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1.  Temporal growth and geographic variation in the use of laboratory tests by NHS general practices: using routine data to identify research priorities 
The British Journal of General Practice  2013;63(609):e256-e266.
Laboratory tests are extensively used for diagnosis and monitoring in UK primary care. Test usage by GPs, and associated costs, have grown substantially in recent years.
This study aimed to quantify temporal growth and geographic variation in utilisation of laboratory tests.
Design and setting
Retrospective cohort study using data from general practices in the UK.
Data from the General Practice Research Database, including patient demographics, clinical details, and laboratory test results, were used to estimate rates of change in utilisation between 2005 and 2009, and identify tests with greatest inter-regional variation, by fitting random-effects Poisson regression models. The study also investigated indications for test requests, using diagnoses and symptoms recorded in the 2 weeks before each test.
Around 660 000 tests were recorded in 230 000 person-years of follow-up. Test use increased by 24.2%, from 23 872 to 29 644 tests per 10 000 person-years, between 2005 and 2009. Tests with the largest increases were faecal occult blood (121%) and C-reactive protein (86%). There was substantial geographic variation in test utilisation; GPs in some regions requested tests such as plasma viscosity and cardiac enzymes at a rate more than three times the national average.
Increases in the use of laboratory tests have substantial resource implications. Rapid increases in particular tests may be supported by evidence-based guidelines, but these are often vague about who should be tested, how often, and for how long. Substantial regional variation in test use may reflect uncertainty about diagnostic accuracy and appropriate indications for the laboratory test. There is a need for further research on the diagnostic accuracy, therapeutic impact, and effect on patient health outcomes of the most rapidly increasing and geographically variable tests.
PMCID: PMC3609473  PMID: 23540482
clinical laboratory techniques; economics; evidence-based medicine; physician practice patterns; primary health care; trends
2.  Apolipoprotein E genotype, cardiovascular biomarkers and risk of stroke: Systematic review and meta-analysis of 14 015 stroke cases and pooled analysis of primary biomarker data from up to 60 883 individuals 
Background At the APOE gene, encoding apolipoprotein E, genotypes of the ε2/ε3/ε4 alleles associated with higher LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) levels are also associated with higher coronary risk. However, the association of APOE genotype with other cardiovascular biomarkers and risk of ischaemic stroke is less clear. We evaluated the association of APOE genotype with risk of ischaemic stroke and assessed whether the observed effect was consistent with the effects of APOE genotype on LDL-C or other lipids and biomarkers of cardiovascular risk.
Methods We conducted a systematic review of published and unpublished studies reporting on APOE genotype and ischaemic stroke. We pooled 41 studies (with a total of 9027 cases and 61 730 controls) using a Bayesian meta-analysis to calculate the odds ratios (ORs) for ischaemic stroke with APOE genotype. To better evaluate potential mechanisms for any observed effect, we also conducted a pooled analysis of primary data using 16 studies (up to 60 883 individuals) of European ancestry. We evaluated the association of APOE genotype with lipids, other circulating biomarkers of cardiovascular risk and carotid intima-media thickness (C-IMT).
Results The ORs for association of APOE genotypes with ischaemic stroke were: 1.09 (95% credible intervals (CrI): 0.84–1.43) for ε2/ε2; 0.85 (95% CrI: 0.78–0.92) for ε2/ε3; 1.05 (95% CrI: 0.89–1.24) for ε2/ε4; 1.05 (95% CrI: 0.99–1.12) for ε3/ε4; and 1.12 (95% CrI: 0.94–1.33) for ε4/ε4 using the ε3/ε3 genotype as the reference group. A regression analysis that investigated the effect of LDL-C (using APOE as the instrument) on ischaemic stroke showed a positive dose-response association with an OR of 1.33 (95% CrI: 1.17, 1.52) per 1 mmol/l increase in LDL-C. In the separate pooled analysis, APOE genotype was linearly and positively associated with levels of LDL-C (P-trend: 2 × 10−152), apolipoprotein B (P-trend: 8.7 × 10−06) and C-IMT (P-trend: 0.001), and negatively and linearly associated with apolipoprotein E (P-trend: 6 × 10−26) and HDL-C (P-trend: 1.6 × 10−12). Associations with lipoprotein(a), C-reactive protein and triglycerides were non-linear.
