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1.  A genetic variant in osteoprotegerin is associated with progression of joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2014;16(3):R108.
Introduction
Progression of joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is partly heritably; 45 to 58% of the variance in joint destruction is estimated to be explained by genetic factors. The binding of RANKL (Receptor Activator for Nuclear Factor κ B Ligand) to RANK results in the activation of TRAF6 (tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor associated factor-6), and osteoclast formation ultimately leading to enhanced bone resorption. This bone resorption is inhibited by osteoprotegerin (OPG) which prevents RANKL-RANK interactions. The OPG/RANK/RANKL/TRAF6 pathway plays an important role in bone remodeling. Therefore, we investigated whether genetic variants in OPG, RANK, RANKL and TRAF6 are associated with the rate of joint destruction in RA.
Methods
1,418 patients with 4,885 X-rays of hands and feet derived from four independent data-sets were studied. In each data-set the relative increase of the progression rate per year in the presence of a genotype was assessed. First, explorative analyses were performed on 600 RA-patients from Leiden. 109 SNPs, tagging OPG, RANK, RANKL and TRAF6, were tested. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) significantly associated in phase-1 were genotyped in data-sets from Groningen (Netherlands), Sheffield (United Kingdom) and Lund (Switzerland). Data were summarized in an inverse weighted variance meta-analysis. Bonferonni correction for multiple testing was applied.
Results
We found that 33 SNPs were significantly associated with the rate of joint destruction in phase-1. In phase-2, six SNPs in OPG and four SNPs in RANK were associated with progression of joint destruction with P-value <0.05. In the meta-analyses of all four data-sets, RA-patients with the minor allele of OPG-rs1485305 expressed higher rates of joint destruction compared to patients without these risk variants (P = 2.35x10−4). This variant was also significant after Bonferroni correction.
Conclusions
These results indicate that a genetic variant in OPG is associated with a more severe rate of joint destruction in RA.
doi:10.1186/ar4558
PMCID: PMC4060386  PMID: 24886600
2.  Identification of seven loci affecting mean telomere length and their association with disease 
Codd, Veryan | Nelson, Christopher P. | Albrecht, Eva | Mangino, Massimo | Deelen, Joris | Buxton, Jessica L. | Jan Hottenga, Jouke | Fischer, Krista | Esko, Tõnu | Surakka, Ida | Broer, Linda | Nyholt, Dale R. | Mateo Leach, Irene | Salo, Perttu | Hägg, Sara | Matthews, Mary K. | Palmen, Jutta | Norata, Giuseppe D. | O’Reilly, Paul F. | Saleheen, Danish | Amin, Najaf | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Beekman, Marian | de Boer, Rudolf A. | Böhringer, Stefan | Braund, Peter S. | Burton, Paul R. | de Craen, Anton J. M. | Denniff, Matthew | Dong, Yanbin | Douroudis, Konstantinos | Dubinina, Elena | Eriksson, Johan G. | Garlaschelli, Katia | Guo, Dehuang | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Henders, Anjali K. | Houwing-Duistermaat, Jeanine J. | Kananen, Laura | Karssen, Lennart C. | Kettunen, Johannes | Klopp, Norman | Lagou, Vasiliki | van Leeuwen, Elisabeth M. | Madden, Pamela A. | Mägi, Reedik | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Männistö, Satu | McCarthy, Mark I. | Medland, Sarah E. | Mihailov, Evelin | Montgomery, Grant W. | Oostra, Ben A. | Palotie, Aarno | Peters, Annette | Pollard, Helen | Pouta, Anneli | Prokopenko, Inga | Ripatti, Samuli | Salomaa, Veikko | Suchiman, H. Eka D. | Valdes, Ana M. | Verweij, Niek | Viñuela, Ana | Wang, Xiaoling | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Widen, Elisabeth | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wright, Margaret J. | Xia, Kai | Xiao, Xiangjun | van Veldhuisen, Dirk J. | Catapano, Alberico L. | Tobin, Martin D. | Hall, Alistair S. | Blakemore, Alexandra I.F. | van Gilst, Wiek H. | Zhu, Haidong | Erdmann, Jeanette | Reilly, Muredach P. | Kathiresan, Sekar | Schunkert, Heribert | Talmud, Philippa J. | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Perola, Markus | Ouwehand, Willem | Kaprio, Jaakko | Martin, Nicholas G. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Hovatta, Iiris | Gieger, Christian | Metspalu, Andres | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Slagboom, P. Eline | Thompson, John R. | Spector, Tim D. | van der Harst, Pim | Samani, Nilesh J.
Nature genetics  2013;45(4):422-427e2.
Inter-individual variation in mean leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is associated with cancer and several age-associated diseases. Here, in a genome-wide meta-analysis of 37,684 individuals with replication of selected variants in a further 10,739 individuals, we identified seven loci, including five novel loci, associated with mean LTL (P<5x10−8). Five of the loci contain genes (TERC, TERT, NAF1, OBFC1, RTEL1) that are known to be involved in telomere biology. Lead SNPs at two loci (TERC and TERT) associate with several cancers and other diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Moreover, a genetic risk score analysis combining lead variants at all seven loci in 22,233 coronary artery disease cases and 64,762 controls showed an association of the alleles associated with shorter LTL with increased risk of CAD (21% (95% CI: 5–35%) per standard deviation in LTL, p=0.014). Our findings support a causal role of telomere length variation in some age-related diseases.
doi:10.1038/ng.2528
PMCID: PMC4006270  PMID: 23535734
4.  Genome-wide linkage analysis for human longevity: Genetics of Healthy Ageing Study 
Aging cell  2013;12(2):184-193.
