Multiple intergenic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) near hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP) on chromosome 4q31 have been strongly associated with pulmonary function levels and moderate-to-severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, whether the effects of variants in this region are related to HHIP or another gene has not been proven. We confirmed genetic association of SNPs in the 4q31 COPD genome-wide association study (GWAS) region in a Polish cohort containing severe COPD cases and healthy smoking controls (P = 0.001 to 0.002). We found that HHIP expression at both mRNA and protein levels is reduced in COPD lung tissues. We identified a genomic region located ∼85 kb upstream of HHIP which contains a subset of associated SNPs, interacts with the HHIP promoter through a chromatin loop and functions as an HHIP enhancer. The COPD risk haplotype of two SNPs within this enhancer region (rs6537296A and rs1542725C) was associated with statistically significant reductions in HHIP promoter activity. Moreover, rs1542725 demonstrates differential binding to the transcription factor Sp3; the COPD-associated allele exhibits increased Sp3 binding, which is consistent with Sp3's usual function as a transcriptional repressor. Thus, increased Sp3 binding at a functional SNP within the chromosome 4q31 COPD GWAS locus leads to reduced HHIP expression and increased susceptibility to COPD through distal transcriptional regulation. Together, our findings reveal one mechanism through which SNPs upstream of the HHIP gene modulate the expression of HHIP and functionally implicate reduced HHIP gene expression in the pathogenesis of COPD.
The genetic risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are still largely unknown. To date, genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of limited size have identified several novel risk loci for COPD at CHRNA3/CHRNA5/IREB2, HHIP and FAM13A; additional loci may be identified through larger studies. We performed a GWAS using a total of 3499 cases and 1922 control subjects from four cohorts: the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE); the Normative Aging Study (NAS) and National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT); Bergen, Norway (GenKOLS); and the COPDGene study. Genotyping was performed on Illumina platforms with additional markers imputed using 1000 Genomes data; results were summarized using fixed-effect meta-analysis. We identified a new genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 19q13 (rs7937, OR = 0.74, P = 2.9 × 10−9). Genotyping this single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and another nearby SNP in linkage disequilibrium (rs2604894) in 2859 subjects from the family-based International COPD Genetics Network study (ICGN) demonstrated supportive evidence for association for COPD (P = 0.28 and 0.11 for rs7937 and rs2604894), pre-bronchodilator FEV1 (P = 0.08 and 0.04) and severe (GOLD 3&4) COPD (P = 0.09 and 0.017). This region includes RAB4B, EGLN2, MIA and CYP2A6, and has previously been identified in association with cigarette smoking behavior.
Two recent metaanalyses of genome-wide association studies conducted by the CHARGE and SpiroMeta consortia identified novel loci yielding evidence of association at or near genome-wide significance (GWS) with FEV1 and FEV1/FVC. We hypothesized that a subset of these markers would also be associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility. Thirty-two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in or near 17 genes in 11 previously identified GWS spirometric genomic regions were tested for association with COPD status in four COPD case-control study samples (NETT/NAS, the Norway case-control study, ECLIPSE, and the first 1,000 subjects in COPDGene; total sample size, 3,456 cases and 1,906 controls). In addition to testing the 32 spirometric GWS SNPs, we tested a dense panel of imputed HapMap2 SNP markers from the 17 genes located near the 32 GWS SNPs and in a set of 21 well studied COPD candidate genes. Of the previously identified GWS spirometric genomic regions, three loci harbored SNPs associated with COPD susceptibility at a 5% false discovery rate: the 4q24 locus including FLJ20184/INTS12/GSTCD/NPNT, the 6p21 locus including AGER and PPT2, and the 5q33 locus including ADAM19. In conclusion, markers previously associated at or near GWS with spirometric measures were tested for association with COPD status in data from four COPD case-control studies, and three loci showed evidence of association with COPD susceptibility at a 5% false discovery rate.
