Sequential Use of Transcriptional Profiling, Expression Quantitative Trait Mapping and Gene Association Implicates MMP20 in Human Kidney Aging
Kidneys age at different rates, such that some people show little or no effects of aging whereas others show rapid functional decline. We sequentially used transcriptional profiling and expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) mapping to narrow down which genes to test for association with kidney aging. We first performed whole-genome transcriptional profiling to find 630 genes that change expression with age in the kidney. Using two methods to detect expression-associated SNPs, we found eQTLs for 101 of these age-regulated genes. We tested the eQTLs for association with kidney aging, measured by glomerular filtration rate (GFR) using combined data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) and the InCHIANTI study. We found a SNP association (rs1711437 in MMP20) with kidney aging (uncorrected p=3.6 x 10-5, empirical p=0.01) that explains 1-2% of the variance in GFR among individuals. The results of this sequential analysis may provide the first evidence for a gene association with kidney aging in humans.