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1.  Role of Nutritional Status and Inflammation in Higher Survival of African American and Hispanic Hemodialysis Patients 
Observational studies indicate greater survival in African American and Hispanic maintenance hemodialysis (HD) patients compared to their Non-Hispanic White counterparts, even though Blacks have shorter life expectancy than Whites in the general population. We hypothesized that this apparent survival advantage is due to a more favorable nutritional/inflammatory profile in minority HD patients.
Study Design
We examined the association between race/ethnicity and 5-year survival before and after adjustment for case-mix and surrogates of the malnutrition-inflammation complex syndrome (MICS), using Cox regression with or without matched sampling in a large cohort of adult HD patients.
Setting and Participants
124,029 adult HD patients including 16% Hispanics, 49% non-Hispanic whites, and 35% African Americans.
Race/ethnicity before and after adjustment for MICS including BMI, serum albumin, TIBC, ferritin; creatinine, phosphorus, calcium, bicarbonate, white blood cell count, lymphocyte percentage, hemoglobin and protein intake.
5-year (7/2001–6/2006) survival
Among dialysis patients, Blacks and Hispanics had lower mortality overall than Non-Hispanic Whites after traditional case-mix adjustment. However, after additional control for MICS, Hispanics had mortality similar to non-Hispanic whites and African American had ever higher mortality. The unadjusted, case-mix and MICS adjusted hazard ratios (and 95% confidence intervals) of African American vs. Whites in the unmatched cohort were 0.68 (0.66–0.69), 0.89 (0.86–0.91) and 1.06 (1.03–1.09), and in the matched cohort 0.95 (0.90–0.99), 0.89 (0.84–0.94) and 1.16 (1.07–1.26), respectively; and for Hispanics vs. Whites in the unmatched cohort were 0.66 (0.64–0.69), 0.84 (0.81–0.87) and 0.97 (0.94–1.00), and in the matched cohort 0.89 (0.84–0.95), 0.88 (0.83–0.95) and 0.98 (0.91–1.06), respectively.
Unmeasured confounders cannot be adjusted for.
Survival advantages of African American and Hispanic HD patients may be related to differences in nutritional and inflammatory status. Further studies are required to explore these differences.
PMCID: PMC3081903  PMID: 21239093
Race; Hispanic paradox-within-paradox; malnutrition-inflammation-complex syndrome; racial disparities
2.  Analysis of FTO Gene Variants with Measures of Obesity and Glucose Homeostasis in the IRAS Family Study 
Human genetics  2009;125(5-6):615-626.
Multiple studies have identified FTO gene variants associated with measures of adiposity in European-derived populations. The study objective was to determine whether FTO variants were associated with adiposity, including visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue (VAT; SAT), and glucose homeostasis measures in the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study (IRASFS). A total of 27 SNPs in FTO intron 1, including SNPs prominent in the literature (rs9939609, rs8050136, rs1121980, rs17817449, rs1421085, and rs3751812), were genotyped in 1,424 Hispanic Americans and 604 African Americans. Multiple SNPs were associated with BMI and SAT (p-values ranging from 0.001 to 0.033), and trending or associated with waist circumference (p-values ranging from 0.008 to 0.099) in the Hispanic Americans. No association was observed with VAT, illustrating that FTO variants are associated with overall fat mass instead of specific fat depots. For the glucose homeostasis measures, variants were associated with fasting insulin but, consistent with other studies, after BMI adjustment, no evidence of association remained. The lack of association of FTO SNPs with insulin sensitivity is consistent with the lack of association with VAT, since these traits are strongly correlated. In the African Americans, only rs8050136 and rs9939609 were associated with BMI and WAIST (p-values of 0.011 and 0.034), and associated or trending towards association with SAT (p-values of 0.038 and 0.058). These results confirm that FTO variants are associated with adiposity measures, predisposing individuals to obesity by increasing overall fat mass in Hispanic Americans and to a lesser degree in African Americans.
PMCID: PMC2792578  PMID: 19322589
fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene; single nucleotide polymorphism; genetic association; adiposity; glucose homeostasis
3.  Racial/Ethnic Differences in the Association of Triglycerides with Other Metabolic Syndrome Components: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
The aim of this study was to examine whether there are ethnic differences in the association of triglycerides (TG) with waist circumference (WC), blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), fasting glucose, and insulin resistance and to examine the disparities in the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome components between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites who do not have hypertriglyceridemia.
This study used the baseline data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) study. The analysis included non-Hispanic whites (N = 2,427) and African Americans (N = 1,519) aged 45–84 years free of clinically evident cardiovascular disease and diabetes at baseline. The revised National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) criteria were used to define the metabolic syndrome and its components.
African Americans had lower prevalence of elevated TG as compared with non-Hispanic whites. The association of TG with other components of the metabolic syndrome appeared to be similar between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites except for one. There was significant association of TG with WC among white women but not among African American women after adjusting for demographic and other variables (P for interaction of TG with ethnicity <0.001). In participants with TG < 150 mg/dL, African American women had higher prevalence rates than white women of abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, low HDL-C, elevated fasting glucose and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). In men, the prevalence rates of high blood pressure, elevated fasting glucose, and HOMA-IR were significantly higher in African Americans than in whites.
The study findings suggest that further evaluation is warranted regarding the cutoffs for elevated TG and its clustering effect with other cardiometabolic risk factors on predicting risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in African Americans.
PMCID: PMC3125569  PMID: 20958206
4.  Estimating ethnic differences in self-reported new use of antidepressant medications: results from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
There is evidence that the utilization of antidepressant medications (ADM) may vary between different ethnic groups in the United States population.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis is a population-based prospective cohort study of 6,814 US adults from 4 different ethnic groups. After excluding baseline users of ADM, we examined the relation between baseline depression and new use of ADM for 4 different ethnicities: African-Americans (n=1,822), Asians (n=784) Caucasians (n=2,300), and Hispanics (n=1,405). Estimates of the association of ethnicity and ADM use were adjusted for age, study site, gender, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), alcohol use, smoking, blood pressure, diabetes, education, and exercise. Non-random loss to follow-up was present and estimates were adjusted using inverse probability of censoring weighting (IPCW).
Of the four ethnicities, Caucasian participants had the highest rate of ADM use (12%) compared with African-American (4%), Asian (2%) and Hispanic (6%) participants. After adjustment, non-Caucasian ethnicity was associated with reduced ADM use: African-American (HR: 0.42; 95% Confidence Interval (CI):0.31– 0.58), Asian (HR: 0.14; 95%CI: 0.08–0.26) and Hispanic (HR: 0.47; 95%CI: 0.31–0.65). Applying IPCW to correct for non-random loss to follow-up among the study participants weakened but did not eliminate these associations: African-American (HR: 0.48; 95%CI: 0.30–0.57), Asian (HR: 0.23; 95% CI: 0.13–0.37) and Hispanic (HR: 0.58; 95%CI: 0.47–0.67).
