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author:("melon, Erik")
1.  Genome-wide association study of body mass index in 23,000 individuals with and without asthma 
Background
Both asthma and obesity are complex disorders that are influenced by environmental and genetic factors. Shared genetic factors between asthma and obesity have been proposed to partly explain epidemiological findings of co-morbidity between these conditions.
Objective
To identify genetic variants that are associated with body mass index (BMI) in asthmatic children and adults, and to evaluate if there are differences between the genetics of BMI in asthmatics and healthy individuals.
Methods
In total, 19 studies contributed with genome-wide analysis study (GWAS) data from more than 23,000 individuals with predominantly European descent, of whom 8,165 are asthmatics.
Results
We report associations between several DENND1B variants (p=2.2×10−7 for rs4915551) on chromosome 1q31 and BMI from a meta-analysis of GWAS data using 2,691 asthmatic children (screening data). The top DENND1B SNPs were next evaluated in seven independent replication data sets comprising 2,014 asthmatics, and rs4915551 was nominally replicated (p<0.05) in two of the seven studies and of borderline significance in one (p=0.059). However, strong evidence of effect heterogeneity was observed and overall, the association between rs4915551 and BMI was not significant in the total replication data set, p=0.71. Using a random effects model, BMI was overall estimated to increase by 0.30 kg/m2 (p=0.01 for combined screening and replication data sets, N=4,705) per additional G allele of this DENND1B SNP. FTO was confirmed as an important gene for adult and childhood BMI regardless of asthma status.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance
DENND1B was recently identified as an asthma susceptibility gene in a GWAS on children, and here we find evidence that DENND1B variants may also be associated with BMI in asthmatic children. However, the association was overall not replicated in the independent data sets and the heterogeneous effect of DENND1B points to complex associations with the studied diseases that deserve further study.
doi:10.1111/cea.12054
PMCID: PMC3608930  PMID: 23517042
Association; Asthma; BMI; Genetics; Genome-wide; Obesity
3.  Rule-Based Models of the Interplay between Genetic and Environmental Factors in Childhood Allergy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80080.
Both genetic and environmental factors are important for the development of allergic diseases. However, a detailed understanding of how such factors act together is lacking. To elucidate the interplay between genetic and environmental factors in allergic diseases, we used a novel bioinformatics approach that combines feature selection and machine learning. In two materials, PARSIFAL (a European cross-sectional study of 3113 children) and BAMSE (a Swedish birth-cohort including 2033 children), genetic variants as well as environmental and lifestyle factors were evaluated for their contribution to allergic phenotypes. Monte Carlo feature selection and rule based models were used to identify and rank rules describing how combinations of genetic and environmental factors affect the risk of allergic diseases. Novel interactions between genes were suggested and replicated, such as between ORMDL3 and RORA, where certain genotype combinations gave odds ratios for current asthma of 2.1 (95% CI 1.2-3.6) and 3.2 (95% CI 2.0-5.0) in the BAMSE and PARSIFAL children, respectively. Several combinations of environmental factors appeared to be important for the development of allergic disease in children. For example, use of baby formula and antibiotics early in life was associated with an odds ratio of 7.4 (95% CI 4.5-12.0) of developing asthma. Furthermore, genetic variants together with environmental factors seemed to play a role for allergic diseases, such as the use of antibiotics early in life and COL29A1 variants for asthma, and farm living and NPSR1 variants for allergic eczema. Overall, combinations of environmental and life style factors appeared more frequently in the models than combinations solely involving genes. In conclusion, a new bioinformatics approach is described for analyzing complex data, including extensive genetic and environmental information. Interactions identified with this approach could provide useful hints for further in-depth studies of etiological mechanisms and may also strengthen the basis for risk assessment and prevention.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080080
PMCID: PMC3833974  PMID: 24260339
4.  GSTCD and INTS12 Regulation and Expression in the Human Lung 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74630.
Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) meta-analyses have identified a strong association signal for lung function, which maps to a region on 4q24 containing two oppositely transcribed genes: glutathione S-transferase, C-terminal domain containing (GSTCD) and integrator complex subunit 12 (INTS12). Both genes were found to be expressed in a range of human airway cell types. The promoter regions and transcription start sites were determined in mRNA from human lung and a novel splice variant was identified for each gene. We obtained the following evidence for GSTCD and INTS12 co-regulation and expression: (i) correlated mRNA expression was observed both via Q-PCR and in a lung expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) study, (ii) induction of both GSTCD and INTS12 mRNA expression in human airway smooth muscle cells was seen in response to TGFβ1, (iii) a lung eQTL study revealed that both GSTCD and INTS12 mRNA levels positively correlate with percent predicted FEV1, and (iv) FEV1 GWAS associated SNPs in 4q24 were found to act as an eQTL for INTS12 in a number of tissues. In fixed sections of human lung tissue, GSTCD protein expression was ubiquitous, whereas INTS12 expression was predominantly in epithelial cells and pneumocytes. During human fetal lung development, GSTCD protein expression was observed to be highest at the earlier pseudoglandular stage (10-12 weeks) compared with the later canalicular stage (17-19 weeks), whereas INTS12 expression levels did not alter throughout these stages. Knowledge of the transcriptional and translational regulation and expression of GSTCD and INTS12 provides important insights into the potential role of these genes in determining lung function. Future work is warranted to fully define the functions of INTS12 and GSTCD.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074630
PMCID: PMC3776747  PMID: 24058608
5.  HTR4 gene structure and altered expression in the developing lung 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):77.
Background
Meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning the 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 4 (5-HT4R) gene (HTR4) associated with lung function. The aims of this study were to i) investigate the expression profile of HTR4 in adult and fetal lung tissue and cultured airway cells, ii) further define HTR4 gene structure and iii) explore the potential functional implications of key SNPs using a bioinformatic approach.
Methods
Following reverse transcription (RT)-PCR in human brain, 5′ rapid amplification of cDNA ends (5′ RACE) was used to examine the exonic structure of HTR4 at the 5′ end. Quantitative (Q)-PCR was used to quantify HTR4 mRNA expression in total RNA from cultured airway cells and whole lung tissue. Publically available gene microarray data on fetal samples of estimated gestational age 7–22 weeks were mined for HTR4 expression. Immunohistochemistry (IHC; in adult and fetal lung tissue) and a radioligand binding assay (in cultured airway cells) were used to analyze 5­HT4R protein expression.
Results
IHC in adult lung, irrespective of the presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), suggested low level expression of 5-HT4R protein, which was most prominent in alveolar pneumocytes. There was evidence of differential 5-HT4R protein levels during gestation in fetal lung, which was also evident in gene expression microarray data. HTR4 mRNA expression, assessed by Q-PCR, was <0.5% relative to brain in total adult lung tissue and in human airway smooth muscle (HASM) and bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC) derived from adult donors. Radioligand binding experiments also indicated that HBEC and HASM cells did not express a significant 5-HT4R population. 5′ RACE in brain identified a novel N-terminal variant, containing an extended N-terminal sequence. The functional significance of key HTR4 SNPs was investigated using the encyclopedia of DNA elements consortium (ENCODE) dataset. These analyses identified multiple alterations in regulatory motifs for transcription factors implicated in lung development, including Foxp1.
Conclusions
Taken together, these data suggest a role for HTR4 in lung development, which may at least in part explain the genetic association with lung function.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-14-77
PMCID: PMC3750317  PMID: 23890215
5-hydroxytryptamine; HTR4; 5-HT4R; Splice variant; Lung development; COPD; GPCR
6.  A genome-wide association study of atopic dermatitis identifies loci with overlapping effects on asthma and psoriasis 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(23):4841-4856.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common dermatological disease of childhood. Many children with AD have asthma and AD shares regions of genetic linkage with psoriasis, another chronic inflammatory skin disease. We present here a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of childhood-onset AD in 1563 European cases with known asthma status and 4054 European controls. Using Illumina genotyping followed by imputation, we generated 268 034 consensus genotypes and in excess of 2 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for analysis. Association signals were assessed for replication in a second panel of 2286 European cases and 3160 European controls. Four loci achieved genome-wide significance for AD and replicated consistently across all cohorts. These included the epidermal differentiation complex (EDC) on chromosome 1, the genomic region proximal to LRRC32 on chromosome 11, the RAD50/IL13 locus on chromosome 5 and the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) on chromosome 6; reflecting action of classical HLA alleles. We observed variation in the contribution towards co-morbid asthma for these regions of association. We further explored the genetic relationship between AD, asthma and psoriasis by examining previously identified susceptibility SNPs for these diseases. We found considerable overlap between AD and psoriasis together with variable coincidence between allergic rhinitis (AR) and asthma. Our results indicate that the pathogenesis of AD incorporates immune and epidermal barrier defects with combinations of specific and overlapping effects at individual loci.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt317
PMCID: PMC3820131  PMID: 23886662
7.  Genomewide association study of the age of onset of childhood asthma 
BACKGROUND
Childhood asthma is a complex disease with known heritability and phenotypic diversity. Although an earlier onset has been associated with more severe disease, there has been no genome-wide association study of the age of onset of asthma in children.