Conclusions In people of European ancestry, APOE genotype showed a positive dose-response association with LDL-C, C-IMT and ischaemic stroke. However, the association of APOE ε2/ε2 genotype with ischaemic stroke requires further investigation. This cross-domain concordance supports a causal role of LDL-C on ischaemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC3619955  PMID: 23569189
Stroke; lipids; apolipoprotein E; cardiovascular disease; systematic review; meta-analysis; biomarkers
3.  A pathway-based analysis provides additional support for an immune-related genetic susceptibility to Parkinson's disease 
Holmans, Peter | Moskvina, Valentina | Jones, Lesley | Sharma, Manu | Vedernikov, Alexey | Buchel, Finja | Sadd, Mohamad | Bras, Jose M. | Bettella, Francesco | Nicolaou, Nayia | Simón-Sánchez, Javier | Mittag, Florian | Gibbs, J. Raphael | Schulte, Claudia | Durr, Alexandra | Guerreiro, Rita | Hernandez, Dena | Brice, Alexis | Stefánsson, Hreinn | Majamaa, Kari | Gasser, Thomas | Heutink, Peter | Wood, Nicholas W. | Martinez, Maria | Singleton, Andrew B. | Nalls, Michael A. | Hardy, John | Morris, Huw R. | Williams, Nigel M. | Arepalli, Sampath | Barker, Roger | Barrett, Jeffrey | Ben-Shlomo, Yoav | Berendse, Henk W. | Berg, Daniela | Bhatia, Kailash | de Bie, Rob M.A. | Biffi, Alessandro | Bloem, Bas | Brice, Alexis | Bochdanovits, Zoltan | Bonin, Michael | Bras, Jose M. | Brockmann, Kathrin | Brooks, Janet | Burn, David J. | Charlesworth, Gavin | Chen, Honglei | Chinnery, Patrick F. | Chong, Sean | Clarke, Carl E. | Cookson, Mark R. | Cooper, Jonathan M. | Corvol, Jen-Christophe | Counsell, Carl | Damier, Philippe | Dartigues, Jean Francois | Deloukas, Panagiotis | Deuschl, Günther | Dexter, David T. | van Dijk, Karin D. | Dillman, Allissa | Durif, Frank | Durr, Alexandra | Edkins, Sarah | Evans, Jonathan R. | Foltynie, Thomas | Gao, Jianjun | Gardner, Michelle | Gasser, Thomas | Gibbs, J. Raphael | Goate, Alison | Gray, Emma | Guerreiro, Rita | Gústafsson, Ómar | Hardy, John | Harris, Clare | Hernandez, Dena G. | Heutink, Peter | van Hilten, Jacobus J. | Hofman, Albert | Hollenbeck, Albert | Holmans, Peter | Holton, Janice | Hu, Michele | Huber, Heiko | Hudson, Gavin | Hunt, Sarah E. | Huttenlocher, Johanna | Illig, Thomas | Langford, Cordelia | Lees, Andrew | Lesage, Suzanne | Lichtner, Peter | Limousin, Patricia | Lopez, Grisel | Lorenz, Delia | Martinez, Maria | McNeill, Alisdair | Moorby, Catriona | Moore, Matthew | Morris, Huw | Morrison, Karen E. | Moskvina, Valentina | Mudanohwo, Ese | Nalls, Michael A. | Pearson, Justin | Perlmutter, Joel S. | Pétursson, Hjörvar | Plagnol, Vincent | Pollak, Pierre | Post, Bart | Potter, Simon | Ravina, Bernard | Revesz, Tamas | Riess, Olaf | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rizzu, Patrizia | Ryten, Mina | Saad, Mohamad | Sawcer, Stephen | Schapira, Anthony | Scheffer, Hans | Sharma, Manu | Shaw, Karen | Sheerin, Una-Marie | Shoulson, Ira | Schulte, Claudia | Sidransky, Ellen | Simón-Sánchez, Javier | Singleton, Andrew B. | Smith, Colin | Stefánsson, Hreinn | Stefánsson, Kári | Steinberg, Stacy | Stockton, Joanna D. | Sveinbjornsdottir, Sigurlaug | Talbot, Kevin | Tanner, Carlie M. | Tashakkori-Ghanbaria, Avazeh | Tison, François | Trabzuni, Daniah | Traynor, Bryan J. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Velseboer, Daan | Vidailhet, Marie | Walker, Robert | van de Warrenburg, Bart | Wickremaratchi, Mirdhu | Williams, Nigel | Williams-Gray, Caroline H. | Winder-Rhodes, Sophie | Wood, Nicholas
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;22(5):1039-1049.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease affecting 1–2% in people >60 and 3–4% in people >80. Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have now implicated significant evidence for association in at least 18 genomic regions. We have studied a large PD-meta analysis and identified a significant excess of SNPs (P < 1 × 10−16) that are associated with PD but fall short of the genome-wide significance threshold. This result was independent of variants at the 18 previously implicated regions and implies the presence of additional polygenic risk alleles. To understand how these loci increase risk of PD, we applied a pathway-based analysis, testing for biological functions that were significantly enriched for genes containing variants associated with PD. Analysing two independent GWA studies, we identified that both had a significant excess in the number of functional categories enriched for PD-associated genes (minimum P = 0.014 and P = 0.006, respectively). Moreover, 58 categories were significantly enriched for associated genes in both GWA studies (P < 0.001), implicating genes involved in the ‘regulation of leucocyte/lymphocyte activity’ and also ‘cytokine-mediated signalling’ as conferring an increased susceptibility to PD. These results were unaltered by the exclusion of all 178 genes that were present at the 18 genomic regions previously reported to be strongly associated with PD (including the HLA locus). Our findings, therefore, provide independent support to the strong association signal at the HLA locus and imply that the immune-related genetic susceptibility to PD is likely to be more widespread in the genome than previously appreciated.
PMCID: PMC3561909  PMID: 23223016
4.  The Association of Early Life Supplemental Nutrition With Lean Body Mass and Grip Strength in Adulthood: Evidence From APCAPS 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2014;179(6):700-709.
In the present study, we examined the associations of early nutrition with adult lean body mass (LBM) and muscle strength in a birth cohort that was established to assess the long-term impact of a nutrition program. Participants (n = 1,446, 32% female) were born near Hyderabad, India, in 29 villages from 1987 to 1990, during which time only intervention villages (n = 15) had a government program that offered balanced protein-calorie supplementation to pregnant women and children. Participants’ LBM and appendicular skeletal muscle mass were measured using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry; grip strength and information on lifestyle indicators, including diet and physical activity level, were also obtained. Ages (mean = 20.3 years) and body mass indexes (weight (kg)/height (m)2; mean = 19.5) of participants in 2 groups were similar. Current dietary energy intake was higher in the intervention group. Unadjusted LBM and grip strength were similar in 2 groups. After adjustment for potential confounders, the intervention group had lower LBM (β = −0.75; P = 0.03), appendicular skeletal muscle mass, and grip strength than did controls, but these differences were small in magnitude (<0.1 standard deviation). Multivariable regression analyses showed that current socioeconomic position, energy intake, and physical activity level had a positive association with adult LBM and muscle strength. This study could not detect a “programming” effect of early nutrition supplementation on adult LBM and muscle strength.
PMCID: PMC3939852  PMID: 24553777
body composition; cohort study; developmental origins of health and disease; grip strength; lean body mass; muscle mass; nutrition; physical activity
5.  Association between pre- and perinatal exposures and Tourette syndrome or chronic tic disorder in the ALSPAC cohort† 
Tourette syndrome and chronic tic disorder are heritable but aetiologically complex. Although environment plays a role in their development, existing studies of non-genetic risk factors are inconsistent.
To examine the association between pre- and perinatal exposures and Tourette syndrome/chronic tic disorder in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) prospective longitudinal pre-birth cohort.
Relationships between exposures and Tourette syndrome/chronic tic disorder were examined in 6090 children using logistic regression.
Maternal alcohol and cannabis use, inadequate maternal weight gain and parity were associated with Tourette syndrome or Tourette syndrome/chronic tic disorder. Other previously reported exposures, including birth weight and prenatal maternal smoking, were not associated with Tourette syndrome/chronic tic disorder.
This study supports previously reported relationships between Tourette syndrome/chronic tic disorder and prenatal alcohol exposure, and identifies additional previously unexplored potential prenatal risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3877832  PMID: 24262815
6.  Healthy Lifestyles Reduce the Incidence of Chronic Diseases and Dementia: Evidence from the Caerphilly Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81877.
Healthy lifestyles based on non-smoking, an acceptable BMI, a high fruit and vegetable intake, regular physical activity, and low/moderate alcohol intake, are associated with reductions in the incidence of certain chronic diseases, but to date there is limited evidence on cognitive function and dementia.
In 1979 healthy behaviours were recorded on 2,235 men aged 45–59 years in Caerphilly, UK. During the following 30 years incident diabetes, vascular disease, cancer and death were recorded, and in 2004 cognitive state was determined.
Men who followed four or five of the behaviours had an odds ratio (OR) and confidence intervals (CI) for diabetes, corrected for age and social class, of 0.50 (95% CI: 0.19, 1.31; P for trend with increasing numbers of healthy behaviours <0.0005). For vascular disease the OR was 0.50 (95% CI: 0.30, 0.84; P for trend <0.0005), and there was a delay in vascular disease events of up to 12 years. Cancer incidence was not significantly related to lifestyle although there was a reduction associated with non-smoking (OR: 0.65; 95% CI: 0.54, 0.79). All-cause mortality was reduced in men following four or five behaviours (OR 0.40; 95% CI: 0.24, 0.67; P for trend <0.005).
After further adjustment for NART, the OR for men following four or five healthy behaviours was 0.36 (95% CI: 0.12, 1.09; P for trend <0.001) for cognitive impairment, and 0.36 (95% CI: 0.07, 1.99; P for trend <0.02) for dementia.
The adoption of a healthy lifestyle by men was low and appears not to have changed during the subsequent 30 years, with under 1% of men following all five of the behaviours and 5% reporting four or more in 1979 and in 2009.
A healthy lifestyle is associated with increased disease-free survival and reduced cognitive impairment but the uptake remains low.
PMCID: PMC3857242  PMID: 24349147
7.  The ReSPonD trial - rivastigmine to stabilise gait in Parkinson’s disease a phase II, randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial to evaluate the effect of rivastigmine on gait in patients with Parkinson’s disease who have fallen 
BMC Neurology  2013;13:188.
Gait impairment is common in people with Parkinson’s disease. There is a lack of effective interventions to target this debilitating complication and therefore a need to identify new therapeutic options. An underlying cholinergic deficit contributes to both the gait and cognitive dysfunction seen in Parkinson’s disease. The combined impact of both impairments can be assessed in gait tasks performed with concomitant cognitive tasks. The aim of this trial is to evaluate the impact of a cholinesterase inhibitor on cognitive function and gait performance in people with established Parkinson’s disease.
This is a single centre, double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial in 130 people with Hoehn and Yahr stage 2–3 idiopathic Parkinson’s disease who have fallen in the past year. Participants will be randomised to two groups, receiving either rivastigmine capsules or identical placebo capsules for 8 months. Assessment will be undertaken at baseline and at the end of medication prescription (i.e. 8 months) with participants remaining enrolled in the trial for a further 4 months to monitor for falls and adverse events. The primary outcome is step time variability, assessed with and without the addition of concurrent cognitive tasks. Secondary outcomes will include other gait parameters, sensorimotor and balance performances, cognitive indices, falls and fall related injury, fear of falling, Parkinson’s symptoms and data pertaining to possible harms.
This randomised controlled trial will examine the effect of cholinesterase inhibitor therapy on gait, balance and falls in Parkinson’s disease. If effective, it would offer a new therapeutic option to ameliorating gait and cognitive deficits in a population at high risk of falls.