Traditional genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of large cohort of subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have successfully identified novel candidate genes, but several other plausible loci do not meet strict criteria for genome-wide significance after correction for multiple testing.
We hypothesize that by applying unbiased weights derived from unique populations we can identify additional COPD susceptibility loci.
We performed a homozygosity haplotype analysis on a group of subjects with and without COPD to identify regions of conserved homozygosity (RCHH). Weights were constructed based on the frequency of these RCHH in case vs. controls, and used to adjust the P values from a large collaborative GWAS of COPD.
We identified 2,318 regions of conserved homozygosity, of which 576 were significantly (P < .05) overrepresented in cases. After applying the weights constructed from these regions to a collaborative GWAS of COPD, we identified two single nucleotide polymorphisms in a novel gene (FGF7) that gained genome-wide significance by the false discovery rate method. In a follow-up analysis, both SNPs (rs12591300 and rs4480740) were significantly associated with COPD in an independent population (combined P values of 7.9E-07 and 2.8E-06 respectively). In another independent population, increased lung tissue FGF7 expression was associated with worse measures of lung function.
Weights constructed from a homozygosity haplotype analysis of an isolated population successfully identify novel genetic associations from a GWAS on a separate population. This method can be used to identify promising candidate genes that fail to meet strict correction for multiple testing.
Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for COPD and COPD severity. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified numerous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) and a Dopamine Beta-Hydroxylase (DBH) locus associated with smoking cessation in multiple populations.
To identify SNPs associated with lifetime average and current CPD, age at smoking initiation, and smoking cessation in COPD subjects.
GWAS were conducted in 4 independent cohorts encompassing 3,441 ever-smoking COPD subjects (GOLD stage II or higher). Untyped SNPs were imputed using HapMap (phase II) panel. Results from all cohorts were meta-analyzed.
Several SNPs near the HLA region on chromosome 6p21 and in an intergenic region on chromosome 2q21 showed associations with age at smoking initiation, both with the lowest p=2×10−7. No SNPs were associated with lifetime average CPD, current CPD or smoking cessation with p<10−6. Nominally significant associations with candidate SNPs within alpha-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors 3/5 (CHRNA3/CHRNA5; e.g. p=0.00011 for SNP rs1051730) and Cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6; e.g. p=2.78×10−5 for a nonsynonymous SNP rs1801272) regions were observed for lifetime average CPD, however only CYP2A6 showed evidence of significant association with current CPD. A candidate SNP (rs3025343) in the DBH was significantly (p=0.015) associated with smoking cessation.
We identified two candidate regions associated with age at smoking initiation in COPD subjects. Associations of CHRNA3/CHRNA5 and CYP2A6 loci with CPD and DBH with smoking cessation are also likely of importance in the smoking behaviors of COPD patients.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Genome Wide Association study (GWAS); smoking behaviors; Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP)
Cachexia, whether assessed by body mass index (BMI) or fat-free mass index (FFMI), affects a significant proportion of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and is an independent risk factor for increased mortality, increased emphysema, and more severe airflow obstruction. The variable development of cachexia among patients with COPD suggests a role for genetic susceptibility. The objective of the present study was to determine genetic susceptibility loci involved in the development of low BMI and FFMI in subjects with COPD. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) of BMI was conducted in three independent cohorts of European descent with Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease stage II or higher COPD: Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate End-Points (ECLIPSE; n = 1,734); Norway-Bergen cohort (n = 851); and a subset of subjects from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT; n = 365). A genome-wide association of FFMI was conducted in two of the cohorts (ECLIPSE and Norway). In the combined analyses, a significant association was found between rs8050136, located in the first intron of the fat mass and obesity–associated (FTO) gene, and BMI (P = 4.97 × 10−7) and FFMI (P = 1.19 × 10−7). We replicated the association in a fourth, independent cohort consisting of 502 subjects with COPD from COPDGene (P = 6 × 10−3). Within the largest contributing cohort of our analysis, lung function, as assessed by forced expiratory volume at 1 second, varied significantly by FTO genotype. Our analysis suggests a potential role for the FTO locus in the determination of anthropomorphic measures associated with COPD.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease genetics; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease epidemiology; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease metabolism; genome-wide association study
High-resolution melting curve analysis is an accurate method for mutation detection in genomic DNA. However, performance in whole genome amplified (WGA) versus genomic DNA has not been directly compared.