Non-Caucasian ethnicity is associated with lower rates of new ADM use. After IPCW adjustment, the observed ethnicity differences in ADM use are smaller although still statistically significant.
PMCID: PMC2844249  PMID: 19399919
Inverse probability of censoring weighting; ethnicity; antidepressants; drug utilization; Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis; non-random loss to follow-up
5.  Disease-specific definitions of vitamin D deficiency need to be established in autoimmune and non-autoimmune chronic diseases: a retrospective comparison of three chronic diseases 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(5):R191.
We compared the odds of vitamin D deficiency in three chronic diseases: systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and type 2 diabetes (T2DM), adjusting for medications, demographics, and laboratory parameters, common to all three diseases. We also designed multivariate models to determine whether different factors are associated with vitamin D deficiency in different racial/ethnic groups.
We identified all patients with non-overlapping diagnoses of SLE, RA, and T2DM, with 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) levels measured between 2000 and 2009. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as 25OHD levels <20 ng/ml, based on previously established definitions. Race/ethnicity was analyzed as African-American non-Hispanic (African-American), Hispanic non-African-American (Hispanic), and Other based on self report.
We included 3,914 patients in the final analysis: 123 SLE, 100 RA, and 3,691 T2DM. Among African-Americans the frequency of vitamin D deficiency was 59% in SLE, 47% in RA, and 67% in T2DM. Among Hispanics the frequency of vitamin D deficiency was 67% in SLE, 50% in RA, and 59% in T2DM. Compared with the SLE group, the adjusted odds ratio of vitamin D deficiency was 1.1, 95% CI (0.62, 2.1) in the RA group, and 2.0, 95% CI (1.3, 3.1) in the T2DM group. In the multivariate analysis, older age, higher serum calcium and bisphosphonate therapy were associated with a lower odds of vitamin D deficiency in all three racial/ethnic groups: 1,330 African-American, 1,257 Hispanic, and 1,100 Other. T2DM, serum creatinine, and vitamin D supplementation were associated with vitamin D deficiency in some, but not all, racial/ethnic groups.
Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in our patients with SLE, RA, and T2DM. While the odds of vitamin D deficiency are similar in RA and SLE patients in a multivariate analysis, T2DM patients have much higher odds of being vitamin D deficient. Different demographic and laboratory factors may be associated with vitamin D deficiency within different racial/ethnic groups. Therefore, disease-specific and race/ethnicity-specific definitions of vitamin D deficiency need to be established in future studies in order to define goals of vitamin D replacement in patients with autoimmune and non-autoimmune chronic diseases.
PMCID: PMC2991026  PMID: 20946654
6.  Racial/ethnic differences in hepatic steatosis in a population-based cohort of post-menopausal women: the Michigan Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation 
The prevalence of hepatic steatosis may differ between post-menopausal African-Americans and non-Hispanic white women and by sex hormone binding globulin level. We examined prevalence of hepatic steatosis by race/ethnicity and associations with sex hormone binding globulin.
Participants included post-menopausal women who underwent hepatic ultrasound (n = 345) at the Michigan site of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, a population-based study. We examined hepatic steatosis prevalence by race/ethnicity and used logistic regression models to calculate the odds of hepatic steatosis with race/ethnicity and sex hormone binding globulin, after adjustment for age, alcohol use, waist circumference, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, systolic blood pressure and use of medications reported to lower intrahepatic fat.
Fewer African-Americans than non-Hispanic white women had hepatic steatosis (23 vs. 36%, P = 0.01). African-Americans had lower triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels, but higher blood pressure and follicle-stimulating hormone levels (P < 0.05). In the optimal-fitting multivariable models, women in the highest tertile of sex hormone binding globulin (60.2–220.3 nmol/l) had a lower odds of hepatic steatosis (odds ratio 0.43, 95% CI 0.20–0.93) compared with women in the lowest tertile of sex hormone binding globulin (10.5–40.3 nmol/l). There was an interaction between race/ethnicity and medication use whereby non-Hispanic white women using medications had three times higher odds of hepatic steatosis compared with African-Americans not using medications (odds ratio 3.36, 95% CI 1.07–10.58). Interactions between race/ethnicity and other variables, including sex hormone levels, were not significant.
Hepatic steatosis on ultrasound may be more common in post-menopausal non-Hispanic white women than African-Americans and was associated with lower levels of sex hormone binding globulin.
PMCID: PMC3786038  PMID: 23659546
7.  Levels of maternal serum corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) at midpregnancy in relation to maternal characteristics 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2009;35(6):820-832.
Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in maternal blood originates primarily from gestational tissues and elevated levels in midpregnancy have been linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Investigators have hypothesized that high levels of maternal stress might lead to elevated CRH levels in pregnancy. Yet a few studies have measured maternal CRH levels among subgroups of women who experience disproportionate socioeconomic disadvantage, such as African-American and Hispanic women, and found that these groups have lower CRH levels in pregnancy. Our goal was to identify maternal characteristics related to CRH levels in midpregnancy and examine which if any of these factors help to explain race differences in CRH levels.
The Pregnancy Outcomes and Community Health (POUCH) Study prospectively enrolled women at 15–27 weeks’ gestation from 52 clinics in five Michigan communities (1998–2004). Data from the POUCH Study were used to examine maternal demographics, anthropometrics, health behaviors, and psychosocial factors (independent variables) in relation to midpregnancy blood CRH levels modeled as log CRH pg/ml (dependent variable). Analyses were conducted within a subcohort from the POUCH Study (671 non-Hispanic Whites, 545 African Americans) and repeated in the subcohort subset with uncomplicated pregnancies (n=746). Blood levels of CRH and independent variables were ascertained at the time of enrollment. All regression models included week of enrollment as a covariate. In addition, final multivariable regression models alternately incorporated different psychosocial measures along with maternal demographics and weight. Psychosocial variables included measures of current depressive symptoms, perceived stress, coping style, hostility, mastery, anomie, and a chronic stressor (history of abuse as a child and adult).
In subcohort models, the adjusted mean CRH level was significantly lower in African Americans vs. non-Hispanic whites; the difference was −0.48 pg/ml (P<0.01). This difference was reduced by 21% (−0.38 pg/ml, P<0.01) after inclusion of other relevant covariates. Adjusted mean CRH levels were also lower among women with < 12 years vs. ≥ 12 years of education (minimal difference =−0.19 pg/ml, P<0.05), and among women with high levels of depressive symptoms who did not use antidepressants vs. women with lower levels of depressive symptoms and no antidepressant use (minimal difference =−0.13 pg/ml, P<0.01). CRH levels were inversely associated with maternal weight (−0.03 pg/ml per 10 pound increase, P<.05) but unrelated to smoking and all other psychosocial measures. Results were similar in the subset of women with uncomplicated pregnancies, except that lower CRH levels were also linked to higher perceived stress.
