Genome-wide analysis of health-related biomarkers in the UK Household Longitudinal Study reveals novel associations

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2017


Serum biomarker levels are associated with the risk of complex diseases. Here, we aimed to gain insights into the genetic architecture of biomarker traits which can reflect health status. We performed genome-wide association analyses for twenty serum biomarkers involved in organ function and reproductive health. 9,961 individuals from the UK Household Longitudinal Study were genotyped using the Illumina HumanCoreExome array and variants imputed to the 1000 Genomes Project and UK10K haplotypes. We establish a polygenic heritability for all biomarkers, confirm associations of fifty-four established loci, and identify five novel, replicating associations at genome-wide significance. A low-frequency variant, rs28929474, (beta = 0.04, P = 2 × 10−10) was associated with levels of alanine transaminase, an indicator of liver damage. The variant is located in the gene encoding serine protease inhibitor, low levels of which are associated with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency which leads to liver disease. We identified novel associations (rs78900934, beta = 0.05, P = 6 × 10−12; rs2911280, beta = 0.09, P = 6 × 10−10) for dihydroepiandrosterone sulphate, a precursor to major sex-hormones, and for glycated haemoglobin (rs12819124, beta = −0.03, P = 4 × 10−9; rs761772, beta = 0.05, P = 5 × 10−9). rs12819124 is nominally associated with risk of type 2 diabetes. Our study offers insights into the genetic architecture of well-known and less well-studied biomarkers.

Published in

Scientific Reports


Volume: 7: 11008






Open Access

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest