Genetic variants in ADAMTS13 as well as smoking are major determinants of plasma ADAMTS13 levels

Qianyi Ma, Paula M. Jacobi, Brian T. Emmer, Colin A. Kretz, Ayse Bilge Ozel, Beth McGee, Chava Kimchi-Sarfaty, David Ginsburg, Jun Z. Li and Karl C. Desch

Key Points

  • Three independent association signals at ADAMTS13 and smoking were identified as major predictors of plasma ADAMTS13 levels.

  • Evidence was presented that 2 nonsynonymous ADAMTS13 variants were driving the variation of plasma ADAMTS13 concentrations.


The metalloprotease ADAMTS13 cleaves von Willebrand factor (VWF) in circulating blood, limiting the size of VWF multimers and regulating VWF activity. Abnormal regulation of VWF contributes to bleeding and to thrombotic disorders. ADAMTS13 levels in plasma are highly variable among healthy individuals, although the heritability and the genetic determinants of this variation are unclear. We performed genome-wide association studies of plasma ADAMTS13 concentrations in 3244 individuals from 2 independent cohorts of healthy individuals. The heritability of ADAMTS13 levels was between 59.1% (all individuals) and 83.5% (siblings only), whereas tobacco smoking was associated with a decrease in plasma ADAMTS13 levels. Meta-analysis identified common variants near the ADAMTS13 locus on chromosome 9q34.2 that were significantly associated with ADAMTS13 levels and collectively explained 20.0% of the variance. The top single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs28673647, resides in an intron of ADAMTS13 (β, 6.7%; P = 1.3E-52). Conditional analysis revealed 3 additional independent signals represented by rs3739893 (β, −22.3%; P = 1.2E-30) and rs3124762 (β, 3.5%; P = 8.9E-9) close to ADAMTS13 and rs4075970 (β, 2.4%; P = 6.8E-9) on 21q22.3. Linkage analysis also identified the region around ADAMTS13 (9q34.2) as the top signal (LOD 3.5), consistent with our SNP association analyses. Two nonsynonymous ADAMTS13 variants in the top 2 independent linkage disequilibrium blocks (Q448E and A732V) were identified and characterized in vitro. This study uncovered specific common genetic polymorphisms that are key genetic determinants of the variation in plasma ADAMTS13 levels in healthy individuals.

  • Submitted February 8, 2017.
  • Accepted April 22, 2017.
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