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1.  A Genome-Wide Association Study of Monozygotic Twin-Pairs Suggests a Locus Related to Variability of Serum High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol 
Genome-wide association analysis on monozygotic twin pairs offers a route to discovery of gene–environment interactions through testing for variability loci associated with sensitivity to individual environment/lifestyle. We present a genome-wide scan of loci associated with intra-pair differences in serum lipid and apolipoprotein levels. We report data for 1,720 monozygotic female twin pairs from GenomEUtwin project with 2.5 million SNPs, imputed or genotyped, and measured serum lipid fractions for both twins. We found one locus associated with intra-pair differences in high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, rs2483058 in an intron of SRGAP2, where twins carrying the C allele are more sensitive to environmental factors (p = 3.98 × 10−8). We followed up the association in further genotyped monozygotic twins (N = 1 261) which showed a moderate association for the variant (p = .002, same direction of an effect). In addition, we report a new association on the level of apolipoprotein A-II (p = 4.03 × 10−8).
doi:10.1017/thg.2012.63
PMCID: PMC4333218  PMID: 23031429
twins; association; lipids; apolipoproteins; interaction
2.  A genome-wide association study of anorexia nervosa 
Boraska, Vesna | Franklin, Christopher S | Floyd, James AB | Thornton, Laura M | Huckins, Laura M | Southam, Lorraine | Rayner, N William | Tachmazidou, Ioanna | Klump, Kelly L | Treasure, Janet | Lewis, Cathryn M | Schmidt, Ulrike | Tozzi, Federica | Kiezebrink, Kirsty | Hebebrand, Johannes | Gorwood, Philip | Adan, Roger AH | Kas, Martien JH | Favaro, Angela | Santonastaso, Paolo | Fernández-Aranda, Fernando | Gratacos, Monica | Rybakowski, Filip | Dmitrzak-Weglarz, Monika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Keski-Rahkonen, Anna | Raevuori, Anu | Van Furth, Eric F | Landt, Margarita CT Slof-Op t | Hudson, James I | Reichborn-Kjennerud, Ted | Knudsen, Gun Peggy S | Monteleone, Palmiero | Kaplan, Allan S | Karwautz, Andreas | Hakonarson, Hakon | Berrettini, Wade H | Guo, Yiran | Li, Dong | Schork, Nicholas J. | Komaki, Gen | Ando, Tetsuya | Inoko, Hidetoshi | Esko, Tõnu | Fischer, Krista | Männik, Katrin | Metspalu, Andres | Baker, Jessica H | Cone, Roger D | Dackor, Jennifer | DeSocio, Janiece E | Hilliard, Christopher E | O'Toole, Julie K | Pantel, Jacques | Szatkiewicz, Jin P | Taico, Chrysecolla | Zerwas, Stephanie | Trace, Sara E | Davis, Oliver SP | Helder, Sietske | Bühren, Katharina | Burghardt, Roland | de Zwaan, Martina | Egberts, Karin | Ehrlich, Stefan | Herpertz-Dahlmann, Beate | Herzog, Wolfgang | Imgart, Hartmut | Scherag, André | Scherag, Susann | Zipfel, Stephan | Boni, Claudette | Ramoz, Nicolas | Versini, Audrey | Brandys, Marek K | Danner, Unna N | de Kovel, Carolien | Hendriks, Judith | Koeleman, Bobby PC | Ophoff, Roel A | Strengman, Eric | van Elburg, Annemarie A | Bruson, Alice | Clementi, Maurizio | Degortes, Daniela | Forzan, Monica | Tenconi, Elena | Docampo, Elisa | Escaramís, Geòrgia | Jiménez-Murcia, Susana | Lissowska, Jolanta | Rajewski, Andrzej | Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonila | Slopien, Agnieszka | Hauser, Joanna | Karhunen, Leila | Meulenbelt, Ingrid | Slagboom, P Eline | Tortorella, Alfonso | Maj, Mario | Dedoussis, George | Dikeos, Dimitris | Gonidakis, Fragiskos | Tziouvas, Konstantinos | Tsitsika, Artemis | Papezova, Hana | Slachtova, Lenka | Martaskova, Debora | Kennedy, James L. | Levitan, Robert D. | Yilmaz, Zeynep | Huemer, Julia | Koubek, Doris | Merl, Elisabeth | Wagner, Gudrun | Lichtenstein, Paul | Breen, Gerome | Cohen-Woods, Sarah | Farmer, Anne | McGuffin, Peter | Cichon, Sven | Giegling, Ina | Herms, Stefan | Rujescu, Dan | Schreiber, Stefan | Wichmann, H-Erich | Dina, Christian | Sladek, Rob | Gambaro, Giovanni | Soranzo, Nicole | Julia, Antonio | Marsal, Sara | Rabionet, Raquel | Gaborieau, Valerie | Dick, Danielle M | Palotie, Aarno | Ripatti, Samuli | Widén, Elisabeth | Andreassen, Ole A | Espeseth, Thomas | Lundervold, Astri | Reinvang, Ivar | Steen, Vidar M | Le Hellard, Stephanie | Mattingsdal, Morten | Ntalla, Ioanna | Bencko, Vladimir | Foretova, Lenka | Janout, Vladimir | Navratilova, Marie | Gallinger, Steven | Pinto, Dalila | Scherer, Stephen | Aschauer, Harald | Carlberg, Laura | Schosser, Alexandra | Alfredsson, Lars | Ding, Bo | Klareskog, Lars | Padyukov, Leonid | Finan, Chris | Kalsi, Gursharan | Roberts, Marion | Logan, Darren W | Peltonen, Leena | Ritchie, Graham RS | Barrett, Jeffrey C | Estivill, Xavier | Hinney, Anke | Sullivan, Patrick F | Collier, David A | Zeggini, Eleftheria | Bulik, Cynthia M
Molecular psychiatry  2014;19(10):1085-1094.
Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a complex and heritable eating disorder characterized by dangerously low body weight. Neither candidate gene studies nor an initial genome wide association study (GWAS) have yielded significant and replicated results. We performed a GWAS in 2,907 cases with AN from 14 countries (15 sites) and 14,860 ancestrally matched controls as part of the Genetic Consortium for AN (GCAN) and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 3 (WTCCC3). Individual association analyses were conducted in each stratum and meta-analyzed across all 15 discovery datasets. Seventy-six (72 independent) SNPs were taken forward for in silico (two datasets) or de novo (13 datasets) replication genotyping in 2,677 independent AN cases and 8,629 European ancestry controls along with 458 AN cases and 421 controls from Japan. The final global meta-analysis across discovery and replication datasets comprised 5,551 AN cases and 21,080 controls. AN subtype analyses (1,606 AN restricting; 1,445 AN binge-purge) were performed. No findings reached genome-wide significance. Two intronic variants were suggestively associated: rs9839776 (P=3.01×10-7) in SOX2OT and rs17030795 (P=5.84×10-6) in PPP3CA. Two additional signals were specific to Europeans: rs1523921 (P=5.76×10-6) between CUL3 and FAM124B and rs1886797 (P=8.05×10-6) near SPATA13. Comparing discovery to replication results, 76% of the effects were in the same direction, an observation highly unlikely to be due to chance (P=4×10-6), strongly suggesting that true findings exist but that our sample, the largest yet reported, was underpowered for their detection. The accrual of large genotyped AN case-control samples should be an immediate priority for the field.
doi:10.1038/mp.2013.187
PMCID: PMC4325090  PMID: 24514567
anorexia nervosa; eating disorders; GWAS; genome-wide association study; body mass index; metabolic
3.  Genome-wide association analysis identifies six new loci associated with forced vital capacity 
Loth, Daan W. | Artigas, María Soler | Gharib, Sina A. | Wain, Louise V. | Franceschini, Nora | Koch, Beate | Pottinger, Tess | Smith, Albert Vernon | Duan, Qing | Oldmeadow, Chris | Lee, Mi Kyeong | Strachan, David P. | James, Alan L. | Huffman, Jennifer E. | Vitart, Veronique | Ramasamy, Adaikalavan | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Kaprio, Jaakko | Wang, Xin-Qun | Trochet, Holly | Kähönen, Mika | Flexeder, Claudia | Albrecht, Eva | Lopez, Lorna M. | de Jong, Kim | Thyagarajan, Bharat | Alves, Alexessander Couto | Enroth, Stefan | Omenaas, Ernst | Joshi, Peter K. | Fall, Tove | Viňuela, Ana | Launer, Lenore J. | Loehr, Laura R. | Fornage, Myriam | Li, Guo | Wilk, Jemma B. | Tang, Wenbo | Manichaikul, Ani | Lahousse, Lies | Harris, Tamara B. | North, Kari E. | Rudnicka, Alicja R. | Hui, Jennie | Gu, Xiangjun | Lumley, Thomas | Wright, Alan F. | Hastie, Nicholas D. | Campbell, Susan | Kumar, Rajesh | Pin, Isabelle | Scott, Robert A. | Pietiläinen, Kirsi H. | Surakka, Ida | Liu, Yongmei | Holliday, Elizabeth G. | Schulz, Holger | Heinrich, Joachim | Davies, Gail | Vonk, Judith M. | Wojczynski, Mary | Pouta, Anneli | Johansson, Åsa | Wild, Sarah H. | Ingelsson, Erik | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Völzke, Henry | Hysi, Pirro G. | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Morrison, Alanna C. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Gao, Wei | Postma, Dirkje S. | White, Wendy B. | Rich, Stephen S. | Hofman, Albert | Aspelund, Thor | Couper, David | Smith, Lewis J. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Lohman, Kurt | Burchard, Esteban G. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Garcia, Melissa | Joubert, Bonnie R. | McArdle, Wendy L. | Musk, A. Bill | Hansel, Nadia | Heckbert, Susan R. | Zgaga, Lina | van Meurs, Joyce B.J. | Navarro, Pau | Rudan, Igor | Oh, Yeon-Mok | Redline, Susan | Jarvis, Deborah | Zhao, Jing Hua | Rantanen, Taina | O’Connor, George T. | Ripatti, Samuli | Scott, Rodney J. | Karrasch, Stefan | Grallert, Harald | Gaddis, Nathan C. | Starr, John M. | Wijmenga, Cisca | Minster, Ryan L. | Lederer, David J. | Pekkanen, Juha | Gyllensten, Ulf | Campbell, Harry | Morris, Andrew P. | Gläser, Sven | Hammond, Christopher J. | Burkart, Kristin M. | Beilby, John | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hancock, Dana B. | Williams, O. Dale | Polasek, Ozren | Zemunik, Tatijana | Kolcic, Ivana | Petrini, Marcy F. | Wjst, Matthias | Kim, Woo Jin | Porteous, David J. | Scotland, Generation | Smith, Blair H. | Viljanen, Anne | Heliövaara, Markku | Attia, John R. | Sayers, Ian | Hampel, Regina | Gieger, Christian | Deary, Ian J. | Boezen, H. Marike | Newman, Anne | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Wilson, James F. | Lind, Lars | Stricker, Bruno H. | Teumer, Alexander | Spector, Timothy D. | Melén, Erik | Peters, Marjolein J. | Lange, Leslie A. | Barr, R. Graham | Bracke, Ken R. | Verhamme, Fien M. | Sung, Joohon | Hiemstra, Pieter S. | Cassano, Patricia A. | Sood, Akshay | Hayward, Caroline | Dupuis, Josée | Hall, Ian P. | Brusselle, Guy G. | Tobin, Martin D. | London, Stephanie J.
