Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Cardiometabolic diseases are frequently polygenic in architecture, comprising a large number of risk alleles with small effects spread across the genome1–3. Polygenic scores (PGS) aggregate these into a metric representing an individual’s genetic predisposition to disease. PGS have shown promise for early risk prediction4–7 and there is an open question as to whether PGS can also be used to understand disease biology8. Here, we demonstrate that cardiometabolic disease PGS can be used to elucidate the proteins underlying disease pathogenesis. In 3,087 healthy individuals, we found that PGS for coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease and ischaemic stroke are associated with the levels of 49 plasma proteins. Associations were polygenic in architecture, largely independent of cis and trans protein quantitative trait loci and present for proteins without quantitative trait loci. Over a follow-up of 7.7 years, 28 of these proteins associated with future myocardial infarction or type 2 diabetes events, 16 of which were mediators between polygenic risk and incident disease. Twelve of these were druggable targets with therapeutic potential. Our results demonstrate the potential for PGS to uncover causal disease biology and targets with therapeutic potential, including those that may be missed by approaches utilizing information at a single locus.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature Metabolism

Publication Date