Identification and replication of the interplay of four genetic high-risk variants for urinary bladder cancer

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Genome-wide association studies identified or confirmed 15 genomic regions that modulate urinary bladder cancer risk. Little is known whether these genetic variants interact to increase bladder cancer risk. Furthermore, it is likely that different polymorphisms are relevant in smokers and non-smokers. Therefore, we conducted an interaction analysis comprising 12 susceptibility variants and totally 5049 cases and 5452 controls.


Recently, we identified two- and three-variant combinations associated with a particular increase of bladder cancer risk in a urinary bladder cancer case-control series (Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors at TU Dortmund (IfADo), 1501 cases, 1565 controls). In an independent case-control series (Nijmegen Bladder Cancer Study, NBCS, 1468 cases, 1720 controls) we confirmed these two- and three-variant combinations. Pooled analysis of the two studies as discovery group (IfADo-NBCS) resulted in sufficient statistical power to test up to four-variant combinations by a logistic regression approach. The New England and Spanish Bladder Cancer Studies (2080 cases and 2167 controls) were used as a replication series. Twelve previously identified risk variants were considered.


The strongest four-variant combination was obtained in never smokers. The combination of rs1014971[AA] near apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide-like 3A (APOBEC3A) and chromobox homolog 6 (CBX6), solute carrier family 1s4 (urea transporter), member 1 (Kidd blood group) (SLC14A1) exon single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1058396[AG, GG], UDP glucuronosyltransferase 1 family, polypeptide A complex locus (UGT1A) intron SNP rs11892031[AA] and rs8102137[CC, CT] near cyclin E1 (CCNE1) resulted in an unadjusted odds ratio (OR) of 2.59 (95% CI = 1.93-3.47; P = 1.87 x 10-10, while the individual variant ORs ranged only between 1.11 and 1.30. The combination replicated in the New England and Spanish Bladder Cancer Studies (OR unadjusted = 1.60, 95% CI = 1.10-2.33; P = 0.013). The four-variant combination is relatively frequent, with 25% in never smoking cases and 11% in never smoking controls (total study group: 19% cases, 14% controls).


In conclusion, we show that four high-risk variants can statistically interact to confer increased bladder cancer risk particularly in never smokers.

Funding: KI's work has been supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) within the Collaborative Research Center SFB 876 "Providing Information by Resource-Constrained Analysis", project C4. The NBS (source of controls) and the NBCS (source of the cases) were funded by the Radboud university medical center. This work was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health and the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute (Z01 CP010187-13).