Growth and nutrition are interrelated and influenced by multiple genetic and environmental factors. We studied whether common variants in ghrelin and ghrelin receptor (GHSR) genes could play a role in stature variation in the general population and in families ascertained for obesity.
Selected tagging SNPs in the ghrelin and GHSR genes were genotyped in 263 Caucasian families recruited for childhood obesity (1,275 subjects), and in 287 families from a general population (1,072 subjects). We performed familial testing for associations in the entire population and in a sub-set of the samples selected for a case-control study. In the case-control study for height (cases were selected from the obese cohort with mean ZH = 3.17 ± 0.15 confidence interval (CI) versus controls with mean ZH 0.14 ± 0.09), we found an association with a 2 base-pair intronic deletion in the GHSR gene (rs10618418) (p = 0.006, odds ratio (OR) 1.86, 95% CI [1.26;2.74] under additive model), although when adjusting for BMI, the association disappeared (p = 0.06). Individuals carrying no deletion or who were heterozygous were significantly more frequent among the tall obese population (52% vs. 36% in controls, p = 0.007, OR 1.97, 95%CI [1.22;3.18]). However, the association was not maintained after correcting for multiple testing. Familial association testing of the ghrelin and GHSR genes and their interaction testing failed to show that any combination of SNPs had any significant effect. Thus, our results suggest that common variants of the ghrelin and GHSR genes are not major contributors to height variation in a French population.