Regional european genetic ancestry predicts type I interferon level and risk of severe viral infection.

Nln I, Shum J, Ghodke-Puranik Y, Tipon R, Triese D, Amin S, Makol A, Osborn T, Chowdhary V, Thanarajasingam U, Wampler Muskardin TL, Oke V, Gunnarsson I, Zickert A, Zervou MI, Boumpas DT, Svenungsson E, Goulielmos GN, Niewold TB

QJM - (-) - [2024-03-26; online 2024-03-26]

Viral infection outcomes vary widely between individuals, ranging from mild symptoms to severe organ failure and death, and it is clear that host genetic factors play a role in this variability. Type I interferon (IFN) is a critical anti-viral cytokine, and we have previously noted differences in type I IFN levels between world populations. In this study, we investigate the interrelationship between regional European genetic ancestry, type I IFN levels, and severe viral infection outcomes. In cohorts of European ancestry lupus patients living in Europe, we noted higher IFN in the Northwestern populations as compared to Southeastern populations. In an independent cohort of European ancestry lupus patients from the United States with varying proportional regional European genetic admixture, we observed the same Northwest vs. Southeast European ancestry IFN gradient. We developed a model to predict type I IFN level based on regional European ancestry (AUC = 0.73, p = 6.1e-6). Examining large databases containing serious viral outcomes data, we found that lower predicted IFN in the corresponding European country was significantly correlated with increased viral infection fatality rate, including COVID-19, viral hepatitis, and HIV [Correlation coefficients: -0.79 (p = 4e-2), -0.94 (p = 6e-3), and -0.96 (p = 8e-2) respectively]. This association between predicted type I IFN level and viral outcome severity suggests a potential causal relationship, as greater intrinsic type I IFN is beneficial in host defense against viruses. Genetic testing could provide insight into individual and population level risk of fatality due to viruses prior to infection, across a wide range of viral pathogens.

Category: Genomics & transcriptomics

Category: Health

Type: Journal article

PubMed 38530799

DOI 10.1093/qjmed/hcae052

Crossref 10.1093/qjmed/hcae052

pii: 7635167

Publications 9.5.0