A MUC5B Gene Polymorphism, rs35705950-T, Confers Protective Effects Against COVID-19 Hospitalization but Not Severe Disease or Mortality

Million Veteran Program COVID-19 Science Initiative

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Rationale: A common MUC5B gene polymorphism, rs35705950-T, is associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), but its role in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection and disease severity is unclear. Objectives: To assess whether rs35705950-T confers differential risk for clinical outcomes associated with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection among participants in the Million Veteran Program (MVP). Methods: The MUC5B rs35705950-T allele was directly genotyped among MVP participants; clinical events and comorbidities were extracted from the electronic health records. Associations between the incidence or severity of COVID-19 and rs35705950-T were analyzed within each ancestry group in the MVP followed by transancestry meta-analysis. Replication and joint meta-analysis were conducted using summary statistics from the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative (HGI). Sensitivity analyses with adjustment for additional covariates (body mass index, Charlson comorbidity index, smoking, asbestosis, rheumatoid arthritis with interstitial lung disease, and IPF) and associations with post–COVID-19 pneumonia were performed in MVP subjects. Measurements and Main Results: The rs35705950-T allele was associated with fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations in transancestry meta-analyses within the MVP (Ncases = 4,325; Ncontrols = 507,640; OR = 0.89 [0.82–0.97]; P = 6.86 3 1023) and joint meta-analyses with the HGI (Ncases = 13,320; Ncontrols = 1,508,841; OR, 0.90 [0.86–0.95]; P = 8.99 3 1025). The rs35705950-T allele was not associated with reduced COVID-19 positivity in transancestry meta-analysis within the MVP (Ncases = 19,168/Ncontrols = 492,854; OR, 0.98 [0.95–1.01]; P = 0.06) but was nominally significant (P, 0.05) in the joint meta-analysis with the HGI (Ncases = 44,820; Ncontrols = 1,775,827; OR, 0.97 [0.95–1.00]; P = 0.03). Associations were not observed with severe outcomes or mortality. Among individuals of European ancestry in the MVP, rs35705950-T was associated with fewer post–COVID-19 pneumonia events (OR, 0.82 [0.72–0.93]; P = 0.001). Conclusions: The MUC5B variant rs35705950-T may confer protection in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1220-1229
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 15 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • coronavirus disease 2019
  • electronic health records
  • genetic association
  • idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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