OBJECTIVE
To identify genetic variants associated with earlier onset of childhood asthma.
METHODS
We conducted the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of the age of onset of childhood asthma among participants in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP), and used three independent cohorts from North America, Costa Rica, and Sweden for replication.
RESULTS
Two SNPs were associated with earlier onset of asthma in the combined analysis of CAMP and the replication cohorts: : rs9815663 (Fisher’s P value=2.31 × 10−8) and rs7927044 (P=6.54 × 10−9). Of these two SNPs, rs9815663 was also significantly associated with earlier asthma onset in an analysis including only the replication cohorts. Ten SNPs in linkage disequilibrium with rs9815663 were also associated with earlier asthma onset (2.24 × 10−7 < P < 8.22 ×10−6). Having ≥1 risk allele of the two SNPs of interest (rs9815663 and rs7927044) was associated with lower lung function and higher asthma medication use during 4 years of follow-up in CAMP.
CONCLUSIONS
We have identified two SNPs associated with earlier onset of childhood asthma in four independent cohorts.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.03.020
PMCID: PMC3387331  PMID: 22560479
Asthma; pediatrics; age of onset; asthma genetics; C1orf100; genome-wide association study; pediatric asthma
8.  Interaction between Retinoid Acid Receptor-Related Orphan Receptor Alpha (RORA) and Neuropeptide S Receptor 1 (NPSR1) in Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60111.
Retinoid acid receptor-related Orphan Receptor Alpha (RORA) was recently identified as a susceptibility gene for asthma in a genome-wide association study. To investigate the impact of RORA on asthma susceptibility, we performed a genetic association study between RORA single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the vicinity of the asthma-associated SNP (rs11071559) and asthma-related traits. Because the regulatory region of a previously implicated asthma susceptibility gene, Neuropeptide S receptor 1 (NPSR1), has predicted elements for RORA binding, we hypothesized that RORA may interact biologically and genetically with NPSR1. 37 RORA SNPs and eight NPSR1 SNPs were genotyped in the Swedish birth cohort BAMSE (2033 children) and the European cross-sectional PARSIFAL study (1120 children). Seven RORA SNPs confined into a 49 kb region were significantly associated with physician-diagnosed childhood asthma. The most significant association with rs7164773 (T/C) was driven by the CC genotype in asthma cases (OR = 2.0, 95%CI 1.36–2.93, p = 0.0003 in BAMSE; and 1.61, 1.18–2.19, p = 0.002 in the combined BAMSE-PARSIFAL datasets, respectively), and strikingly, the risk effect was dependent on the Gln344Arg mutation in NPSR1. In cell models, stimulation of NPSR1 activated a pathway including RORA and other circadian clock genes. Over-expression of RORA decreased NPSR1 promoter activity further suggesting a regulatory loop between these genes. In addition, Rora mRNA expression was lower in the lung tissue of Npsr1 deficient mice compared to wildtype littermates during the early hours of the light period. We conclude that RORA SNPs are associated with childhood asthma and show epistasis with NPSR1, and the interaction between RORA and NPSR1 may be of biological relevance. Combinations of common susceptibility alleles and less common functional polymorphisms may modify the joint risk effects on asthma susceptibility.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060111
PMCID: PMC3615072  PMID: 23565190
9.  DNA Methylation in the Neuropeptide S Receptor 1 (NPSR1) Promoter in Relation to Asthma and Environmental Factors 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53877.