Summary
Clear evidence exists for heritability of human longevity, and much interest is focused on identifying genes associated with longer lives. To identify such longevity alleles, we performed the largest genome-wide linkage scan thus far reported. Linkage analyses included 2118 nonagenarian Caucasian sibling pairs that have been enrolled in fifteen study centers of eleven European countries as part of the Genetics of Healthy Ageing (GEHA) project. In the joint linkage analyses we observed four regions that show linkage with longevity; chromosome 14q11.2 (LOD=3.47), chromosome 17q12-q22 (LOD=2.95), chromosome 19p13.3-p13.11 (LOD=3.76) and chromosome 19q13.11-q13.32 (LOD=3.57). To fine map these regions linked to longevity, we performed association analysis using GWAS data in a subgroup of 1,228 unrelated nonagenarian and 1,907 geographically matched controls. Using a fixed effect meta-analysis approach, rs4420638 at the TOMM40/APOE/APOC1 gene locus showed significant association with longevity (p-value=9.6 × 10−8). By combined modeling of linkage and association we showed that association of longevity with APOEε4 and APOEε2 alleles explain the linkage at 19q13.11-q13.32 with p-value=0.02 and p-value=1.0 × 10−5, respectively. In the largest linkage scan thus far performed for human familial longevity, we confirm that the APOE locus is a longevity gene and that additional longevity loci may be identified at 14q11.2, 17q12-q22 and 19p13.3-p13.11. Since the latter linkage results are not explained by common variants, we suggest that rare variants play an important role in human familial longevity.
doi:10.1111/acel.12039
PMCID: PMC3725963  PMID: 23286790
Human familial longevity; genome-wide linkage analysis; APOE gene; association analysis; nonagenarian sibling pairs
5.  Genome-wide association meta-analysis of human longevity identifies a novel locus conferring survival beyond 90 years of age 
Deelen, Joris | Beekman, Marian | Uh, Hae-Won | Broer, Linda | Ayers, Kristin L. | Tan, Qihua | Kamatani, Yoichiro | Bennet, Anna M. | Tamm, Riin | Trompet, Stella | Guðbjartsson, Daníel F. | Flachsbart, Friederike | Rose, Giuseppina | Viktorin, Alexander | Fischer, Krista | Nygaard, Marianne | Cordell, Heather J. | Crocco, Paolina | van den Akker, Erik B. | Böhringer, Stefan | Helmer, Quinta | Nelson, Christopher P. | Saunders, Gary I. | Alver, Maris | Andersen-Ranberg, Karen | Breen, Marie E. | van der Breggen, Ruud | Caliebe, Amke | Capri, Miriam | Cevenini, Elisa | Collerton, Joanna C. | Dato, Serena | Davies, Karen | Ford, Ian | Gampe, Jutta | Garagnani, Paolo | de Geus, Eco J.C. | Harrow, Jennifer | van Heemst, Diana | Heijmans, Bastiaan T. | Heinsen, Femke-Anouska | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Hofman, Albert | Jeune, Bernard | Jonsson, Palmi V. | Lathrop, Mark | Lechner, Doris | Martin-Ruiz, Carmen | Mcnerlan, Susan E. | Mihailov, Evelin | Montesanto, Alberto | Mooijaart, Simon P. | Murphy, Anne | Nohr, Ellen A. | Paternoster, Lavinia | Postmus, Iris | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Ross, Owen A. | Salvioli, Stefano | Sattar, Naveed | Schreiber, Stefan | Stefánsson, Hreinn | Stott, David J. | Tiemeier, Henning | Uitterlinden, André G. | Westendorp, Rudi G.J. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Samani, Nilesh J. | Galan, Pilar | Sørensen, Thorkild I.A. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Jukema, J. Wouter | Rea, Irene Maeve | Passarino, Giuseppe | de Craen, Anton J.M. | Christensen, Kaare | Nebel, Almut | Stefánsson, Kári | Metspalu, Andres | Magnusson, Patrik | Blanché, Hélène | Christiansen, Lene | Kirkwood, Thomas B.L. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Franceschi, Claudio | Houwing-Duistermaat, Jeanine J. | Slagboom, P. Eline
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(16):4420-4432.
