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1.  The Rate of Nonallelic Homologous Recombination in Males Is Highly Variable, Correlated between Monozygotic Twins and Independent of Age 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004195.
Nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR) between highly similar duplicated sequences generates chromosomal deletions, duplications and inversions, which can cause diverse genetic disorders. Little is known about interindividual variation in NAHR rates and the factors that influence this. We estimated the rate of deletion at the CMT1A-REP NAHR hotspot in sperm DNA from 34 male donors, including 16 monozygotic (MZ) co-twins (8 twin pairs) aged 24 to 67 years old. The average NAHR rate was 3.5×10−5 with a seven-fold variation across individuals. Despite good statistical power to detect even a subtle correlation, we observed no relationship between age of unrelated individuals and the rate of NAHR in their sperm, likely reflecting the meiotic-specific origin of these events. We then estimated the heritability of deletion rate by calculating the intraclass correlation (ICC) within MZ co-twins, revealing a significant correlation between MZ co-twins (ICC = 0.784, p = 0.0039), with MZ co-twins being significantly more correlated than unrelated pairs. We showed that this heritability cannot be explained by variation in PRDM9, a known regulator of NAHR, or variation within the NAHR hotspot itself. We also did not detect any correlation between Body Mass Index (BMI), smoking status or alcohol intake and rate of NAHR. Our results suggest that other, as yet unidentified, genetic or environmental factors play a significant role in the regulation of NAHR and are responsible for the extensive variation in the population for the probability of fathering a child with a genomic disorder resulting from a pathogenic deletion.
Author Summary
Many genetic disorders are caused by deletions of specific regions of DNA in sperm or egg cells that go on to produce a child. This can occur through ectopic homologous recombination between highly similar segments of DNA at different positions within the genome. Little is known about the differences in rates of deletion between individuals or the factors that influence this. We analysed the rate of deletion at one such section of DNA in sperm DNA from 34 male donors, including 16 monozygotic co-twins. We observed a seven-fold variation in deletion rate across individuals. Deletion rate is significantly correlated between monozygote co-twins, indicating that deletion rate is heritable. This heritability cannot be explained by age, any known genetic regulator of deletion rate, Body Mass Index, smoking status or alcohol intake. Our results suggest that other, as yet unidentified, genetic or environmental factors play a significant role in the regulation of deletion. These factors are responsible for the extensive variation in the population for the probability of fathering a child with a genomic disorder resulting from a pathogenic deletion.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004195
PMCID: PMC3945173  PMID: 24603440
2.  Glycosylation of Immunoglobulin G: Role of Genetic and Epigenetic Influences 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82558.
Objective
To determine the extent to which genetic and epigenetic factors contribute to variations in glycosylation of immunoglobulin G (IgG) in humans.
Methods
76  N-glycan traits in circulating IgG were analyzed by UPLC in 220 monozygotic and 310 dizygotic twin pairs from TwinsUK. A classical twin study design was used to derive the additive genetic, common and unique environmental components defining the variance in these traits. Epigenome-wide association analysis was performed using the Illumina 27k chip.
Results
51 of the 76 glycan traits studied have an additive genetic component (heritability, h2)≥  0.5. In contrast, 12 glycan traits had a low genetic contribution (h2<0.35). We then tested for association between methylation levels and glycan levels (P<2 x10-6). Among glycan traits with low heritability probe cg08392591 maps to a CpG island 5’ from the ANKRD11 gene, a p53 activator on chromosome 16. Probe cg26991199 maps to the SRSF10 gene involved in regulation of RNA splicing and particularly in regulation of splicing of mRNA precursors upon heat shock. Among those with high heritability we found cg13782134 (mapping to the NRN1L gene) and cg16029957 mapping near the QPCT gene to be array-wide significant. The proportion of array-wide epigenetic associations was significantly larger (P<0.005) among glycans with low heritability (42%) than in those with high heritability (6.2%).
Conclusions
Glycome analyses might provide a useful integration of genetic and non-genetic factors to further our understanding of the role of glycosylation in both normal physiology and disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082558
PMCID: PMC3855797  PMID: 24324808
3.  Human metabolic individuality in biomedical and pharmaceutical research 
Nature  2011;477(7362):10.1038/nature10354.
SUMMARY
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many risk loci for complex diseases, but effect sizes are typically small and information on the underlying biological processes is often lacking. Associations with metabolic traits as functional intermediates can overcome these problems and potentially inform individualized therapy. Here we report a comprehensive analysis of genotype-dependent metabolic phenotypes using a GWAS with non-targeted metabolomics. We identified 37 genetic loci associated with blood metabolite concentrations, of which 25 exhibit effect sizes that are unusually high for GWAS and account for 10-60% of metabolite levels per allele copy. Our associations provide new functional insights for many disease-related associations that have been reported in previous studies, including cardiovascular and kidney disorders, type 2 diabetes, cancer, gout, venous thromboembolism, and Crohn’s disease. Taken together our study advances our knowledge of the genetic basis of metabolic individuality in humans and generates many new hypotheses for biomedical and pharmaceutical research.
doi:10.1038/nature10354
PMCID: PMC3832838  PMID: 21886157
4.  Meta-Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Studies Identifies Six New Loci for Serum Calcium Concentrations 
O'Seaghdha, Conall M. | Wu, Hongsheng | Yang, Qiong | Kapur, Karen | Guessous, Idris | Zuber, Annie Mercier | Köttgen, Anna | Stoudmann, Candice | Teumer, Alexander | Kutalik, Zoltán | Mangino, Massimo | Dehghan, Abbas | Zhang, Weihua | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Li, Guo | Tanaka, Toshiko | Portas, Laura | Lopez, Lorna M. | Hayward, Caroline | Lohman, Kurt | Matsuda, Koichi | Padmanabhan, Sandosh | Firsov, Dmitri | Sorice, Rossella | Ulivi, Sheila | Brockhaus, A. Catharina | Kleber, Marcus E. | Mahajan, Anubha | Ernst, Florian D. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Launer, Lenore J. | Mace, Aurelien | Boerwinckle, Eric | Arking, Dan E. | Tanikawa, Chizu | Nakamura, Yusuke | Brown, Morris J. | Gaspoz, Jean-Michel | Theler, Jean-Marc | Siscovick, David S. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Bergmann, Sven | Vollenweider, Peter | Vitart, Veronique | Wright, Alan F. | Zemunik, Tatijana | Boban, Mladen | Kolcic, Ivana | Navarro, Pau | Brown, Edward M. | Estrada, Karol | Ding, Jingzhong | Harris, Tamara B. | Bandinelli, Stefania | Hernandez, Dena | Singleton, Andrew B. | Girotto, Giorgia | Ruggiero, Daniela | d'Adamo, Adamo Pio | Robino, Antonietta | Meitinger, Thomas | Meisinger, Christa | Davies, Gail | Starr, John M. | Chambers, John C. | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Winkelmann, Bernhard R. | Huang, Jie | Murgia, Federico | Wild, Sarah H. | Campbell, Harry | Morris, Andrew P. | Franco, Oscar H. | Hofman, Albert | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Völker, Uwe | Hannemann, Anke | Biffar, Reiner | Hoffmann, Wolfgang | Shin, So–Youn | Lescuyer, Pierre | Henry, Hughes | Schurmann, Claudia | Munroe, Patricia B. | Gasparini, Paolo | Pirastu, Nicola | Ciullo, Marina | Gieger, Christian | März, Winfried | Lind, Lars | Spector, Tim D. | Smith, Albert V. | Rudan, Igor | Wilson, James F. | Polasek, Ozren | Deary, Ian J. | Pirastu, Mario | Ferrucci, Luigi | Liu, Yongmei | Kestenbaum, Bryan | Kooner, Jaspal S. | Witteman, Jacqueline C. M. | Nauck, Matthias | Kao, W. H. Linda | Wallaschofski, Henri | Bonny, Olivier | Fox, Caroline S. | Bochud, Murielle | Abecasis, Gonçalo R.
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(9):e1003796.
Calcium is vital to the normal functioning of multiple organ systems and its serum concentration is tightly regulated. Apart from CASR, the genes associated with serum calcium are largely unknown. We conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 39,400 individuals from 17 population-based cohorts and investigated the 14 most strongly associated loci in ≤21,679 additional individuals. Seven loci (six new regions) in association with serum calcium were identified and replicated. Rs1570669 near CYP24A1 (P = 9.1E-12), rs10491003 upstream of GATA3 (P = 4.8E-09) and rs7481584 in CARS (P = 1.2E-10) implicate regions involved in Mendelian calcemic disorders: Rs1550532 in DGKD (P = 8.2E-11), also associated with bone density, and rs7336933 near DGKH/KIAA0564 (P = 9.1E-10) are near genes that encode distinct isoforms of diacylglycerol kinase. Rs780094 is in GCKR. We characterized the expression of these genes in gut, kidney, and bone, and demonstrate modulation of gene expression in bone in response to dietary calcium in mice. Our results shed new light on the genetics of calcium homeostasis.
Author Summary
Calcium is vital to many biological processes and its serum concentration is tightly regulated. Family studies have shown that serum calcium is under strong genetic control. Apart from CASR, the genes associated with serum calcium are largely unknown. We conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 39,400 individuals from 17 population-based cohorts and investigated the 14 most strongly associated loci in ≤21,679 additional individuals. We identified seven loci (six new regions) as being robustly associated with serum calcium. Three loci implicate regions involved in rare monogenic diseases including disturbances of serum calcium levels. Several of the newly identified loci harbor genes linked to the hormonal control of serum calcium. In mice experiments, we characterized the expression of these genes in gut, kidney, and bone, and explored the influence of dietary calcium intake on the expression of these genes in these organs. Our results shed new light on the genetics of calcium homeostasis and suggest a role for dietary calcium intake in bone-specific gene expression.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003796
PMCID: PMC3778004  PMID: 24068962
5.  Variants near TERC are associated with mean telomere length. 
Nature genetics  2010;42(3):197-199.
We conducted genome-wide association analyses of mean leukocyte telomere length in 2,917 subjects and follow-up replication analyses in 9,492 and identified a locus on 3q26 encompassing the telomerase RNA component TERC, with compelling evidence for association (rs12696304, combined P value 3.72×10−14). Each copy of the minor allele of rs12696304 was associated with ≈75 base pairs shorter mean telomere length equivalent to ≈3.6 years of age-related attrition of mean telomere length.
doi:10.1038/ng.532
PMCID: PMC3773906  PMID: 20139977
6.  Genome Wide Association Analysis of a Founder Population Identified TAF3 as a Gene for MCHC in Humans 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69206.