African-American women have lower blood CRH levels at midpregnancy and the race difference in CRH levels is reduced modestly after adjustment for other maternal characteristics. CRH levels were not elevated among women with high levels of perceived stress or more chronic stressors. The inverse association between CRH levels and maternal weight is likely due to a hemodilution effect. Relations among maternal CRH levels and maternal race, educational level, and depressive symptoms are difficult to explain and invite further investigation. Our results highlight a group of covariates that merit consideration in studies that address CRH in the context of pregnancy and/or post-partum complications.
PMCID: PMC2875356  PMID: 20006448
corticotropin releasing hormone; pregnancy; race; weight; depression
8.  Association between Vitamin D and Adiponectin and Its Relationship with Body Mass Index: The META-Health Study 
Background: Low vitamin D and adiponectin levels are both associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have indicated that vitamin D levels are directly associated with adiponectin, and that this association varies across body mass index (BMI) categories; stronger with increasing BMI. Few studies examined this association in African-Americans (AA), known to have lower levels of vitamin D and adiponectin, and in whites.
Methods: We assessed whether serum vitamin D is associated with serum adiponectin in a biracial population-based sample. Cross-sectional analyses were performed on 426 non-diabetic participants (218 whites and 208 AA) from the META-Health Study, a random sample from the metro Atlanta. Age-adjusted correlations and multivariable linear regression were used for analyses. We investigated the effect modification of the BMI categories of lean, overweight, and obese as defined by standard cut-points (25 and 30 kg/m2).
Results: The mean (SD) age of our study sample was 50.5 (9) years. The mean (SD) levels of vitamin D were 27.4 (9.8) ng/mL in white women, 25.5 (9.3) ng/mL in white men, 16.9 (7.3) ng/mL in AA women, and 18.8 (7.3) ng/mL in AA men. The mean (SD) levels of adiponectin were 17.0 (17.1) μg/mL in white women, 9.9 (11.3) μg/mL in white men, 6.6 (4.8) μg/mL in AA women, and 9.4 (11.6) μg/mL in AA men. Among lean white women (n = 63), there was a significant direct association between vitamin D and adiponectin (β = 0.02, p = 0.04) after adjustment for age, systolic blood pressure, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, income, and season of blood drawing. On the contrary, in lean AA women (n = 23), there was a significant inverse association (β = −0.06, p = 0.01).
Conclusion: The association of vitamin D and adiponectin is dependent on race, gender, and BMI category. Among lean white women, there was a significant direct association, whereas in lean AA women the association was inverse. No association was present among obese individuals.
PMCID: PMC4196512  PMID: 25353014
vitamin D; adiponectin; obesity; minorities; African-Americans; obesity
9.  Dietary and Urinary Metabonomic Factors Possibly Accounting for Higher Blood Pressure of African-Americans Compared to White Americans – – The INTERMAP Study RR 
Hypertension  2013;62(6):1074-1080.
African-Americans compared to non-Hispanic-White-Americans have higher systolic, diastolic blood pressure and rates of prehypertension/hypertension. Reasons for these adverse findings remain obscure. Analyses here focused on relations of foods/nutrients/urinary metabolites to higher African-American blood pressure for 369 African-Americans compared to 1,190 non-Hispanic-White-Americans ages 40-59 from 8 population samples. Standardized data were from four 24-hour dietary recalls/person, two 24-h urine collections, 8 blood pressure measurements; multiple linear regression quantitating role of foods, nutrients, metabolites in higher African-American blood pressure. Compared to non-Hispanic-White-Americans, African-Americans average systolic/diastolic pressure was higher by 4.7/3.4 mm Hg (men) and 9.0/4.8 mm Hg (women). Control for higher body mass index of African-American women reduced excess African-American systolic/diastolic pressure to 6.8/3.8 mm Hg. African American intake of multiple foods, nutrients related to blood pressure was less favorable - - less vegetables, fruits, grains, vegetable protein, glutamic acid, starch, fiber, minerals, potassium; more processed meats, pork, eggs, sugar-sweetened beverages, cholesterol, higher sodium to potassium ratio. Control for 11 nutrient and 10 non-nutrient correlates reduced higher African-American systolic/diastolic pressure to 2.3/2.3 mm Hg (52% and 33% reduction) (men) and to 5.3/2.8 mm Hg (21% and 27% reduction) (women). Control also for foods/urinary metabolites had little further influence on higher African-American blood pressure. Multiple nutrients with less favorable intakes by African-Americans than non-Hispanic-White-Americans account at least in part for higher African-American blood pressure. Improved dietary patterns can contribute to prevention/control of more adverse African-American blood pressure levels.
PMCID: PMC3912568  PMID: 24101663
African-American; blood pressure; nutrient; food intake; urinary metabolites
10.  Mammographic density and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels 
Vitamin D, which influences cellular proliferation and breast tissue characteristics, has been inversely correlated with breast cancer risk. Dietary vitamin D intake has been associated with lower mammographic density (MD), a strong intermediate marker of breast cancer risk.
We examined the relationship between MD and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], an integrated measure of vitamin D status from dietary sources and sunlight exposure, in a multi-ethnic cohort of women undergoing screening mammography. We recruited women age 40–60 years without a history of breast cancer at the time of their routine screening mammogram, and conducted in-person interviews and collected blood specimens. We enrolled 195 women from 2007–2008, 120 gave blood, and 114 were evaluable, including 25% white, 41% African American, 18% African Caribbean, and 16% Hispanic. We digitized mammograms and calculated percent density, dense area, and non-dense area on cranial-caudal images. We measured serum 25(OH)D in batched, archived specimens. Median serum 25(OH)D was 22 ng/ml (range, 8–66 ng/ml). In univariable analysis, higher serum 25(OH)D was associated with white race, higher educational level, ever breast feeding, and blood draw during the summer. After adjusting for body mass index and other confounders, we found no association between serum 25(OH)D and different measures of MD. However, when stratified by season, 25(OH)D was inversely associated with dense area during July-December (p = 0.034).
Overall, our findings suggest that circulating vitamin D, a potentially modifiable breast cancer risk factor, is not associated with MD; the seasonal effects we observed need to be replicated in larger cohorts.
PMCID: PMC3996501  PMID: 24742098
Vitamin D; 25-hydroxyvitamin D; Breast cancer; Mammographic density
11.  Socioeconomic status and prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates among the diverse population of California 
Cancer Causes & Control   2009;20(8):1431-1440.
The racial/ethnic disparities in prostate cancer rates are well documented, with the highest incidence and mortality rates observed among African-Americans followed by non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islanders. Whether socioeconomic status (SES) can account for these differences in risk has been investigated in previous studies, but with conflicting results. Furthermore, previous studies have focused primarily on the differences between African-Americans and non-Hispanic Whites, and little is known for Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders.
To further investigate the relationship between SES and prostate cancer among African-Americans, non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islanders, we conducted a large population-based cross-sectional study of 98,484 incident prostate cancer cases and 8,997 prostate cancer deaths from California.