The genetic contribution to the variation in human lifespan is ∼25%. Despite the large number of identified disease-susceptibility loci, it is not known which loci influence population mortality. We performed a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 7729 long-lived individuals of European descent (≥85 years) and 16 121 younger controls (<65 years) followed by replication in an additional set of 13 060 long-lived individuals and 61 156 controls. In addition, we performed a subset analysis in cases aged ≥90 years. We observed genome-wide significant association with longevity, as reflected by survival to ages beyond 90 years, at a novel locus, rs2149954, on chromosome 5q33.3 (OR = 1.10, P = 1.74 × 10−8). We also confirmed association of rs4420638 on chromosome 19q13.32 (OR = 0.72, P = 3.40 × 10−36), representing the TOMM40/APOE/APOC1 locus. In a prospective meta-analysis (n = 34 103), the minor allele of rs2149954 (T) on chromosome 5q33.3 associates with increased survival (HR = 0.95, P = 0.003). This allele has previously been reported to associate with low blood pressure in middle age. Interestingly, the minor allele (T) associates with decreased cardiovascular mortality risk, independent of blood pressure. We report on the first GWAS-identified longevity locus on chromosome 5q33.3 influencing survival in the general European population. The minor allele of this locus associates with low blood pressure in middle age, although the contribution of this allele to survival may be less dependent on blood pressure. Hence, the pleiotropic mechanisms by which this intragenic variation contributes to lifespan regulation have to be elucidated.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddu139
PMCID: PMC4103672  PMID: 24688116
6.  Leukocyte telomere length associates with prospective mortality independent of immune-related parameters and known genetic markers 
Background: Human leukocyte telomere length (LTL) decreases with age and shorter LTL has previously been associated with increased prospective mortality. However, it is not clear whether LTL merely marks the health status of an individual by its association with parameters of immune function, for example, or whether telomere shortening also contributes causally to lifespan variation in humans.
Methods: We measured LTL in 870 nonagenarian siblings (mean age 93 years), 1580 of their offspring and 725 spouses thereof (mean age 59 years) from the Leiden Longevity Study (LLS).
Results: We found that shorter LTL is associated with increased prospective mortality in middle (30–80 years; hazard ratio (HR) = 0.75, P = 0.001) and highly advanced age (≥90 years; HR = 0.92, P = 0.028), and show that this association cannot be explained by the association of LTL with the immune-related markers insulin-like growth factor 1 to insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 molar ratio, C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, cytomegalovirus serostatus or white blood cell counts. We found no difference in LTL between the middle-aged LLS offspring and their spouses (β = 0.006, P = 0.932). Neither did we observe an association of LTL-associated genetic variants with mortality in a prospective meta-analysis of multiple cohorts (n = 8165).
Conclusions: We confirm LTL to be a marker of prospective mortality in middle and highly advanced age and additionally show that this association could not be explained by the association of LTL with various immune-related markers. Furthermore, the approaches performed here do not further support the hypothesis that LTL variation contributes to the genetic propensity for longevity.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyt267
PMCID: PMC4052133  PMID: 24425829
Leukocyte telomere length; prospective mortality; immune-related markers; familial longevity; genetics; human
7.  Targeted Biomarker Discovery by High Throughput Glycosylation Profiling of Human Plasma Alpha1-Antitrypsin and Immunoglobulin A 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73082.
Protein N-glycosylation patterns are known to show vast genetic as well as physiological and pathological variation and represent a large pool of potential biomarkers. Large-scale studies are needed for the identification and validation of biomarkers, and the analytical techniques required have recently been developed. Such methods have up to now mainly been applied to complex mixtures of glycoproteins in biofluids (e.g. plasma). Here, we analyzed N-glycosylation profiles of alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) and immunoglobulin A (IgA) enriched fractions by 96-well microtitration plate based high-throughput immuno-affinity capturing and N-glycan analysis using multiplexed capillary gel electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence detection (CGE-LIF). Human plasma samples were from the Leiden Longevity Study comprising 2415 participants of different chronological and biological ages. Glycosylation patterns of AAT enriched fractions were found to be associated with chronological (calendar) age and they differed between females and males. Moreover, several glycans in the AAT enriched fraction were associated with physiological parameters marking cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Pronounced differences were found between males and females in the glycosylation profiles of IgA enriched fractions. Our results demonstrate that large-scale immuno-affinity capturing of proteins from human plasma using a bead-based method combined with high-throughput N-glycan analysis is a powerful tool for the discovery of glycosylation-based biomarker candidates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073082
PMCID: PMC3767703  PMID: 24039863
9.  Pathway Analysis Using Genome-Wide Association Study Data for Coronary Restenosis – A Potential Role for the PARVB Gene 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70676.
Background
Coronary restenosis after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) still remains a significant limitation of the procedure. The causative mechanisms of restenosis have not yet been fully identified. The goal of the current study was to perform gene-set analysis of biological pathways related to inflammation, proliferation, vascular function and transcriptional regulation on coronary restenosis to identify novel genes and pathways related to this condition.
Methods
The GENetic DEterminants of Restenosis (GENDER) databank contains genotypic data of 556,099SNPs of 295 cases with restenosis and 571 matched controls. Fifty-four pathways, related to known restenosis-related processes, were selected. Gene-set analysis was performed using PLINK, GRASS and ALIGATOR software. Pathways with a p<0.01 were fine-mapped and significantly associated SNPs were analyzed in an independent replication cohort.
Results
Six pathways (cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions pathway, IL2 signaling pathway, IL6 signaling pathway, platelet derived growth factor pathway, vitamin D receptor pathway and the mitochondria pathway) were significantly associated in one or two of the software packages. Two SNPs in the cell-ECM interactions pathway were replicated in an independent restenosis cohort. No replication was obtained for the other pathways.
Conclusion
With these results we demonstrate a potential role of the cell-ECM interactions pathway in the development of coronary restenosis. These findings contribute to the increasing knowledge of the genetic etiology of restenosis formation and could serve as a hypothesis-generating effort for further functional studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070676
PMCID: PMC3739784  PMID: 23950981
10.  The Effect of Three-Monthly Albendazole Treatment on Malarial Parasitemia and Allergy: A Household-Based Cluster-Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57899.