Trial registration
ISRCTN19880883, UTN U1111-1124-0244.
PMCID: PMC3880104  PMID: 24299497
Randomised control trial; Parkinson’s disease; Accidental Falls; Freezing of gait; Intervention; Gait analysis; Acetylcholinesterase; Cognitive; Attention; Dual-tasking
8.  Childhood milk consumption is associated with better physical performance in old age 
Age and Ageing  2012;41(6):776-784.
Background: studies have shown that milk and dairy consumption in adulthood have beneficial effects on health.
Methods: we examined the impact of childhood and adult diet on physical performance at age 63–86 years. The Boyd Orr cohort (n = 405) is a 65-year prospective study of children who took part in a 1930's survey; the Caerphilly Prospective Study (CaPS; n = 1,195) provides data from mid-life to old age. We hypothesised that higher intakes of childhood and adult milk, calcium, protein, fat and energy would be associated with a better performance.
Results: in fully adjusted models, a standard deviation (SD) increase in natural log-transformed childhood milk intake was associated with 5% faster walking times from the get-up and go test in Boyd Orr (95% CI: 1 to 9) and 25% lower odds of poor balance (OR: 0.75; 0.55 to 1.02). Childhood calcium intake was positively associated with walking times (4% faster per SD; 0 to 8) and a higher protein intake was associated with lower odds of poor balance (OR: 0.71; 0.54 to 0.92). In adulthood, protein intake was positively associated with walking times (2% faster per SD; 1 to 3; Boyd Orr and CaPS pooled data).
Conclusion: this is the first study to show positive associations of childhood milk intake with physical performance in old age.
PMCID: PMC3476828  PMID: 22542496
diet; physical performance; walking speed; standing balance; older people
9.  Social isolation and diurnal cortisol patterns in an ageing cohort☆ 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2013;38(11):2737-2745.
Social isolation may operate as a psychosocial stressor which disrupts functioning of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenocortical axis.
Using data from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development, we tested whether living alone, not being married and social network size were associated with diurnal cortisol patterns at 60–64 years. We hypothesised that recent onset compared with long-term isolation would be more strongly associated with cortisol awakening response, cortisol decline over the day and evening cortisol. Models were adjusted for sex, smoking, body mass index, alcohol intake, psychological distress and financial difficulties.
Those widowed within the last three years had a 36% (95%CI 6%, 73%) higher night time cortisol than those who were currently married. Those newly living alone also had a higher night time cortisol and flatter diurnal slope than those living with others.
Independently of multiple behavioural and psychosocial correlates, recent onset of social isolation is related to diurnal cortisol patterns that increase the risk of morbidity and mortality.
PMCID: PMC3820041  PMID: 23920224
NSHD; Psychosocial; HPA axis; Bereavement; Social isolation
10.  Population Genomics of Cardiometabolic Traits: Design of the University College London-London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine-Edinburgh-Bristol (UCLEB) Consortium 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71345.
Substantial advances have been made in identifying common genetic variants influencing cardiometabolic traits and disease outcomes through genome wide association studies. Nevertheless, gaps in knowledge remain and new questions have arisen regarding the population relevance, mechanisms, and applications for healthcare. Using a new high-resolution custom single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array (Metabochip) incorporating dense coverage of genomic regions linked to cardiometabolic disease, the University College-London School-Edinburgh-Bristol (UCLEB) consortium of highly-phenotyped population-based prospective studies, aims to: (1) fine map functionally relevant SNPs; (2) precisely estimate individual absolute and population attributable risks based on individual SNPs and their combination; (3) investigate mechanisms leading to altered risk factor profiles and CVD events; and (4) use Mendelian randomisation to undertake studies of the causal role in CVD of a range of cardiovascular biomarkers to inform public health policy and help develop new preventative therapies.
PMCID: PMC3748096  PMID: 23977022
11.  Telomere Length and Physical Performance at Older Ages: An Individual Participant Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69526.
Telomeres are involved in cellular ageing and shorten with increasing age. If telomere length is a valuable biomarker of ageing, then telomere shortening should be associated with worse physical performance, an ageing trait, but evidence for such an association is lacking. The purpose of this study was to examine whether change in telomere length is associated with physical performance.
Using data from four UK adult cohorts (ages 53–80 years at baseline), we undertook cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. We analysed each study separately and then used meta-analytic methods to pool the results. Physical performance was measured using walking and chair rise speed, standing balance time and grip strength. Telomere length was measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in whole blood at baseline and follow-up (time 1, time 2).
Total sample sizes in meta-analyses ranged from 1,217 to 3,707. There was little evidence that telomere length was associated with walking speed, balance or grip strength, though weak associations were seen with chair rise speed and grip strength at baseline (p = 0.02 and 0.01 respectively). Faster chair rise speed at follow-up, was associated with a smaller decline in telomere length between time 1 and time 2 (standardised coefficient per SD increase 0.061, 95% CI 0.006, 0.115, p = 0.03) but this was consistent with chance (p = 0.08) after further adjustment.
Whereas shortening of leukocyte telomeres might be an important measure of cellular ageing, there is little evidence that it is a strong biomarker for physical performance.
PMCID: PMC3724915  PMID: 23922731
12.  Associations between a Polymorphism in the Pleiotropic GCKR and Age-Related Phenotypes: The HALCyon Programme 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70045.
