Advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly, with limited therapeutic options. Here we report on a study of >12 million variants, including 163,714 directly genotyped, mostly rare, protein-altering variants. Analyzing 16,144 patients and 17,832 controls, we identify 52 independently associated common and rare variants (P < 5 × 10 -8) distributed across 34 loci. Although wet and dry AMD subtypes exhibit predominantly shared genetics, we identify the first genetic association signal specific to wet AMD, near MMP9 (difference P value = 4.1 × 10 -10). Very rare coding variants (frequency <0.1%) in CFH, CFI and TIMP3 suggest causal roles for these genes, as does a splice variant in SLC16A8. Our results support the hypothesis that rare coding variants can pinpoint causal genes within known genetic loci and illustrate that applying the approach systematically to detect new loci requires extremely large sample sizes.
We thank all participants of all the studies included for enabling this research by their participation in these studies. Computer resources for this project have been provided by the high-performance computing centers of the University of Michigan and the University of Regensburg. Group-specific acknowledgments can be found in the Supplementary Note. The Center for Inherited Diseases Research (CIDR) Program contract number is HHSN268201200008I. This and the main consortium work were predominantly funded by 1X01HG006934-01 to G.R.A. and R01 EY022310 to J.L.H.