Background
Helminth infections are proposed to have immunomodulatory activities affecting health outcomes either detrimentally or beneficially. We evaluated the effects of albendazole treatment, every three months for 21 months, on STH, malarial parasitemia and allergy.
Methods and Findings
A household-based cluster-randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in an area in Indonesia endemic for STH. Using computer-aided block randomization, 481 households (2022 subjects) and 473 households (1982 subjects) were assigned to receive placebo and albendazole, respectively, every three months. The treatment code was concealed from trial investigators and participants. Malarial parasitemia and malaria-like symptoms were assessed in participants older than four years of age while skin prick test (SPT) to allergens as well as reported symptoms of allergy in children aged 5–15 years. The general impact of treatment on STH prevalence and body mass index (BMI) was evaluated. Primary outcomes were prevalence of malarial parasitemia and SPT to any allergen. Analysis was by intention to treat. At 9 and 21 months post-treatment 80.8% and 80.1% of the study subjects were retained, respectively. The intensive treatment regiment resulted in a reduction in the prevalence of STH by 48% in albendazole and 9% in placebo group. Albendazole treatment led to a transient increase in malarial parasitemia at 6 months post treatment (OR 4.16(1.35–12.80)) and no statistically significant increase in SPT reactivity (OR 1.18(0.74–1.86) at 9 months or 1.37 (0.93–2.01) 21 months). No effect of anthelminthic treatment was found on BMI, reported malaria-like- and allergy symptoms. No adverse effects were reported.
Conclusions
The study indicates that intensive community treatment of 3 monthly albendazole administration for 21 months over two years leads to a reduction in STH. This degree of reduction appears safe without any increased risk of malaria or allergies.
Trial Registration
Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN83830814
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057899
PMCID: PMC3602425  PMID: 23526959
11.  Non-Homologous End-Joining Pathway Associated with Occurrence of Myocardial Infarction: Gene Set Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Study Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56262.
Purpose
DNA repair deficiencies have been postulated to play a role in the development and progression of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The hypothesis is that DNA damage accumulating with age may induce cell death, which promotes formation of unstable plaques. Defects in DNA repair mechanisms may therefore increase the risk of CVD events. We examined whether the joints effect of common genetic variants in 5 DNA repair pathways may influence the risk of CVD events.
Methods
The PLINK set-based test was used to examine the association to myocardial infarction (MI) of the DNA repair pathway in GWAS data of 866 subjects of the GENetic DEterminants of Restenosis (GENDER) study and 5,244 subjects of the PROspective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk (PROSPER) study. We included the main DNA repair pathways (base excision repair, nucleotide excision repair, mismatch repair, homologous recombination and non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ)) in the analysis.
Results
The NHEJ pathway was associated with the occurrence of MI in both GENDER (P = 0.0083) and PROSPER (P = 0.014). This association was mainly driven by genetic variation in the MRE11A gene (PGENDER = 0.0001 and PPROSPER = 0.002). The homologous recombination pathway was associated with MI in GENDER only (P = 0.011), for the other pathways no associations were observed.
Conclusion
This is the first study analyzing the joint effect of common genetic variation in DNA repair pathways and the risk of CVD events, demonstrating an association between the NHEJ pathway and MI in 2 different cohorts.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056262
PMCID: PMC3574159  PMID: 23457540
12.  A Meta-Analysis of Thyroid-Related Traits Reveals Novel Loci and Gender-Specific Differences in the Regulation of Thyroid Function 
Porcu, Eleonora | Medici, Marco | Pistis, Giorgio | Volpato, Claudia B. | Wilson, Scott G. | Cappola, Anne R. | Bos, Steffan D. | Deelen, Joris | den Heijer, Martin | Freathy, Rachel M. | Lahti, Jari | Liu, Chunyu | Lopez, Lorna M. | Nolte, Ilja M. | O'Connell, Jeffrey R. | Tanaka, Toshiko | Trompet, Stella | Arnold, Alice | Bandinelli, Stefania | Beekman, Marian | Böhringer, Stefan | Brown, Suzanne J. | Buckley, Brendan M. | Camaschella, Clara | de Craen, Anton J. M. | Davies, Gail | de Visser, Marieke C. H. | Ford, Ian | Forsen, Tom | Frayling, Timothy M. | Fugazzola, Laura | Gögele, Martin | Hattersley, Andrew T. | Hermus, Ad R. | Hofman, Albert | Houwing-Duistermaat, Jeanine J. | Jensen, Richard A. | Kajantie, Eero | Kloppenburg, Margreet | Lim, Ee M. | Masciullo, Corrado | Mariotti, Stefano | Minelli, Cosetta | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Nagaraja, Ramaiah | Netea-Maier, Romana T. | Palotie, Aarno | Persani, Luca | Piras, Maria G. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Räikkönen, Katri | Richards, J. Brent | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Sala, Cinzia | Sabra, Mona M. | Sattar, Naveed | Shields, Beverley M. | Soranzo, Nicole | Starr, John M. | Stott, David J. | Sweep, Fred C. G. J. | Usala, Gianluca | van der Klauw, Melanie M. | van Heemst, Diana | van Mullem, Alies | H.Vermeulen, Sita | Visser, W. Edward | Walsh, John P. | Westendorp, Rudi G. J. | Widen, Elisabeth | Zhai, Guangju | Cucca, Francesco | Deary, Ian J. | Eriksson, Johan G. | Ferrucci, Luigi | Fox, Caroline S. | Jukema, J. Wouter | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Schlessinger, David | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Slagboom, Eline P. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Vaidya, Bijay | Visser, Theo J. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H. R. | Meulenbelt, Ingrid | Rotter, Jerome I. | Spector, Tim D. | Hicks, Andrew A. | Toniolo, Daniela | Sanna, Serena | Peeters, Robin P. | Naitza, Silvia
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(2):e1003266.