The glucokinase regulatory protein encoded by GCKR plays an important role in glucose metabolism and a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1260326 (P446L) in the gene has been associated with several age-related biomarkers, including triglycerides, glucose, insulin and apolipoproteins. However, associations between SNPs in the gene and other ageing phenotypes such as cognitive and physical capability have not been reported.
As part of the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) collaborative research programme, men and women from five UK cohorts aged between 44 and 90+ years were genotyped for rs1260326. Meta-analysis was used to pool within-study genotypic associations between the SNP and several age-related phenotypes, including body mass index (BMI), blood lipid levels, lung function, and cognitive and physical capability.
We confirm the associations between the minor allele of the SNP and higher triglycerides and lower glucose levels. We also observed a triglyceride-independent association between the minor allele and lower BMI (pooled beta on z-score = −0.04, p-value = 0.0001, n = 16,251). Furthermore, there was some evidence for gene-environment interactions, including physical activity attenuating the effects on triglycerides. However, no associations were observed with measures of cognitive and physical capability.
Findings from middle-aged to older adults confirm associations between rs1260326 GCKR and triglycerides and glucose, suggest possible gene-environment interactions, but do not provide evidence that its relevance extends to cognitive and physical capability.
PMCID: PMC3720952  PMID: 23894584
13.  Physical capability and subsequent positive mental wellbeing in older people: findings from five HALCyon cohorts 
Age  2013;36(1):445-456.
Objective measures of physical capability are being used in a growing number of studies as biomarkers of healthy ageing. However, very little research has been done to assess the impact of physical capability on subsequent positive mental wellbeing, the maintenance of which is widely considered to be an essential component of healthy ageing. We aimed to test the associations of grip strength and walking, timed get up and go and chair rise speeds (assessed at ages 53 to 82 years) with positive mental wellbeing assessed using the Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) 5 to 10 years later. Data were drawn from five British cohorts participating in the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course research collaboration. Data from each study were analysed separately and then combined using random-effects meta-analyses. Higher levels of physical capability were consistently associated with higher subsequent levels of wellbeing; for example, a 1SD increase in grip strength was associated with an age and sex-adjusted mean difference in WEMWBS score of 0.81 (0.25, 1.37), equivalent to 10 % of a standard deviation (three studies, N = 3,096). When adjusted for body size, health status, living alone, socioeconomic position and neuroticism the associations remained albeit attenuated. The finding of these consistent modest associations across five studies, spanning early and later old age, highlights the importance of maintaining physical capability in later life and provides additional justification for using objective measures of physical capability as markers of healthy ageing.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-013-9553-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3818137  PMID: 23818103
Physical capability; Positive mental wellbeing; Grip strength; Walking speed; Chair rise time
14.  Area Deprivation Across the Life Course and Physical Capability in Midlife: Findings From the 1946 British Birth Cohort 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;178(3):441-450.
Physical capability in later life is influenced by factors occurring across the life course, yet exposures to area conditions have only been examined cross-sectionally. Data from the National Survey of Health and Development, a longitudinal study of a 1946 British birth cohort, were used to estimate associations of area deprivation (defined as percentage of employed people working in partly skilled or unskilled occupations) at ages 4, 26, and 53 years (residential addresses linked to census data in 1950, 1972, and 1999) with 3 measures of physical capability at age 53 years: grip strength, standing balance, and chair-rise time. Cross-classified multilevel models with individuals nested within areas at the 3 ages showed that models assessing a single time point underestimate total area contributions to physical capability. For balance and chair-rise performance, associations with area deprivation in midlife were robust to adjustment for individual socioeconomic position and prior area deprivation (mean change for a 1-standard-deviation increase: balance, −7.4% (95% confidence interval (CI): −12.8, −2.8); chair rise, 2.1% (95% CI: −0.1, 4.3)). In addition, area deprivation in childhood was related to balance after adjustment for childhood socioeconomic position (−5.1%, 95% CI: −8.7, −1.6). Interventions aimed at reducing midlife disparities in physical capability should target the socioeconomic environment of individuals—for standing balance, as early as childhood.
PMCID: PMC3727343  PMID: 23788665
geography; Great Britain; health status disparities; longitudinal studies; multilevel analysis; physical endurance; residence characteristics; socioeconomic factors
15.  Genetic Variants Influencing Biomarkers of Nutrition Are Not Associated with Cognitive Capability in Middle-Aged and Older Adults123 
The Journal of Nutrition  2013;143(5):606-612.
Several investigations have observed positive associations between good nutritional status, as indicated by micronutrients, and cognitive measures; however, these associations may not be causal. Genetic polymorphisms that affect nutritional biomarkers may be useful for providing evidence for associations between micronutrients and cognitive measures. As part of the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) program, men and women aged between 44 and 90 y from 6 UK cohorts were genotyped for polymorphisms associated with circulating concentrations of iron [rs4820268 transmembrane protease, serine 6 (TMPRSS6) and rs1800562 hemochromatosis (HFE)], vitamin B-12 [(rs492602 fucosyltransferase 2 (FUT2)], vitamin D ([rs2282679 group-specific component (GC)] and β-carotene ([rs6564851 beta-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase 1 (BCMO1)]. Meta-analysis was used to pool within-study effects of the associations between these polymorphisms and the following measures of cognitive capability: word recall, phonemic fluency, semantic fluency, and search speed. Among the several statistical tests conducted, we found little evidence for associations. We found the minor allele of rs1800562 was associated with poorer word recall scores [pooled β on Z-score for carriers vs. noncarriers: −0.05 (95% CI: −0.09, −0.004); P = 0.03, n = 14,105] and poorer word recall scores for the vitamin D–raising allele of rs2282679 [pooled β per T allele: −0.03 (95% CI: −0.05, −0.003); P = 0.03, n = 16,527]. However, there was no evidence for other associations. Our findings provide little evidence to support associations between these genotypes and cognitive capability in older adults. Further investigations are required to elucidate whether the previous positive associations from observational studies between circulating measures of these micronutrients and cognitive performance are due to confounding and reverse causality.