Data were abstracted from the California Cancer Registry, a population-based surveillance, epidemiology, and end results (SEER) registry. Each prostate cancer case and death was assigned a multidimensional neighborhood-SES index using the 2000 US Census data. SES quintile-specific prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates and rate ratios were estimated using SEER*Stat for each race/ethnicity categorized into 10-year age groups.
For prostate cancer incidence, we observed higher levels of SES to be significantly associated with increased risk of disease [SES Q1 vs. Q5: relative risk (RR) = 1.28; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.25–1.30]. Among younger men (45–64 years), African-Americans had the highest incidence rates followed by non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islanders for all SES levels. Yet, among older men (75–84 years) Hispanics, following African-Americans, displayed the second highest incidence rates of prostate cancer. For prostate cancer deaths, higher levels of SES were associated with lower mortality rates of prostate cancer deaths (SES Q1 vs. Q5: RR = 0.88; 95% CI: 0.92–0.94). African-Americans had a twofold to fivefold increased risk of prostate cancer deaths in comparison to non-Hispanic Whites across all levels of SES.
Our findings suggest that SES alone cannot account for the greater burden of prostate cancer among African-American men. In addition, incidence and mortality rates of prostate cancer display different age and racial/ethnic patterns across gradients of SES.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10552-009-9369-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC2746891  PMID: 19526319
Prostate cancer; Socioeconomic status; Disparities; Incidence rates; Mortality rates
12.  Ethnic differences in the association of Birth Weight and Blood Pressure -the Georgia Cardiovascular Twin Study 
American journal of hypertension  2007;20(12):1235-1241.
African Americans (AA) not only have higher blood pressure levels, but also an increased risk of low weight at birth, compared to European Americans (EA). In light of fetal programming theories it has been suggested that ethnic differences in blood pressure originate in utero. However, most previous studies in bi-ethnic samples have not found a significant inverse association between birth weight and blood pressure in AAs.
In 562 EA and 465 AA adolescent twins of the Georgia Cardiovascular Twin Study we investigated the potential ethnic difference in blood pressure - birth weight association, with the ability to control for potential confounding by familial factors.
Blood pressure levels were significantly higher in AAs compared to EAs, independent of birth weight (p<0.01). After adjustment for parental factors and BMI, the difference in systolic blood pressure per kg birth weight was -1.1 mm Hg (95% confidence interval -2.7, 0.48, p=0.17) in EAs and -2.5 mm Hg (95% CI -4.7, -0.40, p=0.02) in AAs. A significant ethnic interaction was revealed in paired analysis where the inverse association remained in AAs, but not in EAs. Associations with diastolic blood pressure were generally weaker and non significant.
We could show that low birth weight was associated with an elevated systolic blood pressure in AAs, independent of familial factors. The results also suggest that the association between birth weight and blood pressure may be more pronounced in AAs in adolescence.
PMCID: PMC2924638  PMID: 18047911
Birth Weight; Blood Pressure; Fetal Programming; Ethnicity; Twins
13.  Vitamin D Deficiency Is Prevalent in Morbidly Obese Adolescents Prior to Bariatric Surgery 
ISRN obesity  2013;2013:284516.
Obese adults are frequently vitamin D deficient before bariatric surgery; whether similar abnormalities exist in morbidly obese adolescents is unknown.
To determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in morbidly obese adolescents.
Cross-sectional study of preoperative laboratory measures from 236 adolescents evaluated for bariatric surgery.
The group (N = 219 with 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels; 76 boys, 143 girls; 15.9 ± 1.2 years; 43% Caucasian, 35% Hispanic, and 15% African American) had mean BMI of 47.6 ± 8.1 kg/m2. 25OHD levels were deficient (<20 ng/mL) in 53%; 8% had severe deficiency (<10 ng/mL); only 18% of patients were replete (>30 ng/mL). 25OHD levels were inversely associated with BMI (r = −0.28, < 0.0001) and PTH levels (r = −0.24, P = 0.0003). Race was the strongest predictor of 25OHD (P < 0.002); 82% of African Americans, 59% of Hispanics, and 37% of Caucasians were deficient. African American race, BMI, and PTH explained 21% of the variance in 25OHD (P < 0.0001).
Most adolescents presenting for bariatric surgery have suboptimal vitamin D levels, with African Americans and those with higher BMIs at greatest risk for vitamin D deficiency. All morbidly obese adolescents should be screened for vitamin D deficiency before bariatric procedures.
PMCID: PMC3664934  PMID: 23724340
14.  Vitamin D Deficiency Is Prevalent in Morbidly Obese Adolescents Prior to Bariatric Surgery 
ISRN Obesity  2013;2013:284516.
Background. Obese adults are frequently vitamin D deficient before bariatric surgery; whether similar abnormalities exist in morbidly obese adolescents is unknown. Objective. To determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in morbidly obese adolescents. Methods. Cross-sectional study of preoperative laboratory measures from 236 adolescents evaluated for bariatric surgery. Results. The group (N = 219 with 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels; 76 boys, 143 girls; 15.9 ± 1.2 years; 43% Caucasian, 35% Hispanic, and 15% African American) had mean BMI of 47.6 ± 8.1 kg/m2. 25OHD levels were deficient (<20 ng/mL) in 53%; 8% had severe deficiency (<10 ng/mL); only 18% of patients were replete (>30 ng/mL). 25OHD levels were inversely associated with BMI (r = −0.28, P < 0.0001) and PTH levels (r = −0.24, P = 0.0003). Race was the strongest predictor of 25OHD (P < 0.002); 82% of African Americans, 59% of Hispanics, and 37% of Caucasians were deficient. African American race, BMI, and PTH explained 21% of the variance in 25OHD (P < 0.0001). Conclusions. Most adolescents presenting for bariatric surgery have suboptimal vitamin D levels, with African Americans and those with higher BMIs at greatest risk for vitamin D deficiency. All morbidly obese adolescents should be screened for vitamin D deficiency before bariatric procedures.
PMCID: PMC3664934  PMID: 23724340
15.  Differences in Blood Pressure Control in a Large Population-Based Sample of Older African Americans and Non-Hispanic Whites 
Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death in older adults. Uncontrolled blood pressure is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. African Americans have poorer blood pressure control than non-Hispanic whites. Little is known about whether this difference persists in older ages or the factors that contribute to this racial gap.
Data were obtained from participants of the Chicago Health and Aging Program. Blood pressure control was defined according to JNC-7 criteria. Univariate chi-square analyses were used to determine racial differences in hypertension and blood pressure control, whereas sequential multivariate logistic regression models were used to determine the effect of race on blood pressure control.
