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Methods: We evaluated the interaction between smoking exposure, considered as either ever vs never or pack-years, and a 26-single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) genetic risk score in relation to FEV1 or FEV1/FVC in 50 047 participants of European ancestry from the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) and SpiroMeta consortia.
Results: We identified an interaction (βint = –0.036, 95% confidence interval, –0.040 to –0.032, P = 0.00057) between an unweighted 26 SNP genetic risk score and smoking status (ever/never) on the FEV1/FVC ratio. In interpreting this interaction, we showed that the genetic risk of falling below the FEV1/FVC threshold used to diagnose chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is higher among ever smokers than among never smokers. A replication analysis in two independent datasets, although not statistically significant, showed a similar trend in the interaction effect.
Conclusions: This study highlights the benefit of using genetic risk scores for identifying interactions missed when studying individual SNPs and shows, for the first time, that persons with the highest genetic risk for low FEV1/FVC may be more susceptible to the deleterious effects of smoking.