Association of polygenic risk scores with incident atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease events among individuals with coronary artery calcium score of zero: The multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis

Document Type



Office of the Provost; Cardiology


Background: Polygenic risk scores (PRS) are associated with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) events. We studied incident ASCVD among individuals with absent coronary artery calcium (CAC = 0), to investigate the association of PRS with incident ASCVD among such individuals.
Methods: Data was used from Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a prospective cohort study of participants free of clinical CVD at baseline. PRS were developed based on a literature-derived list of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) weighted by effect size. The coronary heart disease (CHD) PRS contained 180 SNPs, and the stroke PRS had 32 SNPs. These SNPs were combined to compute an ASCVD PRS. The PRS were calculated among 3132 participants with CAC = 0. Multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models evaluated the association between each PRS (top 20% vs bottom 50%) and ASCVD.
Results: The study population included 3132 individuals with CAC = 0 [mean (SD) age 58 (9) years; 63% female, 33% White, 31% Black, 12% Chinese-American, 24% Hispanic]. Over a median follow-up of 16 years, there were 108 incident CHD events and 93 stroke events. ASCVD event rates were generally <7.5 per 1000-person years for all ASCVD events regardless of PRS risk stratum. The ASCVD PRS was significantly associated with incident ASCVD: (HR; 95% CI) (1.63; 1.11, 2.39). The CHD PRS was not associated with any ASCVD outcome, whereas the stroke PRS was significantly associated with ASCVD (1.84; 1.27, 2.68), CHD (1.79; 1.05, 3.06), and stroke (1.96; 1.19, 3.23). The stroke PRS results were significant among women and non-Whites.
Conclusions: Among individuals with CAC = 0, the ASCVD PRS was associated with incident ASCVD events. This appears to be driven by genetic variants related to stroke but not CHD, and particularly among women and non-Whites. ASCVD event rates remained below the threshold recommended for consideration for initiation of statin therapy even in the high PRS groups.


Issue are not provided by the author/publisher. This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


Progress in cardiovascular diseases