We performed a genome-wide association study on 1,292 individuals with abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) and 30,503 controls from Iceland and The Netherlands, with a follow-up of top markers in up to 3,267 individuals with AAAs and 7,451 controls. The A allele of rs7025486 on 9q33 was found to associate with AAA, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.21 and P = 4.6 × 10−10. In tests for association with other vascular diseases, we found that rs7025486[A] is associated with early onset myocardial infarction (OR = 1.18, P = 3.1 × 10−5), peripheral arterial disease (OR = 1.14, P = 3.9 × 10−5) and pulmonary embolism (OR = 1.20, P = 0.00030), but not with intracranial aneurysm or ischemic stroke. No association was observed between rs7025486[A] and common risk factors for arterial and venous diseases—that is, smoking, lipid levels, obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Rs7025486 is located within DAB2IP, which encodes an inhibitor of cell growth and survival.
Exome sequencing studies in complex diseases are challenged by the allelic heterogeneity, large number and modest effect sizes of associated variants on disease risk and the presence of large numbers of neutral variants, even in phenotypically relevant genes. Isolated populations with recent bottlenecks offer advantages for studying rare variants in complex diseases as they have deleterious variants that are present at higher frequencies as well as a substantial reduction in rare neutral variation. To explore the potential of the Finnish founder population for studying low-frequency (0.5–5%) variants in complex diseases, we compared exome sequence data on 3,000 Finns to the same number of non-Finnish Europeans and discovered that, despite having fewer variable sites overall, the average Finn has more low-frequency loss-of-function variants and complete gene knockouts. We then used several well-characterized Finnish population cohorts to study the phenotypic effects of 83 enriched loss-of-function variants across 60 phenotypes in 36,262 Finns. Using a deep set of quantitative traits collected on these cohorts, we show 5 associations (p<5×10−8) including splice variants in LPA that lowered plasma lipoprotein(a) levels (P = 1.5×10−117). Through accessing the national medical records of these participants, we evaluate the LPA finding via Mendelian randomization and confirm that these splice variants confer protection from cardiovascular disease (OR = 0.84, P = 3×10−4), demonstrating for the first time the correlation between very low levels of LPA in humans with potential therapeutic implications for cardiovascular diseases. More generally, this study articulates substantial advantages for studying the role of rare variation in complex phenotypes in founder populations like the Finns and by combining a unique population genetic history with data from large population cohorts and centralized research access to National Health Registers.
We explored the coding regions of 3,000 Finnish individuals with 3,000 non-Finnish Europeans (NFEs) using whole-exome sequence data, in order to understand how an individual from a bottlenecked population might differ from an individual from an out-bred population. We provide empirical evidence that there are more rare and low-frequency deleterious alleles in Finns compared to NFEs, such that an average Finn has almost twice as many low-frequency complete knockouts of a gene. As such, we hypothesized that some of these low-frequency loss-of-function variants might have important medical consequences in humans and genotyped 83 of these variants in 36,000 Finns. In doing so, we discovered that completely knocking out the TSFM gene might result in inviability or a very severe phenotype in humans and that knocking out the LPA gene might confer protection against coronary heart diseases, suggesting that LPA is likely to be a good potential therapeutic target.
Autosomal recessive hypercholesterolemia (ARH) is a rare inherited disorder characterized by extremely high total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels that has been previously linked to mutations in LDLRAP1. We identified a family with ARH not explained by mutations in LDLRAP1 or other genes known to cause monogenic hypercholesterolemia. The aim of this study was to identify the molecular etiology of ARH in this family.
Approach and Results
We used exome sequencing to assess all protein coding regions of the genome in three family members and identified a homozygous exon 8 splice junction mutation (c.894G>A, also known as E8SJM) in LIPA that segregated with the diagnosis of hypercholesterolemia. Since homozygosity for mutations in LIPA is known to cause cholesterol ester storage disease (CESD), we performed directed follow-up phenotyping by non-invasively measuring hepatic cholesterol content. We observed abnormal hepatic accumulation of cholesterol in the homozygote individuals, supporting the diagnosis of CESD. Given previous suggestions of cardiovascular disease risk in heterozygous LIPA mutation carriers, we genotyped E8SJM in >27,000 individuals and found no association with plasma lipid levels or risk of myocardial infarction, confirming a true recessive mode of inheritance.