African Americans had a higher prevalence of hypertension (74% vs 63%; p < .001), higher awareness of hypertension (81% vs 72%; p < .001), and poorer blood pressure control (45% vs 51%, p < .001) than non-Hispanic whites. Racial differences in blood pressure control persisted after adjustment for socioeconomic status, medical conditions, obesity, and use of antihypertensive medications (odds ratio = 0.84, 95% confidence interval = 0.70–0.94). From 1993 to 2008, blood pressure control improved more among non-Hispanic whites than among African Americans.
Racial differences in blood pressure control in older adults were not explained by socioeconomic status. The racial disparity in the prevalence and control of hypertension remained consistent for older hypertensive individuals eligible for Medicare. Although the rates of hypertension control improved for both racial groups, the improvement was greater among whites, thus widening the gap in this older population at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3667694  PMID: 22496537
Blood pressure control; Elderly; Race; Disparities; Medicare
16.  An evaluation of the metabolic syndrome in a large multi-ethnic study: the Family Blood Pressure Program 
The Family Blood Pressure Program is an ongoing, NHLBI-sponsored, multi-center program to study the genetic determinants of high blood pressure. The goal of this particular study was to study patterns of metabolic syndrome (MetS) in four ethnic groups: African Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, and Asians.
A major part of participants in three networks GENOA, HyperGEN and SAPPHIRe were recruited mainly through hypertensive probands. MetS was defined as a categorical trait following the National Cholesterol Education Program definition (c-MetS). MetS was also characterized quantitatively through multivariate factor analyses (FA) of 10 risk variables (q-MetS). Logistic regression and frequency tables were used for studying associations among traits.
Using the NCEP definition, the Hispanic sample, which by design was enriched for type 2 diabetes (T2D), had a very high prevalence of MetS (73%). In contrast, its prevalence in Chinese was the lowest (17%). In African Americans and Hispanics, c-MetS was more prevalent in women than in men. Association of c-MetS with type 2 diabetes (T2D) was prominent in the Hispanics and African Americans, less pronounced in the Whites and Japanese, (although still significant), and weakest in the Chinese sample.
Using FA without rotation, we found that the main factor loaded obesity (OBS) and blood pressure (BP) in African Americans; OBS and insulin (INS) in Hispanics, in Japanese, and in Whites; and OBS alone in Chinese. In Hispanics, Whites, and Japanese, BP loaded as a separate factor. Lipids in combination with INS also loaded in a separate factor. Using FA with Varimax rotation, 4 independent factors were identified: "Obesity-INS," "Blood pressure," "Lipids-INS," and "Central obesity." They explained about 60% of the variance present in the original risk variables.
MetS ethnic differences were identified. Ascertaining for hypertension or T2D increased the MetS prevalence in networks compared with the one in the US general population. Obesity was the most prominent risk factor contributing to both c-MetS and q-MetS. INS contributed in two important factors (obesity and lipids). The information imbedded into c-MetS trait /q-MetS factors scores can contribute in future research of the MetS, especially its utilization in the genetic analysis.
PMCID: PMC1201342  PMID: 16076393
17.  Analysis of FTO gene variants with obesity and glucose homeostasis measures in the multiethnic Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study cohort 
Previous studies have replicated the association of variants within FTO (fat mass- and obesity-associated) intron 1 with obesity and adiposity quantitative traits in populations of European ancestry. Non-European populations, however, have not been so intensively studied. The goal of this investigation was to examine the association of FTO single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), prominent in the literature in a multiethnic sample of non-Hispanic White American (n = 458), Hispanic American (n = 373) and African American (n = 288) subjects from the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study (IRAS). This cohort provides the unique ability to evaluate how variation within FTO influences measures of adiposity and glucose homeostasis in three different ethnicities, which were ascertained and examined using a common protocol.
A total of 26 FTO SNPs were genotyped, including those consistently associated in the literature (rs9939609, rs8050136, rs1121980, rs1421085, rs17817449 and rs3751812), and tested for association with adiposity and glucose homeostasis traits.
For the adiposity phenotypes, these and other SNPs were associated with body mass index (BMI) in both non-Hispanic Whites (P-values ranging from 0.015 to 0.048) and Hispanic Americans (P-values ranging from 7.1 × 10−6 to 0.027). In Hispanic Americans, four other SNPs (rs8047395, rs10852521, rs8057044 and rs8044769) still showed evidence of association after multiple comparisons adjustment (P-values ranging from 5.0 × 10−5 to 5.2 × 10−4). The historically associated BMI SNPs were not associated in the African Americans, but rs1108102 was associated with BMI (P-value of 5.4 × 10−4) after accounting for multiple comparisons. For glucose homeostasis traits, associations were seen with acute insulin response in non-Hispanic Whites and African Americans. However, all associations with glucose homeostasis measures were no longer significant after adjusting for multiple comparisons.
These results replicate the association of FTO intron 1 variants with BMI in non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanic Americans but show little evidence of association in African Americans, suggesting that the effect of FTO variants on adiposity phenotypes shows genetic heterogeneity dependent on ethnicity.
PMCID: PMC4068260  PMID: 21102551
FTO; association; adiposity traits; multiethnic sample; glucose homeostasis traits
18.  Racial differences in the relationship between vitamin D, bone mineral density, and parathyroid hormone in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 
It is unclear whether optimal levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) in whites are the same as in minorities. In adult participants of NHANES, the relationships between 25(OH)D, bone mineral density (BMD), and parathyroid hormone (PTH) differed in blacks as compared to whites and Mexican-Americans, suggesting that optimal 25(OH)D levels for bone and mineral metabolism may differ by race.
Blacks and Hispanics have lower 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations than whites. However, it is unclear whether 25(OH)D levels considered “optimal” for bone and mineral metabolism in whites are the same as those in minority populations.
We examined the relationships between 25(OH)D and parathyroid hormone in 8,415 adult participants (25% black and 24% Mexican-American) in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2003–2004 and 2005–2006; and between 25(OH)D and bone mineral density in 4,206 adult participants (24% black and 24% Mexican-American) in the 2003–2004 sample.
Blacks and Mexican-Americans had significantly lower 25(OH)D and higher PTH concentrations than whites (P<0.01 for both). BMD significantly decreased (P<0.01) as serum 25(OH)D and calcium intake declined among whites and Mexican-Americans, but not among blacks (P=0.2). The impact of vitamin D deficiency (25 (OH)D≤20 ng/ml) on PTH levels was modified by race/ethnicity (P for interaction, 0.001). Whereas inverse relationships between 25(OH)D and PTH were observed above and below a 25(OH)D level of 20 ng/ml in whites and Mexican-Americans, an inverse association between 25(OH)D and PTH was only observed below this threshold in blacks, with the slope of the relationship being essentially flat (P=0.7) above this cut-point, suggesting that PTH may be maximally suppressed at lower 25(OH)D levels in blacks than in whites or Mexican-Americans.
The relationships between 25(OH)D, BMD, and PTH may differ by race among US adults. Whether race-specific ranges of optimal vitamin D are needed to appropriately evaluate the adequacy of vitamin D stores in minorities requires further study.
