Genome-wide association study of neck circumference identifies sex-specific loci independent of generalized adiposity

Yaowu Liu, Xiaoyu Zhang, Jiwon Lee, Diane Smelser, Brian Cade, Han Chen, Hufeng Zhou, H. Lester Kirchner, Xihong Lin, Sutapa Mukherjee, David Hillman, Ching Ti Liu, Susan Redline, Tamar Sofer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background/objectives: Neck circumference, an index of upper airway fat, has been suggested to be an important measure of body-fat distribution with unique associations with health outcomes such as obstructive sleep apnea and metabolic disease. This study aims to study the genetic bases of neck circumference. Methods: We conducted a multi-ethnic genome-wide association study of neck circumference, adjusted and unadjusted for BMI, in up to 15,090 European Ancestry (EA) and African American (AA) individuals. Because sexually dimorphic associations have been observed for anthropometric traits, we conducted both sex-combined and sex-specific analysis. Results: We identified rs227724 near the Noggin (NOG) gene as a possible quantitative locus for neck circumference in men (N = 8831, P = 1.74 × 10−9) but not in women (P = 0.08). The association was replicated in men (N = 1554, P = 0.045) in an independent dataset. This locus was previously reported to be associated with human height and with self-reported snoring. We also identified rs13087058 on chromosome 3 as a suggestive locus in sex-combined analysis (N = 15090, P = 2.94 × 10−7; replication P =0.049). This locus was also associated with electrocardiogram-assessed PR interval and is a cis-expression quantitative locus for the PDZ Domain-containing ring finger 2 (PDZRN3) gene. Both NOG and PDZRN3 interact with members of transforming growth factor-beta superfamily signaling proteins. Conclusions: Our study suggests that neck circumference may have unique genetic basis independent of BMI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1532-1541
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number7
Early online date27 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


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