Using Mendelian randomization to evaluate the causal relationship between serum C-reactive protein levels and age-related macular degeneration
Han, X and Ong, J-S and An, J and Hewitt, AW and Gharahkhani, P and MacGregor, S, Using Mendelian randomization to evaluate the causal relationship between serum C-reactive protein levels and age-related macular degeneration, European Journal of Epidemiology, 35, (2) pp. 139-146. ISSN 0393-2990 (2020) [Refereed Article]
Serum C-reactive protein (CRP), an important inflammatory marker, has been associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in observational studies; however, the findings are inconsistent. It remains unclear whether the association between circulating CRP levels and AMD is causal. We used two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) to evaluate the potential causal relationship between serum CRP levels and AMD risk. We derived genetic instruments for serum CRP levels in 418,642 participants of European ancestry from UK Biobank, and then conducted a genome-wide association study for 12,711 advanced AMD cases and 14,590 controls of European descent from the International AMD Genomics Consortium. Genetic variants which predicted elevated serum CRP levels were associated with advanced AMD (odds ratio [OR] for per standard deviation increase in serum CRP levels: 1.31, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.19-1.44, P = 5.2 × 10-8). The OR for the increase in advanced AMD risk when moving from low (< 3 mg/L) to high (> 3 mg/L) CRP levels is 1.29 (95% CI: 1.17-1.41). Our results were unchanged in sensitivity analyses using MR models which make different modelling assumptions. Our findings were broadly similar across the different forms of AMD (intermediate AMD, choroidal neovascularization, and geographic atrophy). We used multivariable MR to adjust for the effects of other potential AMD risk factors including smoking, body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol; this did not alter our findings. Our study provides strong genetic evidence that higher circulating CRP levels lead to increases in risk for all forms of AMD. These findings highlight the potential utility for using circulating CRP as a biomarker in future trials aimed at modulating AMD risk via systemic therapies.