Nature genetics  2014;46(7):669-677.
Forced vital capacity (FVC), a spirometric measure of pulmonary function, reflects lung volume and is used to diagnose and monitor lung diseases. We performed genome-wide association study meta-analysis of FVC in 52,253 individuals from 26 studies and followed up the top associations in 32,917 additional individuals of European ancestry. We found six new regions associated at genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8) with FVC in or near EFEMP1, BMP6, MIR-129-2/HSD17B12, PRDM11, WWOX, and KCNJ2. Two (GSTCD and PTCH1) loci previously associated with spirometric measures were related to FVC. Newly implicated regions were followed-up in samples of African American, Korean, Chinese, and Hispanic individuals. We detected transcripts for all six newly implicated genes in human lung tissue. The new loci may inform mechanisms involved in lung development and pathogenesis of restrictive lung disease.
doi:10.1038/ng.3011
PMCID: PMC4140093  PMID: 24929828
4.  Metabolic Signatures of Adiposity in Young Adults: Mendelian Randomization Analysis and Effects of Weight Change 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(12):e1001765.
In this study, Wurtz and colleagues investigated to what extent elevated body mass index (BMI) within the normal weight range has causal influences on the detailed systemic metabolite profile in early adulthood using Mendelian randomization analysis.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Increased adiposity is linked with higher risk for cardiometabolic diseases. We aimed to determine to what extent elevated body mass index (BMI) within the normal weight range has causal effects on the detailed systemic metabolite profile in early adulthood.
Methods and Findings
We used Mendelian randomization to estimate causal effects of BMI on 82 metabolic measures in 12,664 adolescents and young adults from four population-based cohorts in Finland (mean age 26 y, range 16–39 y; 51% women; mean ± standard deviation BMI 24±4 kg/m2). Circulating metabolites were quantified by high-throughput nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomics and biochemical assays. In cross-sectional analyses, elevated BMI was adversely associated with cardiometabolic risk markers throughout the systemic metabolite profile, including lipoprotein subclasses, fatty acid composition, amino acids, inflammatory markers, and various hormones (p<0.0005 for 68 measures). Metabolite associations with BMI were generally stronger for men than for women (median 136%, interquartile range 125%–183%). A gene score for predisposition to elevated BMI, composed of 32 established genetic correlates, was used as the instrument to assess causality. Causal effects of elevated BMI closely matched observational estimates (correspondence 87%±3%; R2 = 0.89), suggesting causative influences of adiposity on the levels of numerous metabolites (p<0.0005 for 24 measures), including lipoprotein lipid subclasses and particle size, branched-chain and aromatic amino acids, and inflammation-related glycoprotein acetyls. Causal analyses of certain metabolites and potential sex differences warrant stronger statistical power. Metabolite changes associated with change in BMI during 6 y of follow-up were examined for 1,488 individuals. Change in BMI was accompanied by widespread metabolite changes, which had an association pattern similar to that of the cross-sectional observations, yet with greater metabolic effects (correspondence 160%±2%; R2 = 0.92).
Conclusions
Mendelian randomization indicates causal adverse effects of increased adiposity with multiple cardiometabolic risk markers across the metabolite profile in adolescents and young adults within the non-obese weight range. Consistent with the causal influences of adiposity, weight changes were paralleled by extensive metabolic changes, suggesting a broadly modifiable systemic metabolite profile in early adulthood.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Adiposity—having excessive body fat—is a growing global threat to public health. Body mass index (BMI, calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) is a coarse indicator of excess body weight, but the measure is useful in large population studies. Compared to people with a lean body weight (a BMI of 18.5–24.9 kg/m2), individuals with higher BMI have an elevated risk of developing life-shortening cardiometabolic diseases—cardiovascular diseases that affect the heart and/or the blood vessels (for example, heart failure and stroke) and metabolic diseases that affect the cellular chemical reactions that sustain life (for example, diabetes). People become unhealthily fat by consuming food and drink that contains more energy (calories) than they need for their daily activities. So adiposity can be prevented and reversed by eating less and exercising more.
Why Was This Study Done?
Epidemiological studies, which record the patterns of risk factors and disease in populations, suggest that the illness and death associated with excess body weight is partly attributable to abnormalities in how individuals with high adiposity metabolize carbohydrates and fats, leading to higher blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Further, adiposity is also associated with many other deviations in the metabolic profile than these commonly measured risk factors. However, epidemiological studies cannot prove that adiposity causes specific changes in a person's systemic (overall) metabolic profile because individuals with high BMI may share other characteristics (confounding factors) that are the actual causes of both adiposity and metabolic abnormalities. Moreover, having a change in some aspect of metabolism could also lead to adiposity, rather than vice versa (reverse causation). Importantly, if there is a causal effect of adiposity on cardiometabolic risk factor levels, it might be possible to prevent the progression towards cardiometabolic diseases by weight loss. Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether increased BMI within the normal and overweight range is causally influencing the metabolic risk factors from many biological pathways during early adulthood. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. Several gene variants are known to lead to modestly increased BMI. Thus, an investigation of the associations between these gene variants and risk factors across the systemic metabolite profile in a population of healthy individuals can indicate whether higher BMI is causally related to known and novel metabolic risk factors and higher cardiometabolic disease risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured the BMI of 12,664 adolescents and young adults (average BMI 24.7 kg/m2) living in Finland and the blood levels of 82 metabolites in these young individuals at a single time point. Statistical analysis of these data indicated that elevated BMI was adversely associated with numerous cardiometabolic risk factors. For example, elevated BMI was associated with raised levels of low-density lipoprotein, “bad” cholesterol that increases cardiovascular disease risk. Next, the researchers used a gene score for predisposition to increased BMI, composed of 32 gene variants correlated with increased BMI, as an “instrumental variable” to assess whether adiposity causes metabolite abnormalities. The effects on the systemic metabolite profile of a 1-kg/m2 increment in BMI due to genetic predisposition closely matched the effects of an observed 1-kg/m2 increment in adulthood BMI on the metabolic profile. That is, higher levels of adiposity had causal effects on the levels of numerous blood-based metabolic risk factors, including higher levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride-carrying lipoproteins, protein markers of chronic inflammation and adverse liver function, impaired insulin sensitivity, and elevated concentrations of several amino acids that have recently been linked with the risk for developing diabetes. Elevated BMI also causally led to lower levels of certain high-density lipoprotein lipids in the blood, a marker for the risk of future cardiovascular disease. Finally, an examination of the metabolic changes associated with changes in BMI in 1,488 young adults after a period of six years showed that those metabolic measures that were most strongly associated with BMI at a single time point likewise displayed the highest responsiveness to weight change over time.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that increased adiposity has causal adverse effects on multiple cardiometabolic risk markers in non-obese young adults beyond the effects on cholesterol and blood sugar. Like all Mendelian randomization studies, the reliability of the causal association reported here depends on several assumptions made by the researchers. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that increased adiposity has causal adverse effects on multiple cardiometabolic risk markers in non-obese young adults. Importantly, the results of both the causal effect analyses and the longitudinal study suggest that there is no threshold below which a BMI increase does not adversely affect the metabolic profile, and that a systemic metabolic profile linked with high cardiometabolic disease risk that becomes established during early adulthood can be reversed. Overall, these findings therefore highlight the importance of weight reduction as a key target for metabolic risk factor control among young adults.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001765.
The Computational Medicine Research Team of the University of Oulu has a webpage that provides further information on metabolite profiling by high-throughput NMR metabolomics
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The Global Burden of Disease Study website provides the latest details about global obesity trends
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes (including some personal stories)
The American Heart Association provides information on all aspects of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and on keeping healthy; its website includes personal stories about heart attacks, stroke, and diabetes
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on all aspects of overweight and obesity and information about heart disease, stroke, and diabetes
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on heart disease, vascular disease, and obesity (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001765
PMCID: PMC4260795  PMID: 25490400
5.  Regularized Machine Learning in the Genetic Prediction of Complex Traits 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(11):e1004754.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004754
PMCID: PMC4230844  PMID: 25393026
6.  Genome-wide association study on detailed profiles of smoking behavior and nicotine dependence in a twin sample 
Molecular psychiatry  2013;19(5):615-624.
Smoking is a major risk factor for several somatic diseases, and is also emerging as a causal factor for neuropsychiatric disorders. Genome-wide association (GWA) and candidate gene studies for smoking behavior and nicotine dependence (ND) have disclosed too few predisposing variants to account for the high estimated heritability. Prior large-scale GWA studies have had very limited phenotypic definitions of relevance to smoking-related behavior, which has likely impeded the discovery of genetic effects. We performed genome-wide association analyses on 1114 adult twins ascertained for ever smoking from the population-based Finnish Twin Cohort study. The availability of 17 smoking-related phenotypes allowed us to comprehensively portray the dimensions of smoking behavior, clustered into the domains of smoking initiation, amount smoked, and ND. Our results highlight a locus on 16p12.3, with several SNPs in the vicinity of CLEC19A showing association (P<1×10−6) with smoking quantity. Interestingly, CLEC19A is located close to a previously reported attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) linkage locus and an evident link between ADHD and smoking has been established. Intriguing preliminary association (P<1×10−5) was detected between DSM-IV ND diagnosis and several SNPs in ERBB4, coding for a Neuregulin receptor, on 2q33. The association between ERBB4 and DSM-IV ND diagnosis was replicated in an independent Australian sample. Interestingly, in the paper by Turner et al., significant increase in ErbB4 and Neuregulin 3 (Nrg3) expression was revealed following chronic nicotine exposure and withdrawal in mice. Turner et al. also detected an association between NRG3 SNPs and smoking cessation success in a clinical trial. ERBB4 has previously been associated with schizophrenia; further, it is located within an established schizophrenia linkage locus and within a linkage locus for a smoker phenotype identified in this sample. As a conclusion, we disclose novel tentative evidence for the involvement of ERBB4 in ND, suggesting the involvement of the Neuregulin/ErbB signalling pathway in addictions and providing a plausible link between the high co-morbidity of schizophrenia and ND.
doi:10.1038/mp.2013.72
PMCID: PMC3883996  PMID: 23752247
genome-wide association analysis; nicotine dependence; smoking behavior; smoking quantity; schizophrenia; ADHD
7.  Genetic Risk Prediction and a Two-Stage Risk Screening Strategy for Coronary Heart Disease 
Objective
Genome-wide association studies have identified several genetic variants associated with coronary heart disease (CHD). The aim of this study was to evaluate the genetic risk discrimination and reclassification and apply the results for a two-stage population risk screening strategy for CHD.