The red blood cell related traits are highly heritable but their genetics are poorly defined. Only 5–10% of the total observed variance is explained by the genetic loci found to date, suggesting that additional loci should be searched using approaches alternative to large meta analysis. GWAS (Genome Wide Association Study) for red blood cell traits in a founder population cohort from Northern Italy identified a new locus for mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) in the TAF3 gene. The association was replicated in two cohorts (rs1887582, P = 4.25E–09). TAF3 encodes a transcription cofactor that participates in core promoter recognition complex, and is involved in zebrafish and mouse erythropoiesis. We show here that TAF3 is required for transcription of the SPTA1 gene, encoding alpha spectrin, one of the proteins that link the plasma membrane to the actin cytoskeleton. Mutations in SPTA1 are responsible for hereditary spherocytosis, a monogenic disorder of MCHC, as well as for the normal MCHC level. Based on our results, we propose that TAF3 is required for normal erythropoiesis in human and that it might have a role in controlling the ratio between hemoglobin (Hb) and cell volume and in the dynamics of RBC maturation in healthy individuals. Finally, TAF3 represents a potential candidate or a modifier gene for disorders of red cell membrane.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069206
PMCID: PMC3729833  PMID: 23935956
7.  The Role of Adiposity in Cardiometabolic Traits: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis 
Fall, Tove | Hägg, Sara | Mägi, Reedik | Ploner, Alexander | Fischer, Krista | Horikoshi, Momoko | Sarin, Antti-Pekka | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Ladenvall, Claes | Kals, Mart | Kuningas, Maris | Draisma, Harmen H. M. | Ried, Janina S. | van Zuydam, Natalie R. | Huikari, Ville | Mangino, Massimo | Sonestedt, Emily | Benyamin, Beben | Nelson, Christopher P. | Rivera, Natalia V. | Kristiansson, Kati | Shen, Huei-yi | Havulinna, Aki S. | Dehghan, Abbas | Donnelly, Louise A. | Kaakinen, Marika | Nuotio, Marja-Liisa | Robertson, Neil | de Bruijn, Renée F. A. G. | Ikram, M. Arfan | Amin, Najaf | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Braund, Peter S. | Doney, Alexander S. F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Esko, Tõnu | Franco, Oscar H. | Gretarsdottir, Solveig | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Heikkilä, Kauko | Herzig, Karl-Heinz | Holm, Hilma | Hottenga, Jouke Jan | Hyppönen, Elina | Illig, Thomas | Isaacs, Aaron | Isomaa, Bo | Karssen, Lennart C. | Kettunen, Johannes | Koenig, Wolfgang | Kuulasmaa, Kari | Laatikainen, Tiina | Laitinen, Jaana | Lindgren, Cecilia | Lyssenko, Valeriya | Läärä, Esa | Rayner, Nigel W. | Männistö, Satu | Pouta, Anneli | Rathmann, Wolfgang | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Ruokonen, Aimo | Savolainen, Markku J. | Sijbrands, Eric J. G. | Small, Kerrin S. | Smit, Jan H. | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Taanila, Anja | Tobin, Martin D. | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Willems, Sara M. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Witteman, Jacqueline | Perola, Markus | Evans, Alun | Ferrières, Jean | Virtamo, Jarmo | Kee, Frank | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Arveiler, Dominique | Amouyel, Philippe | Ferrario, Marco M. | Brambilla, Paolo | Hall, Alistair S. | Heath, Andrew C. | Madden, Pamela A. F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Whitfield, John B. | Jula, Antti | Knekt, Paul | Oostra, Ben | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Penninx, Brenda W. J. H. | Davey Smith, George | Kaprio, Jaakko | Samani, Nilesh J. | Gieger, Christian | Peters, Annette | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Boomsma, Dorret I. | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Tuomi, TiinaMaija | Power, Chris | Hammond, Christopher J. | Spector, Tim D. | Lind, Lars | Orho-Melander, Marju | Palmer, Colin Neil Alexander | Morris, Andrew D. | Groop, Leif | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Salomaa, Veikko | Vartiainen, Erkki | Hofman, Albert | Ripatti, Samuli | Metspalu, Andres | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Stefansson, Kari | Pedersen, Nancy L. | McCarthy, Mark I. | Ingelsson, Erik | Prokopenko, Inga | Minelli, Cosetta
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001474.
In this study, Prokopenko and colleagues provide novel evidence for causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure and increased liver enzymes using a Mendelian randomization study design.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The association between adiposity and cardiometabolic traits is well known from epidemiological studies. Whilst the causal relationship is clear for some of these traits, for others it is not. We aimed to determine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits using the Mendelian randomization approach.
Methods and Findings
We used the adiposity-associated variant rs9939609 at the FTO locus as an instrumental variable (IV) for body mass index (BMI) in a Mendelian randomization design. Thirty-six population-based studies of individuals of European descent contributed to the analyses.
Age- and sex-adjusted regression models were fitted to test for association between (i) rs9939609 and BMI (n = 198,502), (ii) rs9939609 and 24 traits, and (iii) BMI and 24 traits. The causal effect of BMI on the outcome measures was quantified by IV estimators. The estimators were compared to the BMI–trait associations derived from the same individuals. In the IV analysis, we demonstrated novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and incident heart failure (hazard ratio, 1.19 per BMI-unit increase; 95% CI, 1.03–1.39) and replicated earlier reports of a causal association with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, and hypertension (odds ratio for IV estimator, 1.1–1.4; all p<0.05). For quantitative traits, our results provide novel evidence for a causal effect of adiposity on the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase and confirm previous reports of a causal effect of adiposity on systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting insulin, 2-h post-load glucose from the oral glucose tolerance test, C-reactive protein, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (all p<0.05). The estimated causal effects were in agreement with traditional observational measures in all instances except for type 2 diabetes, where the causal estimate was larger than the observational estimate (p = 0.001).
Conclusions
We provide novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure as well as between adiposity and increased liver enzymes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—disease that affects the heart and/or the blood vessels—is a major cause of illness and death worldwide. In the US, for example, coronary heart disease—a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's blood vessels by fatty deposits slows the blood supply to the heart and may eventually cause a heart attack—is the leading cause of death, and stroke—a CVD in which the brain's blood supply is interrupted—is the fourth leading cause of death. Globally, both the incidence of CVD (the number of new cases in a population every year) and its prevalence (the proportion of the population with CVD) are increasing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This increasing burden of CVD is occurring in parallel with a global increase in the incidence and prevalence of obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat (adiposity)—and of metabolic diseases—conditions such as diabetes in which metabolism (the processes that the body uses to make energy from food) is disrupted, with resulting high blood sugar and damage to the blood vessels.
Why Was This Study Done?
Epidemiological studies—investigations that record the patterns and causes of disease in populations—have reported an association between adiposity (indicated by an increased body mass index [BMI], which is calculated by dividing body weight in kilograms by height in meters squared) and cardiometabolic traits such as coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure (a condition in which the heart is incapable of pumping sufficient amounts of blood around the body), diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and high blood cholesterol (dyslipidemia). However, observational studies cannot prove that adiposity causes any particular cardiometabolic trait because overweight individuals may share other characteristics (confounding factors) that are the real causes of both obesity and the cardiometabolic disease. Moreover, it is possible that having CVD or a metabolic disease causes obesity (reverse causation). For example, individuals with heart failure cannot do much exercise, so heart failure may cause obesity rather than vice versa. Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. It is known that a genetic variant (rs9939609) within the genome region that encodes the fat-mass- and obesity-associated gene (FTO) is associated with increased BMI. Thus, an investigation of the associations between rs9939609 and cardiometabolic traits can indicate whether obesity is causally related to these traits.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the association between rs9939609 (the “instrumental variable,” or IV) and BMI, between rs9939609 and 24 cardiometabolic traits, and between BMI and the same traits using genetic and health data collected in 36 population-based studies of nearly 200,000 individuals of European descent. They then quantified the strength of the causal association between BMI and the cardiometabolic traits by calculating “IV estimators.” Higher BMI showed a causal relationship with heart failure, metabolic syndrome (a combination of medical disorders that increases the risk of developing CVD), type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, increased blood levels of liver enzymes (an indicator of liver damage; some metabolic disorders involve liver damage), and several other cardiometabolic traits. All the IV estimators were similar to the BMI–cardiovascular trait associations (observational estimates) derived from the same individuals, with the exception of diabetes, where the causal estimate was higher than the observational estimate, probably because the observational estimate is based on a single BMI measurement, whereas the causal estimate considers lifetime changes in BMI.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Like all Mendelian randomization studies, the reliability of the causal associations reported here depends on several assumptions made by the researchers. Nevertheless, these findings provide support for many previously suspected and biologically plausible causal relationships, such as that between adiposity and hypertension. They also provide new insights into the causal effect of obesity on liver enzyme levels and on heart failure. In the latter case, these findings suggest that a one-unit increase in BMI might increase the incidence of heart failure by 17%. In the US, this corresponds to 113,000 additional cases of heart failure for every unit increase in BMI at the population level. Although additional studies are needed to confirm and extend these findings, these results suggest that global efforts to reduce the burden of obesity will likely also reduce the occurrence of CVD and metabolic disorders.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001474.
The American Heart Association provides information on all aspects of cardiovascular disease and tips on keeping the heart healthy, including weight management (in several languages); its website includes personal stories about stroke and heart attacks
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on heart disease, stroke, and all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about cardiovascular disease and obesity, including a personal story about losing weight
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about the global obesity epidemic
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on heart disease, on vascular disease, on obesity, and on metabolic disorders (in English and Spanish)
The International Association for the Study of Obesity provides maps and information about obesity worldwide
The International Diabetes Federation has a web page that describes types, complications, and risk factors of diabetes
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001474
PMCID: PMC3692470  PMID: 23824655
8.  A genome-wide association study of early menopause and the combined impact of identified variants 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(7):1465-1472.
Early menopause (EM) affects up to 10% of the female population, reducing reproductive lifespan considerably. Currently, it constitutes the leading cause of infertility in the western world, affecting mainly those women who postpone their first pregnancy beyond the age of 30 years. The genetic aetiology of EM is largely unknown in the majority of cases. We have undertaken a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWASs) in 3493 EM cases and 13 598 controls from 10 independent studies. No novel genetic variants were discovered, but the 17 variants previously associated with normal age at natural menopause as a quantitative trait (QT) were also associated with EM and primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). Thus, EM has a genetic aetiology which overlaps variation in normal age at menopause and is at least partly explained by the additive effects of the same polygenic variants. The combined effect of the common variants captured by the single nucleotide polymorphism arrays was estimated to account for ∼30% of the variance in EM. The association between the combined 17 variants and the risk of EM was greater than the best validated non-genetic risk factor, smoking.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds551
PMCID: PMC3596848  PMID: 23307926
9.  Genome-wide meta-analysis points to CTC1 and ZNF676 as genes regulating telomere homeostasis in humans 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(24):5385-5394.
Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is associated with a number of common age-related diseases and is a heritable trait. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWASs) identified two loci on chromosomes 3q26.2 (TERC) and 10q24.33 (OBFC1) that are associated with the inter-individual LTL variation. We performed a meta-analysis of 9190 individuals from six independent GWAS and validated our findings in 2226 individuals from four additional studies. We confirmed previously reported associations with OBFC1 (rs9419958 P = 9.1 × 10−11) and with the telomerase RNA component TERC (rs1317082, P = 1.1 × 10−8). We also identified two novel genomic regions associated with LTL variation that map near a conserved telomere maintenance complex component 1 (CTC1; rs3027234, P = 3.6 × 10−8) on chromosome17p13.1 and zinc finger protein 676 (ZNF676; rs412658, P = 3.3 × 10−8) on 19p12. The minor allele of rs3027234 was associated with both shorter LTL and lower expression of CTC1. Our findings are consistent with the recent observations that point mutations in CTC1 cause short telomeres in both Arabidopsis and humans affected by a rare Mendelian syndrome. Overall, our results provide novel insights into the genetic architecture of inter-individual LTL variation in the general population.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds382
PMCID: PMC3510758  PMID: 23001564
10.  Meta-analyses identify 13 novel loci associated with age at menopause and highlights DNA repair and immune pathways 
Stolk, Lisette | Perry, John RB | Chasman, Daniel I | He, Chunyan | Mangino, Massimo | Sulem, Patrick | Barbalic, Maja | Broer, Linda | Byrne, Enda M | Ernst, Florian | Esko, Tõnu | Franceschini, Nora | Gudbjartsson, Daniel F | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Kraft, Peter | McArdle, Patick F | Porcu, Eleonora | Shin, So-Youn | Smith, Albert V | van Wingerden, Sophie | Zhai, Guangju | Zhuang, Wei V | Albrecht, Eva | Alizadeh, Behrooz Z | Aspelund, Thor | Bandinelli, Stefania | Lauc, Lovorka Barac | Beckmann, Jacques S | Boban, Mladen | Boerwinkle, Eric | Broekmans, Frank J | Burri, Andrea | Campbell, Harry | Chanock, Stephen J | Chen, Constance | Cornelis, Marilyn C | Corre, Tanguy | Coviello, Andrea D | d’Adamo, Pio | Davies, Gail | de Faire, Ulf | de Geus, Eco JC | Deary, Ian J | Dedoussis, George VZ | Deloukas, Panagiotis | Ebrahim, Shah | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Emilsson, Valur | Eriksson, Johan G | Fauser, Bart CJM | Ferreli, Liana | Ferrucci, Luigi | Fischer, Krista | Folsom, Aaron R | Garcia, Melissa E | Gasparini, Paolo | Gieger, Christian | Glazer, Nicole | Grobbee, Diederick E | Hall, Per | Haller, Toomas | Hankinson, Susan E | Hass, Merli | Hayward, Caroline | Heath, Andrew C | Hofman, Albert | Ingelsson, Erik | Janssens, A Cecile JW | Johnson, Andrew D | Karasik, David | Kardia, Sharon LR | Keyzer, Jules | Kiel, Douglas P | Kolcic, Ivana | Kutalik, Zoltán | Lahti, Jari | Lai, Sandra | Laisk, Triin | Laven, Joop SE | Lawlor, Debbie A | Liu, Jianjun | Lopez, Lorna M | Louwers, Yvonne V | Magnusson, Patrik KE | Marongiu, Mara | Martin, Nicholas G | Klaric, Irena Martinovic | Masciullo, Corrado | McKnight, Barbara | Medland, Sarah E | Melzer, David | Mooser, Vincent | Navarro, Pau | Newman, Anne B | Nyholt, Dale R | Onland-Moret, N. Charlotte | Palotie, Aarno | Paré, Guillaume | Parker, Alex N | Pedersen, Nancy L | Peeters, Petra HM | Pistis, Giorgio | Plump, Andrew S | Polasek, Ozren | Pop, Victor JM | Psaty, Bruce M | Räikkönen, Katri | Rehnberg, Emil | Rotter, Jerome I | Rudan, Igor | Sala, Cinzia | Salumets, Andres | Scuteri, Angelo | Singleton, Andrew | Smith, Jennifer A | Snieder, Harold | Soranzo, Nicole | Stacey, Simon N | Starr, John M | Stathopoulou, Maria G | Stirrups, Kathleen | Stolk, Ronald P | Styrkarsdottir, Unnur | Sun, Yan V | Tenesa, Albert | Thorand, Barbara | Toniolo, Daniela | Tryggvadottir, Laufey | Tsui, Kim | Ulivi, Sheila | van Dam, Rob M | van der Schouw, Yvonne T | van Gils, Carla H | van Nierop, Peter | Vink, Jacqueline M | Visscher, Peter M | Voorhuis, Marlies | Waeber, Gérard | Wallaschofski, Henri | Wichmann, H Erich | Widen, Elisabeth | Gent, Colette JM Wijnands-van | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wilson, James F | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce HR | Wright, Alan F | Yerges-Armstrong, Laura M | Zemunik, Tatijana | Zgaga, Lina | Zillikens, M. Carola | Zygmunt, Marek | Arnold, Alice M | Boomsma, Dorret I | Buring, Julie E. | Crisponi, Laura | Demerath, Ellen W | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Harris, Tamara B | Hu, Frank B | Hunter, David J | Launer, Lenore J | Metspalu, Andres | Montgomery, Grant W | Oostra, Ben A | Ridker, Paul M | Sanna, Serena | Schlessinger, David | Spector, Tim D | Stefansson, Kari | Streeten, Elizabeth A | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Uda, Manuela | Uitterlinden, André G | van Duijn, Cornelia M | Völzke, Henry | Murray, Anna | Murabito, Joanne M | Visser, Jenny A | Lunetta, Kathryn L
Nature Genetics  2012;44(3):260-268.
To identify novel loci for age at natural menopause, we performed a meta-analysis of 22 genome-wide association studies in 38,968 women of European descent, with replication in up to 14,435 women. In addition to four known loci, we identified 13 new age at natural menopause loci (P < 5 × 10−8). The new loci included genes implicated in DNA repair (EXO1, HELQ, UIMC1, FAM175A, FANCI, TLK1, POLG, PRIM1) and immune function (IL11, NLRP11, BAT2). Gene-set enrichment pathway analyses using the full GWAS dataset identified exodeoxyribonuclease, NFκB signalling and mitochondrial dysfunction as biological processes related to timing of menopause.
doi:10.1038/ng.1051
PMCID: PMC3288642  PMID: 22267201
11.  A Genome-Wide Association Meta-Analysis of Circulating Sex Hormone–Binding Globulin Reveals Multiple Loci Implicated in Sex Steroid Hormone Regulation 
Coviello, Andrea D. | Haring, Robin | Wellons, Melissa | Vaidya, Dhananjay | Lehtimäki, Terho | Keildson, Sarah | Lunetta, Kathryn L. | He, Chunyan | Fornage, Myriam | Lagou, Vasiliki | Mangino, Massimo | Onland-Moret, N. Charlotte | Chen, Brian | Eriksson, Joel | Garcia, Melissa | Liu, Yong Mei | Koster, Annemarie | Lohman, Kurt | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Petersen, Ann-Kristin | Prescott, Jennifer | Stolk, Lisette | Vandenput, Liesbeth | Wood, Andrew R. | Zhuang, Wei Vivian | Ruokonen, Aimo | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Pouta, Anneli | Bandinelli, Stefania | Biffar, Reiner | Brabant, Georg | Cox, David G. | Chen, Yuhui | Cummings, Steven | Ferrucci, Luigi | Gunter, Marc J. | Hankinson, Susan E. | Martikainen, Hannu | Hofman, Albert | Homuth, Georg | Illig, Thomas | Jansson, John-Olov | Johnson, Andrew D. | Karasik, David | Karlsson, Magnus | Kettunen, Johannes | Kiel, Douglas P. | Kraft, Peter | Liu, Jingmin | Ljunggren, Östen | Lorentzon, Mattias | Maggio, Marcello | Markus, Marcello R. P. | Mellström, Dan | Miljkovic, Iva | Mirel, Daniel | Nelson, Sarah | Morin Papunen, Laure | Peeters, Petra H. M. | Prokopenko, Inga | Raffel, Leslie | Reincke, Martin | Reiner, Alex P. | Rexrode, Kathryn | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Schwartz, Stephen M. | Siscovick, David | Soranzo, Nicole | Stöckl, Doris | Tworoger, Shelley | Uitterlinden, André G. | van Gils, Carla H. | Vasan, Ramachandran S. | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Zhai, Guangju | Bhasin, Shalender | Bidlingmaier, Martin | Chanock, Stephen J. | De Vivo, Immaculata | Harris, Tamara B. | Hunter, David J. | Kähönen, Mika | Liu, Simin | Ouyang, Pamela | Spector, Tim D. | van der Schouw, Yvonne T. | Viikari, Jorma | Wallaschofski, Henri | McCarthy, Mark I. | Frayling, Timothy M. | Murray, Anna | Franks, Steve | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | de Jong, Frank H. | Raitakari, Olli | Teumer, Alexander | Ohlsson, Claes | Murabito, Joanne M. | Perry, John R. B. | Gibson, Greg
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(7):e1002805.
Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is a glycoprotein responsible for the transport and biologic availability of sex steroid hormones, primarily testosterone and estradiol. SHBG has been associated with chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes (T2D) and with hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis of 21,791 individuals from 10 epidemiologic studies and validated these findings in 7,046 individuals in an additional six studies. We identified twelve genomic regions (SNPs) associated with circulating SHBG concentrations. Loci near the identified SNPs included SHBG (rs12150660, 17p13.1, p = 1.8×10−106), PRMT6 (rs17496332, 1p13.3, p = 1.4×10−11), GCKR (rs780093, 2p23.3, p = 2.2×10−16), ZBTB10 (rs440837, 8q21.13, p = 3.4×10−09), JMJD1C (rs7910927, 10q21.3, p = 6.1×10−35), SLCO1B1 (rs4149056, 12p12.1, p = 1.9×10−08), NR2F2 (rs8023580, 15q26.2, p = 8.3×10−12), ZNF652 (rs2411984, 17q21.32, p = 3.5×10−14), TDGF3 (rs1573036, Xq22.3, p = 4.1×10−14), LHCGR (rs10454142, 2p16.3, p = 1.3×10−07), BAIAP2L1 (rs3779195, 7q21.3, p = 2.7×10−08), and UGT2B15 (rs293428, 4q13.2, p = 5.5×10−06). These genes encompass multiple biologic pathways, including hepatic function, lipid metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism and T2D, androgen and estrogen receptor function, epigenetic effects, and the biology of sex steroid hormone-responsive cancers including breast and prostate cancer. We found evidence of sex-differentiated genetic influences on SHBG. In a sex-specific GWAS, the loci 4q13.2-UGT2B15 was significant in men only (men p = 2.5×10−08, women p = 0.66, heterogeneity p = 0.003). Additionally, three loci showed strong sex-differentiated effects: 17p13.1-SHBG and Xq22.3-TDGF3 were stronger in men, whereas 8q21.12-ZBTB10 was stronger in women. Conditional analyses identified additional signals at the SHBG gene that together almost double the proportion of variance explained at the locus. Using an independent study of 1,129 individuals, all SNPs identified in the overall or sex-differentiated or conditional analyses explained ∼15.6% and ∼8.4% of the genetic variation of SHBG concentrations in men and women, respectively. The evidence for sex-differentiated effects and allelic heterogeneity highlight the importance of considering these features when estimating complex trait variance.