PMCID: PMC3093445  PMID: 20848081
Bone mineral density; Ethnic differences; Parathyroid hormone; Vitamin D
19.  A Prospective Study of Plasma Vitamin D Metabolites, Vitamin D Receptor Polymorphisms, and Prostate Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e103.
Vitamin D insufficiency is a common public health problem nationwide. Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D), the most commonly used index of vitamin D status, is converted to the active hormone 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25[OH]2D), which, operating through the vitamin D receptor (VDR), inhibits in vitro cell proliferation, induces differentiation and apoptosis, and may protect against prostate cancer. Despite intriguing results from laboratory studies, previous epidemiological studies showed inconsistent associations of circulating levels of 25(OH)D, 1,25(OH)2D, and several VDR polymorphisms with prostate cancer risk. Few studies have explored the joint association of circulating vitamin D levels with VDR polymorphisms.
Methods and Findings
During 18 y of follow-up of 14,916 men initially free of diagnosed cancer, we identified 1,066 men with incident prostate cancer (including 496 with aggressive disease, defined as stage C or D, Gleason 7–10, metastatic, and fatal prostate cancer) and 1,618 cancer-free, age- and smoking-matched control participants in the Physicians' Health Study. We examined the associations of prediagnostic plasma levels of 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D, individually and jointly, with total and aggressive disease, and explored whether relations between vitamin D metabolites and prostate cancer were modified by the functional VDR FokI polymorphism, using conditional logistic regression. Among these US physicians, the median plasma 25(OH)D levels were 25 ng/ml in the blood samples collected during the winter or spring and 32 ng/ml in samples collected during the summer or fall. Nearly 13% (summer/fall) to 36% (winter/spring) of the control participants were deficient in 25(OH)D (<20 ng/ml) and 51% (summer/fall) and 77% (winter/spring) had insufficient plasma 25(OH)D levels (<32 ng/ml). Plasma levels of 1,25(OH)2D did not vary by season. Men whose levels for both 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D were below (versus above) the median had a significantly increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer (odds ratio [OR] = 2.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2–3.4), although the interaction between the two vitamin D metabolites was not statistically significant (pinteraction = 0.23). We observed a significant interaction between circulating 25(OH)D levels and the VDR FokI genotype (pinteraction < 0.05). Compared with those with plasma 25(OH)D levels above the median and with the FokI FF or Ff genotype, men who had low 25(OH)D levels and the less functional FokI ff genotype had increased risks of total (OR = 1.9, 95% CI 1.1–3.3) and aggressive prostate cancer (OR = 2.5, 95% CI 1.1–5.8). Among men with plasma 25(OH)D levels above the median, the ff genotype was no longer associated with risk. Conversely, among men with the ff genotype, high plasma 25(OH)D level (above versus below the median) was related to significant 60%∼70% lower risks of total and aggressive prostate cancer.
Our data suggest that a large proportion of the US men had suboptimal vitamin D status (especially during the winter/spring season), and both 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D may play an important role in preventing prostate cancer progression. Moreover, vitamin D status, measured by 25(OH)D in plasma, interacts with the VDR FokI polymorphism and modifies prostate cancer risk. Men with the less functional FokI ff genotype (14% in the European-descent population of this cohort) are more susceptible to this cancer in the presence of low 25(OH)D status.
Results of this study by Haojie Li and colleagues suggest that vitamin D deficiency is common among men in the US, and that vitamin D status and genetic variation in theVDR gene affect prostate cancer risk.
Editors' Summary
Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland (part of the male reproductive system) accumulate genetic changes that allow them to grow into a disorganized mass of cells. Patients whose disease is diagnosed when these cells are still relatively normal can survive for many years, but for patients with aggressive cancers—ones containing fast-growing cells that can migrate around the body—the outlook is poor. Factors that increase prostate cancer risk include increasing age, having a family history of prostate cancer, and being African American. Also, there are hints that some environmental or dietary factors affect prostate cancer risk. One of these factors is vitamin D, of which high levels are found in seafood and dairy products, but which can also be made naturally by the body—more specifically, by sunlight-exposed skin. One reason researchers think vitamin D might protect against prostate cancer is that this cancer is more common in sun-starved northern countries (where people often have a vitamin D deficiency) than in sunny regions. Prostate cancer is also more common in African American men than in those of European descent (when exposed to the same amount of sunlight, individuals with darker skin make less vitamin D than those with lighter skin). Once in the human body, vitamin D is converted into the vitamin D metabolite 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D) and then into the active hormone 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25[OH]2D). This binds to vitamin D receptors (VDRs) and inhibits cell proliferation and migration.
Why Was This Study Done?
The effect of 1,25(OH)2D on cells and the observation that related chemicals slow prostate cancer growth in rodents suggest that vitamin D protects against prostate cancer. But circulating levels of vitamin D metabolites in human male populations do not always reflect how many men develop prostate cancer. This lack of correlation may partly be because different forms of the VDR gene exist. One area of variation in the VDR gene is called the FokI polymorphism. Because everyone carries two copies of the VDR gene, individuals may have a FokI FF, FokI Ff, or FokI ff genotype. The f variant (or allele) codes for a receptor that is less responsive to 1,25(OH)2D than the receptor encoded by the FokI F allele. So levels of vitamin D sufficient to prevent cancer in one person may be insufficient in someone with a different FokI genotype. In this study, the researchers have investigated how levels of 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D in combination with different VDR FokI alleles are influencing prostate cancer risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 1,066 men who developed prostate cancer between enrollment into the US Physicians' Health Study in 1982 and 2000, and 1,618 cancer-free men of the same ages and smoking levels as “controls.” They measured vitamin D metabolite levels in many of the blood samples taken from these men in 1982 and determined their FokI genotype. Two-thirds of the men had insufficient blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the winter/spring; almost one-third had a vitamin D deficiency. Men whose blood levels of both metabolites were below average were twice as likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer as those in whom both levels were above average. Compared with men with high blood levels of 25(OH)D and the FokI FF or Ff genotype, men with low 25(OH)D levels and the FokI ff genotype were 2.5 times as likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. However, men with the ff genotype were not at higher risk if they had sufficient 25(OH)D levels. Among men with the ff genotype, sufficient 25(OH)D levels might therefore protect against prostate cancer, especially against the clinically aggressive form.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings confirm that many US men have suboptimal levels of circulating vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for healthy bones, so irrespective of its effects on prostate cancer, vitamin D supplements might improve overall health. In addition, this large and lengthy study reveals an association between low levels of the two vitamin D metabolites and aggressive prostate cancer that is consistent with vitamin D helping to prevent the progression of prostate cancer. It also indicates that the VDR FokI genotype modifies the prostate cancer risk associated with different blood levels of vitamin D. Together, these results suggest that improving vitamin D status through increased exposure to sun and vitamin D supplements might reduce prostate cancer risk, particularly in men with the FokI ff genotype. Because the study participants were mainly of European descent, the researchers caution that these results may not apply to other ethnic groups and note that further detailed studies are needed to understand fully how vitamin D affects prostate cancer risk across the population.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on prostate cancer and on vitamin D
Information for patients and physicians is available from the US National Cancer Institute on prostate cancer and on cancer prevention
The Prostate Cancer Foundation's information on prostate cancer discusses the effects of nutrition on the disease
Patient information on prostate cancer is available from Cancer Research UK
Cancerbackup also has patient information on prostate cancer
PMCID: PMC1831738  PMID: 17388667
20.  High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency and its association with obesity and metabolic syndrome among Malay adults in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:735.
