NIH Research Festival
Red cell distribution width (RDW), which is a measure of variation in red blood cell size, is an emerging predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality. Recent epidemiologic studies identified environmental, metabolic and inflammatory biomarkers influencing RDW, although findings were inconsistent. Further, genome-wide association studies discovered genetic variants associated with RDW. We sought to assess the association between RDW and lifestyle factors, and their interaction with RDW genetic variants in the HANDLS study. HANDLS is a population based prospective study of community dwelling urban African American (AA) and whites age 30-64 years conducted in Baltimore, MD. Using data from up to 2,744 participants, we fitted multiple linear regression models to estimate beta coefficients and their standard errors. Models were adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, cigarette smoking, body mass index (BMI), traditional CVD risk factors, estimated glomerular filtration rate, and C-reactive protein. Gene*lifestyle interactions were assessed in a subset of AAs who had available genotype data. After accounting for potential confounders, we found statistically significant association between RDW and illicit drug use: recent marijuana use, β(se)= -0.282(0.13), p=0.025; and current cocaine use, β(se)= -0.380(0.17), p=0.027. Both lymphocyte (β(se)= -0.255(0.12), p=0.035), and eosinophil (β(se)= -0.098(0.04), p= 0.025) counts were inversely associated with RDW. The positive association with waist-to-hip ratio (β(se)= 1.387(0.58), p=0.017) was independent of BMI. There were no significant gene*environment interactions after Bonferroni corrections. The findings from this large study suggest that illicit substance use, obesity, and differential white cell count are associated with RDW in adults.
Scientific Focus Area: Epidemiology
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