Author Summary
Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is the key protein responsible for binding and transporting the sex steroid hormones, testosterone and estradiol, in the circulatory system. SHBG regulates their bioavailability and therefore their effects in the body. SHBG has been linked to chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes and to hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. SHBG concentrations are approximately 50% heritable in family studies, suggesting SHBG concentrations are under significant genetic control; yet, little is known about the specific genes that influence SHBG. We conducted a large study of the association of SHBG concentrations with markers in the human genome in ∼22,000 white men and women to determine which loci influence SHBG concentrations. Genes near the identified genomic markers in addition to the SHBG protein coding gene included PRMT6, GCKR, ZBTB10, JMJD1C, SLCO1B1, NR2F2, ZNF652, TDGF3, LHCGR, BAIAP2L1, and UGT2B15. These genes represent a wide range of biologic pathways that may relate to SHBG function and sex steroid hormone biology, including liver function, lipid metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism and type 2 diabetes, and the development and progression of sex steroid hormone-responsive cancers.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002805
PMCID: PMC3400553  PMID: 22829776
12.  Genetic architecture of circulating lipid levels 
Serum concentrations of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), triglycerides (TGs) and total cholesterol (TC) are important heritable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Although genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of circulating lipid levels have identified numerous loci, a substantial portion of the heritability of these traits remains unexplained. Evidence of unexplained genetic variance can be detected by combining multiple independent markers into additive genetic risk scores. Such polygenic scores, constructed using results from the ENGAGE Consortium GWAS on serum lipids, were applied to predict lipid levels in an independent population-based study, the Rotterdam Study-II (RS-II). We additionally tested for evidence of a shared genetic basis for different lipid phenotypes. Finally, the polygenic score approach was used to identify an alternative genome-wide significance threshold before pathway analysis and those results were compared with those based on the classical genome-wide significance threshold. Our study provides evidence suggesting that many loci influencing circulating lipid levels remain undiscovered. Cross-prediction models suggested a small overlap between the polygenic backgrounds involved in determining LDL-C, HDL-C and TG levels. Pathway analysis utilizing the best polygenic score for TC uncovered extra information compared with using only genome-wide significant loci. These results suggest that the genetic architecture of circulating lipids involves a number of undiscovered variants with very small effects, and that increasing GWAS sample sizes will enable the identification of novel variants that regulate lipid levels.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2011.21
PMCID: PMC3137496  PMID: 21448234
serum lipids; polygenic; genome-wide association; polygenic score; pathway analysis
13.  Genomic inflation factors under polygenic inheritance 
Population structure, including population stratification and cryptic relatedness, can cause spurious associations in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Usually, the scaled median or mean test statistic for association calculated from multiple single-nucleotide-polymorphisms across the genome is used to assess such effects, and ‘genomic control' can be applied subsequently to adjust test statistics at individual loci by a genomic inflation factor. Published GWAS have clearly shown that there are many loci underlying genetic variation for a wide range of complex diseases and traits, implying that a substantial proportion of the genome should show inflation of the test statistic. Here, we show by theory, simulation and analysis of data that in the absence of population structure and other technical artefacts, but in the presence of polygenic inheritance, substantial genomic inflation is expected. Its magnitude depends on sample size, heritability, linkage disequilibrium structure and the number of causal variants. Our predictions are consistent with empirical observations on height in independent samples of ∼4000 and ∼133 000 individuals.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2011.39
PMCID: PMC3137506  PMID: 21407268
genome-wide association study; genomic inflation factor; polygenic inheritance
14.  Six Novel Susceptibility Loci for Early-Onset Androgenetic Alopecia and Their Unexpected Association with Common Diseases 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(5):e1002746.
Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is a highly heritable condition and the most common form of hair loss in humans. Susceptibility loci have been described on the X chromosome and chromosome 20, but these loci explain a minority of its heritable variance. We conducted a large-scale meta-analysis of seven genome-wide association studies for early-onset AGA in 12,806 individuals of European ancestry. While replicating the two AGA loci on the X chromosome and chromosome 20, six novel susceptibility loci reached genome-wide significance (p = 2.62×10−9–1.01×10−12). Unexpectedly, we identified a risk allele at 17q21.31 that was recently associated with Parkinson's disease (PD) at a genome-wide significant level. We then tested the association between early-onset AGA and the risk of PD in a cross-sectional analysis of 568 PD cases and 7,664 controls. Early-onset AGA cases had significantly increased odds of subsequent PD (OR = 1.28, 95% confidence interval: 1.06–1.55, p = 8.9×10−3). Further, the AGA susceptibility alleles at the 17q21.31 locus are on the H1 haplotype, which is under negative selection in Europeans and has been linked to decreased fertility. Combining the risk alleles of six novel and two established susceptibility loci, we created a genotype risk score and tested its association with AGA in an additional sample. Individuals in the highest risk quartile of a genotype score had an approximately six-fold increased risk of early-onset AGA [odds ratio (OR) = 5.78, p = 1.4×10−88]. Our results highlight unexpected associations between early-onset AGA, Parkinson's disease, and decreased fertility, providing important insights into the pathophysiology of these conditions.
Author Summary
While most genome-wide association studies (GWAS) focus on the identification of susceptibility loci for a specific disease, this hypothesis-free approach also enables the identification of unexpected associations between different diseases by taking advantage of the previously published GWAS associations. Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA, also known as male pattern baldness) is the most common type of hair loss in humans. Parkinson's disease is reported to occur more commonly in men than in women; however, there are no studies investigating the link between AGA and Parkinson's disease. Here, we show that a specific genetic locus, chromosome 17q21.31, which is associated with Parkinson's disease, is also a susceptibility locus for early-onset AGA. We further investigate the association between early-onset AGA and Parkinson's disease, irrespective of genotype, directly in a large-scale web-based study. We find that men with early-onset AGA have 28% higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease. The early-onset AGA locus on chromosome 17q21.31 has also been linked to decreased fertility previously. Future studies of this locus may implicate novel biological pathways affecting these three conditions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002746
PMCID: PMC3364959  PMID: 22693459
15.  Epigenome-Wide Scans Identify Differentially Methylated Regions for Age and Age-Related Phenotypes in a Healthy Ageing Population 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(4):e1002629.
Age-related changes in DNA methylation have been implicated in cellular senescence and longevity, yet the causes and functional consequences of these variants remain unclear. To elucidate the role of age-related epigenetic changes in healthy ageing and potential longevity, we tested for association between whole-blood DNA methylation patterns in 172 female twins aged 32 to 80 with age and age-related phenotypes. Twin-based DNA methylation levels at 26,690 CpG-sites showed evidence for mean genome-wide heritability of 18%, which was supported by the identification of 1,537 CpG-sites with methylation QTLs in cis at FDR 5%. We performed genome-wide analyses to discover differentially methylated regions (DMRs) for sixteen age-related phenotypes (ap-DMRs) and chronological age (a-DMRs). Epigenome-wide association scans (EWAS) identified age-related phenotype DMRs (ap-DMRs) associated with LDL (STAT5A), lung function (WT1), and maternal longevity (ARL4A, TBX20). In contrast, EWAS for chronological age identified hundreds of predominantly hyper-methylated age DMRs (490 a-DMRs at FDR 5%), of which only one (TBX20) was also associated with an age-related phenotype. Therefore, the majority of age-related changes in DNA methylation are not associated with phenotypic measures of healthy ageing in later life. We replicated a large proportion of a-DMRs in a sample of 44 younger adult MZ twins aged 20 to 61, suggesting that a-DMRs may initiate at an earlier age. We next explored potential genetic and environmental mechanisms underlying a-DMRs and ap-DMRs. Genome-wide overlap across cis-meQTLs, genotype-phenotype associations, and EWAS ap-DMRs identified CpG-sites that had cis-meQTLs with evidence for genotype–phenotype association, where the CpG-site was also an ap-DMR for the same phenotype. Monozygotic twin methylation difference analyses identified one potential environmentally-mediated ap-DMR associated with total cholesterol and LDL (CSMD1). Our results suggest that in a small set of genes DNA methylation may be a candidate mechanism of mediating not only environmental, but also genetic effects on age-related phenotypes.
