Investigating gene-diet interactions impacting the association between macronutrient intake and glycemic traits
Few studies have demonstrated reproducible gene-diet interactions (GDIs) impacting metabolic disease risk factors, likely due in part to measurement error in dietary intake estimation and insufficient capture of rare genetic variation. We aimed to identify GDIs across the genetic frequency spectrum impacting the macronutrient-glycemia relationship in genetically and culturally diverse cohorts. We analyzed N=33,187 diabetes-free participants from 10 NHLBI Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program cohorts with whole-genome sequencing, self-reported diet, and glycemic trait data. We fit cohort-specific, multivariable-adjusted linear mixed models for the effect of diet, modeled as an isocaloric substitution of carbohydrate for fat, and its interactions with common and rare variants genome-wide. In main effect meta-analyses, participants consuming more carbohydrate had modestly lower glycemic trait values (e.g. for hemoglobin A1c [HbA1c], -0.013 %HbA1c per 250 kcal substitution). In GDI meta-analyses, a common African ancestry-enriched variant (rs79762542) reached study-wide significance and replicated in the UK Biobank cohort, indicating a negative carbohydrate-HbA1c association among major allele homozygotes only. Simulations revealed that over 150,000 samples may be necessary to identify similar macronutrient GDIs under realistic assumptions about effect size and measurement error. These results generate hypotheses for further exploration of modifiable metabolic disease risk in additional cohorts with African ancestry.