PMCID: PMC3738233  PMID: 23468552
16.  Body Mass Index, Muscle Strength and Physical Performance in Older Adults from Eight Cohort Studies: The HALCyon Programme 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56483.
To investigate the associations of body mass index (BMI) and grip strength with objective measures of physical performance (chair rise time, walking speed and balance) including an assessment of sex differences and non-linearity.
Cross-sectional data from eight UK cohort studies (total N = 16 444) participating in the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) research programme, ranging in age from 50 to 90+ years at the time of physical capability assessment, were used. Regression models were fitted within each study and meta-analysis methods used to pool regression coefficients across studies and to assess the extent of heterogeneity between studies.
Higher BMI was associated with poorer performance on chair rise (N = 10 773), walking speed (N = 9 761) and standing balance (N = 13 921) tests. Higher BMI was associated with stronger grip strength in men only. Stronger grip strength was associated with better performance on all tests with a tendency for the associations to be stronger in women than men; for example, walking speed was higher by 0.43 cm/s (0.14, 0.71) more per kg in women than men. Both BMI and grip strength remained independently related with performance after mutual adjustment, but there was no evidence of effect modification. Both BMI and grip strength exhibited non-linear relations with performance; those in the lowest fifth of grip strength and highest fifth of BMI having particularly poor performance. Findings were similar when waist circumference was examined in place of BMI.
Older men and women with weak muscle strength and high BMI have considerably poorer performance than others and associations were observed even in the youngest cohort (age 53). Although causality cannot be inferred from observational cross-sectional studies, our findings suggest the likely benefit of early assessment and interventions to reduce fat mass and improve muscle strength in the prevention of future functional limitations.
PMCID: PMC3577921  PMID: 23437142
17.  Differences in estimation of creatinine generation between renal function estimating equations in an Indian population: cross-sectional data from the Hyderabad arm of the Indian migration study 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:30.
Creatinine based formulae for estimating renal function developed in white populations may be less valid in other ethnic groups. We assessed the performance of various estimating formulae in an Indian population.
917 subjects were recruited from the Hyderabad arm of the Indian Migration Study. Data were collected on comorbidity, serum creatinine and body composition from DXA scans. Renal function was compared using the modified Cockcroft-Gault, MDRD and CKD-EPI formulae. 24-hour creatinine production was derived from each estimate and the agreement with measured muscle mass examined. 24-hour creatinine production estimates were compared to that derived from a formula by Rule incorporating DXA measured muscle mass. Potential systematic biases were examined by age and eGFR. We assessed the association of renal function by each formula with hypertension and self-reported measures of vascular disease.
Mean modified Cockcroft-Gault eCCl was 98.8 ml/min/1.73 m2, MDRD eGFR 91.2 ml/min/1.73 m2 and CKD-EPI eGFR 96.3 ml/min/1.73 m2. MDRD derived 24-hour creatinine production showed the least age-related underestimation compared to the Rule formula. CKD-EPI showed a marked bias at higher eGFRs. All formulae showed similar strength associations with vascular disease and hypertension.
Our analyses support the use of MDRD for estimating renal function in Indian populations. Further work is required to assess the predictive value of formulae for incident disease and complications of CKD.
PMCID: PMC3599554  PMID: 23379609
Creatinine; Ethnicity; Muscle mass; Renal function
18.  Association Study of 25 Type 2 Diabetes Related Loci with Measures of Obesity in Indian Sib Pairs 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53944.
Obesity is an established risk factor for type 2 diabetes (T2D) and they are metabolically related through the mechanism of insulin resistance. In order to explore how common genetic variants associated with T2D correlate with body mass index (BMI), we examined the influence of 25 T2D associated loci on obesity risk. We used 5056 individuals (2528 sib-pairs) recruited in Indian Migration Study and conducted within sib-pair analysis for six obesity phenotypes. We found associations of variants in CXCR4 (rs932206) and HHEX (rs5015480) with higher body mass index (BMI) (β = 0.13, p = 0.001) and (β = 0.09, p = 0.002), respectively and weight (β = 0.13, p = 0.001) and (β = 0.09, p = 0.001), respectively. CXCR4 variant was also strongly associated with body fat (β = 0.10, p = 0.0004). In addition, we demonstrated associations of CXCR4 and HHEX with overweight/obesity (OR = 1.6, p = 0.003) and (OR = 1.4, p = 0.002), respectively, in 1333 sib-pairs (2666 individuals). We observed marginal evidence of associations between variants at six loci (TCF7L2, NGN3, FOXA2, LOC646279, FLJ3970 and THADA) and waist hip ratio (WHR), BMI and/or overweight which needs to be validated in larger set of samples. All the above findings were independent of daily energy consumption and physical activity level. The risk score estimates based on eight significant loci (including nominal associations) showed associations with WHR and body fat which were independent of BMI. In summary, we establish the role of T2D associated loci in influencing the measures of obesity in Indian population, suggesting common underlying pathophysiology across populations.