Author Summary
Epigenetic patterns vary during healthy ageing and development. Age-related DNA methylation changes have been implicated in cellular senescence and longevity, yet the causes and functional consequences of these variants remain unclear. To understand the biological mechanisms involved in potential longevity and rate of healthy ageing, we performed genome-wide association of epigenetic and genetic variation with both chronological age and age-related phenotypes. We identified hundreds of DNA methylation variants significantly associated with age and replicated these in an independent sample of young adult twins. Only a small proportion of these variants were also associated with age-related phenotypes. Therefore, the majority of age-related epigenetic changes do not contribute to rate of healthy ageing at later stages in life. Our results suggest that age-related changes in methylation occur throughout an individual's lifespan and that a proportion of these may be initiated from an early age. Intriguingly, a fraction of the age differentially methylated regions also associated with genetic variants in our sample, suggesting that DNA methylation may be a candidate mechanism of mediating not only environmental but also genetic effects on age-related phenotypes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002629
PMCID: PMC3330116  PMID: 22532803
16.  Genetic variation near IRS1 associates with reduced adiposity and an impaired metabolic profile 
Kilpeläinen, Tuomas O | Zillikens, M Carola | Stančáková, Alena | Finucane, Francis M | Ried, Janina S | Langenberg, Claudia | Zhang, Weihua | Beckmann, Jacques S | Luan, Jian’an | Vandenput, Liesbeth | Styrkarsdottir, Unnur | Zhou, Yanhua | Smith, Albert Vernon | Zhao, Jing-Hua | Amin, Najaf | Vedantam, Sailaja | Shin, So Youn | Haritunians, Talin | Fu, Mao | Feitosa, Mary F | Kumari, Meena | Halldorsson, Bjarni V | Tikkanen, Emmi | Mangino, Massimo | Hayward, Caroline | Song, Ci | Arnold, Alice M | Aulchenko, Yurii S | Oostra, Ben A | Campbell, Harry | Cupples, L Adrienne | Davis, Kathryn E | Döring, Angela | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Estrada, Karol | Fernández-Real, José Manuel | Garcia, Melissa | Gieger, Christian | Glazer, Nicole L | Guiducci, Candace | Hofman, Albert | Humphries, Steve E | Isomaa, Bo | Jacobs, Leonie C | Jula, Antti | Karasik, David | Karlsson, Magnus K | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kim, Lauren J | Kivimäki, Mika | Klopp, Norman | Kühnel, Brigitte | Kuusisto, Johanna | Liu, Yongmei | Ljunggren, Östen | Lorentzon, Mattias | Luben, Robert N | McKnight, Barbara | Mellström, Dan | Mitchell, Braxton D | Mooser, Vincent | Moreno, José Maria | Männistö, Satu | O’Connell, Jeffery R | Pascoe, Laura | Peltonen, Leena | Peral, Belén | Perola, Markus | Psaty, Bruce M | Salomaa, Veikko | Savage, David B | Semple, Robert K | Skaric-Juric, Tatjana | Sigurdsson, Gunnar | Song, Kijoung S | Spector, Timothy D | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Talmud, Philippa J | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Uitterlinden, André G | van Duijn, Cornelia M | Vidal-Puig, Antonio | Wild, Sarah H | Wright, Alan F | Clegg, Deborah J | Schadt, Eric | Wilson, James F | Rudan, Igor | Ripatti, Samuli | Borecki, Ingrid B | Shuldiner, Alan R | Ingelsson, Erik | Jansson, John-Olov | Kaplan, Robert C | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Harris, Tamara B | Groop, Leif | Kiel, Douglas P | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Walker, Mark | Barroso, Inês | Vollenweider, Peter | Waeber, Gérard | Chambers, John C | Kooner, Jaspal S | Soranzo, Nicole | Hirschhorn, Joel N | Stefansson, Kari | Wichmann, H-Erich | Ohlsson, Claes | O’Rahilly, Stephen | Wareham, Nicholas J | Speliotes, Elizabeth K | Fox, Caroline S | Laakso, Markku | Loos, Ruth J F
Nature Genetics  2011;43(8):753-760.
Genome-wide association studies have identified 32 loci associated with body mass index (BMI), a measure that does not allow distinguishing lean from fat mass. To identify adiposity loci, we meta-analyzed associations between ~2.5 million SNPs and body fat percentage from 36,626 individuals, and followed up the 14 most significant (P<10−6) independent loci in 39,576 individuals. We confirmed the previously established adiposity locus in FTO (P=3×10−26), and identified two new loci associated with body fat percentage, one near IRS1 (P=4×10−11) and one near SPRY2 (P=3×10−8). Both loci harbour genes with a potential link to adipocyte physiology, of which the locus near IRS1 shows an intriguing association pattern. The body-fat-decreasing allele associates with decreased IRS1 expression and with an impaired metabolic profile, including decreased subcutaneous-to-visceral fat ratio, increased insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease, and decreased adiponectin levels. Our findings provide new insights into adiposity and insulin resistance.
doi:10.1038/ng.866
PMCID: PMC3262230  PMID: 21706003
17.  Leukocyte telomere length and marital status among middle-aged adults 
Age and Ageing  2010;40(1):73-78.
Background: being unmarried is associated with worse health and increased mortality risk. Telomere length has emerged as a marker for biological ageing but it is unclear how telomere length relates to marital status.
Objective: to examine the relationship between telomere length and marital status in a sample of middle-aged adults.
Design and subjects: cross-sectional analysis among 321 adults aged 40–64 years.
Methods: telomere length was measured by PCR (T/S ratio). Participants provided information on healthy lifestyle activities including smoking, alcohol use, diet, exercise, obesity as well as social support.
Results: participants married or living with a partner had a mean T/S ratio of 1.70 and those widowed, divorced, separated or never married had a mean T/S ratio of 1.58 in a model adjusted for age, gender and race/ethnicity (P < 0.001). When the analysis was further adjusted for diet, alcohol consumption, exercise, smoking, social support, poverty and obesity, persons married or living with a partner had a higher mean T/S ratio of 1.69 than their unmarried counterparts (1.59) (P = 0.004).
Conclusions: these results indicate that unmarried individuals have shorter telomeres. This relationship between marital status and telomere length is independent of presumed benefits of marriage such as social support and a healthier lifestyle.
doi:10.1093/ageing/afq118
PMCID: PMC3000178  PMID: 20817935
telomere; marital status; lifestyle; elderly
18.  Thirty new loci for age at menarche identified by a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies 
Elks, Cathy E. | Perry, John R.B. | Sulem, Patrick | Chasman, Daniel I. | Franceschini, Nora | He, Chunyan | Lunetta, Kathryn L. | Visser, Jenny A. | Byrne, Enda M. | Cousminer, Diana L. | Gudbjartsson, Daniel F. | Esko, Tõnu | Feenstra, Bjarke | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Koller, Daniel L. | Kutalik, Zoltán | Lin, Peng | Mangino, Massimo | Marongiu, Mara | McArdle, Patrick F. | Smith, Albert V. | Stolk, Lisette | van Wingerden, Sophie W. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Albrecht, Eva | Corre, Tanguy | Ingelsson, Erik | Hayward, Caroline | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Smith, Erin N. | Ulivi, Shelia | Warrington, Nicole M. | Zgaga, Lina | Alavere, Helen | Amin, Najaf | Aspelund, Thor | Bandinelli, Stefania | Barroso, Ines | Berenson, Gerald S. | Bergmann, Sven | Blackburn, Hannah | Boerwinkle, Eric | Buring, Julie E. | Busonero, Fabio | Campbell, Harry | Chanock, Stephen J. | Chen, Wei | Cornelis, Marilyn C. | Couper, David | Coviello, Andrea D. | d’Adamo, Pio | de Faire, Ulf | de Geus, Eco J.C. | Deloukas, Panos | Döring, Angela | Smith, George Davey | Easton, Douglas F. | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Emilsson, Valur | Eriksson, Johan | Ferrucci, Luigi | Folsom, Aaron R. | Foroud, Tatiana | Garcia, Melissa | Gasparini, Paolo | Geller, Frank | Gieger, Christian | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hall, Per | Hankinson, Susan E. | Ferreli, Liana | Heath, Andrew C. | Hernandez, Dena G. | Hofman, Albert | Hu, Frank B. | Illig, Thomas | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Johnson, Andrew D. | Karasik, David | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kiel, Douglas P. | Kilpeläinen, Tuomas O. | Kolcic, Ivana | Kraft, Peter | Launer, Lenore J. | Laven, Joop S.E. | Li, Shengxu | Liu, Jianjun | Levy, Daniel | Martin, Nicholas G. | McArdle, Wendy L. | Melbye, Mads | Mooser, Vincent | Murray, Jeffrey C. | Murray, Sarah S. | Nalls, Michael A. | Navarro, Pau | Nelis, Mari | Ness, Andrew R. | Northstone, Kate | Oostra, Ben A. | Peacock, Munro | Palmer, Lyle J. | Palotie, Aarno | Paré, Guillaume | Parker, Alex N. | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Peltonen, Leena | Pennell, Craig E. | Pharoah, Paul | Polasek, Ozren | Plump, Andrew S. | Pouta, Anneli | Porcu, Eleonora | Rafnar, Thorunn | Rice, John P. | Ring, Susan M. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Sala, Cinzia | Salomaa, Veikko | Sanna, Serena | Schlessinger, David | Schork, Nicholas J. | Scuteri, Angelo | Segrè, Ayellet V. | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Soranzo, Nicole | Sovio, Ulla | Srinivasan, Sathanur R. | Strachan, David P. | Tammesoo, Mar-Liis | Tikkanen, Emmi | Toniolo, Daniela | Tsui, Kim | Tryggvadottir, Laufey | Tyrer, Jonathon | Uda, Manuela | van Dam, Rob M. | van Meurs, Joyve B.J. | Vollenweider, Peter | Waeber, Gerard | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Waterworth, Dawn M. | Weedon, Michael N. | Wichmann, H. Erich | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wilson, James F. | Wright, Alan F. | Young, Lauren | Zhai, Guangju | Zhuang, Wei Vivian | Bierut, Laura J. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Boyd, Heather A. | Crisponi, Laura | Demerath, Ellen W. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Econs, Michael J. | Harris, Tamara B. | Hunter, David J. | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Metspalu, Andres | Montgomery, Grant W. | Ridker, Paul M. | Spector, Tim D. | Streeten, Elizabeth A. | Stefansson, Kari | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Uitterlinden, André G. | Widen, Elisabeth | Murabito, Joanne M. | Ong, Ken K. | Murray, Anna
Nature genetics  2010;42(12):1077-1085.
