Quantitative trait mapping in Diversity Outbred mice identifies two genomic regions associated with heart size.
Heart size is an important factor in cardiac health and disease. In particular, increased heart weight is predictive of adverse cardiovascular outcomes in multiple large community-based studies. We use two cohorts of Diversity Outbred (DO) mice to investigate the role of genetics, sex, age, and diet on heart size. DO mice (n = 289) of both sexes from generation 10 were fed a standard chow diet, and analyzed at 12-15 weeks of age. Another cohort of female DO mice (n = 258) from generation 11 were fed either a high-fat, cholesterol-containing (HFC) diet or a low-fat, high-protein diet, and analyzed at 24-25 weeks. We did not observe an effect of diet on body or heart weight in generation 11 mice, although we previously reported an effect on other cardiovascular risk factors, including cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin. We do observe a significant genetic effect on heart weight in this population. We identified two quantitative trait loci for heart weight, one (Hwtf1) at a genome-wide significance level of p ≤ 0.05 on MMU15 and one (Hwtf2) at a genome-wide suggestive level of p ≤ 0.1 on MMU10, that together explain 13.3% of the phenotypic variance. Hwtf1 contained collagen type XXII alpha 1 chain (Col22a1), and the NZO/HlLtJ and WSB/EiJ haplotypes were associated with larger hearts. This is consistent with heart tissue Col22a1 expression in DO founders and SNP patterns within Hwtf1 for Col22a1. Col22a1 has been previously associated with cardiac fibrosis in mice, suggesting that Col22a1 may be involved in pathological cardiac hypertrophy. Mamm Genome 2017 Dec 26 [Epub ahead of print]