PMCID: PMC3547960  PMID: 23349771
19.  How to apply the results of a research paper on diagnosis to your patient 
JRSM Short Reports  2013;4(1):7.
Interpreting information on diagnostic accuracy is an area that health professionals struggle with. In this paper, we use the example of Mr Samways, a 45-year-old man with joint symptoms, to illustrate how to apply the results of a diagnostic accuracy study in clinical practice. We consider the various measures used to quantify diagnostic accuracy and discuss their clinical utility. We provide an overview of potential biases to consider when evaluating a diagnostic accuracy study and consider how to determine whether the results can be applied to a particular patient.
PMCID: PMC3572661  PMID: 23413409
20.  Genetic markers of bone and joint health and physical capability in older adults: the HALCyon programme 
Bone  2013;52(1):278-285.
Good bone and joint health is essential for the physical tasks of daily living and poorer indicators of physical capability in older adults have been associated with increased mortality rates. Genetic variants of indicators of bone and joint health may be associated with measures of physical capability.
As part of the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) programme, men and women aged between 52 and 90 + years from six UK cohorts were genotyped for a polymorphism associated with serum calcium (rs1801725, CASR), two polymorphisms associated with bone mineral density (BMD) (rs2941740, ESR1 and rs9594759, RANKL) and one associated with osteoarthritis risk rs3815148 (COG5). Meta-analysis was used to pool within-study effects of the associations between each of the polymorphisms and measures of physical capability: grip strength, timed walk or get up and go, chair rises and standing balance.
Few important associations were observed among the several tests. We found that carriers of the serum calcium-raising allele had poorer grip strength compared with non-carriers (pooled p = 0.05, n = 11,239) after adjusting for age and sex. Inconsistent results were observed for the two variants associated with BMD and we found no evidence for an association between rs3815148 (COG5) and any of the physical capability measures.
Our findings suggest elevated serum calcium levels may lead to lower grip strength, though this requires further replication. Our results do not provide evidence for a substantial influence of these variants in ESR1, RANKL and COG5 on physical capability in older adults.
► We examined associations between bone-related genotypes and physical capability. ► We conducted a meta-analysis on 12,836 middle-age adults. ► We found CASR may be associated with grip strength. ► No substantial support for specific bone mineral density variants and physical capability.
PMCID: PMC3526776  PMID: 23072920
BMD, bone mineral density; OA, osteoarthritis; BMI, body mass index; SNP, single nucleotide polymorphism; CaPS, Caerphilly Prospective Study; ELSA, English Longitudinal Study of Ageing; HAS, Hertfordshire Ageing Study; HCS, Hertfordshire Cohort Study; LBC1921, The Lothian Birth Cohort 1921; NSHD, National Survey of Health and Development; HWE, Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium; WHR, waist–hip ratio; GWAS, genome-wide association studies; Aging; Grip strength; Calcium; Bone mineral density; Osteoarthritis
21.  Dysregulation of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and physical performance at older ages: An individual participant meta-analysis 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2013;38(1):40-49.
The association between functioning of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and physical performance at older ages remains poorly understood. We carried out meta-analyses to test the hypothesis that dysregulation of the HPA axis, as indexed by patterns of diurnal cortisol release, is associated with worse physical performance. Data from six adult cohorts (ages 50–92 years) were included in a two stage meta-analysis of individual participant data. We analysed each study separately using linear and logistic regression models and then used meta-analytic methods to pool the results. Physical performance outcome measures were walking speed, balance time, chair rise time and grip strength. Exposure measures were morning (serum and salivary) and evening (salivary) cortisol. Total sample sizes in meta-analyses ranged from n = 2146 for associations between morning Cortisol Awakening Response and balance to n = 8448 for associations between morning cortisol and walking speed. A larger diurnal drop was associated with faster walking speed (standardised coefficient per SD increase 0.052, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.029, 0.076, p < 0.001; age and gender adjusted) and a quicker chair rise time (standardised coefficient per SD increase −0.075, 95% CI −0.116, −0.034, p < 0.001; age and gender adjusted). There was little evidence of associations with balance or grip strength. Greater diurnal decline of the HPA axis is associated with better physical performance in later life. This may reflect a causal effect of the HPA axis on performance or that other ageing-related factors are associated with both reduced HPA reactivity and performance.
PMCID: PMC3533133  PMID: 22658392
HPA axis; Physical capability; Healthy ageing
22.  Validation of Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry Measures of Abdominal Fat by Comparison with Magnetic Resonance Imaging in an Indian Population 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51042.
Abdominal adiposity is an important risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease in Indians. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) can be used to determine abdominal fat depots, being more accessible and less costly than gold standard measures such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). DXA has not been fully validated for use in South Asians. Here, we determined the accuracy of DXA for measurement of abdominal fat in an Indian population by comparison with MRI.
146 males and females (age range 18–74, BMI range 15–46 kg/m2) from Hyderabad, India underwent whole body DXA scans on a Hologic Discovery A scanner, from which fat mass in two abdominal regions was calculated, from the L1 to L4 vertebrae (L1L4) and from the L2 to L4 vertebrae (L2L4). Abdominal MRI scans (axial T1-weighted spin echo images) were taken, from which adipose tissue volumes were calculated for the same regions.