23 amplicons from 9 genes were PCR amplified in 39 paired genomic and WGA samples and analyzed by high-resolution melting curve analysis using the 96-well LightScanner® (Idaho Technology). Genotyping and bidirectional resequencing were used to verify melting curve results.
Melting patterns were concordant between the genomic and WGA samples in 823/863 (95%) of analyzed sample pairs. Of the discordant patterns, there was an overrepresentation of alternate melting curve patterns in the WGA samples suggesting the presence of a mutation (false positives). Targeted resequencing in 135 genomic and 136 WGA samples revealed 43 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). All SNPs detected in genomic samples were also detected in WGA. Additional genotyping and sequencing allowed the classification of a total of 628 genomic and 614 WGA amplicon samples. Heterozygous variants were identified by non-wild type melting pattern in 98% of genomic and 97% of WGA samples (P = 0.11). Wild types were correctly classified in 99% of genomic and 91% of WGA samples (P < 0.001).
In whole genome amplified DNA, high-resolution DNA melting curve analysis is a sensitive tool for SNP discovery through detection of heterozygote variants; however, it may misclassify a greater number of wild type samples.
Mutation Detection; Single Nucleotide Polymorphism; Genome Sequencing; Candidate Gene
Rationale: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), characterized by airflow limitation, is a disorder with high phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity. Pulmonary emphysema is a major but variable component of COPD; familial data suggest that different components of COPD, such as emphysema, may be influenced by specific genetic factors.
Objectives: To identify genetic determinants of emphysema assessed through high-resolution chest computed tomography in individuals with COPD.
Methods: We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of emphysema determined from chest computed tomography scans with a total of 2,380 individuals with COPD in three independent cohorts of white individuals from (1) a cohort from Bergen, Norway, (2) the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE) Study, and (3) the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT). We tested single-nucleotide polymorphism associations with the presence or absence of emphysema determined by radiologist assessment in two of the three cohorts and a quantitative emphysema trait (percentage of lung voxels less than –950 Hounsfield units) in all three cohorts.
Measurements and Main Results: We identified association of a single-nucleotide polymorphism in BICD1 with the presence or absence of emphysema (P = 5.2 × 10−7 with at least mild emphysema vs. control subjects; P = 4.8 × 10−8 with moderate and more severe emphysema vs. control subjects).
Conclusions: Our study suggests that genetic variants in BICD1 are associated with qualitative emphysema in COPD. Variants in BICD1 are associated with length of telomeres, which suggests that a mechanism linked to accelerated aging may be involved in the pathogenesis of emphysema.
Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT00292552).
emphysema; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; BICD1; single-nucleotide polymorphism
Rationale: Genome-wide association studies have shown significant associations between variants near hedgehog interacting protein HHIP, FAM13A, and cholinergic nicotinic acetylcholine receptor CHRNA3/5 with increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in smokers; however, the disease mechanisms behind these associations are not well understood.
Objectives: To identify the association between replicated loci and COPD-related phenotypes in well-characterized patient populations.
Methods: The relationship between these three loci and COPD-related phenotypes was assessed in the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate End-point (ECLIPSE) cohort. The results were validated in the family-based International COPD Genetics Network (ICGN).