By integrating observations from Mendelian and population genetics along with directed clinical phenotyping, we diagnosed clinically unapparent CESD in the affected individuals from this kindred and addressed an outstanding question regarding risk of cardiovascular disease in LIPA E8SJM heterozygous carriers.
hypercholesterolemia; genetics; myocardial infarction
Iron deficiency (ID) is relatively common among the elderly population, contributing substantially to the high prevalence of anemia observed in the last decades of life, which in turn has important implications both on quality of life and on survival. In elderly subjects, ID is often multifactorial, i.e., due to multiple concurring causes, including inadequate dietary intake or absorption, occult bleeding, medications. Moreover, because of the typical multimorbidity of aged people, other conditions leading to anemia frequently coexist and make diagnosis of ID particularly challenging. Treatment of ID is also problematic in elderly, since response to oral iron is often slow, with a substantial fraction of patients showing refractoriness and requiring cumbersome intravenous administration. In the last decade, the discovery of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin has revolutionized our understanding of iron pathophysiology. In this review, we revisit ID among elderly people in the light of the impressive recent advances on knowledge of iron regulation, and discuss how hepcidin may help in diagnosis and treatment of this common clinical condition.
iron deficiency; anemia; elderly; hepcidin; ferritin
Global DNA hypomethylation is an early molecular event in carcinogenesis. Whether methylation measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells(PBMCs) DNA is a clinically reliable biomarker for early detection or cancer risk assessment is to be established.
From an original sample-set of 753 male and female adults(aged 64.8±7.3years),PBMCs DNA methylation was measured in 68 subjects with history of cancer at time of enrollment and 62 who developed cancer during follow-up. Age-and sex-matched controls for prevalent and incident cancer cases(n=68 and n=58,respectively)were also selected. Global DNA methylation was assessed by LC/MS. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) 677C>T genotype and plasma folate concentrations were also determined for the known gene-nutrient interaction affecting DNA methylation.
Cancer subjects had significantly lower PBMCs-DNA methylation than controls [4.39(95%CIs 4.25–4.53) vs. 5.13(95%CIs 5.03–5.21)%mCyt/(mCyt+Cyt), P<0.0001]. A DNA methylation threshold of 4.74% clearly categorized cancer patients from controls so that those with DNA methylation <4.74% showed an increased prevalence of cancer than those with higher levels (91.5% vs. 19%;P <0.001). Subjects with cancer at follow-up had, already at enrollment, reduced DNA methylation compared to controls [4.34(95%CIs 4.24–4.51) vs. 5.08(95%CIs 5.05–5.22)%mCyt/(mCyt+Cyt),P<0.0001].Moreover, MTHFR677C>T genotype and folate interact for determining DNA methylation, so that MTHFR677TT carriers with low folate had the lowest DNA methylation and concordantly showed a higher prevalence of cancer history (OR=7.04,95%CIs 1.52–32.63, P=0.013).
Genomic PBMCs-DNA methylation may be a useful epigenetic biomarker for early detection and cancer risk estimation.
This study identifies a threshold for PBMCs-DNA methylation to detect cancer-affected from cancer–free subjects and an at-risk condition for cancer based on genomic DNA methylation and MTHFR677C>T-folate status.
DNA methylation; epigenetics; cancer; biomarkers; peripheral blood mononuclear cells; MTHFR; gene-nutrient interactions; folate
Our previous studies identified a functional SNP, R952Q in the LRP8 gene, that was associated with increased platelet activation and familial and early-onset coronary artery disease (CAD) and myocardial infarction (MI) in American and Italian Caucasian populations. In this study, we analyzed four additional SNPs near R952Q (rs7546246, rs2297660, rs3737983, rs5177) to identify a specific LRP8 SNP haplotype that is associated with familial and early-onset CAD and MI. We employed a case–control association design involving 381 premature CAD and MI probands and 560 controls in GeneQuest, 441 individuals from 22 large pedigrees in GeneQuest II, and 248 MI patients with family history and 308 controls in an Italian cohort. Like R952Q, LRP8 SNPs rs7546246, rs2297660, rs3737983, and rs5177 were significantly associated with early-onset CAD/MI in both population-based and family-based association studies in GeneQuest. The results were replicated in the GeneQuest II family-based population and the Italian population. We then carried out a haplotype analysis for all five SNPs including R952Q. One common haplotype (TCCGC) was significantly associated with CAD (P = 4.0 × 10−11) and MI (P = 6.5 × 10−12) in GeneQuest with odds ratios of 0.53 and 0.42, respectively. The results were replicated in the Italian cohort (P = 0.004, OR = 0.71). The sib-TDT analysis also showed significant association between the TCCGC haplotype and CAD in GeneQuest II (P = 0.001). These results suggest that a common LRP8 haplotype TCCGC confers a significant protective effect on the development of familial, early-onset CAD and/or MI.