Approach and Results
We genotyped 28 genetic variants in 24 124 participants in four Finnish population-based, prospective cohorts (recruitment years 1992-2002). We constructed a multi-locus genetic risk score and evaluated its association with incident cardiovascular disease events. During the median follow-up time of 12 years (IQR 8.75–15.25 years), we observed 1093 CHD, 1552 cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 731 acute coronary syndrome (ACS) events. Adding genetic information to conventional risk factors and family history improved risk discrimination of CHD (C-index 0.856 vs. 0.851, P=0.0002) and other end points (CVD: C-index 0.840 vs. 0.837, P=0.0004; ACS: C-index 0.859 vs. 0.855, P=0.001). In a standard population of 100 000 individuals, additional genetic screening of subjects at intermediate risk for CHD would reclassify 2144 (12%) subjects into high risk category. Statin allocation for these subjects is estimated to prevent 135 CHD cases over 14 years. Similar results were obtained by external validation, where the effects were estimated from a training dataset and applied for a test dataset.
Conclusions
Genetic risk score improves risk prediction of CHD and helps to identify individuals at high risk for the first CHD event. Genetic screening for individuals at intermediate cardiovascular risk could help to prevent future cases through better targeting of statins.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.301120
PMCID: PMC4210840  PMID: 23599444
Cardiovascular genomics; Genetic association; Genetic epidemiology; Risk factor; Risk prediction
8.  The Challenges of Genome-Wide Interaction Studies: Lessons to Learn from the Analysis of HDL Blood Levels 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109290.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed 74 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) blood levels. This study is, to our knowledge, the first genome-wide interaction study (GWIS) to identify SNP×SNP interactions associated with HDL levels. We performed a GWIS in the Rotterdam Study (RS) cohort I (RS-I) using the GLIDE tool which leverages the massively parallel computing power of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to perform linear regression on all genome-wide pairs of SNPs. By performing a meta-analysis together with Rotterdam Study cohorts II and III (RS-II and RS-III), we were able to filter 181 interaction terms with a p-value<1 · 10−8 that replicated in the two independent cohorts. We were not able to replicate any of these interaction term in the AGES, ARIC, CHS, ERF, FHS and NFBC-66 cohorts (Ntotal = 30,011) when adjusting for multiple testing. Our GWIS resulted in the consistent finding of a possible interaction between rs774801 in ARMC8 (ENSG00000114098) and rs12442098 in SPATA8 (ENSG00000185594) being associated with HDL levels. However, p-values do not reach the preset Bonferroni correction of the p-values. Our study suggest that even for highly genetically determined traits such as HDL the sample sizes needed to detect SNP×SNP interactions are large and the 2-step filtering approaches do not yield a solution. Here we present our analysis plan and our reservations concerning GWIS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109290
PMCID: PMC4203717  PMID: 25329471
9.  Genomic Association Analysis of Common Variants Influencing Antihypertensive Response to Hydrochlorothiazide 
Hypertension  2013;62(2):391-397.
To identify novel genes influencing blood pressure response to thiazide diuretic therapy for hypertension, we conducted genome-wide association meta-analyses of ≈1.1 million single nucleotide polymorphisms in a combined sample of 424 European Americans with primary hypertension treated with hydrochlorothiazide from the Pharmacogenomic Evaluation of Antihypertensive Responses Study (N=228) and the Genetic Epidemiology of Responses to Antihypertensive Study (N=196). Polymorphisms associated with blood pressure response at p<10-5 were tested for replication of the associations in independent samples of hydrochlorothiazide-treated European hypertensives. The rs16960228 polymorphism in protein kinase C, alpha replicated for same-direction association with diastolic blood pressure response in the Nordic Diltiazem Study (N=420) and the Genetics of Drug Responsiveness in Essential Hypertension Study (N=206), and the combined four-study meta-analysis p-value achieved genome-wide significance (p=3.3 × 10-8). Systolic/diastolic blood pressure responses were consistently greater in carriers of the rs16960228 A allele than in GG homozygotes (4/4 mmHg greater) across study samples. The rs2273359 polymorphism in the GNAS-EDN3 region also replicated for same-direction association with systolic blood pressure response in the Nordic Diltiazem Study, and the combined three-study meta-analysis p-value approached genome-wide significance (p=5.5 × 10-8). The findings document clinically-important effects of genetic variation at novel loci on blood pressure response to a thiazide diuretic, which may be a basis for individualization of antihypertensive drug therapy and identification of new drug targets.
doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.00436
PMCID: PMC3780966  PMID: 23753411
Hypertension; high blood pressure; antihypertensive therapy/diuretics; hydrochlorothiazide; genomics; pharmacogenomics; protein kinase C
10.  Distribution and Medical Impact of Loss-of-Function Variants in the Finnish Founder Population 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(7):e1004494.
Exome sequencing studies in complex diseases are challenged by the allelic heterogeneity, large number and modest effect sizes of associated variants on disease risk and the presence of large numbers of neutral variants, even in phenotypically relevant genes. Isolated populations with recent bottlenecks offer advantages for studying rare variants in complex diseases as they have deleterious variants that are present at higher frequencies as well as a substantial reduction in rare neutral variation. To explore the potential of the Finnish founder population for studying low-frequency (0.5–5%) variants in complex diseases, we compared exome sequence data on 3,000 Finns to the same number of non-Finnish Europeans and discovered that, despite having fewer variable sites overall, the average Finn has more low-frequency loss-of-function variants and complete gene knockouts. We then used several well-characterized Finnish population cohorts to study the phenotypic effects of 83 enriched loss-of-function variants across 60 phenotypes in 36,262 Finns. Using a deep set of quantitative traits collected on these cohorts, we show 5 associations (p<5×10−8) including splice variants in LPA that lowered plasma lipoprotein(a) levels (P = 1.5×10−117). Through accessing the national medical records of these participants, we evaluate the LPA finding via Mendelian randomization and confirm that these splice variants confer protection from cardiovascular disease (OR = 0.84, P = 3×10−4), demonstrating for the first time the correlation between very low levels of LPA in humans with potential therapeutic implications for cardiovascular diseases. More generally, this study articulates substantial advantages for studying the role of rare variation in complex phenotypes in founder populations like the Finns and by combining a unique population genetic history with data from large population cohorts and centralized research access to National Health Registers.
Author Summary
We explored the coding regions of 3,000 Finnish individuals with 3,000 non-Finnish Europeans (NFEs) using whole-exome sequence data, in order to understand how an individual from a bottlenecked population might differ from an individual from an out-bred population. We provide empirical evidence that there are more rare and low-frequency deleterious alleles in Finns compared to NFEs, such that an average Finn has almost twice as many low-frequency complete knockouts of a gene. As such, we hypothesized that some of these low-frequency loss-of-function variants might have important medical consequences in humans and genotyped 83 of these variants in 36,000 Finns. In doing so, we discovered that completely knocking out the TSFM gene might result in inviability or a very severe phenotype in humans and that knocking out the LPA gene might confer protection against coronary heart diseases, suggesting that LPA is likely to be a good potential therapeutic target.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004494
PMCID: PMC4117444  PMID: 25078778
11.  Genome-wide association and longitudinal analyses reveal genetic loci linking pubertal height growth, pubertal timing and childhood adiposity 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(13):2735-2747.
