Sex-specific genetic modifiers identified susceptibility of cold stored red blood cells to osmotic hemolysis

Fang, F.; Hazegh, K.; Mast, A.E.; Triulzi, D.J.; Spencer, B.R.; Gladwin, M.T.; Busch, M.P.; Kanias, T.; Page, G.P.

Bmc Genomics 23(1): 227


ISSN/ISBN: 1471-2164
PMID: 35321643
Accession: 079779081

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Genetic variants have been found to influence red blood cell (RBC) susceptibility to hemolytic stress and affect transfusion outcomes and the severity of blood diseases. Males have a higher susceptibility to hemolysis than females, but little is known about the genetic mechanism contributing to the difference. To investigate the sex differences in RBC susceptibility to hemolysis, we conducted a sex-stratified genome-wide association study and a genome-wide gene-by-sex interaction scan in a multi-ethnic dataset with 12,231 blood donors who have in vitro osmotic hemolysis measurements during routine blood storage. The estimated SNP-based heritability for osmotic hemolysis was found to be significantly higher in males than in females (0.46 vs. 0.41). We identified SNPs associated with sex-specific susceptibility to osmotic hemolysis in five loci (SPTA1, KCNA6, SLC4A1, SUMO1P1, and PAX8) that impact RBC function and hemolysis. Our study established a best practice to identify sex-specific genetic modifiers for sexually dimorphic traits in datasets with mixed ancestries, providing evidence of different genetic regulations of RBC susceptibility to hemolysis between sexes. These and other variants may help explain observed sex differences in the severity of hemolytic diseases, such as sickle cell and malaria, as well as the viability of red cell storage and recovery.