LRP8; Haplotype; SNPs; Association study
Few studies have so far investigated the relationship between apolipoprotein CIII (Apo CIII) and coagulation pathway in subjects with or without coronary artery disease (CAD).
Methods and Results
Serum Apo CIII concentrations and plasma coagulant activities of factor II (FII:c), factor V (FV:c), and factor VIII (FVIII:c), and activated factor VII (FVIIa) were analyzed in a total of 933 subjects, with (n=687) or without (n=246) angiographically demonstrated CAD and not taking anticoagulant drugs. Activated factor X (FXa) generation assay was performed on plasma from subgroups of subjects with low and high levels of Apo CIII. A statistical incremental concentration of FII:c, FV:c, and FVIIa levels was observed through the quartiles of Apo CIII distribution in the population considered as a whole. Significant results were confirmed for FII:c in CAD and CAD‐free subgroup when separately considered. Subjects within the highest Apo CIII quartile (>12.6 mg/dL) had high FII:c levels not statistically different from those of carriers of 20210A allele (n=40; 4.28%). In a multiple linear model, Apo CIII was the best predictor of FII:c variability, after adjustment for age, gender, plasma lipids, CRP, creatinine, diagnosis, and carriership of 20210A allele. FXa generation was increased and its lag time shortened in plasmas with high Apo CIII levels. However, after thrombin inhibition by hirudin, differences between low and high Apo C‐III samples disappeared.
Elevated concentrations of Apo CIII are associated with an increase of thrombin activity to an extent comparable with the carriership of G20210A gene variant and mainly modulating the thrombin generation.
apolipoprotein; coagulation/thrombosis; thrombin
Aim of this study was to evaluate whether the A736V TMPRSS6 polymorphism, a major genetic determinant of iron metabolism in healthy subjects, influences serum levels of hepcidin, the hormone regulating iron metabolism, and erythropoiesis in chronic hemodialysis (CHD).
To this end, we considered 199 CHD patients from Northern Italy (157 with hepcidin evaluation), and 188 healthy controls without iron deficiency, matched for age and gender. Genetic polymorphisms were evaluated by allele specific polymerase chain reaction assays, and hepcidin quantified by mass spectrometry.
Serum hepcidin levels were not different between the whole CHD population and controls (median 7.1, interquartile range (IQR) 0.55-17.1 vs. 7.4, 4.5-17.9 nM, respectively), but were higher in the CHD subgroup after exclusion of subjects with relative iron deficiency (p = 0.04). In CHD patients, the A736V TMPRSS6 polymorphism influenced serum hepcidin levels in individuals positive for mutations in the HFE gene of hereditary hemochromatosis (p < 0.0001). In particular, the TMPRSS6 736 V variant was associated with higher hepcidin levels (p = 0.017). At multivariate analysis, HFE and A736V TMPRSS6 genotypes predicted serum hepcidin independently of ferritin and C reactive protein (p = 0.048). In patients without acute inflammation and overt iron deficiency (C reactive protein <1 mg/dl and ferritin >30 ng/ml; n = 86), hepcidin was associated with lower mean corpuscular volume (p = 0.002), suggesting that it contributed to iron-restricted erythropoiesis. In line with previous results, in patients without acute inflammation and severe iron deficiency the “high hepcidin” 736 V TMPRSS6 variant was associated with higher erythropoietin maintenance dose (p = 0.016), independently of subclinical inflammation (p = 0.02).
The A736V TMPRSS6 genotype influences hepcidin levels, erythropoiesis, and anemia management in CHD patients. Evaluation of the effect of TMPRSS6 genotype on clinical outcomes in prospective studies in CHD may be useful to predict the outcomes of hepcidin manipulation, and to guide treatment personalization by optimizing anemia management.
