10), improved discrimination of moderate-to-severe COPD cases relative to clinical factors alone. A GRS associated with COPD susceptibility was associated with CT lung structure. Lung structure may be an important mediator of heritability and determinant of personalized COPD risk.