The pubertal height growth spurt is a distinctive feature of childhood growth reflecting both the central onset of puberty and local growth factors. Although little is known about the underlying genetics, growth variability during puberty correlates with adult risks for hormone-dependent cancer and adverse cardiometabolic health. The only gene so far associated with pubertal height growth, LIN28B, pleiotropically influences childhood growth, puberty and cancer progression, pointing to shared underlying mechanisms. To discover genetic loci influencing pubertal height and growth and to place them in context of overall growth and maturation, we performed genome-wide association meta-analyses in 18 737 European samples utilizing longitudinally collected height measurements. We found significant associations (P < 1.67 × 10−8) at 10 loci, including LIN28B. Five loci associated with pubertal timing, all impacting multiple aspects of growth. In particular, a novel variant correlated with expression of MAPK3, and associated both with increased prepubertal growth and earlier menarche. Another variant near ADCY3-POMC associated with increased body mass index, reduced pubertal growth and earlier puberty. Whereas epidemiological correlations suggest that early puberty marks a pathway from rapid prepubertal growth to reduced final height and adult obesity, our study shows that individual loci associating with pubertal growth have variable longitudinal growth patterns that may differ from epidemiological observations. Overall, this study uncovers part of the complex genetic architecture linking pubertal height growth, the timing of puberty and childhood obesity and provides new information to pinpoint processes linking these traits.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt104
PMCID: PMC3674797  PMID: 23449627
12.  Discovery and Refinement of Loci Associated with Lipid Levels 
Willer, Cristen J. | Schmidt, Ellen M. | Sengupta, Sebanti | Peloso, Gina M. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Kanoni, Stavroula | Ganna, Andrea | Chen, Jin | Buchkovich, Martin L. | Mora, Samia | Beckmann, Jacques S. | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Chang, Hsing-Yi | Demirkan, Ayşe | Den Hertog, Heleen M. | Do, Ron | Donnelly, Louise A. | Ehret, Georg B. | Esko, Tõnu | Feitosa, Mary F. | Ferreira, Teresa | Fischer, Krista | Fontanillas, Pierre | Fraser, Ross M. | Freitag, Daniel F. | Gurdasani, Deepti | Heikkilä, Kauko | Hyppönen, Elina | Isaacs, Aaron | Jackson, Anne U. | Johansson, Åsa | Johnson, Toby | Kaakinen, Marika | Kettunen, Johannes | Kleber, Marcus E. | Li, Xiaohui | Luan, Jian’an | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Mangino, Massimo | Mihailov, Evelin | Montasser, May E. | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Nolte, Ilja M. | O’Connell, Jeffrey R. | Palmer, Cameron D. | Perola, Markus | Petersen, Ann-Kristin | Sanna, Serena | Saxena, Richa | Service, Susan K. | Shah, Sonia | Shungin, Dmitry | Sidore, Carlo | Song, Ci | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Surakka, Ida | Tanaka, Toshiko | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Van den Herik, Evita G. | Voight, Benjamin F. | Volcik, Kelly A. | Waite, Lindsay L. | Wong, Andrew | Wu, Ying | Zhang, Weihua | Absher, Devin | Asiki, Gershim | Barroso, Inês | Been, Latonya F. | Bolton, Jennifer L. | Bonnycastle, Lori L | Brambilla, Paolo | Burnett, Mary S. | Cesana, Giancarlo | Dimitriou, Maria | Doney, Alex S.F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Epstein, Stephen E. | Ingi Eyjolfsson, Gudmundur | Gigante, Bruna | Goodarzi, Mark O. | Grallert, Harald | Gravito, Martha L. | Groves, Christopher J. | Hallmans, Göran | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hayward, Caroline | Hernandez, Dena | Hicks, Andrew A. | Holm, Hilma | Hung, Yi-Jen | Illig, Thomas | Jones, Michelle R. | Kaleebu, Pontiano | Kastelein, John J.P. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kim, Eric | Klopp, Norman | Komulainen, Pirjo | Kumari, Meena | Langenberg, Claudia | Lehtimäki, Terho | Lin, Shih-Yi | Lindström, Jaana | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Mach, François | McArdle, Wendy L | Meisinger, Christa | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Müller, Gabrielle | Nagaraja, Ramaiah | Narisu, Narisu | Nieminen, Tuomo V.M. | Nsubuga, Rebecca N. | Olafsson, Isleifur | Ong, Ken K. | Palotie, Aarno | Papamarkou, Theodore | Pomilla, Cristina | Pouta, Anneli | Rader, Daniel J. | Reilly, Muredach P. | Ridker, Paul M. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Ruokonen, Aimo | Samani, Nilesh | Scharnagl, Hubert | Seeley, Janet | Silander, Kaisa | Stančáková, Alena | Stirrups, Kathleen | Swift, Amy J. | Tiret, Laurence | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | van Pelt, L. Joost | Vedantam, Sailaja | Wainwright, Nicholas | Wijmenga, Cisca | Wild, Sarah H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wilsgaard, Tom | Wilson, James F. | Young, Elizabeth H. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Adair, Linda S. | Arveiler, Dominique | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Bandinelli, Stefania | Bennett, Franklyn | Bochud, Murielle | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Bornstein, Stefan R. | Bovet, Pascal | Burnier, Michel | Campbell, Harry | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Chambers, John C. | Chen, Yii-Der Ida | Collins, Francis S. | Cooper, Richard S. | Danesh, John | Dedoussis, George | de Faire, Ulf | Feranil, Alan B. | Ferrières, Jean | Ferrucci, Luigi | Freimer, Nelson B. | Gieger, Christian | Groop, Leif C. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hamsten, Anders | Harris, Tamara B. | Hingorani, Aroon | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Hofman, Albert | Hovingh, G. Kees | Hsiung, Chao Agnes | Humphries, Steve E. | Hunt, Steven C. | Hveem, Kristian | Iribarren, Carlos | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kesäniemi, Antero | Kivimaki, Mika | Kooner, Jaspal S. | Koudstaal, Peter J. | Krauss, Ronald M. | Kuh, Diana | Kuusisto, Johanna | Kyvik, Kirsten O. | Laakso, Markku | Lakka, Timo A. | Lind, Lars | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Martin, Nicholas G. | März, Winfried | McCarthy, Mark I. | McKenzie, Colin A. | Meneton, Pierre | Metspalu, Andres | Moilanen, Leena | Morris, Andrew D. | Munroe, Patricia B. | Njølstad, Inger | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Power, Chris | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Price, Jackie F. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Quertermous, Thomas | Rauramaa, Rainer | Saleheen, Danish | Salomaa, Veikko | Sanghera, Dharambir K. | Saramies, Jouko | Schwarz, Peter E.H. | Sheu, Wayne H-H | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Siegbahn, Agneta | Spector, Tim D. | Stefansson, Kari | Strachan, David P. | Tayo, Bamidele O. | Tremoli, Elena | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uusitupa, Matti | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Vollenweider, Peter | Wallentin, Lars | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Whitfield, John B. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H.R. | Ordovas, Jose M. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Chasman, Daniel I. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Franks, Paul W. | Ripatti, Samuli | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Sandhu, Manjinder S. | Rich, Stephen S. | Boehnke, Michael | Deloukas, Panos | Kathiresan, Sekar | Mohlke, Karen L. | Ingelsson, Erik | Abecasis, Gonçalo R.
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):10.1038/ng.2797.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol are heritable, modifiable, risk factors for coronary artery disease. To identify new loci and refine known loci influencing these lipids, we examined 188,578 individuals using genome-wide and custom genotyping arrays. We identify and annotate 157 loci associated with lipid levels at P < 5×10−8, including 62 loci not previously associated with lipid levels in humans. Using dense genotyping in individuals of European, East Asian, South Asian, and African ancestry, we narrow association signals in 12 loci. We find that loci associated with blood lipids are often associated with cardiovascular and metabolic traits including coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, waist-hip ratio, and body mass index. Our results illustrate the value of genetic data from individuals of diverse ancestries and provide insights into biological mechanisms regulating blood lipids to guide future genetic, biological, and therapeutic research.
doi:10.1038/ng.2797
PMCID: PMC3838666  PMID: 24097068
13.  Common variants associated with plasma triglycerides and risk for coronary artery disease 
Do, Ron | Willer, Cristen J. | Schmidt, Ellen M. | Sengupta, Sebanti | Gao, Chi | Peloso, Gina M. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Kanoni, Stavroula | Ganna, Andrea | Chen, Jin | Buchkovich, Martin L. | Mora, Samia | Beckmann, Jacques S. | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Chang, Hsing-Yi | Demirkan, Ayşe | Den Hertog, Heleen M. | Donnelly, Louise A. | Ehret, Georg B. | Esko, Tõnu | Feitosa, Mary F. | Ferreira, Teresa | Fischer, Krista | Fontanillas, Pierre | Fraser, Ross M. | Freitag, Daniel F. | Gurdasani, Deepti | Heikkilä, Kauko | Hyppönen, Elina | Isaacs, Aaron | Jackson, Anne U. | Johansson, Åsa | Johnson, Toby | Kaakinen, Marika | Kettunen, Johannes | Kleber, Marcus E. | Li, Xiaohui | Luan, Jian'an | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Mangino, Massimo | Mihailov, Evelin | Montasser, May E. | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Nolte, Ilja M. | O'Connell, Jeffrey R. | Palmer, Cameron D. | Perola, Markus | Petersen, Ann-Kristin | Sanna, Serena | Saxena, Richa | Service, Susan K. | Shah, Sonia | Shungin, Dmitry | Sidore, Carlo | Song, Ci | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Surakka, Ida | Tanaka, Toshiko | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Van den Herik, Evita G. | Voight, Benjamin F. | Volcik, Kelly A. | Waite, Lindsay L. | Wong, Andrew | Wu, Ying | Zhang, Weihua | Absher, Devin | Asiki, Gershim | Barroso, Inês | Been, Latonya F. | Bolton, Jennifer L. | Bonnycastle, Lori L | Brambilla, Paolo | Burnett, Mary S. | Cesana, Giancarlo | Dimitriou, Maria | Doney, Alex S.F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Epstein, Stephen E. | Eyjolfsson, Gudmundur Ingi | Gigante, Bruna | Goodarzi, Mark O. | Grallert, Harald | Gravito, Martha L. | Groves, Christopher J. | Hallmans, Göran | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hayward, Caroline | Hernandez, Dena | Hicks, Andrew A. | Holm, Hilma | Hung, Yi-Jen | Illig, Thomas | Jones, Michelle R. | Kaleebu, Pontiano | Kastelein, John J.P. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kim, Eric | Klopp, Norman | Komulainen, Pirjo | Kumari, Meena | Langenberg, Claudia | Lehtimäki, Terho | Lin, Shih-Yi | Lindström, Jaana | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Mach, François | McArdle, Wendy L | Meisinger, Christa | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Müller, Gabrielle | Nagaraja, Ramaiah | Narisu, Narisu | Nieminen, Tuomo V.M. | Nsubuga, Rebecca N. | Olafsson, Isleifur | Ong, Ken K. | Palotie, Aarno | Papamarkou, Theodore | Pomilla, Cristina | Pouta, Anneli | Rader, Daniel J. | Reilly, Muredach P. | Ridker, Paul M. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Ruokonen, Aimo | Samani, Nilesh | Scharnagl, Hubert | Seeley, Janet | Silander, Kaisa | Stančáková, Alena | Stirrups, Kathleen | Swift, Amy J. | Tiret, Laurence | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | van Pelt, L. Joost | Vedantam, Sailaja | Wainwright, Nicholas | Wijmenga, Cisca | Wild, Sarah H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wilsgaard, Tom | Wilson, James F. | Young, Elizabeth H. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Adair, Linda S. | Arveiler, Dominique | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Bandinelli, Stefania | Bennett, Franklyn | Bochud, Murielle | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Bornstein, Stefan R. | Bovet, Pascal | Burnier, Michel | Campbell, Harry | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Chambers, John C. | Chen, Yii-Der Ida | Collins, Francis S. | Cooper, Richard S. | Danesh, John | Dedoussis, George | de Faire, Ulf | Feranil, Alan B. | Ferrières, Jean | Ferrucci, Luigi | Freimer, Nelson B. | Gieger, Christian | Groop, Leif C. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hamsten, Anders | Harris, Tamara B. | Hingorani, Aroon | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Hofman, Albert | Hovingh, G. Kees | Hsiung, Chao Agnes | Humphries, Steve E. | Hunt, Steven C. | Hveem, Kristian | Iribarren, Carlos | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kesäniemi, Antero | Kivimaki, Mika | Kooner, Jaspal S. | Koudstaal, Peter J. | Krauss, Ronald M. | Kuh, Diana | Kuusisto, Johanna | Kyvik, Kirsten O. | Laakso, Markku | Lakka, Timo A. | Lind, Lars | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Martin, Nicholas G. | März, Winfried | McCarthy, Mark I. | McKenzie, Colin A. | Meneton, Pierre | Metspalu, Andres | Moilanen, Leena | Morris, Andrew D. | Munroe, Patricia B. | Njølstad, Inger | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Power, Chris | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Price, Jackie F. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Quertermous, Thomas | Rauramaa, Rainer | Saleheen, Danish | Salomaa, Veikko | Sanghera, Dharambir K. | Saramies, Jouko | Schwarz, Peter E.H. | Sheu, Wayne H-H | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Siegbahn, Agneta | Spector, Tim D. | Stefansson, Kari | Strachan, David P. | Tayo, Bamidele O. | Tremoli, Elena | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uusitupa, Matti | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Vollenweider, Peter | Wallentin, Lars | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Whitfield, John B. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H.R. | Altshuler, David | Ordovas, Jose M. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Chasman, Daniel I. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Franks, Paul W. | Ripatti, Samuli | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Sandhu, Manjinder S. | Rich, Stephen S. | Boehnke, Michael | Deloukas, Panos | Mohlke, Karen L. | Ingelsson, Erik | Abecasis, Goncalo R. | Daly, Mark J. | Neale, Benjamin M. | Kathiresan, Sekar
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):1345-1352.
