Associations between common variants in iron-related genes with haematological traits in populations of African ancestry

W.N. Gichohi-Wainaina*, T. Tanaka, Wayne Towers, J.C.M. Verhoef, J. Veenemans, E.F. Talsma, J.L. Harryvan, M.V. Boekschoten, E.J.M. Feskens, A. Melse-Boonstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


BackgroundLarge genome-wide association (GWA) studies of European ancestry individuals have identified multiple genetic variants influencing iron status. Studies on the generalizability of these associations to African ancestry populations have been limited. These studies are important given interethnic differences in iron status and the disproportionate burden of iron deficiency among African ancestry populations.MethodsWe tested the associations of 20 previously identified iron status-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 628 Kenyans, 609 Tanzanians, 608 South Africans and 228 African Americans. In each study, we examined the associations present between 20 SNPs with ferritin and haemoglobin, adjusting for age, sex and CRP levels.ResultsIn the meta analysis including all 4 African ancestry cohorts, we replicated previously reported associations with lowered haemoglobin concentrations for rs2413450 (β = -0.19, P = 0.02) and rs4820268 (β = -0.16, P = 0.04) in TMPRSS6. An association with increased ferritin concentrations was also confirmed for rs1867504 in TF (β = 1.04, P = <0.0001) in the meta analysis including the African cohorts only.ConclusionsIn all meta analyses, we only replicated 4 of the 20 single nucleotide polymorphisms reported to be associated with iron status in large GWA studies of European ancestry individuals. While there is now evidence for the associations of a number of genetic variants with iron status in both European and African ancestry populations, the considerable lack of concordance highlights the importance of continued ancestry-specific studies to elucidate the genetic underpinnings of iron status in ethnically diverse populations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0157996
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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