Objective: To assess whether women with a genetic predisposition to medical conditions known to increase pre-eclampsia risk have an increased risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy.
Design: Case–control study
Setting and population: Pre-eclampsia cases (n = 498) and controls (n = 1864) in women of European ancestry from five US sites genotyped on a cardiovascular gene-centric array.
Methods: Significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 21 traits in seven disease categories (cardiovascular, inflammatory/autoimmune, insulin resistance, liver, obesity, renal and thrombophilia) with published genome-wide association studies (GWAS) were used to create a genetic instrument for each trait. Multivariable logistic regression was used to test the association of each continuous scaled genetic instrument with pre-eclampsia. Odds of pre-eclampsia were compared across quartiles of the genetic instrument and evaluated for significance.
Main outcome measures: Genetic predisposition to medical conditions and relationship with pre-eclampsia.
Results: An increasing burden of risk alleles for elevated diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and increased body mass index (BMI) were associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia (DBP, overall OR 1.11, 95% CI 1.01–1.21, P = 0.025; BMI, OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.00–1.20, P = 0.042), whereas alleles associated with elevated alkaline phosphatase (ALP) were protective (OR 0.89, 95% CI 0.82–0.97, P = 0.008), driven primarily by pleiotropic effects of variants in the FADS gene region. The effect of DBP genetic loci was even greater in early-onset pre-eclampsia cases (at <34 weeks of gestation, OR 1.30, 95% CI 1.08–1.56, P = 0.005). For other traits, there was no evidence of an association.
Conclusions: These results suggest that the underlying genetic architecture of pre-eclampsia may be shared with other disorders, specifically hypertension and obesity.