To identify loci for age at menarche, we performed a meta-analysis of 32 genome-wide association studies in 87,802 women of European descent, with replication in up to 14,731 women. In addition to the known loci at LIN28B (P=5.4×10−60) and 9q31.2 (P=2.2×10−33), we identified 30 novel menarche loci (all P<5×10−8) and found suggestive evidence for a further 10 loci (P<1.9×10−6). New loci included four previously associated with BMI (in/near FTO, SEC16B, TRA2B and TMEM18), three in/near other genes implicated in energy homeostasis (BSX, CRTC1, and MCHR2), and three in/near genes implicated in hormonal regulation (INHBA, PCSK2 and RXRG). Ingenuity and MAGENTA pathway analyses identified coenzyme A and fatty acid biosynthesis as biological processes related to menarche timing.
doi:10.1038/ng.714
PMCID: PMC3140055  PMID: 21102462
19.  Physical Activity Attenuates the Influence of FTO Variants on Obesity Risk: A Meta-Analysis of 218,166 Adults and 19,268 Children 
Kilpeläinen, Tuomas O. | Qi, Lu | Brage, Soren | Sharp, Stephen J. | Sonestedt, Emily | Demerath, Ellen | Ahmad, Tariq | Mora, Samia | Kaakinen, Marika | Sandholt, Camilla Helene | Holzapfel, Christina | Autenrieth, Christine S. | Hyppönen, Elina | Cauchi, Stéphane | He, Meian | Kutalik, Zoltan | Kumari, Meena | Stančáková, Alena | Meidtner, Karina | Balkau, Beverley | Tan, Jonathan T. | Mangino, Massimo | Timpson, Nicholas J. | Song, Yiqing | Zillikens, M. Carola | Jablonski, Kathleen A. | Garcia, Melissa E. | Johansson, Stefan | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Wu, Ying | van Vliet-Ostaptchouk, Jana V. | Onland-Moret, N. Charlotte | Zimmermann, Esther | Rivera, Natalia V. | Tanaka, Toshiko | Stringham, Heather M. | Silbernagel, Günther | Kanoni, Stavroula | Feitosa, Mary F. | Snitker, Soren | Ruiz, Jonatan R. | Metter, Jeffery | Larrad, Maria Teresa Martinez | Atalay, Mustafa | Hakanen, Maarit | Amin, Najaf | Cavalcanti-Proença, Christine | Grøntved, Anders | Hallmans, Göran | Jansson, John-Olov | Kuusisto, Johanna | Kähönen, Mika | Lutsey, Pamela L. | Nolan, John J. | Palla, Luigi | Pedersen, Oluf | Pérusse, Louis | Renström, Frida | Scott, Robert A. | Shungin, Dmitry | Sovio, Ulla | Tammelin, Tuija H. | Rönnemaa, Tapani | Lakka, Timo A. | Uusitupa, Matti | Rios, Manuel Serrano | Ferrucci, Luigi | Bouchard, Claude | Meirhaeghe, Aline | Fu, Mao | Walker, Mark | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Dedoussis, George V. | Fritsche, Andreas | Ohlsson, Claes | Boehnke, Michael | Bandinelli, Stefania | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Ebrahim, Shah | Lawlor, Debbie A. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Harris, Tamara B. | Sørensen, Thorkild I. A. | Mohlke, Karen L. | Hofman, Albert | Uitterlinden, André G. | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Lehtimäki, Terho | Raitakari, Olli | Isomaa, Bo | Njølstad, Pål R. | Florez, Jose C. | Liu, Simin | Ness, Andy | Spector, Timothy D. | Tai, E. Shyong | Froguel, Philippe | Boeing, Heiner | Laakso, Markku | Marmot, Michael | Bergmann, Sven | Power, Chris | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Chasman, Daniel | Ridker, Paul | Hansen, Torben | Monda, Keri L. | Illig, Thomas | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Hu, Frank B. | Groop, Leif C. | Orho-Melander, Marju | Ekelund, Ulf | Franks, Paul W. | Loos, Ruth J. F. | Lewis, Cathryn
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(11):e1001116.
Ruth Loos and colleagues report findings from a meta-analysis of multiple studies examining the extent to which physical activity attenuates effects of a specific gene variant, FTO, on obesity in adults and children. They report a fairly substantial attenuation by physical activity on the effects of this genetic variant on the risk of obesity in adults.
Background
The FTO gene harbors the strongest known susceptibility locus for obesity. While many individual studies have suggested that physical activity (PA) may attenuate the effect of FTO on obesity risk, other studies have not been able to confirm this interaction. To confirm or refute unambiguously whether PA attenuates the association of FTO with obesity risk, we meta-analyzed data from 45 studies of adults (n = 218,166) and nine studies of children and adolescents (n = 19,268).
Methods and Findings
All studies identified to have data on the FTO rs9939609 variant (or any proxy [r2>0.8]) and PA were invited to participate, regardless of ethnicity or age of the participants. PA was standardized by categorizing it into a dichotomous variable (physically inactive versus active) in each study. Overall, 25% of adults and 13% of children were categorized as inactive. Interaction analyses were performed within each study by including the FTO×PA interaction term in an additive model, adjusting for age and sex. Subsequently, random effects meta-analysis was used to pool the interaction terms. In adults, the minor (A−) allele of rs9939609 increased the odds of obesity by 1.23-fold/allele (95% CI 1.20–1.26), but PA attenuated this effect (pinteraction  = 0.001). More specifically, the minor allele of rs9939609 increased the odds of obesity less in the physically active group (odds ratio  = 1.22/allele, 95% CI 1.19–1.25) than in the inactive group (odds ratio  = 1.30/allele, 95% CI 1.24–1.36). No such interaction was found in children and adolescents.
Conclusions
The association of the FTO risk allele with the odds of obesity is attenuated by 27% in physically active adults, highlighting the importance of PA in particular in those genetically predisposed to obesity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Background
Two in three Americans are overweight, of whom half are obese, and the trend towards increasing obesity is now seen across developed and developing countries. There has long been interest in understanding the impact of genes and environment when it comes to apportioning responsibility for obesity. Carrying a change in the FTO gene is common (found in three-quarters of Europeans and North Americans) and is associated with a 20%–30% increased risk of obesity. Some overweight or obese individuals may feel that the dice are loaded and there is little point in fighting the fat; it has been reported that those made aware of their genetic susceptibility to obesity may still choose a poor diet. A similar fatalism may occur when overweight and obese people consider physical activity. But disentangling the influence of physical activity on those genetically susceptible to obesity from other factors that might impact weight is not straightforward, as it requires large sample sizes, could be subject to publication bias, and may rely on less than ideal self-reporting methods.
Why Was This Study Done?
The public health ramifications of understanding the interaction between genetic susceptibility to obesity and physical activity are considerable. Tackling the rising prevalence of obesity will inevitably include interventions principally aimed at changing dietary intake and/or increasing physical activity, but the evidence for these with regards to those genetically susceptible has been lacking to date. The authors of this paper set out to explore the interaction between the commonest genetic susceptibility trait and physical activity using a rigorous meta-analysis of a large number of studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors were concerned that a meta-analysis of published studies would be limited both by the data available to them and by possible bias. Instead of this more widely used approach, they took the literature search as their starting point, identified other studies through their collaborators’ network, and then undertook a meta-analysis of all available studies using a new and standardized analysis plan. This entailed an extremely large number of authors mining their data afresh to extract the relevant data points to enable such a meta-analysis. Physical activity was identified in the original studies in many different ways, including by self-report or by using an external measure of activity or heart rate. In order to perform the meta-analysis, participants were labeled as physically active or inactive in each study. For studies that had used a continuous scale, the authors decided that the bottom 20% of the participants were inactive (10% for children and adolescents). Using data from over 218,000 adults, the authors found that carrying a copy of the susceptibility gene increased the odds of obesity by 1.23-fold. But the size of this influence was 27% less in the genetically susceptible adults who were physically active (1.22-fold) compared to those who were physically inactive (1.30-fold). In a smaller study of about 19,000 children, no such effect of physical activity was seen.
What Do these Findings Mean?
This study demonstrates that people who carry the susceptibility gene for obesity can benefit from physical activity. This should inform health care professionals and the wider public that the view of genetically determined obesity not being amenable to exercise is incorrect and should be challenged. Dissemination, implementation, and ensuring uptake of effective physical activity programs remains a challenge and deserves further consideration. That the researchers treated “physically active” as a yes/no category, and how they categorized individuals, could be criticized, but this was done for pragmatic reasons, as a variety of means of assessing physical activity were used across the studies. It is unlikely that the findings would have changed if the authors had used a different method of defining physically active. Most of the studies included in the meta-analysis looked at one time point only; information about the influence of physical activity on weight changes over time in genetically susceptible individuals is only beginning to emerge.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001116.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Lennert Veerman
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides obesity-related statistics, details of prevention programs, and an overview on public health strategy in the United States
A more worldwide view is given by the World Health Organization
The UK National Health Service website gives information on physical activity guidelines for different age groups, while similar information can also be found from US sources
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001116
PMCID: PMC3206047  PMID: 22069379
20.  A Genome-Wide Screen for Interactions Reveals a New Locus on 4p15 Modifying the Effect of Waist-to-Hip Ratio on Total Cholesterol 
Surakka, Ida | Isaacs, Aaron | Karssen, Lennart C. | Laurila, Pirkka-Pekka P. | Middelberg, Rita P. S. | Tikkanen, Emmi | Ried, Janina S. | Lamina, Claudia | Mangino, Massimo | Igl, Wilmar | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Lagou, Vasiliki | van der Harst, Pim | Mateo Leach, Irene | Esko, Tõnu | Kutalik, Zoltán | Wainwright, Nicholas W. | Struchalin, Maksim V. | Sarin, Antti-Pekka | Kangas, Antti J. | Viikari, Jorma S. | Perola, Markus | Rantanen, Taina | Petersen, Ann-Kristin | Soininen, Pasi | Johansson, Åsa | Soranzo, Nicole | Heath, Andrew C. | Papamarkou, Theodore | Prokopenko, Inga | Tönjes, Anke | Kronenberg, Florian | Döring, Angela | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Montgomery, Grant W. | Whitfield, John B. | Kähönen, Mika | Lehtimäki, Terho | Freimer, Nelson B. | Willemsen, Gonneke | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Palotie, Aarno | Sandhu, Manj S. | Waterworth, Dawn M. | Metspalu, Andres | Stumvoll, Michael | Uitterlinden, André G. | Jula, Antti | Navis, Gerjan | Wijmenga, Cisca | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H. R. | Taskinen, Marja-Riitta | Ala-Korpela, Mika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kyvik, Kirsten O. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Gyllensten, Ulf | Wilson, James F. | Rudan, Igor | Campbell, Harry | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Spector, Tim D. | Witteman, Jacqueline C. M. | Eriksson, Johan G. | Salomaa, Veikko | Oostra, Ben A. | Raitakari, Olli T. | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Gieger, Christian | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Martin, Nicholas G. | Hofman, Albert | McCarthy, Mark I. | Peltonen, Leena | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Aulchenko, Yurii S. | Ripatti, Samuli | Gibson, Greg
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(10):e1002333.
Recent genome-wide association (GWA) studies described 95 loci controlling serum lipid levels. These common variants explain ∼25% of the heritability of the phenotypes. To date, no unbiased screen for gene–environment interactions for circulating lipids has been reported. We screened for variants that modify the relationship between known epidemiological risk factors and circulating lipid levels in a meta-analysis of genome-wide association (GWA) data from 18 population-based cohorts with European ancestry (maximum N = 32,225). We collected 8 further cohorts (N = 17,102) for replication, and rs6448771 on 4p15 demonstrated genome-wide significant interaction with waist-to-hip-ratio (WHR) on total cholesterol (TC) with a combined P-value of 4.79×10−9. There were two potential candidate genes in the region, PCDH7 and CCKAR, with differential expression levels for rs6448771 genotypes in adipose tissue. The effect of WHR on TC was strongest for individuals carrying two copies of G allele, for whom a one standard deviation (sd) difference in WHR corresponds to 0.19 sd difference in TC concentration, while for A allele homozygous the difference was 0.12 sd. Our findings may open up possibilities for targeted intervention strategies for people characterized by specific genomic profiles. However, more refined measures of both body-fat distribution and metabolic measures are needed to understand how their joint dynamics are modified by the newly found locus.