Measurements and Main Results: The CHRNA3/5 locus was significantly associated with pack-years of smoking (P = 0.002 and 3 × 10−4), emphysema assessed by a radiologist using high-resolution computed tomography (P = 2 × 10−4 and 4.8 × 10−5), and airflow obstruction (P = 0.004 and 1.8 × 10−5) in the ECLIPSE and ICGN populations, respectively. However, variants in the IREB2 gene were only significantly associated with FEV1. The HHIP locus was not associated with smoking intensity but was associated with FEV1/FVC (P = 1.9 × 10−4 and 0.004 in the ECLIPSE and ICGN populations). The HHIP locus was also associated with fat-free body mass (P = 0.007) and with both retrospectively (P = 0.015) and prospectively (P = 0.024) collected COPD exacerbations in the ECLIPSE cohort. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the FAM13A locus were associated with lung function.
Conclusions: The CHRNA3/5 locus was associated with increased smoking intensity and emphysema in individuals with COPD, whereas the HHIP and FAM13A loci were not associated with smoking intensity. The HHIP locus was associated with the systemic components of COPD and with the frequency of COPD exacerbations. FAM13A locus was associated with lung function.
COPD exacerbations; nicotine addiction; high-resolution CT; genetic association analysis; emphysema
Recent breakthroughs in next-generation sequencing technologies allow cost-effective methods for measuring a growing list of cellular properties, including DNA sequence and structural variation. Next-generation sequencing has the potential to revolutionize complex trait genetics by directly measuring common and rare genetic variants within a genome-wide context. Because for a given gene both rare and common causal variants can coexist and have independent effects on a trait, strategies that model the effects of both common and rare variants could enhance the power of identifying disease-associated genes. To date, little work has been done on integrating signals from common and rare variants into powerful statistics for finding disease genes in genome-wide association studies. In this analysis of the Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 data, we evaluate various strategies for association of rare, common, or a combination of both rare and common variants on quantitative phenotypes in unrelated individuals. We show that the analysis of common variants only using classical approaches can achieve higher power to detect causal genes than recently proposed rare variant methods and that strategies that combine association signals derived independently in rare and common variants can slightly increase the power compared to strategies that focus on the effect of either the rare variants or the common variants.
Previous expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) studies have performed genetic association studies for gene expression, but most of these studies examined lymphoblastoid cell lines from non-diseased individuals. We examined the genetics of gene expression in a relevant disease tissue from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients to identify functional effects of known susceptibility genes and to find novel disease genes. By combining gene expression profiling on induced sputum samples from 131 COPD cases from the ECLIPSE Study with genomewide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data, we found 4315 significant cis-eQTL SNP-probe set associations (3309 unique SNPs). The 3309 SNPs were tested for association with COPD in a genomewide association study (GWAS) dataset, which included 2940 COPD cases and 1380 controls. Adjusting for 3309 tests (p<1.5e-5), the two SNPs which were significantly associated with COPD were located in two separate genes in a known COPD locus on chromosome 15: CHRNA5 and IREB2. Detailed analysis of chromosome 15 demonstrated additional eQTLs for IREB2 mapping to that gene. eQTL SNPs for CHRNA5 mapped to multiple linkage disequilibrium (LD) bins. The eQTLs for IREB2 and CHRNA5 were not in LD. Seventy-four additional eQTL SNPs were associated with COPD at p<0.01. These were genotyped in two COPD populations, finding replicated associations with a SNP in PSORS1C1, in the HLA-C region on chromosome 6. Integrative analysis of GWAS and gene expression data from relevant tissue from diseased subjects has located potential functional variants in two known COPD genes and has identified a novel COPD susceptibility locus.
COPD; Genetics; Association analysis; Consortium
The relationships between total serum IgE levels and gene expression patterns in peripheral blood CD4+ T cells (in all subjects and within each sex specifically) are not known.
Peripheral blood CD4+ T cells from 223 participants from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) with simultaneous measurement of IgE. Total RNA was isolated, and expression profiles were generated with Illumina HumanRef8 v2 BeadChip arrays. Modeling of the relationship between genome-wide gene transcript levels and IgE levels was performed in all subjects, and stratified by sex.
