Genetic Architecture of Ischaemic Strokes after COVID-19 Shows Similarities with Large Vessel Strokes

Llucià-Carol L, Muiño E, Cullell N et al. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Aug 30;24(17):13452. doi: 10.3390/ijms241713452. PMID: 37686257

Abstract: We aimed to analyse whether patients with ischaemic stroke (IS) occurring within eight days after the onset of COVID-19 (IS-COV) are associated with a specific aetiology of IS. We used SUPERGNOVA to identify genome regions that correlate between the IS-COV cohort (73 IS-COV cases vs. 701 population controls) and different aetiological subtypes. Polygenic risk scores (PRSs) for each subtype were generated and tested in the IS-COV cohort using PRSice-2 and PLINK to find genetic associations. Both analyses used the IS-COV cohort and GWAS from MEGASTROKE (67,162 stroke patients vs. 454,450 population controls), GIGASTROKE (110,182 vs. 1,503,898), and the NINDS Stroke Genetics Network (16,851 vs. 32,473). Three genomic regions were associated (p-value < 0.05) with large artery atherosclerosis (LAA) and cardioembolic stroke (CES). We found four loci targeting the genes PITX2 (rs10033464, IS-COV beta = 0.04, p-value = 2.3 × 10−2 , se = 0.02), previously associated with CES, HS6ST1 (rs4662630, IS-COV beta = −0.04, p-value = 1.3 × 10−3, se = 0.01), TMEM132E (rs12941838 IS-COV beta = 0.05, p-value = 3.6 × 10−4 , se = 0.01), and RFFL (rs797989 IS-COV beta = 0.03, p-value = 1.0 × 10−2 , se = 0.01). A statistically significant PRS was observed for LAA. Our results suggest that IS-COV cases are genetically similar to LAA and CES subtypes. Larger cohorts are needed to assess if the genetic factors in IS-COV cases are shared with the general population or specific to viral infection.

Funding: This work was supported by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) via COVID19 Funds (Ref.CSIC202020E086), the European Commission—NextGenerationEU (Regulation EU 2020/2094), through CSIC’s Global Health Platform, the Instituto de Salud Carlos III through the iBioStroke project (AC19/00106 Eranet-Neuron, European research grants), the RICORS RD21/0006/0006, FEDER, NextGeneration EU, the PREVICTUS project (PMP21/00165), and the COPYCTUS project (PI21/01088). IIB SANT PAU is funded by the Catalan Government (CERCA Program/ Generalitat de Catalunya). M.L. is funded by a PFIS Contract (Contratos Predoctorales de Formación en Investigación en Salud FI19/00309) from Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII). C.G.-F. is supported by a Sara Borrel contract (CD20/00043) from Instituto Carlos III and Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (ISCIII-FEDER). The BelCovid cohort is funded by The Belgian National Funds for Scientific Research and Fondation Léon Fredericq.