Author Summary
Circulating serum lipids contribute greatly to the global health by affecting the risk for cardiovascular diseases. Serum lipid levels are partly inherited, and already 95 loci affecting high- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides have been found. Serum lipids are also known to be affected by multiple epidemiological risk factors like body composition, lifestyle, and sex. It has been hypothesized that there are loci modifying the effects between risk factors and serum lipids, but to date only candidate gene studies for interactions have been reported. We conducted a genome-wide screen with meta-analysis approach to identify loci having interactions with epidemiological risk factors on serum lipids with over 30,000 population-based samples. When combining results from our initial datasets and 8 additional replication cohorts (maximum N = 17,102), we found a genome-wide significant locus in chromosome 4p15 with a joint P-value of 4.79×10−9 modifying the effect of waist-to-hip ratio on total cholesterol. In the area surrounding this genetic variant, there were two genes having association between the genotypes and the gene expression in adipose tissue, and we also found enrichment of association in genes belonging to lipid metabolism related functions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002333
PMCID: PMC3197672  PMID: 22028671
21.  Large Scale Replication Study of the Association between HLA Class II/BTNL2 Variants and Osteoarthritis of the Knee in European-Descent Populations 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23371.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and a major cause of disability. This study evaluates the association in Caucasian populations of two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) mapping to the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) region and deriving from a genome wide association scan (GWAS) of knee OA in Japanese populations. The frequencies for rs10947262 were compared in 36,408 controls and 5,749 knee OA cases from European-descent populations. rs7775228 was tested in 32,823 controls and 1,837 knee OA cases of European descent. The risk (major) allele at rs10947262 in Caucasian samples was not significantly associated with an odds ratio (OR)  = 1.07 (95%CI 0.94 -1.21; p = 0.28). For rs7775228 the meta-analysis resulted in OR = 0.94 (95%CI 0.81-1.09; p = 0.42) for the allele associated with risk in the Japanese GWAS. In Japanese individuals these two SNPs are in strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) (r2 = 0.86) with the HLA class II haplotype DRB1*1502 DQA1*0103 DQB1*0601 (frequency 8%). In Caucasian and Chinese samples, using imputed data, these SNPs appear not to be in LD with that haplotype (r2<0.07). The rs10947262 and rs7775228 variants are not associated with risk of knee OA in European descent populations and they do not appear tag the same HLA class II haplotype as they do in Japanese individuals.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023371
PMCID: PMC3154440  PMID: 21853121
22.  Common genetic determinants of vitamin D insufficiency: a genome-wide association study 
Wang, Thomas J. | Zhang, Feng | Richards, J. Brent | Kestenbaum, Bryan | van Meurs, Joyce B. | Berry, Diane | Kiel, Douglas | Streeten, Elizabeth A. | Ohlsson, Claes | Koller, Daniel L. | Palotie, Leena | Cooper, Jason D. | O'Reilly, Paul F. | Houston, Denise K. | Glazer, Nicole L. | Vandenput, Liesbeth | Peacock, Munro | Shi, Julia | Rivadeneira, Fernando | McCarthy, Mark I. | Anneli, Pouta | de Boer, Ian H. | Mangino, Massimo | Kato, Bernet | Smyth, Deborah J. | Booth, Sarah L. | Jacques, Paul F. | Burke, Greg L. | Goodarzi, Mark | Cheung, Ching-Lung | Wolf, Myles | Rice, Kenneth | Goltzman, David | Hidiroglou, Nick | Ladouceur, Martin | Hui, Siu L. | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Hocking, Lynne J. | Hart, Deborah | Arden, Nigel K. | Cooper, Cyrus | Malik, Suneil | Fraser, William D. | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Zhai, Guangju | Macdonald, Helen | Forouhi, Nita G. | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Reid, David M. | Hakim, Alan | Dennison, Elaine | Liu, Yongmei | Power, Chris | Stevens, Helen E. | Jaana, Laitinen | Vasan, Ramachandran S. | Soranzo, Nicole | Bojunga, Jörg | Psaty, Bruce M. | Lorentzon, Mattias | Foroud, Tatiana | Harris, Tamara B. | Hofman, Albert | Jansson, John-Olov | Cauley, Jane A. | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Gibson, Quince | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Karasik, David | Siscovick, David S. | Econs, Michael J. | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Florez, Jose C. | Todd, John A. | Dupuis, Josee | Hypponen, Elina | Spector, Timothy D.
Lancet  2010;376(9736):180-188.
Background
Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining musculoskeletal health. Recently, vitamin D insufficiency has been linked to a number of extraskeletal disorders, including diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Determinants of circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH D) include sun exposure and dietary intake, but its high heritability suggests that genetic determinants may also play a role.
Methods
We performed a genome-wide association study of 25-OH D among ∼30,000 individuals of European descent from 15 cohorts. Five cohorts were designated as discovery cohorts (n=16,125), five as in silico replication cohorts (n=9,366), and five as de novo replication cohorts (n=8,378). Association results were combined using z-score-weighted meta-analysis. Vitamin D insufficiency was defined as 25-OH D <75 nmol/L or <50 nmol/L.
Findings
Variants at three loci reached genome-wide significance in the discovery cohorts, and were confirmed in the replication cohorts: 4p12 (overall P=1.9 × 10-109 for rs2282679, in GC); 11q12 (P=2.1 × 10-27 for rs12785878, near DHCR7); 11p15 (P=3.3 × 10-20 for rs10741657, near CYP2R1). Variants at an additional locus (20q13, CYP24A1) were genome-wide significant in the pooled sample (P=6.0 × 10-10 for rs6013897). A genotype score was constructed using the three confirmed variants. Those in the top quartile of genotype scores had 2- to 2.5-fold elevated odds of vitamin D insufficiency (P≤1 × 10-26).
Interpretation
Variants near genes involved in cholesterol synthesis (DHCR7), hydroxylation (CYP2R1, CYP24A1), and vitamin D transport (GC) influence vitamin D status. Genetic variation at these loci identifies individuals of European descent who have substantially elevated risk of vitamin D insufficiency.
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60588-0
PMCID: PMC3086761  PMID: 20541252
23.  A genome-wide meta-analysis identifies 22 loci associated with eight hematological parameters in the HaemGen consortium 
Soranzo, Nicole | Spector, Tim D | Mangino, Massimo | Kühnel, Brigitte | Rendon, Augusto | Teumer, Alexander | Willenborg, Christina | Wright, Benjamin | Chen, Li | Li, Mingyao | Salo, Perttu | Voight, Benjamin F | Burns, Philippa | Laskowski, Roman A | Xue, Yali | Menzel, Stephan | Altshuler, David | Bradley, John R | Bumpstead, Suzannah | Burnett, Mary-Susan | Devaney, Joseph | Döring, Angela | Elosua, Roberto | Epstein, Stephen | Erber, Wendy | Falchi, Mario | Garner, Stephen F | Ghori, Mohammed J R | Goodall, Alison H | Gwilliam, Rhian | Hakonarson, Hakon H | Hall, Alistair S | Hammond, Naomi | Hengstenberg, Christian | Illig, Thomas | König, Inke R | Knouff, Christopher W | McPherson, Ruth | Melander, Olle | Mooser, Vincent | Nauck, Matthias | Nieminen, Markku S | O’Donnell, Christopher J | Peltonen, Leena | Potter, Simon C | Prokisch, Holger | Rader, Daniel J | Rice, Catherine M | Roberts, Robert | Salomaa, Veikko | Sambrook, Jennifer | Schreiber, Stefan | Schunkert, Heribert | Schwartz, Stephen M | Serbanovic-Canic, Jovana | Sinisalo, Juha | Siscovick, David S. | Stark, Klaus | Surakka, Ida | Stephens, Jonathan | Thompson, John R | Völker, Uwe | Völzke, Henry | Watkins, Nicholas A | Wells, George A | Wichmann, H-Erich | Van Heel, David A | Tyler-Smith, Chris | Thein, Swee Lay | Kathiresan, Sekar | Perola, Markus | Reilly, Muredach P | Stewart, Alexandre F R | Erdmann, Jeanette | Samani, Nilesh J | Meisinger, Christa | Greinacher, Andreas | Deloukas, Panos | Ouwehand, Willem H | Gieger, Christian
Nature genetics  2009;41(11):1182-1190.
The number and volume of cells in the blood affect a wide range of disorders including cancer and cardiovascular, metabolic, infectious and immune conditions. We consider here the genetic variation in eight clinically relevant hematological parameters, including hemoglobin levels, red and white blood cell counts and platelet counts and volume. We describe common variants within 22 genetic loci reproducibly associated with these hematological parameters in 13,943 samples from six European population-based studies, including 6 associated with red blood cell parameters, 15 associated with platelet parameters and 1 associated with total white blood cell count. We further identified a long-range haplotype at 12q24 associated with coronary artery disease in 9,479 cases and 10,527 controls. We show that this haplotype demonstrates extensive disease pleiotropy, as it contains known risk loci for type 1 diabetes, hypertension and celiac disease and has been spread by a selective sweep specific to European and geographically nearby populations.
doi:10.1038/ng.467
PMCID: PMC3108459  PMID: 19820697
24.  A Comprehensive Evaluation of Potential Lung Function Associated Genes in the SpiroMeta General Population Sample 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19382.
Rationale
Lung function measures are heritable traits that predict population morbidity and mortality and are essential for the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Variations in many genes have been reported to affect these traits, but attempts at replication have provided conflicting results. Recently, we undertook a meta-analysis of Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) results for lung function measures in 20,288 individuals from the general population (the SpiroMeta consortium).
Objectives
To comprehensively analyse previously reported genetic associations with lung function measures, and to investigate whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these genomic regions are associated with lung function in a large population sample.
Methods
We analysed association for SNPs tagging 130 genes and 48 intergenic regions (+/−10 kb), after conducting a systematic review of the literature in the PubMed database for genetic association studies reporting lung function associations.
Results
The analysis included 16,936 genotyped and imputed SNPs. No loci showed overall significant association for FEV1 or FEV1/FVC traits using a carefully defined significance threshold of 1.3×10−5. The most significant loci associated with FEV1 include SNPs tagging MACROD2 (P = 6.81×10−5), CNTN5 (P = 4.37×10−4), and TRPV4 (P = 1.58×10−3). Among ever-smokers, SERPINA1 showed the most significant association with FEV1 (P = 8.41×10−5), followed by PDE4D (P = 1.22×10−4). The strongest association with FEV1/FVC ratio was observed with ABCC1 (P = 4.38×10−4), and ESR1 (P = 5.42×10−4) among ever-smokers.
