Global Gene Expression Profiling of Body-Mass Index in Middle-Aged Danish Twins
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Objective: The body mass index (BMI) measured as weight in relation to height is an important monitor for obesity and diabetes, with individual variation under control by genetic and environmental factors. In transcriptome-wide association studies on BMI, the genetic contribution calls for controlling of genetic confounding that affects both BMI and gene expression. We performed a global gene expression profiling of BMI on peripheral blood cells using monozygotic twins for efficient handling of genetic make-ups. Methods: We applied a generalized association method to genome-wide gene expression data on 229 pairs of monozygotic twins (age 56-80 years) for detecting diverse patterns of correlation between BMI and gene expression. Results: We detected seven probes associated with BMI with p<1e-04, among them two probes with p<1e-05 (p=2.83e-06 AAK1; p=7.83e-06 LILRA3). In total, the analysis found 1579 probes with nominal p<0.05. Biological pathway analysis of enriched pathways found 50 KEGG and 45 Reactome pathways (FDR<0.05). The identified top functional pathways included immune function, JAK-STAT signalling, insulin signalling and regulation of energy metabolism. Conclusion: This transcriptome-wide association study using monozygotic twins and generalized correlation identified differentially expressed genes and a broad spectrum of enriched biological pathways that may implicate metabolic health.