We report the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) whose sample size (1,053 Swedish subjects) is sufficiently powered to detect genome-wide significance (p<1.5×10−7) for polymorphisms that modestly alter therapeutic warfarin dose. The anticoagulant drug warfarin is widely prescribed for reducing the risk of stroke, thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and coronary malfunction. However, Caucasians vary widely (20-fold) in the dose needed for therapeutic anticoagulation, and hence prescribed doses may be too low (risking serious illness) or too high (risking severe bleeding). Prior work established that ~30% of the dose variance is explained by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the warfarin drug target VKORC1 and another ~12% by two non-synonymous SNPs (*2, *3) in the cytochrome P450 warfarin-metabolizing gene CYP2C9. We initially tested each of 325,997 GWAS SNPs for association with warfarin dose by univariate regression and found the strongest statistical signals (p<10−78) at SNPs clustering near VKORC1 and the second lowest p-values (p<10−31) emanating from CYP2C9. No other SNPs approached genome-wide significance. To enhance detection of weaker effects, we conducted multiple regression adjusting for known influences on warfarin dose (VKORC1, CYP2C9, age, gender) and identified a single SNP (rs2108622) with genome-wide significance (p = 8.3×10−10) that alters protein coding of the CYP4F2 gene. We confirmed this result in 588 additional Swedish patients (p<0.0029) and, during our investigation, a second group provided independent confirmation from a scan of warfarin-metabolizing genes. We also thoroughly investigated copy number variations, haplotypes, and imputed SNPs, but found no additional highly significant warfarin associations. We present power analysis of our GWAS that is generalizable to other studies, and conclude we had 80% power to detect genome-wide significance for common causative variants or markers explaining at least 1.5% of dose variance. These GWAS results provide further impetus for conducting large-scale trials assessing patient benefit from genotype-based forecasting of warfarin dose.
Recently, geneticists have begun assaying hundreds of thousands of genetic markers covering the entire human genome to systematically search for and identify genes that cause disease. We have extended this “genome-wide association study” (GWAS) method by assaying ~326,000 markers in 1,053 Swedish patients in order to identify genes that alter response to the anticoagulant drug warfarin. Warfarin is widely prescribed to reduce blood clotting in order to protect high-risk patients from stroke, thrombosis, and heart attack. But patients vary widely (20-fold) in the warfarin dose needed for proper blood thinning, which means that initial doses in some patients are too high (risking severe bleeding) or too low (risking serious illness). Our GWAS detected two genes (VKORC1, CYP2C9) already known to cause ~40% of the variability in warfarin dose and discovered a new gene (CYP4F2) contributing 1%–2% of the variability. Since our GWAS searched the entire genome, additional genes having a major influence on warfarin dose might not exist or be found in the near-term. Hence, clinical trials assessing patient benefit from individualized dose forecasting based on a patient's genetic makeup at VKORC1, CYP2C9 and possibly CYP4F2 could provide state-of-the-art clinical benchmarks for warfarin use during the foreseeable future.
2009. Vol. 5, no 3, e1000433- p.