The eicosanoid genes ALOX5, ALOX5AP and LTA4H have been implicated in atherosclerosis. We assessed the impact of common variants in these genes on gene expression, circulating protein levels, and atherosclerotic plaque phenotypes.
We included patients from the Stockholm Atherosclerosis Gene Expression study (STAGE, N = 109), and the Athero-Express Biobank Study (AE, N = 1443). We tested 1453 single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) in ALOX5, ALOX5AP and LTA4H for association with gene expression in STAGE. We also tested these SNVs for association with seven histologically defined plaque phenotypes in the AE (which included calcification, collagen, cellular content, atheroma size, and intraplaque vessel density and hemorrhage).
We replicate a known cis-eQTL (rs6538697, p = 1.96 × 10(-6)) for LTA4H expression in whole blood of patients from STAGE. We found no significant association for any of the SNVs tested with serum levels of ALOX5 or ALOX5AP (p > 5.79 × 10(-4)). For atherosclerotic plaque phenotypes the strongest associations were found for intraplaque vessel density and smooth muscle cells in the ALOX5AP locus (p > 1.67 × 10(-4)).
We replicate a known eQTL for LTA4H expression in whole blood using STAGE data. We found no associations of variants in and around ALOX5, ALOX5AP and LTA4H with serum ALOX5 or ALOX5AP levels, or plaque phenotypes. On the supposition that these genes play a causal role in atherosclerosis, these results suggest that common variants in these loci play a limited role (if any) in influencing advanced atherosclerotic plaque morphology to the extent that it impacts atherosclerotic disease.