To identify genetic variants associated with refractive astigmatism in the general population, meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies were performed for: White Europeans aged at least 25 years (20 cohorts, N = 31,968); Asian subjects aged at least 25 years (7 cohorts, N = 9,295); White Europeans aged <25 years (4 cohorts, N = 5,640); and all independent individuals from the above three samples combined with a sample of Chinese subjects aged <25 years (N = 45,931). Participants were classified as cases with refractive astigmatism if the average cylinder power in their two eyes was at least 1.00 diopter and as controls otherwise. Genome-wide association analysis was carried out for each cohort separately using logistic regression. Meta-analysis was conducted using a fixed effects model. In the older European group the most strongly associated marker was downstream of the neurexin-1 (NRXN1) gene (rs1401327, P = 3.92E−8). No other region reached genome-wide significance, and association signals were lower for the younger European group and Asian group. In the meta-analysis of all cohorts, no marker reached genome-wide significance: The most strongly associated regions were, NRXN1 (rs1401327, P = 2.93E−07), TOX (rs7823467, P = 3.47E−07) and LINC00340 (rs12212674, P = 1.49E−06). For 34 markers identified in prior GWAS for spherical equivalent refractive error, the beta coefficients for genotype versus spherical equivalent, and genotype versus refractive astigmatism, were highly correlated (r = −0.59, P = 2.10E−04). This work revealed no consistent or strong genetic signals for refractive astigmatism; however, the TOX gene region previously identified in GWAS for spherical equivalent refractive error was the second most strongly associated region. Analysis of additional markers provided evidence supporting widespread genetic co-susceptibility for spherical and astigmatic refractive errors.
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