Open Access Research article

A genome-wide association study identifies common variants influencing serum uric acid concentrations in a Chinese population

Binyao Yang1, Zengnan Mo2*, Chen Wu4, Handong Yang5, Xiaobo Yang23, Yunfeng He1, Lixuan Gui1, Li Zhou17, Huan Guo1, Xiaomin Zhang1, Jing Yuan1, Xiayun Dai1, Jun Li1, Gaokun Qiu1, Suli Huang1, Qifei Deng1, Yingying Feng1, Lei Guan1, Die Hu1, Xiao Zhang1, Tian Wang1, Jiang Zhu5, Xinwen Min5, Mingjian Lang5, Dongfeng Li5, Frank B Hu6, Dongxin Lin4, Tangchun Wu1 and Meian He1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and the Ministry of Education Key Lab of Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science & Technology, Wuhan 430030, Hubei, China

2 Institute of Urology and Nephrology, First Affiliated Hospital & Center for Genomic and Personalized Medicine, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, Guangxi 530021, China

3 Department of Occupational Health and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, Guangxi, China

4 State Key Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Cancer Institute & Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100021, China

5 Dongfeng Central Hospital, Dongfeng Motor Corporation and Hubei University of Medicine, Shiyan 442008, Hubei, China

6 Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston 02115, MA, USA

7 Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Management, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, China

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BMC Medical Genomics 2014, 7:10  doi:10.1186/1755-8794-7-10

Published: 11 February 2014



Uric acid (UA) is a complex phenotype influenced by both genetic and environmental factors as well as their interactions. Current genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified a variety of genetic determinants of UA in Europeans; however, such studies in Asians, especially in Chinese populations remain limited.


A two-stage GWAS was performed to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that were associated with serum uric acid (UA) in a Chinese population of 12,281 participants (GWAS discovery stage included 1452 participants from the Dongfeng-Tongji cohort (DFTJ-cohort) and 1999 participants from the Fangchenggang Area Male Health and Examination Survey (FAMHES). The validation stage included another independent 8830 individuals from the DFTJ-cohort). Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0 chips and Illumina Omni-Express platform were used for genotyping for DFTJ-cohort and FAMHES, respectively. Gene-environment interactions on serum UA levels were further explored in 10,282 participants from the DFTJ-cohort.


Briefly, we identified two previously reported UA loci of SLC2A9 (rs11722228, combined P = 8.98 × 10-31) and ABCG2 (rs2231142, combined P = 3.34 × 10-42). The two independent SNPs rs11722228 and rs2231142 explained 1.03% and 1.09% of the total variation of UA levels, respectively. Heterogeneity was observed across different populations. More importantly, both independent SNPs rs11722228 and rs2231142 were nominally significantly interacted with gender on serum UA levels (P for interaction = 4.0 × 10-2 and 2.0 × 10-2, respectively). The minor allele (T) for rs11722228 in SLC2A9 has greater influence in elevating serum UA levels in females compared to males and the minor allele (T) of rs2231142 in ABCG2 had stronger effects on serum UA levels in males than that in females.


Two genetic loci (SLC2A9 and ABCG2) were confirmed to be associated with serum UA concentration. These findings strongly support the evidence that SLC2A9 and ABCG2 function in UA metabolism across human populations. Furthermore, we observed these associations are modified by gender.

Genome-wide association study; Serum uric acid; Ethnic differences; Gene-environment interaction