Vitamin D status, as indicated by 25-hydroxyvitamin D is inversely associated with adiposity, glucose homeostasis, lipid profiles, and blood pressure along with its classic role in calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism. It is also shown to be inversely associated with metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases in western populations. However, evidence from the Asian population is limited. Therefore, we aim to study the prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency (< 50 nmol/L) and the association of 25-hydroxyvitamin D with metabolic risk factors among an existing Malay cohort in Kuala Lumpur.
This is an analytical cross sectional study. A total of 380 subjects were sampled and their vitamins D status (25-hydroxyvitamin D), fasting blood glucose, full lipid profile were assessed using venous blood. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure, weight, height and waist circumference were measured following standard protocols. Socio-demographic data such as sex, age, smoking status etc were also collected. Data was analysed using t-test, chi-square test, General Linear Model and multiple logistic regression.
Females made up 58% of the sample. The mean age of respondents was 48.5 (SD 5.2) years. Females had significantly lower mean Vitamin D levels (36.2; 95% CI: 34.5, 38.0 nmol/L) compared to males (56.2; 95% CI: 53.2, 59.2 nmol/L). Approximately 41% and 87% of males and females respectively had insufficient (< 50 nmol/L) levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (p < 0.001). The prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome for the whole sample was 38.4 (95% CI: 33.5, 43.3)%. In the multivariate model (adjusted for age, sex, abdominal obesity, HDL-cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure), insufficient Vitamin D status was significantly associated with 1-year age increments (OR: 0.93; 95% CI: 0.88, 0.98), being female (OR: 8.68; 95% CI: 5.08, 14.83) and abdominal obesity (OR: 2.57; 95% CI: 1.51, 4.39). Respondents with insufficient vitamin D were found to have higher odds of having Metabolic Syndrome (OR: 1.73; 95% CI: 1.02, 2.92) after adjusting for age and sex.
Our results highlight the high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency among Malay adults in Kuala Lumpur. Vitamin D insufficiency is independently associated with younger age, female sex and greater abdominal obesity. Vitamin D insufficiency is also associated with Metabolic Syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3198705  PMID: 21943301
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2009;17(8):1554-1562.
The genome-wide association study by Herbert and colleagues identified the INSIG2 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs7566605 as contributing to increased BMI in ethnically distinct cohorts. The present study sought to further clarify by testing whether SNPs of INSIG2 influenced quantitative adiposity or glucose homeostasis traits in Hispanics of the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study (IRASFS). Using a tagging SNP approach, rs7566605 and 31 additional SNPs were genotyped in 1425 IRASFS Hispanics. SNPs were tested for association with six adiposity measures: BMI, waist circumference (WAIST), waist to hip ratio (WHR), subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), visceral adipose tissue (VAT), and VAT to SAT ratio (VSR). SNPs were also tested for association with fasting glucose (GFAST), fasting insulin (FINS), and three measures obtained from the frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test: insulin sensitivity (SI), acute insulin response (AIR), and disposition index (DI). Most prominent association was observed with direct CT-measured adiposity phenotypes, including VAT, SAT, and VSR (P-values range from 0.007 to 0.044 for rs17586756, rs17047718, rs17047731, rs9308762, rs12623648, and rs11673900). Multiple SNP associations were observed with all glucose homeostasis traits (P-values range from 0.001 to 0.031 for rs17047718, rs17047731, rs2161829, rs10490625, rs889904, and rs12623648). Using BMI as a covariate in evaluation of glucose homeostasis traits slightly reduced their association. However, association with adiposity and glucose homeostasis phenotypes is not significant following multiple comparisons adjustment. Trending association after multiple comparisons adjustment remains suggestive of a role for genetic variation of INSIG2 in obesity, but these results require validation.
PMCID: PMC2916685  PMID: 19360016
Insulin-induced gene 2; single nucleotide polymorphism; genetic association; adiposity; glucose homeostasis
22.  Aggressive Blood Pressure Control Increases Coronary Heart Disease Risk Among Diabetic Patients 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(10):3287-3296.
Blood pressure control can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) among diabetic patients; however, it is not known whether the lowest risk of CHD is among diabetic patients with the lowest blood pressure level.
We performed a prospective cohort study (2000–2009) on diabetic patients including 17,536 African Americans and 12,618 whites. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate the association of blood pressure with CHD risk.
During a mean follow-up of 6.0 years, 7,260 CHD incident cases were identified. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios of CHD associated with different levels of systolic/diastolic blood pressure at baseline (<110/65, 110–119/65–69, 120–129/70–80, and 130–139/80–90 mmHg [reference group]; 140–159/90–100; and ≥160/100 mmHg) were 1.73, 1.16, 1.04, 1.00, 1.06, and 1.11 (P trend <0.001), respectively, for African American diabetic patients, and 1.60, 1.27, 1.08, 1.00, 0.95, and 0.99 (P trend<0.001) for white diabetic patients, respectively. A U-shaped association of isolated systolic and diastolic blood pressure at baseline as well as blood pressure during follow-up with CHD risk was observed among both African American and white diabetic patients (all Ptrend <0.001). The U-shaped association was present in the younger age-group (30–49 years), and this U-shaped association changed to an inverse association in the older age-group (≥60 years).
Our study suggests that there is a U-shaped or inverse association between blood pressure and the risk of CHD, and aggressive blood pressure control (blood pressure <120/70 mmHg) is associated with an increased risk of CHD among both African American and white patients with diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3781514  PMID: 23690530
23.  Racial and Ethnic Differences in Albuminuria in Individuals With Estimated GFR Greater Than 60 mL/min/1.73 m2: Results From the Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP) 
Albuminuria is an important marker for chronic kidney disease and progression to end-stage renal disease in the general population; understanding racial and ethnic differences can help inform efforts to reduce health disparities. We sought to estimate independent associations of race/ethnicity with albuminuria to determine whether observed differences were attributable to known kidney disease risk factors.
This cross-sectional study included 64,161 Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP) participants, 2000–2008, with estimated glomerular filtration rate ≥ 60 mL/min/1.73 m2, not on regular dialysis, and without previous kidney transplant. Albuminuria (urine albumin-creatinine ratio [ACR] ≥ 30 mg/g) was examined by self-reported race and ethnicity. Covariates were age, sex, educational level, body mass index, diabetes status or glucose level, hypertension status or blood pressure measurement, smoking status, health insurance status, and geographic region.