Thyroid hormone is essential for normal metabolism and development, and overt abnormalities in thyroid function lead to common endocrine disorders affecting approximately 10% of individuals over their life span. In addition, even mild alterations in thyroid function are associated with weight changes, atrial fibrillation, osteoporosis, and psychiatric disorders. To identify novel variants underlying thyroid function, we performed a large meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for serum levels of the highly heritable thyroid function markers TSH and FT4, in up to 26,420 and 17,520 euthyroid subjects, respectively. Here we report 26 independent associations, including several novel loci for TSH (PDE10A, VEGFA, IGFBP5, NFIA, SOX9, PRDM11, FGF7, INSR, ABO, MIR1179, NRG1, MBIP, ITPK1, SASH1, GLIS3) and FT4 (LHX3, FOXE1, AADAT, NETO1/FBXO15, LPCAT2/CAPNS2). Notably, only limited overlap was detected between TSH and FT4 associated signals, in spite of the feedback regulation of their circulating levels by the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. Five of the reported loci (PDE8B, PDE10A, MAF/LOC440389, NETO1/FBXO15, and LPCAT2/CAPNS2) show strong gender-specific differences, which offer clues for the known sexual dimorphism in thyroid function and related pathologies. Importantly, the TSH-associated loci contribute not only to variation within the normal range, but also to TSH values outside the reference range, suggesting that they may be involved in thyroid dysfunction. Overall, our findings explain, respectively, 5.64% and 2.30% of total TSH and FT4 trait variance, and they improve the current knowledge of the regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis function and the consequences of genetic variation for hypo- or hyperthyroidism.
Author Summary
Levels of thyroid hormones are tightly regulated by TSH produced in the pituitary, and even mild alterations in their concentrations are strong indicators of thyroid pathologies, which are very common worldwide. To identify common genetic variants associated with the highly heritable markers of thyroid function, TSH and FT4, we conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in 26,420 and 17,520 individuals, respectively, of European ancestry with normal thyroid function. Our analysis identified 26 independent genetic variants regulating these traits, several of which are new, and confirmed previously detected polymorphisms affecting TSH (within the PDE8B gene and near CAPZB, MAF/LOC440389, and NR3C2) and FT4 (within DIO1) levels. Gender-specific differences in the genetic effects of several variants for TSH and FT4 levels were identified at several loci, which offer clues to understand the known sexual dimorphism in thyroid function and pathology. Of particular clinical interest, we show that TSH-associated loci contribute not only to normal variation, but also to TSH values outside reference range, suggesting that they may be involved in thyroid dysfunction. Overall, our findings add to the developing landscape of the regulation of thyroid homeostasis and the consequences of genetic variation for thyroid related diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003266
PMCID: PMC3567175  PMID: 23408906
13.  Loci Associated with N-Glycosylation of Human Immunoglobulin G Show Pleiotropy with Autoimmune Diseases and Haematological Cancers 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003225.
Glycosylation of immunoglobulin G (IgG) influences IgG effector function by modulating binding to Fc receptors. To identify genetic loci associated with IgG glycosylation, we quantitated N-linked IgG glycans using two approaches. After isolating IgG from human plasma, we performed 77 quantitative measurements of N-glycosylation using ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) in 2,247 individuals from four European discovery populations. In parallel, we measured IgG N-glycans using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry (MS) in a replication cohort of 1,848 Europeans. Meta-analysis of genome-wide association study (GWAS) results identified 9 genome-wide significant loci (P<2.27×10−9) in the discovery analysis and two of the same loci (B4GALT1 and MGAT3) in the replication cohort. Four loci contained genes encoding glycosyltransferases (ST6GAL1, B4GALT1, FUT8, and MGAT3), while the remaining 5 contained genes that have not been previously implicated in protein glycosylation (IKZF1, IL6ST-ANKRD55, ABCF2-SMARCD3, SUV420H1, and SMARCB1-DERL3). However, most of them have been strongly associated with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions (e.g., systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, diabetes type 1, multiple sclerosis, Graves' disease, celiac disease, nodular sclerosis) and/or haematological cancers (acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, and multiple myeloma). Follow-up functional experiments in haplodeficient Ikzf1 knock-out mice showed the same general pattern of changes in IgG glycosylation as identified in the meta-analysis. As IKZF1 was associated with multiple IgG N-glycan traits, we explored biomarker potential of affected N-glycans in 101 cases with SLE and 183 matched controls and demonstrated substantial discriminative power in a ROC-curve analysis (area under the curve = 0.842). Our study shows that it is possible to identify new loci that control glycosylation of a single plasma protein using GWAS. The results may also provide an explanation for the reported pleiotropy and antagonistic effects of loci involved in autoimmune diseases and haematological cancer.