Anemia; Chronic kidney disease; Erythropoietin; Genetics; Inflammation; Iron; Hemodialysis; Hepcidin; Hfe gene; Matriptase-2; Tmprss6
Hepcidin, a 25 amino-acid liver hormone, has recently emerged as the key regulator of iron homeostasis. Proteomic studies in limited number of subjects have shown that biological fluids can also contain truncated isoforms, whose role remains to be elucidated. We report, for the first time, data about serum levels of the hepcidin-20 isoform (hep-20) in a general population, taking advantage of the Val Borbera (VB) study where hepcidin-25 (hep-25) was measured by SELDI-TOF-MS. Detectable amount of hep-20 were found in sera from 854 out of 1577 subjects (54.2%), and its levels were about 14% of hep-25 levels. A small fraction of subjects (n = 30, 1.9%) had detectable hep-20 but undetectable hep-25. In multivariate regression models, significant predictors of hep-20 were hep-25 and age in males, and hep-25, age, serum ferritin and body mass index in females. Of note, the hep-25:hep-20 ratio was not constant in the VB population, but increased progressively with increasing ferritin levels. This is not consistent with the simplistic view of hep-20 as a mere catabolic byproduct of hep-25. Although a possible active regulation of hep-20 production needs further confirmation, our results may also have implications for immunoassays for serum hepcidin based on antibodies lacking specificity for hep-25.
This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Integrated omics.
► Hepcidin, a 25 amino acid hormone, is the key regulator of iron metabolism. ► We measured, for the first time, serum hepcidin-20 at population level by SELDI-TOF-MS. ► Detectable amount of hepcidin 20 were found in more than half of 1577 individuals. ► The Hep25:hep20 ratio was not constant but increased with increasing iron stores. ► Our results point toward a possible active regulation of hepcidin-20 production.
BMI, body mass index; CRP, C-reactive protein; Hep-20, Hepcidin-20; Hep-24, Hepcidin-24; Hep-25, Hepcidin-25; PTH, parathyroid hormone; VB, Val Borbera; Iron metabolism; Hepcidin; Ferritin; SELDI-TOF-MS
The recent discovery of hepcidin, the key iron regulatory hormone, has changed our view of iron metabolism, which in turn is long known to be linked with insulin resistant states, including type 2 diabetes mellitus and the Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). Serum ferritin levels are often elevated in MetS (Dysmetabolic hyperferritinemia - DHF), and are sometimes associated with a true mild-to-moderate hepatic iron overload (dysmetabolic iron overload syndrome - DIOS). However, the pathophysiological link between iron and MetS remains unclear. This study was aimed to investigate, for the first time, the relationship between MetS and hepcidin at population level. We measured serum hepcidin levels by Mass Spectrometry in 1,391 subjects from the Val Borbera population, and evaluated their relationship with classical MetS features. Hepcidin levels increased significantly and linearly with increasing number of MetS features, paralleling the trend of serum ferritin. In multivariate models adjusted for relevant variables including age, C-Reactive Protein, and the HFE C282Y mutation, ferritin was the only significant independent predictor of hepcidin in males, while in females MetS was also independently associated with hepcidin. Overall, these data indicate that the fundamental iron regulatory feedback is preserved in MetS, i.e. that hepcidin tends to progressively increase in response to the increase of iron stores. Due to recently discovered pleiotropic effects of hepcidin, this may worsen insulin resistance and contribute to the cardiovascular complications of MetS.
High plasma HDL cholesterol is associated with reduced risk of myocardial infarction, but whether this association is causal is unclear. Exploiting the fact that genotypes are randomly assigned at meiosis, are independent of non-genetic confounding, and are unmodified by disease processes, mendelian randomisation can be used to test the hypothesis that the association of a plasma biomarker with disease is causal.
We performed two mendelian randomisation analyses. First, we used as an instrument a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the endothelial lipase gene (LIPG Asn396Ser) and tested this SNP in 20 studies (20 913 myocardial infarction cases, 95 407 controls). Second, we used as an instrument a genetic score consisting of 14 common SNPs that exclusively associate with HDL cholesterol and tested this score in up to 12 482 cases of myocardial infarction and 41 331 controls. As a positive control, we also tested a genetic score of 13 common SNPs exclusively associated with LDL cholesterol.