Triglycerides are transported in plasma by specific triglyceride-rich lipoproteins; in epidemiologic studies, increased triglyceride levels correlate with higher risk for coronary artery disease (CAD). However, it is unclear whether this association reflects causal processes. We used 185 common variants recently mapped for plasma lipids (P<5×10−8 for each) to examine the role of triglycerides on risk for CAD. First, we highlight loci associated with both low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides, and show that the direction and magnitude of both are factors in determining CAD risk. Second, we consider loci with only a strong magnitude of association with triglycerides and show that these loci are also associated with CAD. Finally, in a model accounting for effects on LDL-C and/or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, a polymorphism's strength of effect on triglycerides is correlated with the magnitude of its effect on CAD risk. These results suggest that triglyceride-rich lipoproteins causally influence risk for CAD.
doi:10.1038/ng.2795
PMCID: PMC3904346  PMID: 24097064
14.  Identification of seven loci affecting mean telomere length and their association with disease 
Codd, Veryan | Nelson, Christopher P. | Albrecht, Eva | Mangino, Massimo | Deelen, Joris | Buxton, Jessica L. | Jan Hottenga, Jouke | Fischer, Krista | Esko, Tõnu | Surakka, Ida | Broer, Linda | Nyholt, Dale R. | Mateo Leach, Irene | Salo, Perttu | Hägg, Sara | Matthews, Mary K. | Palmen, Jutta | Norata, Giuseppe D. | O’Reilly, Paul F. | Saleheen, Danish | Amin, Najaf | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Beekman, Marian | de Boer, Rudolf A. | Böhringer, Stefan | Braund, Peter S. | Burton, Paul R. | de Craen, Anton J. M. | Denniff, Matthew | Dong, Yanbin | Douroudis, Konstantinos | Dubinina, Elena | Eriksson, Johan G. | Garlaschelli, Katia | Guo, Dehuang | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Henders, Anjali K. | Houwing-Duistermaat, Jeanine J. | Kananen, Laura | Karssen, Lennart C. | Kettunen, Johannes | Klopp, Norman | Lagou, Vasiliki | van Leeuwen, Elisabeth M. | Madden, Pamela A. | Mägi, Reedik | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Männistö, Satu | McCarthy, Mark I. | Medland, Sarah E. | Mihailov, Evelin | Montgomery, Grant W. | Oostra, Ben A. | Palotie, Aarno | Peters, Annette | Pollard, Helen | Pouta, Anneli | Prokopenko, Inga | Ripatti, Samuli | Salomaa, Veikko | Suchiman, H. Eka D. | Valdes, Ana M. | Verweij, Niek | Viñuela, Ana | Wang, Xiaoling | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Widen, Elisabeth | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wright, Margaret J. | Xia, Kai | Xiao, Xiangjun | van Veldhuisen, Dirk J. | Catapano, Alberico L. | Tobin, Martin D. | Hall, Alistair S. | Blakemore, Alexandra I.F. | van Gilst, Wiek H. | Zhu, Haidong | Erdmann, Jeanette | Reilly, Muredach P. | Kathiresan, Sekar | Schunkert, Heribert | Talmud, Philippa J. | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Perola, Markus | Ouwehand, Willem | Kaprio, Jaakko | Martin, Nicholas G. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Hovatta, Iiris | Gieger, Christian | Metspalu, Andres | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Slagboom, P. Eline | Thompson, John R. | Spector, Tim D. | van der Harst, Pim | Samani, Nilesh J.
Nature genetics  2013;45(4):422-427e2.
Inter-individual variation in mean leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is associated with cancer and several age-associated diseases. Here, in a genome-wide meta-analysis of 37,684 individuals with replication of selected variants in a further 10,739 individuals, we identified seven loci, including five novel loci, associated with mean LTL (P<5x10−8). Five of the loci contain genes (TERC, TERT, NAF1, OBFC1, RTEL1) that are known to be involved in telomere biology. Lead SNPs at two loci (TERC and TERT) associate with several cancers and other diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Moreover, a genetic risk score analysis combining lead variants at all seven loci in 22,233 coronary artery disease cases and 64,762 controls showed an association of the alleles associated with shorter LTL with increased risk of CAD (21% (95% CI: 5–35%) per standard deviation in LTL, p=0.014). Our findings support a causal role of telomere length variation in some age-related diseases.
doi:10.1038/ng.2528
PMCID: PMC4006270  PMID: 23535734
15.  Systematic identification of trans-eQTLs as putative drivers of known disease associations 
Nature genetics  2013;45(10):1238-1243.
Identifying the downstream effects of disease-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) is challenging: the causal gene is often unknown or it is unclear how the SNP affects the causal gene, making it difficult to design experiments that reveal functional consequences. To help overcome this problem, we performed the largest expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) meta-analysis so far reported in non-transformed peripheral blood samples of 5,311 individuals, with replication in 2,775 individuals. We identified and replicated trans-eQTLs for 233 SNPs (reflecting 103 independent loci) that were previously associated with complex traits at genome-wide significance. Although we did not study specific patient cohorts, we identified trait-associated SNPs that affect multiple trans-genes that are known to be markedly altered in patients: for example, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) SNP rs49170141 altered C1QB and five type 1 interferon response genes, both hallmarks of SLE2-4. Subsequent ChIP-seq data analysis on these trans-genes implicated transcription factor IKZF1 as the causal gene at this locus, with DeepSAGE RNA-sequencing revealing that rs4917014 strongly alters 3’ UTR levels of IKZF1. Variants associated with cholesterol metabolism and type 1 diabetes showed similar phenomena, indicating that large-scale eQTL mapping provides insight into the downstream effects of many trait-associated variants.
doi:10.1038/ng.2756
PMCID: PMC3991562  PMID: 24013639
16.  Towards a Molecular Systems Model of Coronary Artery Disease 
Current Cardiology Reports  2014;16(6):488.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a complex disease driven by myriad interactions of genetics and environmental factors. Traditionally, studies have analyzed only 1 disease factor at a time, providing useful but limited understanding of the underlying etiology. Recent advances in cost-effective and high-throughput technologies, such as single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping, exome/genome/RNA sequencing, gene expression microarrays, and metabolomics assays have enabled the collection of millions of data points in many thousands of individuals. In order to make sense of such 'omics' data, effective analytical methods are needed. We review and highlight some of the main results in this area, focusing on integrative approaches that consider multiple modalities simultaneously. Such analyses have the potential to uncover the genetic basis of CAD, produce genomic risk scores (GRS) for disease prediction, disentangle the complex interactions underlying disease, and predict response to treatment.
doi:10.1007/s11886-014-0488-1
PMCID: PMC4050311  PMID: 24743898
Coronary artery disease; Coronary heart disease; Genomics; Systems biology; Mendelian randomization; Metabolites; Network analysis; Molecular systems model
17.  Deletion of TOP3β, a component of FMRP-containing mRNPs, contributes to neurodevelopmental disorders 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(9):1228-1237.
Implicating particular genes in the generation of complex brain and behavior phenotypes requires multiple lines of evidence. The rarity of most high impact genetic variants typically precludes the possibility of accruing statistical evidence that they are associated with a given trait. We show here that the enrichment of a rare Chromosome 22q11.22 deletion in a recently expanded Northern Finnish sub-isolate enables the detection of association between TOP3β and both schizophrenia and cognitive impairment. Biochemical analysis of TOP3β revealed that this topoisomerase is a component of cytosolic messenger ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) and is catalytically active on RNA. The recruitment of TOP3β to mRNPs was independent of RNA cis-elements and was coupled to the co-recruitment of FMRP, the disease gene product in fragile X mental retardation syndrome (FXS). Thus, we uncover a novel role for TOP3β in mRNA metabolism and provide several lines of evidence implicating it in neurodevelopmental disorders.
