Methods: We used a three-stage age-at-onset informed GWAS to identify novel genetic variants associated with stroke. On identifying a novel locus associated with SVS, we assessed its influence on other small vessel disease phenotypes, as well as on mRNA expression of nearby genes, and on DNA methylation of nearby CpG sites in whole blood and in the fetal brain.
Results: We identified an association with SVS in 4,203 cases and 50,728 controls on chromosome 16q24.2 (OR(95% CI)=1.16(1.10-1.22); p=3.2x10−9). The lead SNP (rs12445022) was also associated with cerebral white matter hyperintensities (OR(95% CI)=1.10(1.05-1.16); p=5.3x10−5; N=3,670), but not intracerebral haemorrhage (OR(95% CI)=0.97(0.84-1.12); p=0.71; 1,545 cases, 1,481 controls). rs12445022 is associated with mRNA expression of ZCCHC14 in arterial tissues (p=9.4x10−7), and DNA methylation at probe cg16596957 in whole blood (p=5.3x10−6).
Interpretation: 16q24.2 is associated with SVS. Associations of the locus with expression of ZCCHC14 and DNA methylation suggest the locus acts through changes to regulatory elements. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.