Trans-ethnic meta-Analysis of genome-wide association studies identifies maternal ITPR1 as a novel locus influencing fetal growth during sensitive periods in pregnancy

Fasil Tekola-Ayele, Cuilin Zhang, Jing Wu, Katherine L. Grantz, Mohammad L. Rahman, Deepika Shrestha, Marion Ouidir, Tsegaselassie Workalemahu, Michael Y. Tsai

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13 Scopus citations


Abnormal fetal growth is a risk factor for infant morbidity and mortality and is associated with cardiometabolic diseases in adults. Genetic influences on fetal growth can vary at different gestation times, but genome-wide association studies have been limited to birthweight. We performed trans-ethnic genome-wide meta-Analyses and fine mapping to identify maternal genetic loci associated with fetal weight estimates obtained from ultrasound measures taken during pregnancy. Data included 1,849 pregnant women from four race/ethnic groups recruited through the NICHD Fetal Growth Studies. We identified a novel genome-wide significant association of rs746039 [G] (ITPR1) with reduced fetal weight from 24 to 33 weeks gestation (P<5x10-8; log10BF>6). Additional tests revealed that the SNP was associated with head circumference (P = 4.85x10-8), but not with abdominal circumference or humerus/ femur lengths. Conditional analysis in an independent sample of mother-offspring pairs replicated the findings and showed that the effect was more likely maternal but not fetal. Transethnic approaches successfully narrowed down the haplotype block that contained the 99% credible set of SNPs associated with head circumference. We further demonstrated that decreased placental expression of ITPR1 was correlated with increased placental epigenetic age acceleration, a risk factor for reduced fetal growth, among male fetuses (r =-0.4, P = 0.01). Finally, genetic risk score composed of known maternal SNPs implicated in birthweight among Europeans was associated with fetal weight from mid-gestation onwards among Whites only. The present study sheds new light on the role of common maternal genetic variants in the inositol receptor signaling pathway on fetal growth from late second trimester to early third trimester.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1008747
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Public Library of Science. All rights reserved.


  • Adult
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Ethnic Groups/genetics
  • Female
  • Fetal Development/genetics
  • Fetal Weight/ethnology
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genome-Wide Association Study/methods
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors/genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Pregnancy/ethnology
  • Young Adult

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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