Carriers of the LIPG 396Ser allele (2·6% frequency) had higher HDL cholesterol (0·14 mmol/L higher, p=8×10−13) but similar levels of other lipid and non-lipid risk factors for myocardial infarction compared with non-carriers. This difference in HDL cholesterol is expected to decrease risk of myocardial infarction by 13% (odds ratio [OR] 0·87, 95% CI 0·84–0·91). However, we noted that the 396Ser allele was not associated with risk of myocardial infarction (OR 0·99, 95% CI 0·88–1·11, p=0·85). From observational epidemiology, an increase of 1 SD in HDL cholesterol was associated with reduced risk of myocardial infarction (OR 0·62, 95% CI 0·58–0·66). However, a 1 SD increase in HDL cholesterol due to genetic score was not associated with risk of myocardial infarction (OR 0·93, 95% CI 0·68–1·26, p=0·63). For LDL cholesterol, the estimate from observational epidemiology (a 1 SD increase in LDL cholesterol associated with OR 1·54, 95% CI 1·45–1·63) was concordant with that from genetic score (OR 2·13, 95% CI 1·69–2·69, p=2×10−10).
Some genetic mechanisms that raise plasma HDL cholesterol do not seem to lower risk of myocardial infarction. These data challenge the concept that raising of plasma HDL cholesterol will uniformly translate into reductions in risk of myocardial infarction.
US National Institutes of Health, The Wellcome Trust, European Union, British Heart Foundation, and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Particulate matter (PM) air pollution has been associated with cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Recent studies have proposed also a link with venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk. This study was aimed to evaluate the possible influence of air pollution-related changes on the daily flux of patients referring to the Emergency Department (ED) for VTE, dissecting the different effects of coarse and fine PM. From July 1st, 2007, to June 30th, 2009, data about ED accesses for VTE and about daily concentrations of PM air pollution in Verona district (Italy) were collected. Coarse PM (PM10-2.5) was calculated by subtracting the finest PM2.5 from the whole PM10. During the index period a total of 302 accesses for VTE were observed (135 males and 167 females; mean age 68.3±16.7 years). In multiple regression models adjusted for other atmospheric parameters PM10-2.5, but not PM2.5, concentrations were positively correlated with VTE (beta-coefficient = 0.237; P = 0.020). During the days with high levels of PM10-2.5 (≥75th percentile) there was an increased risk of ED accesses for VTE (OR 1.69 with 95%CI 1.13–2.53). By analysing days of exposure using distributed lag non-linear models, the increase of VTE risk was limited to PM10-2.5 peaks in the short-term period. Consistently with these results, in another cohort of subjects without active thrombosis (n = 102) an inverse correlation between PM10-2.5 and prothrombin time was found (R = −0.247; P = 0.012). Our results suggest that short-time exposure to high concentrations of PM10-2.5 may favour an increased rate of ED accesses for VTE through the induction of a prothrombotic state.
We tested whether genetic factors distinctly contribute to either development of coronary atherosclerosis or, specifically, to myocardial infarction in existing coronary atherosclerosis.
We did two genome-wide association studies (GWAS) with coronary angiographic phenotyping in participants of European ancestry. To identify loci that predispose to angiographic coronary artery disease (CAD), we compared individuals who had this disorder (n=12 393) with those who did not (controls, n=7383). To identify loci that predispose to myocardial infarction, we compared patients who had angiographic CAD and myocardial infarction (n=5783) with those who had angiographic CAD but no myocardial infarction (n=3644).
In the comparison of patients with angiographic CAD versus controls, we identified a novel locus, ADAMTS7 (p=4·98×10−13). In the comparison of patients with angiographic CAD who had myocardial infarction versus those with angiographic CAD but no myocardial infarction, we identified a novel association at the ABO locus (p=7·62×10−9). The ABO association was attributable to the glycotransferase-deficient enzyme that encodes the ABO blood group O phenotype previously proposed to protect against myocardial infarction.
Our findings indicate that specific genetic predispositions promote the development of coronary atherosclerosis whereas others lead to myocardial infarction in the presence of coronary atherosclerosis. The relation to specific CAD phenotypes might modify how novel loci are applied in personalised risk assessment and used in the development of novel therapies for CAD.
The PennCath and MedStar studies were supported by the Cardiovascular Institute of the University of Pennsylvania, by the MedStar Health Research Institute at Washington Hospital Center and by a research grant from GlaxoSmithKline. The funding and support for the other cohorts contributing to the paper are described in the webappendix.
