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Education Interacts With Genetic Variants to Increase Myopia Risk

Genotype by education interaction identified for five genetic variants, with increased effect for university-level education

TUESDAY, Nov. 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Education interacts with genetic variants to confer susceptibility to myopia, according to a study published online Nov. 17 in PLOS Genetics.

Rosie Clark, Ph.D., from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues aimed to identify genetic variants that interact with education level to confer susceptibility to myopia in a study involving two groups of unrelated participants of European ancestry from the U.K. Biobank. A stage I sample included 88,334 participants whose refractive error was measured by autorefraction, and a stage II sample included 252,838 participants who self-reported their age of onset of spectacle wear. Genetic variants were prioritized in a two-step screening process using the stage I sample: a genome-wide association study and a variance heterogeneity analysis for refractive error. In the stage II sample, genotype-by-education interaction tests were performed.

The researchers found that 25 genetic variants were prioritized in the two-step screening strategy in the stage I sample. Nineteen of the 25 variants (76 percent) demonstrated evidence of variance heterogeneity in the stage II sample. Evidence of a genotype-by-education interaction in the stage II sample and consistent evidence of a genotype-by-education interaction in the stage I sample was identified for five genetic variants located near GJD2, RBFOX1, LAMA2, KCNQ5, and LRRC4C. For all five variants, there was an association for university-level education with an increased effect of the risk allele.

“Building on our previous research linking education and myopia, the new study identifies five genes associated with myopia development whose effects are amplified by additional years spent in education,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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