Indexed on: 31 Oct '12Published on: 31 Oct '12Published in: PloS one
Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) is the most common late-onset, vision-threatening corneal dystrophy in the United States, affecting about 4% of the population. Advanced FECD involves a thickening of the cornea from stromal edema and changes in Descemet membrane. To understand the relationship between FECD and central corneal thickness (CCT), we characterized common genetic variation in COL8A2 and TCF4, genes previously implicated in CCT and/or FECD. Other genes previously associated with FECD (PITX2, ZEB1, SLC4A11), and genes only known to affect CCT (COL5A1, FOXO1, AVGR8, ZNF469) were also interrogated. FECD probands, relatives and controls were recruited from 32 clinical sites; a total of 532 cases and 204 controls were genotyped and tested for association of FECD case/control status, a 7-step FECD severity scale and CCT, adjusting for age and sex. Association of FECD grade with TCF4 was highly significant (OR= 6.01 at rs613872; p = 4.8×10(-25)), and remained significant when adjusted for changes in CCT (OR= 4.84; p = 2.2×10(-16)). Association of CCT with TCF4 was also significant (p = 6.1×10(-7)), but was abolished with adjustment for FECD grade (p = 0.92). After adjusting for FECD grade, markers in other genes examined were modestly associated (p ∼ 0.001) with FECD and/or CCT. Thus, common variants in TCF4 appear to influence FECD directly, and CCT secondarily via FECD. Additionally, changes in corneal thickness due to the effect of other loci may modify disease severity, age-at-onset, or other biomechanical characteristics.