Ph.D. Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Overweight and obese are risk factors for various diseases. In Taiwan, the combined prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased dramatically. Here, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on four adiposity traits, including body-mass index (BMI), body fat percentage (BF%), waist circumference (WC), and waist-hip ratio (WHR), using the data for more than 21,000 subjects in Taiwan Biobank. Associations were evaluated between 6,546,460 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and adiposity traits, yielding 13 genome-wide significant (GWS) adiposity-associated trait-loci pairs. A known gene, FTO, as well as two BF%-associated loci (GNPDA2-GABRG1 [4p12] and RNU6-2-PIAS1 [15q23]) were identified as pleiotropic effects. Moreover, RALGAPA1 was found as a specific genetic predisposing factor to high BMI in a Taiwanese population. Compared to other populations, a slightly lower heritability of the four adiposity traits was found in our cohort. Surprisingly, we uncovered the importance of neural pathways that might influence BF%, WC and WHR in the Taiwanese (East Asian) population. Additionally, a moderate genetic correlation between the WHR and BMI (γ = 0.52; p = 2.37×10) was detected, suggesting different genetic determinants exist for abdominal adiposity and overall adiposity. In conclusion, the obesity-related genetic loci identified here provide new insights into the genetic underpinnings of adiposity in the Taiwanese population.