OBJECTIVES: The study sought to test the hypothesis that genetic variation in ABCG5/8, the transporter responsible for intestinal and hepatobiliary cholesterol efflux, may simultaneously influence plasma and biliary cholesterol levels, and hence risk of myocardial infarction (MI) and gallstone disease in opposite directions. BACKGROUND: High plasma levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol are a causal risk factor for MI, whereas high levels of biliary cholesterol promote gallstone formation. METHODS: A total of 60,239 subjects from Copenhagen were included, including 5,647 with MI and 3,174 with symptomatic gallstone disease. Subjects were genotyped for 6 common, nonsynonymous and functional variants in ABCG5/8, and a combined weighted genotype score was calculated. RESULTS: Combined, weighted genotype scores were associated with stepwise decreases in LDL cholesterol of up to 5.9% (0.20 mmol/l) for individuals with a score ≥8.0 (prevalence = 11%) versus <2.0 (prevalence = 9%; p for trend across 5 groups = 2 × 10E-35). The cumulative incidences of MI and gallstone disease as a function of age and increasing genotype score were decreased and increased (log-rank ps for trend: 6 × 10E-4 and 9 × 10E-45), respectively. The multifactorially adjusted odds ratios were 0.83 (95% confidence interval: 0.73 to 0.94) for MI and 2.85 (95% confidence interval: 2.39 to 3.39) for symptomatic gallstone disease for individuals with a genotype score ≥8.0 versus <2.0. CONCLUSIONS: Genetic variation in ABCG5/8, which associates with decreased levels of plasma LDL cholesterol protects against MI, but increases the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease. These results suggest that MI and gallstones, 2 seemingly unrelated diseases, are intrinsically linked via the function of the ABCG5/8 cholesterol transporter.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2014, Vol 63, Issue 20, p. 2121-2128