Among all subjects, significant evidence for association between gene transcript abundance and IgE was identified for a single gene, the interleukin 17 receptor B (IL17RB), explaining 12% of the variance (r2) in IgE measurement (p value = 7 × 10-7, 9 × 10-3 after adjustment for multiple testing). Sex stratified analyses revealed that the correlation between IL17RB and IgE was restricted to males only (r2 = 0.19, p value = 8 × 10-8; test for sex-interaction p < 0.05). Significant correlation between gene transcript abundance and IgE level was not found in females. Additionally we demonstrated substantial sex-specific differences in IgE when considering multi-gene models, and in canonical pathway analyses of IgE level.
Our results indicate that IL17RB may be the only gene expressed in CD4+ T cells whose transcript measurement is correlated with the variation in IgE level in asthmatics. These results provide further evidence sex may play a role in the genomic regulation of IgE.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. COPD is thought to arise from the interaction of environmental exposures and genetic susceptibility, and major research efforts are underway to identify genetic determinants of COPD susceptibility. With the exception of SERPINA1, genetic associations with COPD identified by candidate gene studies have been inconsistently replicated, and this literature is difficult to interpret. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of all population-based, case–control candidate gene COPD studies indexed in PubMed before 16 July 2008. We stored our findings in an online database, which serves as an up-to-date compendium of COPD genetic associations and cumulative meta-analysis estimates. On the basis of our systematic review, the vast majority of COPD candidate gene era studies are underpowered to detect genetic effect odds ratios of 1.2–1.5. We identified 27 genetic variants with adequate data for quantitative meta-analysis. Of these variants, four were significantly associated with COPD susceptibility in random effects meta-analysis, the GSTM1 null variant (OR 1.45, CI 1.09–1.92), rs1800470 in TGFB1 (0.73, CI 0.64–0.83), rs1800629 in TNF (OR 1.19, CI 1.01–1.40) and rs1799896 in SOD3 (OR 1.97, CI 1.24–3.13). In summary, most COPD candidate gene era studies are underpowered to detect moderate-sized genetic effects. Quantitative meta-analysis identified four variants in GSTM1, TGFB1, TNF and SOD3 that show statistically significant evidence of association with COPD susceptibility.
Substantial evidence suggests that there is genetic susceptibility to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To identify common genetic risk variants, we performed a genome-wide association study in 2940 cases and 1380 smoking controls with normal lung function. We demonstrate a novel susceptibility locus at 4q22.1 in FAM13A (rs7671167, OR=0.76, P=8.6×10−8) and provide evidence of replication in one case-control and two family-based cohorts (for all studies, combined P=1.2×10−11).
Genetic variants influencing lung function in children and adults may ultimately lead to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), particularly in high-risk groups.
We tested for an association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the gene encoding matrix metalloproteinase 12 (MMP12) and a measure of lung function (prebronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1]) in more than 8300 subjects in seven cohorts that included children and adults. Within the Normative Aging Study (NAS), a cohort of initially healthy adult men, we tested for an association between SNPs that were associated with FEV1 and the time to the onset of COPD. We then examined the relationship between MMP12 SNPs and COPD in two cohorts of adults with COPD or at risk for COPD.
The minor allele (G) of a functional variant in the promoter region of MMP12 (rs2276109 [−82A→G]) was positively associated with FEV1 in a combined analysis of children with asthma and adult former and current smokers in all cohorts (P=2×10−6). This allele was also associated with a reduced risk of the onset of COPD in the NAS cohort (hazard ratio, 0.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.46 to 0.92; P = 0.02) and with a reduced risk of COPD in a cohort of smokers (odds ratio, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.45 to 0.88; P = 0.005) and among participants in a family-based study of early-onset COPD (P = 0.006).
The minor allele of a SNP in MMP12 (rs2276109) is associated with a positive effect on lung function in children with asthma and in adults who smoke. This allele is also associated with a reduced risk of COPD in adult smokers.