doi:10.1038/nn.3484
PMCID: PMC3986889  PMID: 23912948
18.  Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies 11 new loci for anthropometric traits and provides insights into genetic architecture 
Berndt, Sonja I. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Mägi, Reedik | Ganna, Andrea | Wheeler, Eleanor | Feitosa, Mary F. | Justice, Anne E. | Monda, Keri L. | Croteau-Chonka, Damien C. | Day, Felix R. | Esko, Tõnu | Fall, Tove | Ferreira, Teresa | Gentilini, Davide | Jackson, Anne U. | Luan, Jian’an | Randall, Joshua C. | Vedantam, Sailaja | Willer, Cristen J. | Winkler, Thomas W. | Wood, Andrew R. | Workalemahu, Tsegaselassie | Hu, Yi-Juan | Lee, Sang Hong | Liang, Liming | Lin, Dan-Yu | Min, Josine L. | Neale, Benjamin M. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Yang, Jian | Albrecht, Eva | Amin, Najaf | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Cadby, Gemma | den Heijer, Martin | Eklund, Niina | Fischer, Krista | Goel, Anuj | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Huffman, Jennifer E. | Jarick, Ivonne | Johansson, Åsa | Johnson, Toby | Kanoni, Stavroula | Kleber, Marcus E. | König, Inke R. | Kristiansson, Kati | Kutalik, Zoltán | Lamina, Claudia | Lecoeur, Cecile | Li, Guo | Mangino, Massimo | McArdle, Wendy L. | Medina-Gomez, Carolina | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Ngwa, Julius S. | Nolte, Ilja M. | Paternoster, Lavinia | Pechlivanis, Sonali | Perola, Markus | Peters, Marjolein J. | Preuss, Michael | Rose, Lynda M. | Shi, Jianxin | Shungin, Dmitry | Smith, Albert Vernon | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Surakka, Ida | Teumer, Alexander | Trip, Mieke D. | Tyrer, Jonathan | Van Vliet-Ostaptchouk, Jana V. | Vandenput, Liesbeth | Waite, Lindsay L. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Absher, Devin | Asselbergs, Folkert W. | Atalay, Mustafa | Attwood, Antony P. | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Basart, Hanneke | Beilby, John | Bonnycastle, Lori L. | Brambilla, Paolo | Bruinenberg, Marcel | Campbell, Harry | Chasman, Daniel I. | Chines, Peter S. | Collins, Francis S. | Connell, John M. | Cookson, William | de Faire, Ulf | de Vegt, Femmie | Dei, Mariano | Dimitriou, Maria | Edkins, Sarah | Estrada, Karol | Evans, David M. | Farrall, Martin | Ferrario, Marco M. | Ferrières, Jean | Franke, Lude | Frau, Francesca | Gejman, Pablo V. | Grallert, Harald | Grönberg, Henrik | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hall, Alistair S. | Hall, Per | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hayward, Caroline | Heard-Costa, Nancy L. | Heath, Andrew C. | Hebebrand, Johannes | Homuth, Georg | Hu, Frank B. | Hunt, Sarah E. | Hyppönen, Elina | Iribarren, Carlos | Jacobs, Kevin B. | Jansson, John-Olov | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Kathiresan, Sekar | Kee, Frank | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kivimaki, Mika | Koenig, Wolfgang | Kraja, Aldi T. | Kumari, Meena | Kuulasmaa, Kari | Kuusisto, Johanna | Laitinen, Jaana H. | Lakka, Timo A. | Langenberg, Claudia | Launer, Lenore J. | Lind, Lars | Lindström, Jaana | Liu, Jianjun | Liuzzi, Antonio | Lokki, Marja-Liisa | Lorentzon, Mattias | Madden, Pamela A. | Magnusson, Patrik K. | Manunta, Paolo | Marek, Diana | März, Winfried | Mateo Leach, Irene | McKnight, Barbara | Medland, Sarah E. | Mihailov, Evelin | Milani, Lili | Montgomery, Grant W. | Mooser, Vincent | Mühleisen, Thomas W. | Munroe, Patricia B. | Musk, Arthur W. | Narisu, Narisu | Navis, Gerjan | Nicholson, George | Nohr, Ellen A. | Ong, Ken K. | Oostra, Ben A. | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Palotie, Aarno | Peden, John F. | Pedersen, Nancy | Peters, Annette | Polasek, Ozren | Pouta, Anneli | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Prokopenko, Inga | Pütter, Carolin | Radhakrishnan, Aparna | Raitakari, Olli | Rendon, Augusto | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Saaristo, Timo E. | Sambrook, Jennifer G. | Sanders, Alan R. | Sanna, Serena | Saramies, Jouko | Schipf, Sabine | Schreiber, Stefan | Schunkert, Heribert | Shin, So-Youn | Signorini, Stefano | Sinisalo, Juha | Skrobek, Boris | Soranzo, Nicole | Stančáková, Alena | Stark, Klaus | Stephens, Jonathan C. | Stirrups, Kathleen | Stolk, Ronald P. | Stumvoll, Michael | Swift, Amy J. | Theodoraki, Eirini V. | Thorand, Barbara | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Tremoli, Elena | Van der Klauw, Melanie M. | van Meurs, Joyce B.J. | Vermeulen, Sita H. | Viikari, Jorma | Virtamo, Jarmo | Vitart, Veronique | Waeber, Gérard | Wang, Zhaoming | Widén, Elisabeth | Wild, Sarah H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Winkelmann, Bernhard R. | Witteman, Jacqueline C.M. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H.R. | Wong, Andrew | Wright, Alan F. | Zillikens, M. Carola | Amouyel, Philippe | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Caulfield, Mark J. | Chanock, Stephen J. | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Cusi, Daniele | Dedoussis, George V. | Erdmann, Jeanette | Eriksson, Johan G. | Franks, Paul W. | Froguel, Philippe | Gieger, Christian | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hamsten, Anders | Harris, Tamara B. | Hengstenberg, Christian | Hicks, Andrew A. | Hingorani, Aroon | Hinney, Anke | Hofman, Albert | Hovingh, Kees G. | Hveem, Kristian | Illig, Thomas | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jöckel, Karl-Heinz | Keinanen-Kiukaanniemi, Sirkka M. | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Kuh, Diana | Laakso, Markku | Lehtimäki, Terho | Levinson, Douglas F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Metspalu, Andres | Morris, Andrew D. | Nieminen, Markku S. | Njølstad, Inger | Ohlsson, Claes | Oldehinkel, Albertine J. | Ouwehand, Willem H. | Palmer, Lyle J. | Penninx, Brenda | Power, Chris | Province, Michael A. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Qi, Lu | Rauramaa, Rainer | Ridker, Paul M. | Ripatti, Samuli | Salomaa, Veikko | Samani, Nilesh J. | Snieder, Harold | Sørensen, Thorkild I.A. | Spector, Timothy D. | Stefansson, Kari | Tönjes, Anke | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uitterlinden, André G. | Uusitupa, Matti | van der Harst, Pim | Vollenweider, Peter | Wallaschofski, Henri | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Watkins, Hugh | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Wilson, James F. | Abecasis, Goncalo R. | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Barroso, Inês | Boehnke, Michael | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Deloukas, Panos | Fox, Caroline S. | Frayling, Timothy | Groop, Leif C. | Haritunian, Talin | Heid, Iris M. | Hunter, David | Kaplan, Robert C. | Karpe, Fredrik | Moffatt, Miriam | Mohlke, Karen L. | O’Connell, Jeffrey R. | Pawitan, Yudi | Schadt, Eric E. | Schlessinger, David | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Strachan, David P. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Visscher, Peter M. | Di Blasio, Anna Maria | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Morris, Andrew P. | Meyre, David | Scherag, André | McCarthy, Mark I. | Speliotes, Elizabeth K. | North, Kari E. | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Ingelsson, Erik
Nature genetics  2013;45(5):501-512.
Approaches exploiting extremes of the trait distribution may reveal novel loci for common traits, but it is unknown whether such loci are generalizable to the general population. In a genome-wide search for loci associated with upper vs. lower 5th percentiles of body mass index, height and waist-hip ratio, as well as clinical classes of obesity including up to 263,407 European individuals, we identified four new loci (IGFBP4, H6PD, RSRC1, PPP2R2A) influencing height detected in the tails and seven new loci (HNF4G, RPTOR, GNAT2, MRPS33P4, ADCY9, HS6ST3, ZZZ3) for clinical classes of obesity. Further, we show that there is large overlap in terms of genetic structure and distribution of variants between traits based on extremes and the general population and little etiologic heterogeneity between obesity subgroups.
doi:10.1038/ng.2606
PMCID: PMC3973018  PMID: 23563607
19.  Assessing multivariate gene-metabolome associations with rare variants using Bayesian reduced rank regression 
Bioinformatics  2014;30(14):2026-2034.
Motivation: A typical genome-wide association study searches for associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and a univariate phenotype. However, there is a growing interest to investigate associations between genomics data and multivariate phenotypes, for example, in gene expression or metabolomics studies. A common approach is to perform a univariate test between each genotype–phenotype pair, and then to apply a stringent significance cutoff to account for the large number of tests performed. However, this approach has limited ability to uncover dependencies involving multiple variables. Another trend in the current genetics is the investigation of the impact of rare variants on the phenotype, where the standard methods often fail owing to lack of power when the minor allele is present in only a limited number of individuals.
Results: We propose a new statistical approach based on Bayesian reduced rank regression to assess the impact of multiple SNPs on a high-dimensional phenotype. Because of the method’s ability to combine information over multiple SNPs and phenotypes, it is particularly suitable for detecting associations involving rare variants. We demonstrate the potential of our method and compare it with alternatives using the Northern Finland Birth Cohort with 4702 individuals, for whom genome-wide SNP data along with lipoprotein profiles comprising 74 traits are available. We discovered two genes (XRCC4 and MTHFD2L) without previously reported associations, which replicated in a combined analysis of two additional cohorts: 2390 individuals from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study and 3659 individuals from the FINRISK study.
Availability and implementation: R-code freely available for download at http://users.ics.aalto.fi/pemartti/gene_metabolome/.
Contact: samuli.ripatti@helsinki.fi; samuel.kaski@aalto.fi
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btu140
PMCID: PMC4080737  PMID: 24665129
20.  Biomarker Profiling by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy for the Prediction of All-Cause Mortality: An Observational Study of 17,345 Persons 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(2):e1001606.
In this study, Würtz and colleagues conducted high-throughput profiling of blood specimens in two large population-based cohorts in order to identify biomarkers for all-cause mortality and enhance risk prediction. The authors found that biomarker profiling improved prediction of the short-term risk of death from all causes above established risk factors. However, further investigations are needed to clarify the biological mechanisms and the utility of these biomarkers to guide screening and prevention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Early identification of ambulatory persons at high short-term risk of death could benefit targeted prevention. To identify biomarkers for all-cause mortality and enhance risk prediction, we conducted high-throughput profiling of blood specimens in two large population-based cohorts.
Methods and Findings
106 candidate biomarkers were quantified by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of non-fasting plasma samples from a random subset of the Estonian Biobank (n = 9,842; age range 18–103 y; 508 deaths during a median of 5.4 y of follow-up). Biomarkers for all-cause mortality were examined using stepwise proportional hazards models. Significant biomarkers were validated and incremental predictive utility assessed in a population-based cohort from Finland (n = 7,503; 176 deaths during 5 y of follow-up). Four circulating biomarkers predicted the risk of all-cause mortality among participants from the Estonian Biobank after adjusting for conventional risk factors: alpha-1-acid glycoprotein (hazard ratio [HR] 1.67 per 1–standard deviation increment, 95% CI 1.53–1.82, p = 5×10−31), albumin (HR 0.70, 95% CI 0.65–0.76, p = 2×10−18), very-low-density lipoprotein particle size (HR 0.69, 95% CI 0.62–0.77, p = 3×10−12), and citrate (HR 1.33, 95% CI 1.21–1.45, p = 5×10−10). All four biomarkers were predictive of cardiovascular mortality, as well as death from cancer and other nonvascular diseases. One in five participants in the Estonian Biobank cohort with a biomarker summary score within the highest percentile died during the first year of follow-up, indicating prominent systemic reflections of frailty. The biomarker associations all replicated in the Finnish validation cohort. Including the four biomarkers in a risk prediction score improved risk assessment for 5-y mortality (increase in C-statistics 0.031, p = 0.01; continuous reclassification improvement 26.3%, p = 0.001).