Author Summary
After analysing glycans attached to human immunoglobulin G in 4,095 individuals, we performed the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of the glycome of an individual protein. Nine genetic loci were found to associate with glycans with genome-wide significance. Of these, four were enzymes that directly participate in IgG glycosylation, thus the observed associations were biologically founded. The remaining five genetic loci were not previously implicated in protein glycosylation, but the most of them have been reported to be relevant for autoimmune and inflammatory conditions and/or haematological cancers. A particularly interesting gene, IKZF1 was found to be associated with multiple IgG N-glycans. This gene has been implicated in numerous diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We analysed N-glycans in 101 cases with SLE and 183 matched controls and demonstrated their substantial biomarker potential. Our study shows that it is possible to identify new loci that control glycosylation of a single plasma protein using GWAS. Our results may also provide an explanation for opposite effects of some genes in autoimmune diseases and haematological cancer.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003225
PMCID: PMC3561084  PMID: 23382691
14.  Systematic Testing of Literature Reported Genetic Variation Associated with Coronary Restenosis: Results of the GENDER Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42401.
Background
Coronary restenosis after percutaneous coronary intervention still remains a significant problem, despite all medical advances. Unraveling the mechanisms leading to restenosis development remains challenging. Many studies have identified genetic markers associated with restenosis, but consistent replication of the reported markers is scarce. The aim of the current study was to analyze the joined effect of previously in literature reported candidate genes for restenosis in the GENetic DEterminants of Restenosis (GENDER) databank.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Candidate genes were selected using a MEDLINE search including the terms ‘genetic polymorphism’ and ‘coronary restenosis’. The final set included 36 genes. Subsequently, all single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the genomic region of these genes were analyzed in GENDER using set-based analysis in PLINK. The GENDER databank contains genotypic data of 2,571,586 SNPs of 295 cases with restenosis and 571 matched controls. The set, including all 36 literature reported genes, was, indeed, significantly associated with restenosis, p = 0.024 in the GENDER study. Subsequent analyses of the individual genes demonstrated that the observed association of the complete set was determined by 6 of the 36 genes.
Conclusion
Despite overt inconsistencies in literature, with regard to individual candidate gene studies, this is the first study demonstrating that the joint effect of all these genes together, indeed, is associated with restenosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042401
PMCID: PMC3411750  PMID: 22879966
15.  Testing for Genetic Association in the Presence of Linkage and Gene Covariate Interactions 
Summary
In order to study family based association in the presence of linkage we extend a generalized linear mixed model proposed for genetic linkage analysis (Lebrec and van Houwelingen, 2007) by adding a genotypic effect to the mean. The corresponding score test is a weighted FBAT statistic, where the weight depends on the linkage effect and on other genetic and shared environmental effects. For testing of genetic association in the presence of gene covariate interaction, we propose a linear regression method where the family-specific score statistic is regressed on family-specific covariates. Both statistics are straightforward to compute. Simulation results show that adjusting the weight for the within-family variance structure may be a powerful approach in the presence of environmental effects. The test statistic for genetic association in the presence of gene-covariate interaction improved the power for detecting association. For illustration we analyze the Rheumatoid Arthritis data from GAW15. Adjusting for smoking and anti-CCP increased the significance of the association with the DR locus.
doi:10.1002/bimj.200900057
PMCID: PMC3410551  PMID: 20166130
family-based studies; generalized linear mixed model; FBAT; Linkage; Linkage disequilibrium; Score test
16.  Lipid metabolism in long-lived families: the Leiden Longevity Study 
Age  2010;33(2):219-227.
Mechanisms underlying the variation in human life expectancy are largely unknown, but lipid metabolism and especially lipoprotein size was suggested to play an important role in longevity. We have performed comprehensive lipid phenotyping in the Leiden Longevity Study (LLS). By applying multiple logistic regression analysis we tested for the first time the effects of parameters in lipid metabolism (i.e., classical serum lipids, lipoprotein particle sizes, and apolipoprotein E levels) on longevity independent of each other. Parameters in lipid metabolism were measured in offspring of nonagenarian siblings from 421 families of the LLS (n = 1,664; mean age, 59 years) and in the partners of the offspring as population controls (n = 711; mean age, 60 years). In the initial model, where lipoprotein particles sizes, classical serum lipids and apolipoprotein E were included, offspring had larger low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particle sizes (p = 0.017), and lower triglyceride levels (p = 0.026), indicating that they displayed a more beneficial lipid profile. After backwards regression only LDL size (p = 0.014) and triglyceride levels (p = 0.05) were associated with offspring from long-lived families. Sex-specific backwards regression analysis revealed that LDL particle sizes were associated with male longevity (increase in log odds ratio (OR) per unit = 0.21; p = 0.023). Triglyceride levels (decrease OR per unit = 0.22; p = 0.01), but not LDL particle size, were associated with female longevity. Due to the analysis of a comprehensive lipid profile, we confirmed an important role of lipid metabolism in human longevity, with LDL size and triglyceride levels as major predicting factors.
