Background The evolutionary pressure of endemic malaria and other erythrocytic pathogens has shaped variation in genes encoding erythrocyte structural and functional proteins, influencing responses to hemolytic stress during transfusion and disease.Methods We sought to identify such genetic variants in blood donors by conducting a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 12,353 volunteer donors, including 1,406 African Americans, 1,306 Asians, and 945 Hispanics, whose stored erythrocytes were characterized by quantitative assays of in vitro osmotic, oxidative, and cold-storage hemolysis.Results GWAS revealed 27 significant loci (P < 5 × 10–8), many in candidate genes known to modulate erythrocyte structure, metabolism, and ion channels, including SPTA1, ALDH2, ANK1, HK1, MAPKAPK5, AQP1, PIEZO1, and SLC4A1/band 3. GWAS of oxidative hemolysis identified variants in genes encoding antioxidant enzymes, including GLRX, GPX4, G6PD, and SEC14L4 (Golgi-transport protein). Genome-wide significant loci were also tested for association with the severity of steady-state (baseline) in vivo hemolytic anemia in patients with sickle cell disease, with confirmation of identified SNPs in HBA2, G6PD, PIEZO1, AQP1, and SEC14L4.Conclusions Many of the identified variants, such as those in G6PD, have previously been shown to impair erythrocyte recovery after transfusion, associate with anemia, or cause rare Mendelian human hemolytic diseases. Candidate SNPs in these genes, especially in polygenic combinations, may affect RBC recovery after transfusion and modulate disease severity in hemolytic diseases, such as sickle cell disease and malaria.
Grier P. Page, Tamir Kanias, Yuelong J. Guo, Marion C. Lanteri, Xu Zhang, Alan E. Mast, Ritchard G. Cable, Bryan R. Spencer, Joseph E. Kiss, Fang Fang, Stacy M. Endres-Dighe, Donald Brambilla, Mehdi Nouraie, Victor R. Gordeuk, Steve Kleinman, Michael P. Busch, Mark T. Gladwin, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Recipient Epidemiology Donor Evaluation Study–III (REDS-III) program