Genomewide association study of acute anterior uveitis identifies new susceptibility loci

Xiu Feng Huang, Zhixiu Li, Erika de Guzman, Philip Robinson, Lianne Gensler, Michael M. Ward, Mohammad Hossein Rahbar, Min Jae Lee, Michael H. Weisman, Gary J. Macfarlane, Gareth T. Jones, Eva Klingberg, Helena Forsblad-D’Elia, Peter McCluskey, Denis Wakefield, Jeff S. Coombes, Maria A. Fiatarone Singh, Yorgi Mavros, Nicole Vlahovich, David C. HughesHelena Marzo-Ortega, Irene van der Horste-Bruinsma, Finbar O’Shea, Tammy M. Martin, James Rosenbaum, Maxime Breban, Zi Bing Jin, Paul Leo, John D. Reveille, B. Paul Wordsworth, Matthew A. Brown*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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PURPOSE. Acute anterior uveitis (AAU) is a common intraocular inflammatory disease. AAU occurs in 30% to 50% of patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and both conditions are strongly associated with human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B27, implying a shared etiology. This study aims to apply genomewide association study (GWAS) to characterize the genetic associations of AAU and their relationship to the genetics of AS. METHODS. We undertook the GWAS analyses in 2752 patients with AS with AAU (cases) and 3836 patients with AS without AAU (controls). There were 7,436,415 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) available after SNP microarray genotyping, imputation, and quality-control filtering. RESULTS. We identified one locus associated with AAU at genomewide significance: rs9378248 (P = 2.69 × 10−8, odds ratio [OR] = 0.78), lying close to HLA-B. Suggestive association was observed at 11 additional loci, including previously reported AS loci ERAP1 (rs27529, P = 2.19 × 10−7, OR = 1.22) and NOS2 (rs2274894, P = 8.22 × 10−7, OR = 0.83). Multiple novel suggestive associations were also identified, including MERTK (rs10171979, P = 2.56 × 10−6, OR = 1.20), KIFAP3 (rs508063, P = 5.64 × 10−7, OR = 1.20), CLCN7 (rs67412457, P = 1.33 × 10−6, OR = 1.25), ACAA2 (rs9947182, P = 9.70 × 10−7, OR = 1.37), and 5 intergenic loci. The SNP-based heritability is approximately 0.5 for AS alone, and is much higher (approximately 0.7) for AS with AAU. Consistent with the high heritability, a genomewide polygenic risk score shows strong power in identifying individuals at high risk of either AS with AAU or AS alone. CONCLUSIONS. We report here the first GWAS for AAU and identify new susceptibility loci. Our findings confirm the strong overlap in etiopathogenesis of AAU with AS, and also provide new insights into the genetic basis of AAU.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number6
Early online date3 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

The authors thank all participating subjects with AS and healthy individuals who provided the DNA and clinical information necessary for this study. We would like to acknowledge the contributions of Anna Deminger, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, and Urban Hellman, Umeå University, for their assistance in case recruitment and assessment and handling biological samples

Funding Information:
The survey was conducted by NatCen and the genomewide scan data were analyzed and deposited by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Information on how to access the data can be found on the Understanding Society website https: www. . We acknowledge and thank the TCRA AS Group for their support in recruiting patients for the study. M.A.B. is funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia) Senior Principal Research Fellowship, and support for this study was received from a National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia) program Grant (566938) and project Grant (569829), and from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation and Rebecca Cooper Medical Research Foundation. We are also very grateful for the invaluable support received from the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (UK) and Spondyloarthritis Association of America in case recruitment. Additional financial and technical support for patient recruitment was provided by the National Institute for Health Research Oxford Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit and NIHR Thames Valley Comprehensive Local Research and an unrestricted educational grant from Abbott Laboratories. The authors acknowledge the sharing of data and samples by the BSRBR-AS Register in Aberdeen. Chief Investigator, Prof Gary Macfarlane and Dr Gareth Jones, Deputy Chief Investigator, created the BSRBR-AS study, which was commissioned by the British Society for Rheumatology, funded in part by Abbvie, Pfizer, and UCB. We are grateful to every patient, past and present staff of the BSRBR-AS register team, and to all clinical staff who recruited patients, followed them up and entered data – details here: epidemiology/spondyloarthritis.php#panel1011. Funding was also received from the Swedish Research Council and The Swedish state under the agreement between the Swedish government and the county councils, the ALF agreement. The Irish data was derived from participants in ASRI – The Ankylosing Spondylitis Registry of Ireland, which is funded by unrestricted grants from Abbvie and Pfizer. Funding bodies involved played no role in the study design, performance, or preparation of this manuscript.

Funding Information:
X.F.H. was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31771390). The TASC study was funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) grants P01-052915, R01-AR046208. Funding was also received from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston CTSA grant UL1RR02418, Cedars-Sinai GCRC grant MO1-RR00425, Intramural Research Program, NIAMS/NIH, and Rebecca Cooper Foundation (Australia). This study was funded, in part, by Arthritis Research UK (Grants 19536 and 18797), by the Wellcome Trust (Grant number 076113), and by the Oxford Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre ankylosing spondylitis chronic disease cohort (Theme Code: A91202). The New Zealand data was derived from participants in the Spondyloarthritis Genetics and the Environment Study (SAGE) and was funded by The Health Research Council, New Zealand. H.X. was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China Grant 81020108029 and 30872339. French sample collection was performed by the Groupe Française d’Etude Génétique des Spondylarthrites, coordinated by Professor Maxime Breban, and funded by the Agence Nationale de Recherche GEMISA grant reference ANR-10-MIDI-0002. We acknowledge the Understanding Society: The UK Household Longitudinal Study. This is led by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Inc.. All rights reserved.


  • Acute anterior uveitis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Genetic risk scores
  • GWAS
  • Heritability


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