doi:10.1007/s11357-010-9172-6
PMCID: PMC3127468  PMID: 20811950
Human longevity; Triglycerides; HDL cholesterol; LDL cholesterol; Lipoprotein particle size; Apolipoprotein E
18.  How to deal with the early GWAS data when imputing and combining different arrays is necessary 
Genotype imputation has become an essential tool in the analysis of genome-wide association scans. This technique allows investigators to test association at ungenotyped genetic markers, and to combine results across studies that rely on different genotyping platforms. In addition, imputation is used within long-running studies to reuse genotypes produced across generations of platforms. Typically, genotypes of controls are reused and cases are genotyped on more novel platforms yielding a case–control study that is not matched for genotyping platforms. In this study, we scrutinize such a situation and validate GWAS results by actually retyping top-ranking SNPs with the Sequenom MassArray platform. We discuss the needed quality controls (QCs). In doing so, we report a considerable discrepancy between the results from imputed and retyped data when applying recommended QCs from the literature. These discrepancies appear to be caused by extrapolating differences between arrays by the process of imputation. To avoid false positive results, we recommend that more stringent QCs should be applied. We also advocate reporting the imputation quality measure (RT2) for the post-imputation QCs in publications.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2011.231
PMCID: PMC3330212  PMID: 22189269
GWAS; imputation; quality control
19.  MUTYH gene variants and breast cancer in a Dutch case–control study 
The MUTYH gene is involved in base excision repair. MUTYH mutations predispose to recessively inherited colorectal polyposis and cancer. Here, we evaluate an association with breast cancer (BC), following up our previous finding of an elevated BC frequency among Dutch bi-allelic MUTYH mutation carriers. A case–control study was performed comparing 1,469 incident BC patients (ORIGO cohort), 471 individuals displaying features suggesting a genetic predisposition for BC, but without a detectable BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation (BRCAx cohort), and 1,666 controls. First, for 303 consecutive patients diagnosed before age 55 years and/or with multiple primary breast tumors, the MUTYH coding region and flanking introns were sequenced. The remaining subjects were genotyped for five coding variants, p.Tyr179Cys, p.Arg309Cys, p.Gly396Asp, p.Pro405Leu, and p.Ser515Phe, and four tagging SNPs, c.37-2487G>T, p.Val22Met, c.504+35G>A, and p.Gln338His. No bi-allelic pathogenic MUTYH mutations were identified. The pathogenic variant p.Gly396Asp and the variant of uncertain significance p.Arg309Cys occurred twice as frequently in BRCAx subjects as compared to incident BC patients and controls (p = 0.13 and p = 0.15, respectively). The likely benign variant p.Val22Met occurred less frequently in patients from the incident BC (p = 0.03) and BRCAx groups (p = 0.11), respectively, as compared to the controls. Minor allele genotypes of several MUTYH variants showed trends towards association with lobular BC histology. This extensive case–control study could not confirm previously reported associations of MUTYH variants with BC, although it was too small to exclude subtle effects on BC susceptibility.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10549-012-1965-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10549-012-1965-0
PMCID: PMC3397219  PMID: 22297469
MUTYH; Breast cancer; BRCAx; Case–control study; Genotyping
20.  Transcriptional Profiling of Human Familial Longevity Indicates a Role for ASF1A and IL7R 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e27759.
The Leiden Longevity Study consists of families that express extended survival across generations, decreased morbidity in middle-age, and beneficial metabolic profiles. To identify which pathways drive this complex phenotype of familial longevity and healthy aging, we performed a genome-wide gene expression study within this cohort to screen for mRNAs whose expression changes with age and associates with longevity. We first compared gene expression profiles from whole blood samples between 50 nonagenarians and 50 middle-aged controls, resulting in identification of 2,953 probes that associated with age. Next, we determined which of these probes associated with longevity by comparing the offspring of the nonagenarians (50 subjects) and the middle-aged controls. The expression of 360 probes was found to change differentially with age in members of the long-lived families. In a RT-qPCR replication experiment utilizing 312 controls, 332 offspring and 79 nonagenarians, we confirmed a nonagenarian specific expression profile for 21 genes out of 25 tested. Since only some of the offspring will have inherited the beneficial longevity profile from their long-lived parents, the contrast between offspring and controls is expected to be weak. Despite this dilution of the longevity effects, reduced expression levels of two genes, ASF1A and IL7R, involved in maintenance of chromatin structure and the immune system, associated with familial longevity already in middle-age. The size of this association increased when controls were compared to a subfraction of the offspring that had the highest probability to age healthily and become long-lived according to beneficial metabolic parameters. In conclusion, an “aging-signature” formed of 21 genes was identified, of which reduced expression of ASF1A and IL7R marked familial longevity already in middle-age. This indicates that expression changes of genes involved in metabolism, epigenetic control and immune function occur as a function of age, and some of these, like ASF1A and IL7R, represent early features of familial longevity and healthy ageing.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027759
PMCID: PMC3256132  PMID: 22247756
21.  Pathway analysis for family data using nested random-effects models 
BMC Proceedings  2011;5(Suppl 9):S22.
Recently we proposed a novel two-step approach to test for pathway effects in disease progression. The goal of this approach is to study the joint effect of multiple single-nucleotide polymorphisms that belong to certain genes. By using random effects, our approach acknowledges the correlations within and between genes when testing for pathway effects. Gene-gene and gene-environment interactions can be included in the model. The method can be implemented with standard software, and the distribution of the test statistics under the null hypothesis can be approximated by using standard chi-square distributions. Hence no extensive permutations are needed for computations of the p-value. In this paper we adapt and apply the method to family data, and we study its performance for sequence data from Genetic Analysis Workshop 17. For the set of unrelated subjects, the performance of the new test was disappointing. We found a power of 6% for the binary outcome and of 18% for the quantitative trait Q1. For family data the new approach appears to perform well, especially for the quantitative outcome. We found a power of 39% for the binary outcome and a power of 89% for the quantitative trait Q1.
doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S9-S22
PMCID: PMC3287857  PMID: 22373228
22.  Does pathway analysis make it easier for common variants to tag rare ones? 
BMC Proceedings  2011;5(Suppl 9):S90.
