Hum Mol Genet. 2018 Nov 16. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddy384. [Epub ahead of print]
Causal Effects of Blood Lipids on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Mendelian Randomization Study.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a late-onset fatal neurodegenerative disorder that is predicted to increase across the globe by ~70% in the following decades. Understanding the disease causal mechanism underlying ALS and identifying modifiable risks factors for ALS hold the key for the development of effective preventative and treatment strategies. Here, we investigate the causal effects of four blood lipid traits that include high density lipoprotein (HDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL), total cholesterol (TC), and triglycerides (TG) on the risk of ALS. By leveraging instrument variables from multiple large-scale genome-wide association studies in both European and East Asian populations, we carry out one of the largest and most comprehensive Mendelian randomization analyses performed to date on the causal relationship between lipids and ALS. Among the four lipids, we found that only LDL is causally associated with ALS and that higher LDL level increases the risk of ALS in both the European and East Asian populations. Specifically, the odds ratio of ALS per one standard deviation (i.e. 39.0 mg/dL) increase of LDL is estimated to be 1.14 (95% CI 1.05 - 1.24, p = 1.38E-3) in the European and population and 1.06 (95% CI 1.00 - 1.12, p = 0.044) in the East Asian population. The identified causal relationship between LDL and ALS is robust with respect to the choice of statistical methods and is validated through extensive sensitivity analyses that guard against various model assumption violations. Our study provides important evidence supporting the causal role of higher LDL on increasing the risk of ALS, paving ways for the development of preventative strategies for reducing the disease burden of ALS across multiple nations.