Sex and genetic variation influence the risk of developing diabetic nephropathy and ESRD in patients with type 1 diabetes. We performed a genome-wide association study in a cohort of 3652 patients from the Finnish Diabetic Nephropathy (FinnDiane) Study with type 1 diabetes to determine whether sex-specific genetic risk factors for ESRD exist. A common variant, rs4972593 on chromosome 2q31.1, was associated with ESRD in women (P<5×10−8) but not in men (P=0.77). This association was replicated in the meta-analysis of three independent type 1 diabetes cohorts (P=0.02) and remained significant for women (P<5×10−8; odds ratio, 1.81 [95% confidence interval, 1.47 to 2.24]) upon combined meta-analysis of the discovery and replication cohorts. rs4972593 is located between the genes that code for the Sp3 transcription factor, which interacts directly with estrogen receptor α and regulates the expression of genes linked to glomerular function and the pathogenesis of nephropathy, and the CDCA7 transcription factor, which regulates cell proliferation. Further examination revealed potential transcription factor–binding sites within rs4972593 and predicted eight estrogen-responsive elements within 5 kb of this locus. Moreover, we found sex-specific differences in the glomerular expression levels of SP3 (P=0.004). Overall, these results suggest that rs4972593 is a sex-specific genetic variant associated with ESRD in patients with type 1 diabetes and may underlie the sex-specific protection against ESRD.
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GEnetics of Nephropathy - an International Effort (GENIE) GWAS of Diabetic Nephropathy in the UK GoKinD and All-Ireland Cohorts