Conclusions
Polymorphisms spanning previously associated lung function genes did not show strong evidence for association with lung function measures in the SpiroMeta consortium population. Common SERPINA1 polymorphisms may affect FEV1 among smokers in the general population.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019382
PMCID: PMC3098839  PMID: 21625484
25.  Association analyses of 249,796 individuals reveal eighteen new loci associated with body mass index 
Speliotes, Elizabeth K. | Willer, Cristen J. | Berndt, Sonja I. | Monda, Keri L. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Jackson, Anne U. | Allen, Hana Lango | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Luan, Jian’an | Mägi, Reedik | Randall, Joshua C. | Vedantam, Sailaja | Winkler, Thomas W. | Qi, Lu | Workalemahu, Tsegaselassie | Heid, Iris M. | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Stringham, Heather M. | Weedon, Michael N. | Wheeler, Eleanor | Wood, Andrew R. | Ferreira, Teresa | Weyant, Robert J. | Segré, Ayellet V. | Estrada, Karol | Liang, Liming | Nemesh, James | Park, Ju-Hyun | Gustafsson, Stefan | Kilpeläinen, Tuomas O. | Yang, Jian | Bouatia-Naji, Nabila | Esko, Tõnu | Feitosa, Mary F. | Kutalik, Zoltán | Mangino, Massimo | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | Scherag, Andre | Smith, Albert Vernon | Welch, Ryan | Zhao, Jing Hua | Aben, Katja K. | Absher, Devin M. | Amin, Najaf | Dixon, Anna L. | Fisher, Eva | Glazer, Nicole L. | Goddard, Michael E. | Heard-Costa, Nancy L. | Hoesel, Volker | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Johansson, Åsa | Johnson, Toby | Ketkar, Shamika | Lamina, Claudia | Li, Shengxu | Moffatt, Miriam F. | Myers, Richard H. | Narisu, Narisu | Perry, John R.B. | Peters, Marjolein J. | Preuss, Michael | Ripatti, Samuli | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Sandholt, Camilla | Scott, Laura J. | Timpson, Nicholas J. | Tyrer, Jonathan P. | van Wingerden, Sophie | Watanabe, Richard M. | White, Charles C. | Wiklund, Fredrik | Barlassina, Christina | Chasman, Daniel I. | Cooper, Matthew N. | Jansson, John-Olov | Lawrence, Robert W. | Pellikka, Niina | Prokopenko, Inga | Shi, Jianxin | Thiering, Elisabeth | Alavere, Helene | Alibrandi, Maria T. S. | Almgren, Peter | Arnold, Alice M. | Aspelund, Thor | Atwood, Larry D. | Balkau, Beverley | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Bennett, Amanda J. | Ben-Shlomo, Yoav | Bergman, Richard N. | Bergmann, Sven | Biebermann, Heike | Blakemore, Alexandra I.F. | Boes, Tanja | Bonnycastle, Lori L. | Bornstein, Stefan R. | Brown, Morris J. | Buchanan, Thomas A. | Busonero, Fabio | Campbell, Harry | Cappuccio, Francesco P. | Cavalcanti-Proença, Christine | Chen, Yii-Der Ida | Chen, Chih-Mei | Chines, Peter S. | Clarke, Robert | Coin, Lachlan | Connell, John | Day, Ian N.M. | Heijer, Martin den | Duan, Jubao | Ebrahim, Shah | Elliott, Paul | Elosua, Roberto | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Erdos, Michael R. | Eriksson, Johan G. | Facheris, Maurizio F. | Felix, Stephan B. | Fischer-Posovszky, Pamela | Folsom, Aaron R. | Friedrich, Nele | Freimer, Nelson B. | Fu, Mao | Gaget, Stefan | Gejman, Pablo V. | Geus, Eco J.C. | Gieger, Christian | Gjesing, Anette P. | Goel, Anuj | Goyette, Philippe | Grallert, Harald | Gräßler, Jürgen | Greenawalt, Danielle M. | Groves, Christopher J. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Guiducci, Candace | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hassanali, Neelam | Hall, Alistair S. | Havulinna, Aki S. | Hayward, Caroline | Heath, Andrew C. | Hengstenberg, Christian | Hicks, Andrew A. | Hinney, Anke | Hofman, Albert | Homuth, Georg | Hui, Jennie | Igl, Wilmar | Iribarren, Carlos | Isomaa, Bo | Jacobs, Kevin B. | Jarick, Ivonne | Jewell, Elizabeth | John, Ulrich | Jørgensen, Torben | Jousilahti, Pekka | Jula, Antti | Kaakinen, Marika | Kajantie, Eero | Kaplan, Lee M. | Kathiresan, Sekar | Kettunen, Johannes | Kinnunen, Leena | Knowles, Joshua W. | Kolcic, Ivana | König, Inke R. | Koskinen, Seppo | Kovacs, Peter | Kuusisto, Johanna | Kraft, Peter | Kvaløy, Kirsti | Laitinen, Jaana | Lantieri, Olivier | Lanzani, Chiara | Launer, Lenore J. | Lecoeur, Cecile | Lehtimäki, Terho | Lettre, Guillaume | Liu, Jianjun | Lokki, Marja-Liisa | Lorentzon, Mattias | Luben, Robert N. | Ludwig, Barbara | Manunta, Paolo | Marek, Diana | Marre, Michel | Martin, Nicholas G. | McArdle, Wendy L. | McCarthy, Anne | McKnight, Barbara | Meitinger, Thomas | Melander, Olle | Meyre, David | Midthjell, Kristian | Montgomery, Grant W. | Morken, Mario A. | Morris, Andrew P. | Mulic, Rosanda | Ngwa, Julius S. | Nelis, Mari | Neville, Matt J. | Nyholt, Dale R. | O’Donnell, Christopher J. | O’Rahilly, Stephen | Ong, Ken K. | Oostra, Ben | Paré, Guillaume | Parker, Alex N. | Perola, Markus | Pichler, Irene | Pietiläinen, Kirsi H. | Platou, Carl G.P. | Polasek, Ozren | Pouta, Anneli | Rafelt, Suzanne | Raitakari, Olli | Rayner, Nigel W. | Ridderstråle, Martin | Rief, Winfried | Ruokonen, Aimo | Robertson, Neil R. | Rzehak, Peter | Salomaa, Veikko | Sanders, Alan R. | Sandhu, Manjinder S. | Sanna, Serena | Saramies, Jouko | Savolainen, Markku J. | Scherag, Susann | Schipf, Sabine | Schreiber, Stefan | Schunkert, Heribert | Silander, Kaisa | Sinisalo, Juha | Siscovick, David S. | Smit, Jan H. | Soranzo, Nicole | Sovio, Ulla | Stephens, Jonathan | Surakka, Ida | Swift, Amy J. | Tammesoo, Mari-Liis | Tardif, Jean-Claude | Teder-Laving, Maris | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Thompson, John R. | Thomson, Brian | Tönjes, Anke | Tuomi, Tiinamaija | van Meurs, Joyce B.J. | van Ommen, Gert-Jan | Vatin, Vincent | Viikari, Jorma | Visvikis-Siest, Sophie | Vitart, Veronique | Vogel, Carla I. G. | Voight, Benjamin F. | Waite, Lindsay L. | Wallaschofski, Henri | Walters, G. Bragi | Widen, Elisabeth | Wiegand, Susanna | Wild, Sarah H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Witte, Daniel R. | Witteman, Jacqueline C. | Xu, Jianfeng | Zhang, Qunyuan | Zgaga, Lina | Ziegler, Andreas | Zitting, Paavo | Beilby, John P. | Farooqi, I. Sadaf | Hebebrand, Johannes | Huikuri, Heikki V. | James, Alan L. | Kähönen, Mika | Levinson, Douglas F. | Macciardi, Fabio | Nieminen, Markku S. | Ohlsson, Claes | Palmer, Lyle J. | Ridker, Paul M. | Stumvoll, Michael | Beckmann, Jacques S. | Boeing, Heiner | Boerwinkle, Eric | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Caulfield, Mark J. | Chanock, Stephen J. | Collins, Francis S. | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Smith, George Davey | Erdmann, Jeanette | Froguel, Philippe | Grönberg, Henrik | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hall, Per | Hansen, Torben | Harris, Tamara B. | Hattersley, Andrew T. | Hayes, Richard B. | Heinrich, Joachim | Hu, Frank B. | Hveem, Kristian | Illig, Thomas | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Kaprio, Jaakko | Karpe, Fredrik | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Krude, Heiko | Laakso, Markku | Lawlor, Debbie A. | Metspalu, Andres | Munroe, Patricia B. | Ouwehand, Willem H. | Pedersen, Oluf | Penninx, Brenda W. | Peters, Annette | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Quertermous, Thomas | Reinehr, Thomas | Rissanen, Aila | Rudan, Igor | Samani, Nilesh J. | Schwarz, Peter E.H. | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Spector, Timothy D. | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uda, Manuela | Uitterlinden, André | Valle, Timo T. | Wabitsch, Martin | Waeber, Gérard | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Watkins, Hugh | Wilson, James F. | Wright, Alan F. | Zillikens, M. Carola | Chatterjee, Nilanjan | McCarroll, Steven A. | Purcell, Shaun | Schadt, Eric E. | Visscher, Peter M. | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Deloukas, Panos | Fox, Caroline S. | Groop, Leif C. | Haritunians, Talin | Hunter, David J. | Kaplan, Robert C. | Mohlke, Karen L. | O’Connell, Jeffrey R. | Peltonen, Leena | Schlessinger, David | Strachan, David P. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Frayling, Timothy M. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Abecasis, Gonçalo R. | Barroso, Inês | Boehnke, Michael | Stefansson, Kari | North, Kari E. | McCarthy, Mark I. | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Ingelsson, Erik | Loos, Ruth J.F.
Nature genetics  2010;42(11):937-948.
Obesity is globally prevalent and highly heritable, but the underlying genetic factors remain largely elusive. To identify genetic loci for obesity-susceptibility, we examined associations between body mass index (BMI) and ~2.8 million SNPs in up to 123,865 individuals, with targeted follow-up of 42 SNPs in up to 125,931 additional individuals. We confirmed 14 known obesity-susceptibility loci and identified 18 new loci associated with BMI (P<5×10−8), one of which includes a copy number variant near GPRC5B. Some loci (MC4R, POMC, SH2B1, BDNF) map near key hypothalamic regulators of energy balance, and one is near GIPR, an incretin receptor. Furthermore, genes in other newly-associated loci may provide novel insights into human body weight regulation.
doi:10.1038/ng.686
PMCID: PMC3014648  PMID: 20935630

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