von Willebrand disease (VWD) type 1 is difficult to diagnose because of bleeding variability and low heritability of von Willebrand factor (VWF) levels. We compared a bleeding severity score and bleeding times to candidate gene haplotypes within pedigrees of 14 index cases, using a covariance components model for multivariate traits (Mendel: QTL Association). These pedigrees included 13 affected and 40 unaffected relatives, as defined by plasma ristocetin cofactor (VWF:RCo) levels. The bleeding severity score was derived from a detailed history. Donors were genotyped using a primer extension method, and 9 candidate genes were selected for analysis. VWF:RCo levels had the strongest influence on bleeding severity score and bleeding time. ITGA2 haplotype 2 (807C) and ITGA2B haplotype 1 (Ile843) were each associated with increased bleeding severity scores (P <.01 and P <.01, respectively). GP6 haplotype b (Pro219) was also associated with increased scores (P = .03) after adjustment for donor age. No association was observed with 6 other candidate genes, GP1BA, ITGB3, VWF, FGB, IL6, or TXA2R. Increased plasma VWF:Ag levels were associated with VWF haplotype 1 (-1793G; P = .02). These results establish that genetic differences in the adhesion receptor subunits α2, αIIb, and GPVI can influence the phenotype of VWD type 1.
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