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Potential drug targets for gastroesophageal reflux disease and Barrett's esophagus identified through Mendelian randomization analysis.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a prevalent chronic ailment, and present therapeutic approaches are not always effective. This study aimed to find new drug targets for GERD and Barrett's esophagus (BE). We obtained genetic instruments for GERD, BE, and 2004 plasma proteins from recently published genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and Mendelian randomization (MR) was employed to explore potential drug targets. We further winnowed down MR-prioritized proteins through replication, reverse causality testing, colocalization analysis, phenotype scanning, and Phenome-wide MR. Furthermore, we constructed a protein-protein interaction network, unveiling potential associations among candidate proteins. Simultaneously, we acquired mRNA expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) data from another GWAS encompassing four different tissues to identify additional drug targets. Meanwhile, we searched drug databases to evaluate these targets. Under Bonferroni correction (P < 4.8 × 10-5 ), we identified 11 plasma proteins significantly associated with GERD. Among these, 7 are protective proteins (MSP, GPX1, ERBB3, BT3A3, ANTR2, CCM2, and DECR2), while 4 are detrimental proteins (TMEM106B, DUSP13, C1-INH, and LINGO1). Ultimately, C1-INH and DECR2 successfully passed the screening process and exhibited similar directional causal effects on BE. Further analysis of eQTLs highlighted 4 potential drug targets, including EDEM3, PBX3, MEIS1-AS3, and NME7. The search of drug databases further supported our conclusions. Our study indicated that the plasma proteins C1-INH and DECR2, along with 4 genes (EDEM3, PBX3, MEIS1-AS3, and NME7), may represent potential drug targets for GERD and BE, warranting further investigation.

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