Albuminuria prevalence was 8% (n = 2303) in whites, 11% (n = 2310) in African Americans, 9% (n = 730) in Hispanics, 10% (n = 381) in Asians, and 15% (n = 344) in American Indians/Alaska Natives. Compared with whites, odds of albuminuria were higher for all groups after multivariate adjustment. Odds were highest for American Indians/Alaska Natives (adjusted odds ratio 1.93, 95% confidence interval 1.70–2.20), then Asians (1.42, 1.26–1.61), African Americans (1.38, 1.29–1.47), and Hispanics (1.19, 1.08–1.31).
In the KEEP study population, albuminuria prevalence was higher among African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians/Alaska Natives than among non-Hispanic whites, suggesting a need for screening for early detection of kidney damage, especially among people at increased risk, in the community primary care setting.
PMCID: PMC3507474  PMID: 20172444
24.  Detection of Pleiotropy through a Phenome-Wide Association Study (PheWAS) of Epidemiologic Data as Part of the Environmental Architecture for Genes Linked to Environment (EAGLE) Study 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(12):e1004678.
We performed a Phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) utilizing diverse genotypic and phenotypic data existing across multiple populations in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and accessed by the Epidemiological Architecture for Genes Linked to Environment (EAGLE) study. We calculated comprehensive tests of association in Genetic NHANES using 80 SNPs and 1,008 phenotypes (grouped into 184 phenotype classes), stratified by race-ethnicity. Genetic NHANES includes three surveys (NHANES III, 1999–2000, and 2001–2002) and three race-ethnicities: non-Hispanic whites (n = 6,634), non-Hispanic blacks (n = 3,458), and Mexican Americans (n = 3,950). We identified 69 PheWAS associations replicating across surveys for the same SNP, phenotype-class, direction of effect, and race-ethnicity at p<0.01, allele frequency >0.01, and sample size >200. Of these 69 PheWAS associations, 39 replicated previously reported SNP-phenotype associations, 9 were related to previously reported associations, and 21 were novel associations. Fourteen results had the same direction of effect across more than one race-ethnicity: one result was novel, 11 replicated previously reported associations, and two were related to previously reported results. Thirteen SNPs showed evidence of pleiotropy. We further explored results with gene-based biological networks, contrasting the direction of effect for pleiotropic associations across phenotypes. One PheWAS result was ABCG2 missense SNP rs2231142, associated with uric acid levels in both non-Hispanic whites and Mexican Americans, protoporphyrin levels in non-Hispanic whites and Mexican Americans, and blood pressure levels in Mexican Americans. Another example was SNP rs1800588 near LIPC, significantly associated with the novel phenotypes of folate levels (Mexican Americans), vitamin E levels (non-Hispanic whites) and triglyceride levels (non-Hispanic whites), and replication for cholesterol levels. The results of this PheWAS show the utility of this approach for exposing more of the complex genetic architecture underlying multiple traits, through generating novel hypotheses for future research.
Author Summary
The Epidemiological Architecture for Genes Linked to Environment (EAGLE) study performed a Phenome-Wide Association Study (PheWAS) to investigate comprehensive associations between a wide range of phenotypes and single-nucleotide polymorphisms using the diverse genotypic and phenotypic data that exists across multiple populations in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In this study, we replicated known genotype-phenotype associations, identified genotypes associated with phenotypes related to previously reported associations, and most importantly, identified a series of novel genotype-phenotype associations. We also identified potential pleiotropy; that is, SNPs associated with more than one phenotype. We explored the features of these PheWAS results, characterizing any potential functionality of the SNPs of this study, determining association results that were found in more than one racial/ethnic group for the same SNP and phenotype, identifying novel direction of effect relationships for SNPs demonstrating potential pleiotropy, and investigating the association results in the context of gene-based biological networks. Through considering the SNP associations on multiple phenotypic outcomes, as well as through exploring pleiotropy, we may be able to leverage the results of PheWAS to uncover more of the complex underlying genomic architecture of complex traits.
PMCID: PMC4256091  PMID: 25474351
25.  Genome-Wide Association Scan Shows Genetic Variants in the FTO Gene Are Associated with Obesity-Related Traits 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(7):e115.
The obesity epidemic is responsible for a substantial economic burden in developed countries and is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The disease is the result not only of several environmental risk factors, but also of genetic predisposition. To take advantage of recent advances in gene-mapping technology, we executed a genome-wide association scan to identify genetic variants associated with obesity-related quantitative traits in the genetically isolated population of Sardinia. Initial analysis suggested that several SNPs in the FTO and PFKP genes were associated with increased BMI, hip circumference, and weight. Within the FTO gene, rs9930506 showed the strongest association with BMI (p = 8.6 ×10−7), hip circumference (p = 3.4 × 10−8), and weight (p = 9.1 × 10−7). In Sardinia, homozygotes for the rare “G” allele of this SNP (minor allele frequency = 0.46) were 1.3 BMI units heavier than homozygotes for the common “A” allele. Within the PFKP gene, rs6602024 showed very strong association with BMI (p = 4.9 × 10−6). Homozygotes for the rare “A” allele of this SNP (minor allele frequency = 0.12) were 1.8 BMI units heavier than homozygotes for the common “G” allele. To replicate our findings, we genotyped these two SNPs in the GenNet study. In European Americans (N = 1,496) and in Hispanic Americans (N = 839), we replicated significant association between rs9930506 in the FTO gene and BMI (p-value for meta-analysis of European American and Hispanic American follow-up samples, p = 0.001), weight (p = 0.001), and hip circumference (p = 0.0005). We did not replicate association between rs6602024 and obesity-related traits in the GenNet sample, although we found that in European Americans, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans, homozygotes for the rare “A” allele were, on average, 1.0–3.0 BMI units heavier than homozygotes for the more common “G” allele. In summary, we have completed a whole genome–association scan for three obesity-related quantitative traits and report that common genetic variants in the FTO gene are associated with substantial changes in BMI, hip circumference, and body weight. These changes could have a significant impact on the risk of obesity-related morbidity in the general population.
Author Summary
Although twin and family studies have clearly shown that genes play a role in obesity, it has proven quite difficult to identify the specific genetic variants involved. Here, we take advantage of recent technical and methodological advances to examine the role of common genetic variants on several obesity-related traits. By examining >4,000 Sardinians, we show that a specific genetic variant, rs9930506, and other nearby variants on human Chromosome 16 are associated with body mass index, hip circumference, and total body weight. The variants overlap FTO, a gene with poorly understood function. Further studies of the region may implicate new biological pathways affecting susceptibility to obesity. We also show that the association is not restricted to Sardinia but is also seen in independent samples of European Americans and Hispanic Americans. This finding is particularly important because obesity is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
PMCID: PMC1934391  PMID: 17658951

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