2021 IARS Mentored Research Award

2021 IMRA Award Winner Jessica SpenceJessica Spence, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Anesthesiologist, Intensivist
McMaster University, Faculty of Health Sciences
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Spence’s Research

Genetic risk prediction of new atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery

Background: Postoperative atrial fibrillation (POAF) occurs in up to 50% of cardiac surgery patients. Clinicians struggle to predict who will get POAF, to mitigate its adverse effects and to identify patients who require long-term. Polygenic risk scores combine information from thousands of genetic variants. For patients with POAF after cardiac surgery, polygenic risk scores could help differentiate patients with transient and reversible AF from those with persistent or paroxysmal AF. Moreover, these risk scores may also identify high risk patients who could benefit from AF prophylaxis in the pre-, intra- and early post-operative settings.

Objective: We will compare polygenic risk scores between those with: 1) new POAF following surgery, 2) a known history of AF and 3) no history of AF. We will also test whether polygenic risk scores for AF will predict POAF better than clinical risk scores and whether, among patients with POAF, higher polygenic risk scores for AF are associated with higher rates of AF recurrence in the year following surgery.

Methods: VISION-Cardiac Surgery Biobank obtained blood samples from 3785 patients undergoing cardiac surgery. We will estimate genetic risk using minimal reference sets of single nucleotide polymorphisms, calculate genetic risk scores for AF for each participant using LDpred2, and compare polygenic risk scores of patients with POAF to patients with and without a history of AF. We will assess the ability of polygenic risk scores to predict POAF as compared to traditional risk scores and the association between polygenic risk scores and AF recurrence in patients with POAF.

Expected Outcomes: Patients with new POAF after cardiac surgery will have higher polygenic risk scores for AF than patients without AF but lower scores than patients with a history of AF and that these scores better predict POAF than clinical risk scores. Higher polygenic risk scores will be associated with a higher rate of AF recurrence.