Conclusions
Biomarker associations with cardiovascular, nonvascular, and cancer mortality suggest novel systemic connectivities across seemingly disparate morbidities. The biomarker profiling improved prediction of the short-term risk of death from all causes above established risk factors. Further investigations are needed to clarify the biological mechanisms and the utility of these biomarkers for guiding screening and prevention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
A biomarker is a biological molecule found in blood, body fluids, or tissues that may signal an abnormal process, a condition, or a disease. The level of a particular biomarker may indicate a patient's risk of disease, or likely response to a treatment. For example, cholesterol levels are measured to assess the risk of heart disease. Most current biomarkers are used to test an individual's risk of developing a specific condition. There are none that accurately assess whether a person is at risk of ill health generally, or likely to die soon from a disease. Early and accurate identification of people who appear healthy but in fact have an underlying serious illness would provide valuable opportunities for preventative treatment.
While most tests measure the levels of a specific biomarker, there are some technologies that allow blood samples to be screened for a wide range of biomarkers. These include nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. These tools have the potential to be used to screen the general population for a range of different biomarkers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Identifying new biomarkers that provide insight into the risk of death from all causes could be an important step in linking different diseases and assessing patient risk. The authors in this study screened patient samples using NMR spectroscopy for biomarkers that accurately predict the risk of death particularly amongst the general population, rather than amongst people already known to be ill.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers studied two large groups of people, one in Estonia and one in Finland. Both countries have set up health registries that collect and store blood samples and health records over many years. The registries include large numbers of people who are representative of the wider population.
The researchers first tested blood samples from a representative subset of the Estonian group, testing 9,842 samples in total. They looked at 106 different biomarkers in each sample using NMR spectroscopy. They also looked at the health records of this group and found that 508 people died during the follow-up period after the blood sample was taken, the majority from heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Using statistical analysis, they looked for any links between the levels of different biomarkers in the blood and people's short-term risk of dying. They found that the levels of four biomarkers—plasma albumin, alpha-1-acid glycoprotein, very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) particle size, and citrate—appeared to accurately predict short-term risk of death. They repeated this study with the Finnish group, this time with 7,503 individuals (176 of whom died during the five-year follow-up period after giving a blood sample) and found similar results.
The researchers carried out further statistical analyses to take into account other known factors that might have contributed to the risk of life-threatening illness. These included factors such as age, weight, tobacco and alcohol use, cholesterol levels, and pre-existing illness, such as diabetes and cancer. The association between the four biomarkers and short-term risk of death remained the same even when controlling for these other factors.
The analysis also showed that combining the test results for all four biomarkers, to produce a biomarker score, provided a more accurate measure of risk than any of the biomarkers individually. This biomarker score also proved to be the strongest predictor of short-term risk of dying in the Estonian group. Individuals with a biomarker score in the top 20% had a risk of dying within five years that was 19 times greater than that of individuals with a score in the bottom 20% (288 versus 15 deaths).
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study suggests that there are four biomarkers in the blood—alpha-1-acid glycoprotein, albumin, VLDL particle size, and citrate—that can be measured by NMR spectroscopy to assess whether otherwise healthy people are at short-term risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. However, further validation of these findings is still required, and additional studies should examine the biomarker specificity and associations in settings closer to clinical practice. The combined biomarker score appears to be a more accurate predictor of risk than tests for more commonly known risk factors. Identifying individuals who are at high risk using these biomarkers might help to target preventative medical treatments to those with the greatest need.
However, there are several limitations to this study. As an observational study, it provides evidence of only a correlation between a biomarker score and ill health. It does not identify any underlying causes. Other factors, not detectable by NMR spectroscopy, might be the true cause of serious health problems and would provide a more accurate assessment of risk. Nor does this study identify what kinds of treatment might prove successful in reducing the risks. Therefore, more research is needed to determine whether testing for these biomarkers would provide any clinical benefit.
There were also some technical limitations to the study. NMR spectroscopy does not detect as many biomarkers as mass spectrometry, which might therefore identify further biomarkers for a more accurate risk assessment. In addition, because both study groups were northern European, it is not yet known whether the results would be the same in other ethnic groups or populations with different lifestyles.
In spite of these limitations, the fact that the same four biomarkers are associated with a short-term risk of death from a variety of diseases does suggest that similar underlying mechanisms are taking place. This observation points to some potentially valuable areas of research to understand precisely what's contributing to the increased risk.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001606
The US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has information on biomarkers
The US Food and Drug Administration has a Biomarker Qualification Program to help researchers in identifying and evaluating new biomarkers
Further information on the Estonian Biobank is available
The Computational Medicine Research Team of the University of Oulu and the University of Bristol have a webpage that provides further information on high-throughput biomarker profiling by NMR spectroscopy
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001606
PMCID: PMC3934819  PMID: 24586121
21.  Chromosome X-Wide Association Study Identifies Loci for Fasting Insulin and Height and Evidence for Incomplete Dosage Compensation 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(2):e1004127.
The X chromosome (chrX) represents one potential source for the “missing heritability” for complex phenotypes, which thus far has remained underanalyzed in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Here we demonstrate the benefits of including chrX in GWAS by assessing the contribution of 404,862 chrX SNPs to levels of twelve commonly studied cardiometabolic and anthropometric traits in 19,697 Finnish and Swedish individuals with replication data on 5,032 additional Finns. By using a linear mixed model, we estimate that on average 2.6% of the additive genetic variance in these twelve traits is attributable to chrX, this being in proportion to the number of SNPs in the chromosome. In a chrX-wide association analysis, we identify three novel loci: two for height (rs182838724 near FGF16/ATRX/MAGT1, joint P-value = 2.71×10−9, and rs1751138 near ITM2A, P-value = 3.03×10−10) and one for fasting insulin (rs139163435 in Xq23, P-value = 5.18×10−9). Further, we find that effect sizes for variants near ITM2A, a gene implicated in cartilage development, show evidence for a lack of dosage compensation. This observation is further supported by a sex-difference in ITM2A expression in whole blood (P-value = 0.00251), and is also in agreement with a previous report showing ITM2A escapes from X chromosome inactivation (XCI) in the majority of women. Hence, our results show one of the first links between phenotypic variation in a population sample and an XCI-escaping locus and pinpoint ITM2A as a potential contributor to the sexual dimorphism in height. In conclusion, our study provides a clear motivation for including chrX in large-scale genetic studies of complex diseases and traits.
Author Summary
The X chromosome (chrX) analyses have often been neglected in large-scale genome-wide association studies. Given that chrX contains a considerable proportion of DNA, we wanted to examine how the variation in the chromosome contributes to commonly studied phenotypes. To this end, we studied the associations of over 400,000 chrX variants with twelve complex phenotypes, such as height, in almost 25,000 Northern European individuals. Demonstrating the value of assessing chrX associations, we found that as a whole the variation in the chromosome influences the levels of many of these phenotypes and further identified three new genomic regions where the variants associate with height or fasting insulin levels. In one of these three associated regions, the region near ITM2A, we observed that there is a sex difference in the genetic effects on height in a manner consistent with a lack of dosage compensation in this locus. Further supporting this observation, ITM2A has been shown to be among those chrX genes where the X chromosome inactivation is incomplete. Identifying phenotype associations in regions like this where chrX allele dosages are not balanced between men and women can be particularly valuable in helping us to understand why some characteristics differ between sexes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004127
PMCID: PMC3916240  PMID: 24516404
22.  Re-sequencing Expands Our Understanding of the Phenotypic Impact of Variants at GWAS Loci 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(1):e1004147.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >500 common variants associated with quantitative metabolic traits, but in aggregate such variants explain at most 20–30% of the heritable component of population variation in these traits. To further investigate the impact of genotypic variation on metabolic traits, we conducted re-sequencing studies in >6,000 members of a Finnish population cohort (The Northern Finland Birth Cohort of 1966 [NFBC]) and a type 2 diabetes case-control sample (The Finland-United States Investigation of NIDDM Genetics [FUSION] study). By sequencing the coding sequence and 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions of 78 genes at 17 GWAS loci associated with one or more of six metabolic traits (serum levels of fasting HDL-C, LDL-C, total cholesterol, triglycerides, plasma glucose, and insulin), and conducting both single-variant and gene-level association tests, we obtained a more complete understanding of phenotype-genotype associations at eight of these loci. At all eight of these loci, the identification of new associations provides significant evidence for multiple genetic signals to one or more phenotypes, and at two loci, in the genes ABCA1 and CETP, we found significant gene-level evidence of association to non-synonymous variants with MAF<1%. Additionally, two potentially deleterious variants that demonstrated significant associations (rs138726309, a missense variant in G6PC2, and rs28933094, a missense variant in LIPC) were considerably more common in these Finnish samples than in European reference populations, supporting our prior hypothesis that deleterious variants could attain high frequencies in this isolated population, likely due to the effects of population bottlenecks. Our results highlight the value of large, well-phenotyped samples for rare-variant association analysis, and the challenge of evaluating the phenotypic impact of such variants.
Author Summary
Abnormal serum levels of various metabolites, including measures relevant to cholesterol, other fats, and sugars, are known to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Identification of the genes that play a role in generating such abnormalities could advance the development of new treatment and prevention strategies for these disorders. Investigations of common genetic variants carried out in large sets of research subjects have successfully pinpointed such genes within many regions of the human genome. However, these studies often have not led to the identification of the specific genetic variations affecting metabolic traits. To attempt to detect such causal variations, we sequenced genes in 17 genomic regions implicated in metabolic traits in >6,000 people from Finland. By conducting statistical analyses relating specific variations (individually and grouped by gene) to the measures for these metabolic traits observed in the study subjects, we added to our understanding of how genotypes affect these traits. Our findings support a long-held hypothesis that the unique history of the Finnish population provides important advantages for analyzing the relationship between genetic variations and biomedically important traits.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004147
PMCID: PMC3907339  PMID: 24497850
23.  High Risk Population Isolate Reveals Low Frequency Variants Predisposing to Intracranial Aneurysms 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(1):e1004134.