We sought to replicate the association between the kinesin-like protein 6 (KIF6) Trp719Arg polymorphism (rs20455) and clinical coronary artery disease (CAD).
Recent prospective studies suggest that carriers of the 719Arg allele in KIF6 are at increased risk of clinical CAD compared with non-carriers.
The KIF6 Trp719Arg polymorphism (rs20455) was genotyped in nineteen case-control studies of non-fatal CAD either as part of a genome-wide association study or in a formal attempt to replicate the initial positive reports.
Over 17 000 cases and 39 000 controls of European descent as well as a modest number of South Asians, African Americans, Hispanics, East Asians, and admixed cases and controls were successfully genotyped. None of the nineteen studies demonstrated an increased risk of CAD in carriers of the 719Arg allele compared with non-carriers. Regression analyses and fixed effect meta-analyses ruled out with high degree of confidence an increase of ≥2% in the risk of CAD among European 719Arg carriers. We also observed no increase in the risk of CAD among 719Arg carriers in the subset of Europeans with early onset disease (<50 years of age for males and <60 years for females) compared with similarly aged controls as well as all non-European subgroups.
The KIF6 Trp719Arg polymorphism was not associated with the risk of clinical CAD in this large replication study.
kinesin-like protein 6; KIF6; coronary artery disease; myocardial infarction; polymorphism
We performed a meta-analysis of 14 genome-wide association studies of coronary artery disease (CAD) comprising 22,233 cases and 64,762 controls of European descent, followed by genotyping of top association signals in 60,738 additional individuals. This genomic analysis identified 13 novel loci harboring one or more SNPs that were associated with CAD at P<5×10−8 and confirmed the association of 10 of 12 previously reported CAD loci. The 13 novel loci displayed risk allele frequencies ranging from 0.13 to 0.91 and were associated with a 6 to 17 percent increase in the risk of CAD per allele. Notably, only three of the novel loci displayed significant association with traditional CAD risk factors, while the majority lie in gene regions not previously implicated in the pathogenesis of CAD. Finally, five of the novel CAD risk loci appear to have pleiotropic effects, showing strong association with various other human diseases or traits.
Low concentrations of plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDLs) are characteristic in metabolic syndrome (MS). The antioxidant ability of HDLs is, at least in part, attributable to pleiotropic serum paraoxonase (PON1). Different PON1 activities have been assessed in 293 subjects with (n = 88) or without MS (n = 205) and with (n = 195) or without (n = 98) angiographically proven coronary artery disease (CAD). MS subjects had low PON1 activities, with a progressively decreasing trend by increasing the number of MS abnormalities. The activity versus 7-O-diethyl phosphoryl,3-cyano,4-methyl,7-hydroxycoumarin (DEPCyMC), which is considered a surrogate marker of PON1 concentration, showed the most significant association with MS, independently of both HDL and apolipoprotein A-I levels. Subjects with MS and low DEPCyMCase activity had the highest CAD risk (OR 4.34 with 95% CI 1.44–13.10), while no significant increase of risk was found among those with MS but high DEPCyMCase activity (OR 1.45 with 95% CI 0.47–4.46). Our results suggest that low PON1 concentrations are typical in MS and may modulate the MS-related risk of CAD.
Iron overload may represent an additional clinical problem in patients with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), with recent data suggesting prognostic implications. Beyond red blood cells transfusions, dysregulation of hepcidin, the key iron hormone, may play a role, but studies until now have been hampered by technical problems. Using a recently validated assay, we measured serum hepcidin in 113 patients with different MDS subtypes. Mean hepcidin levels were consistently heterogeneous across different MDS subtypes, with the lowest levels in refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (RARS, 1.43 nM) and the highest in refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB, 11.3 nM) or in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML, 10.04 nM) (P = 0.003 by ANOVA). MDS subtypes remained significant predictors of hepcidin in multivariate analyses adjusted for ferritin and transfusion history. Consistently with current knowledge on hepcidin action/regulation, RARS patients had the highest levels of toxic non-transferrin-bound-iron, while RAEB and CMML patients had substantial elevation of C-Reactive Protein as compared to other MDS subtypes, and showed lost of homeostatic regulation by iron. Growth differentiation factor 15 did not appear as a primary hepcidin regulator in this series. If confirmed, these results may help to calibrate future treatments with chelating agents and/or hepcidin modulators in MDS patients.
Patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) often have increased liver iron, a condition associated with reduced sustained response to antiviral therapy, more rapid progression to cirrhosis, and development of hepatocellular carcinoma. The hepatic hormone hepcidin is the major regulator of iron metabolism and inhibits iron absorption and recycling from erythrophagocytosis. Hepcidin decrease is a possible pathophysiological mechanism of iron overload in CHC, but studies in humans have been hampered so far by the lack of reliable quantitative assays for the 25-amino acid bioactive peptide in serum (s-hepcidin).
Using a recently validated immunoassay, we measured s-hepcidin levels in 81 untreated CHC patients and 57 controls with rigorous definition of normal iron status. All CHC patients underwent liver biopsy with histological iron score.
S-hepcidin was significantly lower in CHC patients than in controls (geometric means with 95% confidence intervals: 33.7, 21.5–52.9 vs. 90.9, 76.1–108.4 ng/mL, respectively; p < 0.001). In CHC patients, s-hepcidin significantly correlated with serum ferritin and histological total iron score, but not with s-interleukin-6. After stratification for ferritin quartiles, s-hepcidin increased significantly across quartiles in both controls and CHC patients (chi for trend, p < 0.001). However, in CHC patients, s-hepcidin was significantly lower than in controls for each corresponding quartile (analysis of variance, p < 0.001).
These results, together with very recent studies in animal and cellular models, indicate that although hepcidin regulation by iron stores is maintained in CHC, the suppression of this hormone by hepatitis C virus is likely an important factor in liver iron accumulation in this condition.
Chronic hepatitis C; Hemochromatosis; Hepcidin; Iron overload; Ferritin
The capacity to act as an electron donor and acceptor makes iron an essential cofactor of many vital processes. Its balance in the body has to be tightly regulated since its excess can be harmful by favouring oxidative damage, while its deficiency can impair fundamental activities like erythropoiesis. In the brain, an accumulation of iron or an increase in its availability has been associated with the development and/or progression of different degenerative processes, including Parkinson's disease, while iron paucity seems to be associated with cognitive deficits, motor dysfunction, and restless legs syndrome. In the search of DNA sequence variations affecting the individual predisposition to develop movement disorders, we scanned by DHPLC the exons and intronic boundary regions of ceruloplasmin, iron regulatory protein 2, hemopexin, hepcidin and hemojuvelin genes in cohorts of subjects affected by Parkinson's disease and idiopathic neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA). Both novel and known sequence variations were identified in most of the genes, but none of them seemed to be significantly associated to the movement diseases of interest.
The hepatic iron regulator hormone hepcidin consists, in its mature form, of 25 amino acids, but two other isoforms, hepcidin-20 and hepcidin-22, have been reported, whose biological meaning remains poorly understood. We evaluated hepcidin isoforms in sera from 57 control and 54 chronic haemodialysis patients using a quantitative proteomic approach based on SELDI-TOF-MS.
Patients had elevated serum levels of both hepcidin-25 and
hepcidin-20 as compared to controls (geometric means: 7.52 versus
4.69 nM, and 4.06 versus 1.76 nM, resp.,
P < .05 for both). The clearance effects of a single dialysis
session by different dialysis techniques and membranes were also
investigated, showing an average reduction by
51.3% ± 29.2% for hepcidin-25 and
34.2% ± 28.4% for hepcidin-20 but only minor differences among the different dialysis modalities. Measurement of hepcidin isoforms through MS-based techniques can be a useful tool for better understanding of their biological role in hemodialysis patients and other clinical conditions.
Clinico-pathological manifestations of Ferroportin (Fpn) Disease (FD) are heterogeneous, with some patients presenting with iron overload predominantly in macrophages (“M” phenotype), others predominantly in hepatocytes (“H” phenotype). This appears to reflect functional heterogeneity of Fpn mutants, with loss-of-function generally resulting in the M type.
Two unrelated probands with “non-HFE” hemochromatosis were screened for Fpn mutations. Mutants were functionally characterized by immunofluorescence microscopy, evaluation of their ability to bind hepcidin and export iron, and by expressing them in zebrafish.