Asthma and allergy are complex disorders influenced by both inheritance and environment, a relationship that might be further clarified by epigenetics. Neuropeptide S Receptor 1 (NPSR1) has been associated with asthma and allergy and a study suggested modulation of the genetic risk by environmental factors. We aimed to study DNA methylation in the promoter region of NPSR1 in relation to asthma and environmental exposures. Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay (EMSA) was used to investigate potential functional roles of both genotypes and methylation status in the NPSR1 promoter. DNA methylation was analysed using EpiTYPER in blood samples from two well-characterized cohorts; the BIOAIR study of severe asthma in adults and the Swedish birth cohort BAMSE. We observed that DNA methylation and genetic variants in the promoter influenced the binding of nuclear proteins to DNA, suggesting functional relevance. Significant, although small, differences in methylation were related to both adult severe asthma (p = 0.0001) and childhood allergic asthma (p = 0.01). Furthermore, DNA methylation was associated with exposures such as current smoking in adults for two CpG sites (p = 0.005 and 0.04), parental smoking during infancy in the children (p = 0.02) and in which month the sample was taken (p = 0.01). In summary, DNA methylation levels in the promoter of NPSR1 showed small but significant associations with asthma, both in adults and in children, and to related traits such as allergy and certain environmental exposures. Both genetic variation and the methylated state of CpG sites seem to have an effect on the binding of nuclear proteins in the regulatory region of NPSR1 suggesting complex regulation of this gene in asthma and allergy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053877
PMCID: PMC3553086  PMID: 23372674
10.  On Lung Function and Interactions Using Genome-Wide Data 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(12):e1003174.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003174
PMCID: PMC3527331  PMID: 23284309
11.  Analyses of shared genetic factors between asthma and obesity in children 
Background
Epidemiological studies consistently show associations between asthma and obesity. Shared genetics may account for this association.
Objective
To identify genetic variants associated with both asthma and obesity.
Methods
Based on a literature search, we identified genes from: 1) Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of Body Mass Index (BMI) (n=17 genes), 2) GWAS of asthma (n=14) and 3) candidate gene studies of BMI and asthma (n=7). We used GWAS data from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) to analyze associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these genes and asthma (n=359 subjects) and BMI (n=537).
Results
One top BMI GWAS SNP from the literature, rs10938397 near GNPDA2, was associated with both BMI (p=4 × 10−4) and asthma (p=0.03). Of the top asthma GWAS SNPs and the candidate gene SNPs, none was found to be associated with both BMI and asthma. Gene-based analyses that included all available SNPs in each gene found associations (p<0.05) with both phenotypes for several genes: NEGR1, ROBO1, DGKG, FAIM2, FTO and CHST8 among the BMI GWAS genes; ILRL1/IL18R1, DPP10, PDE4D, MYB, PDE10A, IL33 and especially PTPRD among the asthma GWAS genes; and PRKCA among the BMI and asthma candidate genes.
Conclusions
SNPs within several genes showed associations to BMI and asthma at a gene level, but none of these associations were significant after correction for multiple testing. Our analysis of known candidate genes reveals some evidence for shared genetics between asthma and obesity, but other shared genetic determinants are likely to be identified in novel loci.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.06.030
PMCID: PMC2941152  PMID: 20816195
Association; Asthma; BMI; Children; Genetics; GWAS; Obesity; Polymorphism; SNP
12.  Expression analysis of asthma candidate genes during human and murine lung development 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):86.
Background
Little is known about the role of most asthma susceptibility genes during human lung development. Genetic determinants for normal lung development are not only important early in life, but also for later lung function.
Objective
To investigate the role of expression patterns of well-defined asthma susceptibility genes during human and murine lung development. We hypothesized that genes influencing normal airways development would be over-represented by genes associated with asthma.
Methods
Asthma genes were first identified via comprehensive search of the current literature. Next, we analyzed their expression patterns in the developing human lung during the pseudoglandular (gestational age, 7-16 weeks) and canalicular (17-26 weeks) stages of development, and in the complete developing lung time series of 3 mouse strains: A/J, SW, C57BL6.
