Using a polygenic score to account for genomic risk factors in a model to detect individuals with dilated ascending thoracic aortas.

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BACKGROUND: Ascending thoracic aortic dilation is a complex trait that involves modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors and can lead to thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection. Clinical risk factors have been shown to predict ascending thoracic aortic diameter. Polygenic scores (PGS) are increasingly used to assess clinical risk for multifactorial diseases. The degree to which a PGS can improve aortic diameter prediction is not known. In this study we tested the extent to which the addition of a PGS to clinical prediction algorithms improves the prediction of aortic diameter.

METHODS: The patient cohort comprised 6,790 Penn Medicine Biobank (PMBB) participants with available echocardiography and clinical data linked to genome-wide genotype data. Linear regression models were used to integrate PGS weights derived from a large genome wide association study of thoracic aortic diameter in the UK biobank and were compared to the performance of the standard and a reweighted variation of the recently published AORTA Score.

RESULTS: Cohort participants were 56% male, had a median age of 61 years (IQR 52-70) with a mean ascending aortic diameter of 3.4 cm (SD 0.5). Compared to the AORTA Score which explained 28.4% (95% CI 28.1% to 29.2%) of the variance in aortic diameter, AORTA Score + PGS explained 28.8%, (95% CI 28.1% to 29.6%), the reweighted AORTA score explained 30.4% (95% CI 29.6% to 31.2%), and the reweighted AORTA Score + PGS explained 31.0% (95% CI 30.2% to 31.8%). The addition of a PGS to either the AORTA Score or the reweighted AORTA Score improved model sensitivity for the identifying individuals with a thoracic aortic diameter ≥ 4 cm. The respective areas under the receiver operator characteristic curve for the AORTA Score + PGS (0.771, 95% CI 0.756 to 0.787) and reweighted AORTA Score + PGS (0.785, 95% CI 0.770 to 0.800) were greater than the standard AORTA Score (0.767, 95% CI 0.751 to 0.783) and reweighted AORTA Score (0.780 95% CI 0.765 to 0.795).

CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated that inclusion of a PGS to the AORTA Score results in a small but clinically meaningful performance enhancement. Further investigation is necessary to determine if combining genetic and clinical risk prediction improves outcomes for thoracic aortic disease.


Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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