The destruction of elastic fibers has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Emphysema has been described in autosomal dominant cutis laxa, which can be caused by mutations in the elastin gene. Previously, a rare functional mutation in the terminal exon of elastin was found in a case of severe, early-onset COPD. To test the hypothesis that other similar elastin mutations may predispose to COPD, we screened 90 probands from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study and 90 smoking control subjects from the Normative Aging Study for mutations in elastin exons using high-resolution DNA melt analysis followed by resequencing. Rare nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) seen only in cases were examined for segregation with airflow obstruction within pedigrees. Common nonsynonymous SNPs were tested for association with COPD in a family-based analysis of 949 subjects from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, and in a case–control analysis in 389 COPD cases from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial and 472 control subjects from the Normative Aging Study. Of 28 elastin variants found, 3 were nonsynonymous SNPs found only in cases. The previously described Gly773Asp mutation was found in another proband. The other two SNPs did not clearly segregate with COPD within families. Two common nonsynonymous SNPs did not demonstrate significant associations in either a family-based or case–control analysis. Exonic SNPs in the elastin gene do not appear to be common risk factors for severe COPD.
elastin; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; genetic polymorphism
Numerous studies have demonstrated associations between genetic markers and COPD, but results have been inconsistent. One reason may be heterogeneity in disease definition. Unsupervised learning approaches may assist in understanding disease heterogeneity.
We selected 31 phenotypic variables and 12 SNPs from five candidate genes in 308 subjects in the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) Genetics Ancillary Study cohort. We used factor analysis to select a subset of phenotypic variables, and then used cluster analysis to identify subtypes of severe emphysema. We examined the phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of each cluster.
We identified six factors accounting for 75% of the shared variability among our initial phenotypic variables. We selected four phenotypic variables from these factors for cluster analysis: 1) post-bronchodilator FEV1 percent predicted, 2) percent bronchodilator responsiveness, and quantitative CT measurements of 3) apical emphysema and 4) airway wall thickness. K-means cluster analysis revealed four clusters, though separation between clusters was modest: 1) emphysema predominant, 2) bronchodilator responsive, with higher FEV1; 3) discordant, with a lower FEV1 despite less severe emphysema and lower airway wall thickness, and 4) airway predominant. Of the genotypes examined, membership in cluster 1 (emphysema-predominant) was associated with TGFB1 SNP rs1800470.
Cluster analysis may identify meaningful disease subtypes and/or groups of related phenotypic variables even in a highly selected group of severe emphysema subjects, and may be useful for genetic association studies.
Rare loss-of-function folliculin (FLCN) mutations are the genetic cause of Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome, a monogenic disorder characterized by spontaneous pneumothorax, fibrofolliculomas, and kidney tumors. Loss-of-function folliculin mutations have also been described in pedigrees with familial spontaneous pneumothorax. Because the majority of patients with folliculin mutations have radiographic evidence of pulmonary cysts, folliculin has been hypothesized to contribute to the development of emphysema.
To determine whether folliculin sequence variants are risk factors for severe COPD, we genotyped seven previously reported Birt-Hogg-Dubé or familial spontaneous pneumothorax associated folliculin mutations in 152 severe COPD probands participating in the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study. We performed bidirectional resequencing of all 14 folliculin exons in a subset of 41 probands and subsequently genotyped four identified variants in an independent sample of345 COPD subjects from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (cases) and 420 male smokers with normal lung function from the Normative Aging Study (controls).
None of the seven previously reported Birt-Hogg-Dubé or familial spontaneous pneumothorax mutations were observed in the 152 severe, early-onset COPD probands. Exon resequencing identified 31 variants, including two non-synonymous polymorphisms and two common non-coding polymorphisms. No significant association was observed for any of these four variants with presence of COPD or emphysema-related phenotypes.
Genetic variation in folliculin does not appear to be a major risk factor for severe COPD. These data suggest that familial spontaneous pneumothorax and COPD have distinct genetic causes, despite some overlap in radiographic characteristics.