Results
In total, 96 genes with association to asthma in at least two human populations were identified in the literature. Overall, there was no significant over-representation of the asthma genes among genes differentially expressed during lung development, although trends were seen in the human (Odds ratio, OR 1.22, confidence interval, CI 0.90-1.62) and C57BL6 mouse (OR 1.41, CI 0.92-2.11) data. However, differential expression of some asthma genes was consistent in both developing human and murine lung, e.g. NOD1, EDN1, CCL5, RORA and HLA-G. Among the asthma genes identified in genome wide association studies, ROBO1, RORA, HLA-DQB1, IL2RB and PDE10A were differentially expressed during human lung development.
Conclusions
Our data provide insight about the role of asthma susceptibility genes during lung development and suggest common mechanisms underlying lung morphogenesis and pathogenesis of respiratory diseases.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-12-86
PMCID: PMC3141421  PMID: 21699702
Asthma; Development; Expression; Genetics; Lung
13.  MMP12, Lung Function, and COPD in High-Risk Populations 
The New England journal of medicine  2009;361(27):2599-2608.
BACKGROUND
Genetic variants influencing lung function in children and adults may ultimately lead to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), particularly in high-risk groups.
METHODS
We tested for an association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the gene encoding matrix metalloproteinase 12 (MMP12) and a measure of lung function (prebronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1]) in more than 8300 subjects in seven cohorts that included children and adults. Within the Normative Aging Study (NAS), a cohort of initially healthy adult men, we tested for an association between SNPs that were associated with FEV1 and the time to the onset of COPD. We then examined the relationship between MMP12 SNPs and COPD in two cohorts of adults with COPD or at risk for COPD.
RESULTS
The minor allele (G) of a functional variant in the promoter region of MMP12 (rs2276109 [−82A→G]) was positively associated with FEV1 in a combined analysis of children with asthma and adult former and current smokers in all cohorts (P=2×10−6). This allele was also associated with a reduced risk of the onset of COPD in the NAS cohort (hazard ratio, 0.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.46 to 0.92; P = 0.02) and with a reduced risk of COPD in a cohort of smokers (odds ratio, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.45 to 0.88; P = 0.005) and among participants in a family-based study of early-onset COPD (P = 0.006).
CONCLUSIONS
The minor allele of a SNP in MMP12 (rs2276109) is associated with a positive effect on lung function in children with asthma and in adults who smoke. This allele is also associated with a reduced risk of COPD in adult smokers.
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0904006
PMCID: PMC2904064  PMID: 20018959
14.  Interactions between Glutathione S-Transferase P1, Tumor Necrosis Factor, and Traffic-Related Air Pollution for Development of Childhood Allergic Disease 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;116(8):1077-1084.
Background
Air pollutants may induce airway inflammation and sensitization due to generation of reactive oxygen species. The genetic background to these mechanisms could be important effect modifiers.
Objective
Our goal was to assess interactions between exposure to air pollution and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the β2-adrenergic receptor (ADRB2), glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) genes for development of childhood allergic disease.
Methods
In a birth cohort originally of 4,089 children, we assessed air pollution from local traffic using nitrogen oxides (traffic NOx) as an indicator based on emission databases and dispersion modeling and estimated individual exposure through geocoding of home addresses. We measured peak expiratory flow rates and specific IgE for inhalant and food allergens at 4 years of age, and selected children with asthma symptoms up to 4 years of age (n = 542) and controls (n = 542) for genotyping.
Results
Interaction effects on allergic sensitization were indicated between several GSTP1 SNPs and traffic NOx exposure during the first year of life (pnominal < 0.001–0.06). Children with Ile105Val/Val105Val genotypes were at increased risk of sensitization to any allergen when exposed to elevated levels of traffic NOx (for a difference between the 5th and 95th percentile of exposure: odds ratio = 2.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.0–5.3). In children with TNF-308 GA/AA genotypes, the GSTP1–NOx interaction effect was even more pronounced. We observed no conclusive interaction effects for ADRB2.
Conclusion
The effect of air pollution from traffic on childhood allergy appears to be modified by GSTP1 and TNF variants, supporting a role of genes controlling the antioxidative system and inflammatory response in allergy.
doi:10.1289/ehp.11117
PMCID: PMC2516580  PMID: 18709160
ADRB2; air pollution; allergy; asthma; genetics; GSTP1; interaction; nitrogen oxides; polymorphism; TNF

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