Analyzing sequencing data is difficult because of the low frequency of rare variants, which may result in low power to detect associations. We consider pathway analysis to detect multiple common and rare variants jointly and to investigate whether analysis at the pathway level provides an alternative strategy for identifying susceptibility genes. Available pathway analysis methods for data from genome-wide association studies might not be efficient because these methods are designed to detect common variants. Here, we investigate the performance of several existing pathway analysis methods for sequencing data. In particular, we consider the global test, which does not consider linkage disequilibrium between the variants in a gene. We improve the performance of the global test by assigning larger weights to rare variants, as proposed in the weighted-sum approach. Our conclusion is that straightforward application of pathway analysis is not satisfactory; hence, when common and rare variants are jointly analyzed, larger weights should be assigned to rare variants.
doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S9-S90
PMCID: PMC3287932  PMID: 22373113
23.  Gene set analysis of GWAS data for human longevity highlights the relevance of the insulin/IGF-1 signaling and telomere maintenance pathways 
Age  2011;35(1):235-249.
In genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of complex traits, single SNP analysis is still the most applied approach. However, the identified SNPs have small effects and provide limited biological insight. A more appropriate approach to interpret GWAS data of complex traits is to analyze the combined effect of a SNP set grouped per pathway or gene region. We used this approach to study the joint effect on human longevity of genetic variation in two candidate pathways, the insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) signaling (IIS) pathway and the telomere maintenance (TM) pathway. For the analyses, we used genotyped GWAS data of 403 unrelated nonagenarians from long-lived sibships collected in the Leiden Longevity Study and 1,670 younger population controls. We analyzed 1,021 SNPs in 68 IIS pathway genes and 88 SNPs in 13 TM pathway genes using four self-contained pathway tests (PLINK set-based test, Global test, GRASS and SNP ratio test). Although we observed small differences between the results of the different pathway tests, they showed consistent significant association of the IIS and TM pathway SNP sets with longevity. Analysis of gene SNP sets from these pathways indicates that the association of the IIS pathway is scattered over several genes (AKT1, AKT3, FOXO4, IGF2, INS, PIK3CA, SGK, SGK2, and YWHAG), while the association of the TM pathway seems to be mainly determined by one gene (POT1). In conclusion, this study shows that genetic variation in genes involved in the IIS and TM pathways is associated with human longevity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-011-9340-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s11357-011-9340-3
PMCID: PMC3543749  PMID: 22113349
Genetics; Aging; Longevity; Gene set analysis; Insulin/IGF-1 signaling; Telomere maintenance
24.  A genome-wide linkage scan reveals CD53 as an important regulator of innate TNF-α levels 
Cytokines are major immune system regulators. Previously, innate cytokine profiles determined by lipopolysaccharide stimulation were shown to be highly heritable. To identify regulating genes in innate immunity, we analyzed data from a genome-wide linkage scan using microsatellites in osteoarthritis (OA) patients (The GARP study) and their innate cytokine data on interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-1Ra, IL-10 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α. A confirmation cohort consisted of the Leiden 85-Plus study. In this study, a linkage analysis was followed by manual selection of candidate genes in linkage regions showing LOD scores over 2.5. An single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) gene tagging method was applied to select SNPs on the basis of the highest level of gene tagging and possible functional effects. QTDT was used to identify the SNPs associated with innate cytokine production. Initial association signals were modeled by a linear mixed model. Through these analyses, we identified 10 putative genes involved in the regulation of TNFα. SNP rs6679497 in gene CD53 showed significant association with TNFα levels (P=0.001). No association of this SNP was observed with OA. A novel gene involved in the innate immune response of TNFα is identified. Genetic variation in this gene may have a role in diseases and disorders in which TNFα is closely involved.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.52
PMCID: PMC2987381  PMID: 20407468
linkage; osteoarthritis; immunity; TNF; GARP; CD53
25.  Polymorphisms in genes controlling inflammation and tissue repair in rheumatoid arthritis: a case control study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:36.
Background
Various cytokines and inflammatory mediators are known to be involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We hypothesized that polymorphisms in selected inflammatory response and tissue repair genes contribute to the susceptibility to and severity of RA.
Methods
Polymorphisms in TNFA, IL1B, IL4, IL6, IL8, IL10, PAI1, NOS2a, C1INH, PARP, TLR2 and TLR4 were genotyped in 376 Caucasian RA patients and 463 healthy Caucasian controls using single base extension. Genotype distributions in patients were compared with those in controls. In addition, the association of polymorphisms with the need for anti-TNF-α treatment as a marker of RA severity was assessed.
Results
The IL8 781 CC genotype was associated with early onset of disease. The TNFA -238 G/A polymorphism was differentially distributed between RA patients and controls, but only when not corrected for age and gender. None of the polymorphisms was associated with disease severity.
Conclusions
We here report an association between IL8 781 C/T polymorphism and age of onset of RA. Our findings indicate that there might be a role for variations in genes involved in the immune response and in tissue repair in RA pathogenesis. Nevertheless, additional larger genomic and functional studies are required to further define their role in RA.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-12-36
PMCID: PMC3060109  PMID: 21385363

Results 1-25 (48)