Intra-class correlation coefficients between DXA and MRI measures of abdominal fat were high (0.98 for both regions). Although at the level of the individual, differences between DXA and MRI could be large (95% of DXA measures were between 0.8 and 1.4 times MRI measures), at the sample level, DXA only slightly overestimated MRI measures of abdominal fat mass (mean difference in L1L4 region: 2% (95% CI:0%, 5%), mean difference in L2L4 region:4% (95% CI: 1%, 7%)). There was evidence of a proportional bias in the association between DXA and MRI (correlation between difference and mean −0.3), with overestimation by DXA greater in individuals with less abdominal fat (mean bias in leaner half of sample was 6% for L1L4 (95%CI: 2, 11%) and 7% for L2L4 (95% CI:3,12%).
DXA measures of abdominal fat are suitable for use in Indian populations and provide a good indication of abdominal adiposity at the population level.
PMCID: PMC3522679  PMID: 23272086
23.  Vitamin B-12 Status during Pregnancy and Child’s IQ at Age 8: A Mendelian Randomization Study in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51084.
Vitamin B-12 is essential for the development and maintenance of a healthy nervous system. Brain development occurs primarily in utero and early infancy, but the role of maternal vitamin B-12 status during pregnancy on offspring cognitive function is unclear. In this study we assessed the effect of vitamin B-12 status in well-nourished pregnant women on the cognitive ability of their offspring in a UK birth cohort (ALSPAC). We then examined the association of SNPs in maternal genes FUT2 (rs492602) and TCN2 (rs1801198, rs9606756) that are related to plasma vitamin B-12, with offspring IQ. Observationally, there was a positive association between maternal vitamin B-12 intake and child’s IQ that was markedly attenuated after adjustment for potential confounders (mean difference in offspring IQ score per doubling of maternal B-12 intake, before adjustment: 2.0 (95% CI 1.3, 2.8); after adjustment: 0.7 (95% CI −0.04, 1.4)). Maternal FUT2 was weakly associated with offspring IQ: mean difference in IQ per allele was 0.9 (95% CI 0.1, 1.6). The expected effect of maternal vitamin B-12 on offspring IQ, given the relationships between SNPs and vitamin B-12, and SNPs and IQ was consistent with the observational result. Our findings suggest that maternal vitamin B-12 may not have an important effect on offspring cognitive ability. However, further examination of this issue is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3515553  PMID: 23227234
24.  Evaluation of seven common lipid associated loci in a large Indian sib pair study 
Genome wide association studies (GWAS), mostly in Europeans have identified several common variants as associated with key lipid traits. Replication of these genetic effects in South Asian populations is important since it would suggest wider relevance for these findings. Given the rising prevalence of metabolic disorders and heart disease in the Indian sub-continent, these studies could be of future clinical relevance.
We studied seven common variants associated with a variety of lipid traits in previous GWASs. The study sample comprised of 3178 sib-pairs recruited as participants for the Indian Migration Study (IMS). Associations with various lipid parameters and quantitative traits were analyzed using the Fulker genetic association model.
We replicated five of the 7 main effect associations with p-values ranging from 0.03 to 1.97x10-7. We identified particularly strong association signals at rs662799 in APOA5 (beta=0.18 s.d, p=1.97 x 10-7), rs10503669 in LPL (beta =−0.18 s.d, p=1.0 x 10-4) and rs780094 in GCKR (beta=0.11 s.d, p=0.001) loci in relation to triglycerides. In addition, the GCKR variant was also associated with total cholesterol (beta=0.11 s.d, p=3.9x10-4). We also replicated the association of rs562338 in APOB (p=0.03) and rs4775041 in LIPC (p=0.007) with LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol respectively.
We report associations of five loci with various lipid traits with the effect size consistent with the same reported in Europeans. These results indicate an overlap of genetic effects pertaining to lipid traits across the European and Indian populations.
PMCID: PMC3598237  PMID: 23150898
SNP; Fulker’s Association model and Lipid traits
25.  Socioeconomic disadvantage from childhood to adulthood and locomotor function in old age: a lifecourse analysis of the Boyd Orr and Caerphilly prospective studies 
Socioeconomic influences over a lifetime impact on health and may contribute to poor physical functioning in old age.
We examined the impact of both childhood and adulthood socioeconomic factors on locomotor function at 63-86 years (measured with the get up and go timed walk and flamingo balance test), in the UK-based Boyd Orr (n=405) and Caerphilly (n=1,196) prospective cohorts.
There was a marked reduction in walking speed and balance time with increasing age. Each year of age was associated with a 1.7% slower walk time and a 14% increased odds of poor balance. Participants who moved from a low socioeconomic position in childhood to a high socioeconomic position in adulthood had walking times 3% slower (95% CI: -2%, 8%) than people with high socioeconomic position in both periods. Participants who moved from a high socioeconomic position in childhood to a low adulthood socioeconomic position had walking times 5% slower (95% CI: -2%, 12%). Participants with a low socioeconomic position in both periods had walking times 10% slower (95% CI: 5%, 16%; P for trend <0.001).
In Boyd Orr, low socioeconomic position in childhood was associated with poor balance in old age (OR per worsening category = 1.26; 95% CI 1.01, 1.57; P=0.043), as was socioeconomic position in adulthood (OR = 1.71; 95% CI 1.20, 2.45; P=0.003). Similar associations were not observed in Caerphilly.
Accumulating socioeconomic disadvantage from childhood to adulthood is associated with slower walking time in old age, with mixed results for balance ability.
PMCID: PMC3381706  PMID: 20644236
Aged; Gait; Physical performance; Social Class; Socioeconomic Factors

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