Noninvasive assessment of organ-specific and shared pathways in multi-organ fibrosis using T1 mapping.

Nature medicine

Fibrotic diseases affect multiple organs and are associated with morbidity and mortality. To examine organ-specific and shared biologic mechanisms that underlie fibrosis in different organs, we developed machine learning models to quantify T1 time, a marker of interstitial fibrosis, in the liver, pancreas, heart and kidney among 43,881 UK Biobank participants who underwent magnetic resonance imaging. In phenome-wide association analyses, we demonstrate the association of increased organ-specific T1 time, reflecting increased interstitial fibrosis, with prevalent diseases across multiple organ systems. In genome-wide association analyses, we identified 27, 18, 11 and 10 independent genetic loci associated with liver, pancreas, myocardial and renal cortex T1 time, respectively. There was a modest genetic correlation between the examined organs. Several loci overlapped across the examined organs implicating genes involved in a myriad of biologic pathways including metal ion transport (SLC39A8, HFE and TMPRSS6), glucose metabolism (PCK2), blood group antigens (ABO and FUT2), immune function (BANK1 and PPP3CA), inflammation (NFKB1) and mitosis (CENPE). Finally, we found that an increasing number of organs with T1 time falling in the top quintile was associated with increased mortality in the population. Individuals with a high burden of fibrosis in ≥3 organs had a 3-fold increase in mortality compared to those with a low burden of fibrosis across all examined organs in multivariable-adjusted analysis (hazard ratio = 3.31, 95% confidence interval 1.77-6.19; P = 1.78 × 10). By leveraging machine learning to quantify T1 time across multiple organs at scale, we uncovered new organ-specific and shared biologic pathways underlying fibrosis that may provide therapeutic targets.

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Nature medicine
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