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BACKGROUND: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic lung condition that is more prevalent in males than females. The reasons for this are not fully understood, with differing environmental exposures due to historically sex-biased occupations, or diagnostic bias, being possible explanations. To date, over 20 independent genetic variants have been identified to be associated with IPF susceptibility, but these have been discovered when combining males and females. Our aim was to test for the presence of sex-specific associations with IPF susceptibility and assess whether there is a need to consider sex-specific effects when evaluating genetic risk in clinical prediction models for IPF. METHODS: We performed genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-by-sex interaction studies of IPF risk in six independent IPF case-control studies and combined them using inverse-variance weighted fixed effect meta-analysis. In total, 4,561 cases (1,280 females and 2,281 males) and 23,500 controls (8,360 females and 14,528 males) of European genetic ancestry were analysed. We used polygenic risk scores (PRS) to assess differences in genetic risk prediction between males and females. FINDINGS: Three independent genetic association signals were identified. All showed a consistent direction of effect across all individual IPF studies and an opposite direction of effect in IPF susceptibility between females and males. None had been previously identified in IPF susceptibility genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The predictive accuracy of the PRSs were similar between males and females, regardless of whether using combined or sex-specific GWAS results. INTERPRETATION: We prioritised three genetic variants whose effect on IPF risk may be modified by sex, however these require further study. We found no evidence that the predictive accuracy of common SNP-based PRSs varies significantly between males and females.

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