Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Eric Boerwinkle, PhD

Committee Member

Maja Barbalic, PhD

Committee Member

Christie Ballantyne, MD

Committee Member

Michael Hallman, PhD

Committee Member

Paul Scheet, PhD


C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is a biomarker indicating tissue damage, inflammation, and infection. High-sensitivity CRP (hsCRP) is an emerging biomarker often used to estimate an individual’s risk for future coronary heart disease (CHD). hsCRP levels falling below 1.00 mg/l indicate a low risk for developing CHD, levels ranging between 1.00 mg/l and 3.00 mg/l indicate an elevated risk, and levels exceeding 3.00 mg/l indicate high risk. Multiple Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) have identified a number of genetic polymorphisms which influence CRP levels. SNPs implicated in such studies have been found in or near genes of interest including: CRP, APOE, APOC, IL-6, HNF1A, LEPR, and GCKR. A strong positive correlation has also been found to exist between CRP levels and BMI, a known risk factor for CHD and a state of chronic inflammation. We conducted a series of analyses designed to identify loci which interact with BMI to influence CRP levels in a subsample of European-Americans in the ARIC cohort. In a stratified GWA analysis, 15 genetic regions were identified as having significantly (p-value < 2.00*10-3) distinct effects on hsCRP levels between the two obesity strata: lean (18.50 kg/m2 < BMI < 24.99 kg/m2) and obese (BMI ≥ 30.00 kg/m2). A GWA analysis performed on all individuals combined (i.e. not a priori stratified for obesity status) with the inclusion of an additional parameter for BMI by gene interaction, identified 11 regions which interact with BMI to influence hsCRP levels. Two regions containing the genes GJA5 and GJA8 (on chromosome 1) and FBXO11 (on chromosome 2) were identified in both methods of analysis suggesting that these genes possibly interact with BMI to influence hsCRP levels. We speculate that atrial fibrillation (AF), age-related cataracts and the TGF-β pathway may be the biological processes influenced by the interaction of GJA5, GJA8 and FBXO11, respectively, with BMI to cause changes in hsCRP levels. Future studies should focus on the influence of gene x bmi interaction on AF, age-related cataracts and TGF-β.


Gene x BMI interaction, C-Reactive Protein (CRP), GWAS, obesity, coronary heart disease, inflammation, FBXO11, GJA5, GJA8, ARIC