Two novel Fpn mutations were identified: I152F in patient-1, presenting with typical M phenotype; and L233P in patient-2, presenting with ambiguous features (massive overload in both macrophages and hepatocytes). Molecular studies suggested loss of function in both cases. The I152F, normally localized on cell membrane and internalized by hepcidin, showed a unique “primary” deficit of iron export capability. The L233P did not appropriately traffic to cell surface. Loss of function was confirmed by expressing both mutants in vivo in zebrafish, resulting in iron limited erythropoiesis. Clinical manifestations were likely enhanced in both patients by nongenetic factors (HCV, alcohol).
The combination of careful review of clinico-pathological data with molecular studies can yield compelling explanations for phenotype heterogeneity in FD.
iron overload; ferroportin; hemochromatosis; hepcidin; zebrafish
The R952Q variant in the low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 8 (LRP8)/apolipoprotein E receptor 2 (ApoER2) gene has been recently associated with familial and premature myocardial infarction (MI) by means of genome-wide linkage scan/association studies. We were interested in the possible interaction of the R952Q variant with another established cardiovascular genetic risk factor belonging to the same pathway, namely apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε2/ε3/ε4 genotype, in modulating apolipoprotein E (ApoE) plasma levels and risk of MI.
In the Italian cohort used to confirm the association of the R952Q variant with MI, we assessed lipid profile, apolipoprotein concentrations, and APOE ε2/ε3/ε4 genotype. Complete data were available for a total of 681 subjects in a case-control setting (287 controls and 394 patients with MI).
Plasma ApoE levels decreased progressively across R952Q genotypes (mean levels ± SD = RR: 0.045 ± 0.020, RQ: 0.044 ± 0.014, QQ: 0.040 ± 0.008 g/l; P for trend = 0.047). Combination with APOE genotypes revealed an additive effect on ApoE levels, with the highest level observed in RR/non-carriers of the E4 allele (0.046 ± 0.021 g/l), and the lowest level in QQ/E4 carriers (0.035 ± 0.009 g/l; P for trend = 0.010). QQ/E4 was also the combined genotype with the most significant association with MI (OR 3.88 with 95%CI 1.08–13.9 as compared with RR/non-carriers E4).
Our data suggest that LRP8 R952Q variant may have an additive effect to APOE ε2/ε3/ε4 genotype in determining ApoE concentrations and risk of MI in an Italian population.
Macrophages are involved in a number of key physiological processes and complex responses such as inflammatory, immunological, infectious diseases and iron homeostasis. These cells are specialised for iron storage and recycling from senescent erythrocytes so they play a central role in the fine tuning of iron balancing and distribution. The comprehension of the many physiological responses of macrophages implies the study of the related molecular events. To this regard, proteomic analysis, is one of the most powerful tools for the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms, in terms of changes in protein expression levels.
Our aim was to optimize a protocol for protein fractionation and high resolution mapping using human macrophages for clinical studies. We exploited a fractionation protocol based on the neutral detergent Triton X-114. The 2D maps of the fractions obtained showed high resolution and a good level of purity. Western immunoblotting and mass spectrometry (MS/MS analysis) indicated no fraction cross contamination. On 2D-PAGE mini gels (7 × 8 cm) we could count more than five hundred protein spots, substantially increasing the resolution and the number of detectable proteins for the macrophage proteome. The fractions were also evaluated, with preliminary experiments, using Surface Enhanced Laser Desorption Ionization Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (SELDI-TOF-MS).
This relatively simple method allows deep investigation into macrophages proteomics producing discrete and accurate protein fractions, especially membrane-associated and integral proteins. The adapted protocol seems highly suitable for further studies of clinical proteomics, especially for the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms controlling iron homeostasis in normal and disease conditions.
By modulating hepcidin production, an organism controls intestinal iron absorption, iron uptake and mobilization from stores to meet body iron need. In recent years there has been important advancement in our knowledge of hepcidin regulation that also has implications for understanding the physiopathology of some human disorders. Since the discovery of hepcidin and the demonstration of its pivotal role in iron homeostasis, there has been a substantial interest in developing a reliable assay of the hormone in biological fluids. Measurement of hepcidin in biological fluids can improve our understanding of iron diseases and be a useful tool for diagnosis and clinical management of these disorders. We reviewed the literature and our own research on hepcidin to give an updated status of the situation in this rapidly evolving field.
Hepcidin; Iron homeostasis; Erythropoiesis; Hemochromatosis; Anemia; Liver diseases