3% of the population develops saccular intracranial aneurysms (sIAs), a complex trait, with a sporadic and a familial form. Subarachnoid hemorrhage from sIA (sIA-SAH) is a devastating form of stroke. Certain rare genetic variants are enriched in the Finns, a population isolate with a small founder population and bottleneck events. As the sIA-SAH incidence in Finland is >2× increased, such variants may associate with sIA in the Finnish population. We tested 9.4 million variants for association in 760 Finnish sIA patients (enriched for familial sIA), and in 2,513 matched controls with case-control status and with the number of sIAs. The most promising loci (p<5E-6) were replicated in 858 Finnish sIA patients and 4,048 controls. The frequencies and effect sizes of the replicated variants were compared to a continental European population using 717 Dutch cases and 3,004 controls. We discovered four new high-risk loci with low frequency lead variants. Three were associated with the case-control status: 2q23.3 (MAF 2.1%, OR 1.89, p 1.42×10-9); 5q31.3 (MAF 2.7%, OR 1.66, p 3.17×10-8); 6q24.2 (MAF 2.6%, OR 1.87, p 1.87×10-11) and one with the number of sIAs: 7p22.1 (MAF 3.3%, RR 1.59, p 6.08×-9). Two of the associations (5q31.3, 6q24.2) replicated in the Dutch sample. The 7p22.1 locus was strongly differentiated; the lead variant was more frequent in Finland (4.6%) than in the Netherlands (0.3%). Additionally, we replicated a previously inconclusive locus on 2q33.1 in all samples tested (OR 1.27, p 1.87×10-12). The five loci explain 2.1% of the sIA heritability in Finland, and may relate to, but not explain, the increased incidence of sIA-SAH in Finland. This study illustrates the utility of population isolates, familial enrichment, dense genotype imputation and alternate phenotyping in search for variants associated with complex diseases.
Author Summary
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been extensively used to identify common genetic variants associated with complex diseases. As common genetic variants have explained only a small fraction of the heritability of most complex diseases, there is a growing interest in the role of how low frequency and rare variants contribute to the susceptibility. Low frequency variants are more often specific to populations of distinct ancestries. Saccular intracranial aneurysms (sIA) are balloon-like dilatations in the arteries on the surface of the brain. The rupture of sIA causes life-threatening intracranial bleeding. sIA is a complex disease, which is known to sometimes run in families. Here, we utilize the recent advancements in knowledge of genetic variation in different populations to examine the role of low-frequency variants in sIA disease in the isolated population of Finland where sIA related strokes are more common than in most other populations. By studying >8000 Finns we identify four low-frequency variants associated with the sIA disease. We also show that the association of two of the variants are seen in other European populations as well. Our findings demonstrate that multiple study designs are needed to uncover more comprehensively their genetic background, including population isolates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004134
PMCID: PMC3907358  PMID: 24497844
24.  Genetic variants influencing circulating lipid levels and risk of coronary artery disease 
Objectives
Genetic studies might provide new insights into the biological mechanisms underlying lipid metabolism and risk of CAD. We therefore conducted a genome-wide association study to identify novel genetic determinants of LDL-c, HDL-c and triglycerides.
Methods and results
We combined genome-wide association data from eight studies, comprising up to 17,723 participants with information on circulating lipid concentrations. We did independent replication studies in up to 37,774 participants from eight populations and also in a population of Indian Asian descent. We also assessed the association between SNPs at lipid loci and risk of CAD in up to 9,633 cases and 38,684 controls.
We identified four novel genetic loci that showed reproducible associations with lipids (P values 1.6 × 10−8 to 3.1 × 10−10). These include a potentially functional SNP in the SLC39A8 gene for HDL-c, a SNP near the MYLIP/GMPR and PPP1R3B genes for LDL-c and at the AFF1 gene for triglycerides. SNPs showing strong statistical association with one or more lipid traits at the CELSR2, APOB, APOE-C1-C4-C2 cluster, LPL, ZNF259-APOA5-A4-C3-A1 cluster and TRIB1 loci were also associated with CAD risk (P values 1.1 × 10−3 to 1.2 × 10−9).
Conclusions
We have identified four novel loci associated with circulating lipids. We also show that in addition to those that are largely associated with LDL-c, genetic loci mainly associated with circulating triglycerides and HDL-c are also associated with risk of CAD. These findings potentially provide new insights into the biological mechanisms underlying lipid metabolism and CAD risk.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.109.201020
PMCID: PMC3891568  PMID: 20864672
lipids; lipoproteins; genetics; epidemiology
25.  A genome-wide association study of anorexia nervosa 
Boraska, Vesna | Franklin, Christopher S | Floyd, James AB | Thornton, Laura M | Huckins, Laura M | Southam, Lorraine | Rayner, N William | Tachmazidou, Ioanna | Klump, Kelly L | Treasure, Janet | Lewis, Cathryn M | Schmidt, Ulrike | Tozzi, Federica | Kiezebrink, Kirsty | Hebebrand, Johannes | Gorwood, Philip | Adan, Roger AH | Kas, Martien JH | Favaro, Angela | Santonastaso, Paolo | Fernández-Aranda, Fernando | Gratacos, Monica | Rybakowski, Filip | Dmitrzak-Weglarz, Monika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Keski-Rahkonen, Anna | Raevuori, Anu | Van Furth, Eric F | Slof-Op t Landt, Margarita CT | Hudson, James I | Reichborn-Kjennerud, Ted | Knudsen, Gun Peggy S | Monteleone, Palmiero | Kaplan, Allan S | Karwautz, Andreas | Hakonarson, Hakon | Berrettini, Wade H | Guo, Yiran | Li, Dong | Schork, Nicholas J. | Komaki, Gen | Ando, Tetsuya | Inoko, Hidetoshi | Esko, Tõnu | Fischer, Krista | Männik, Katrin | Metspalu, Andres | Baker, Jessica H | Cone, Roger D | Dackor, Jennifer | DeSocio, Janiece E | Hilliard, Christopher E | O’Toole, Julie K | Pantel, Jacques | Szatkiewicz, Jin P | Taico, Chrysecolla | Zerwas, Stephanie | Trace, Sara E | Davis, Oliver SP | Helder, Sietske | Bühren, Katharina | Burghardt, Roland | de Zwaan, Martina | Egberts, Karin | Ehrlich, Stefan | Herpertz-Dahlmann, Beate | Herzog, Wolfgang | Imgart, Hartmut | Scherag, André | Scherag, Susann | Zipfel, Stephan | Boni, Claudette | Ramoz, Nicolas | Versini, Audrey | Brandys, Marek K | Danner, Unna N | de Kovel, Carolien | Hendriks, Judith | Koeleman, Bobby PC | Ophoff, Roel A | Strengman, Eric | van Elburg, Annemarie A | Bruson, Alice | Clementi, Maurizio | Degortes, Daniela | Forzan, Monica | Tenconi, Elena | Docampo, Elisa | Escaramís, Geòrgia | Jiménez-Murcia, Susana | Lissowska, Jolanta | Rajewski, Andrzej | Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonila | Slopien, Agnieszka | Hauser, Joanna | Karhunen, Leila | Meulenbelt, Ingrid | Slagboom, P Eline | Tortorella, Alfonso | Maj, Mario | Dedoussis, George | Dikeos, Dimitris | Gonidakis, Fragiskos | Tziouvas, Konstantinos | Tsitsika, Artemis | Papezova, Hana | Slachtova, Lenka | Martaskova, Debora | Kennedy, James L. | Levitan, Robert D. | Yilmaz, Zeynep | Huemer, Julia | Koubek, Doris | Merl, Elisabeth | Wagner, Gudrun | Lichtenstein, Paul | Breen, Gerome | Cohen-Woods, Sarah | Farmer, Anne | McGuffin, Peter | Cichon, Sven | Giegling, Ina | Herms, Stefan | Rujescu, Dan | Schreiber, Stefan | Wichmann, H-Erich | Dina, Christian | Sladek, Rob | Gambaro, Giovanni | Soranzo, Nicole | Julia, Antonio | Marsal, Sara | Rabionet, Raquel | Gaborieau, Valerie | Dick, Danielle M | Palotie, Aarno | Ripatti, Samuli | Widén, Elisabeth | Andreassen, Ole A | Espeseth, Thomas | Lundervold, Astri | Reinvang, Ivar | Steen, Vidar M | Le Hellard, Stephanie | Mattingsdal, Morten | Ntalla, Ioanna | Bencko, Vladimir | Foretova, Lenka | Janout, Vladimir | Navratilova, Marie | Gallinger, Steven | Pinto, Dalila | Scherer, Stephen | Aschauer, Harald | Carlberg, Laura | Schosser, Alexandra | Alfredsson, Lars | Ding, Bo | Klareskog, Lars | Padyukov, Leonid | Finan, Chris | Kalsi, Gursharan | Roberts, Marion | Logan, Darren W | Peltonen, Leena | Ritchie, Graham RS | Barrett, Jeffrey C | Estivill, Xavier | Hinney, Anke | Sullivan, Patrick F | Collier, David A | Zeggini, Eleftheria | Bulik, Cynthia M
Molecular psychiatry  2010;16(9):10.1038/mp.2010.107.
Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a complex and heritable eating disorder characterized by dangerously low body weight. Neither candidate gene studies nor an initial genome wide association study (GWAS) have yielded significant and replicated results. We performed a GWAS in 2,907 cases with AN from 14 countries (15 sites) and 14,860 ancestrally matched controls as part of the Genetic Consortium for AN (GCAN) and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 3 (WTCCC3). Individual association analyses were conducted in each stratum and meta-analyzed across all 15 discovery datasets. Seventy-six (72 independent) SNPs were taken forward for in silico (two datasets) or de novo (13 datasets) replication genotyping in 2,677 independent AN cases and 8,629 European ancestry controls along with 458 AN cases and 421 controls from Japan. The final global meta-analysis across discovery and replication datasets comprised 5,551 AN cases and 21,080 controls. AN subtype analyses (1,606 AN restricting; 1,445 AN binge-purge) were performed. No findings reached genome-wide significance. Two intronic variants were suggestively associated: rs9839776 (P=3.01×10−7) in SOX2OT and rs17030795 (P=5.84×10−6) in PPP3CA. Two additional signals were specific to Europeans: rs1523921 (P=5.76×10−6) between CUL3 and FAM124B and rs1886797 (P=8.05×10−6) near SPATA13. Comparing discovery to replication results, 76% of the effects were in the same direction, an observation highly unlikely to be due to chance (P= 4×10−6), strongly suggesting that true findings exist but that our sample, the largest yet reported, was underpowered for their detection. The accrual of large genotyped AN case-control samples should be an immediate priority for the field.
doi:10.1038/mp.2010.107
PMCID: PMC3859494  PMID: 21079607
anorexia nervosa; eating disorders; GWAS; genome-wide association study; body mass index; metabolic

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