Calcium is vital to the normal functioning of multiple organ systems and its serum concentration is tightly regulated. Apart from CASR, the genes associated with serum calcium are largely unknown. We conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 39,400 individuals from 17 population-based cohorts and investigated the 14 most strongly associated loci in ≤21,679 additional individuals. Seven loci (six new regions) in association with serum calcium were identified and replicated. Rs1570669 near CYP24A1 (P = 9.1E-12), rs10491003 upstream of GATA3 (P = 4.8E-09) and rs7481584 in CARS (P = 1.2E-10) implicate regions involved in Mendelian calcemic disorders: Rs1550532 in DGKD (P = 8.2E-11), also associated with bone density, and rs7336933 near DGKH/KIAA0564 (P = 9.1E-10) are near genes that encode distinct isoforms of diacylglycerol kinase. Rs780094 is in GCKR. We characterized the expression of these genes in gut, kidney, and bone, and demonstrate modulation of gene expression in bone in response to dietary calcium in mice. Our results shed new light on the genetics of calcium homeostasis.
Calcium is vital to many biological processes and its serum concentration is tightly regulated. Family studies have shown that serum calcium is under strong genetic control. Apart from CASR, the genes associated with serum calcium are largely unknown. We conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 39,400 individuals from 17 population-based cohorts and investigated the 14 most strongly associated loci in ≤21,679 additional individuals. We identified seven loci (six new regions) as being robustly associated with serum calcium. Three loci implicate regions involved in rare monogenic diseases including disturbances of serum calcium levels. Several of the newly identified loci harbor genes linked to the hormonal control of serum calcium. In mice experiments, we characterized the expression of these genes in gut, kidney, and bone, and explored the influence of dietary calcium intake on the expression of these genes in these organs. Our results shed new light on the genetics of calcium homeostasis and suggest a role for dietary calcium intake in bone-specific gene expression.
Chronic widespread pain (CWP) is a common disorder affecting ~10% of the general population and has an estimated heritability of 48-52%. In the first large-scale genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis, we aimed to identify common genetic variants associated with CWP.
We conducted a GWAS meta-analysis in 1,308 female CWP cases and 5,791 controls of European descent, and replicated the effects of the genetic variants with suggestive evidence for association in 1,480 CWP cases and 7,989 controls (P<1×10−5). Subsequently, we studied gene expression levels of the nearest genes in two chronic inflammatory pain mouse models, and examined 92 genetic variants previously described associated with pain.
The minor C-allele of rs13361160 on chromosome 5p15.2, located upstream of CCT5 and downstream of FAM173B, was found to be associated with a 30% higher risk of CWP (MAF=43%; OR=1.30, 95%CI=1.19-1.42, P=1.2×10−8). Combined with the replication, we observed a slightly attenuated OR of 1.17 (95%CI=1.10-1.24, P=4.7×10−7) with moderate heterogeneity (I2=28.4%). However, in a sensitivity analysis that only allowed studies with joint-specific pain, the combined association was genome-wide significant (OR=1.23, 95%CI=1.14-1.32, P=3.4×10−8, I2=0%). Expression levels of Cct5 and Fam173b in mice with inflammatory pain were higher in the lumbar spinal cord, not in the lumbar dorsal root ganglions, compared to mice without pain. None of the 92 genetic variants previously described were significantly associated with pain (P>7.7×10−4).
We identified a common genetic variant on chromosome 5p15.2 associated with joint-specific CWP in humans. This work suggests that CCT5 and FAM173B are promising targets in the regulation of pain.
Gene Polymorphism; Fibromyalgia/Pain Syndromes; Epidemiology
Several infrequent genetic polymorphisms in the SERPINA1 gene are known to substantially reduce concentration of alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood. Since low AAT serum levels fail to protect pulmonary tissue from enzymatic degradation, these polymorphisms also increase the risk for early onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The role of more common SERPINA1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in respiratory health remains poorly understood.
We present here an agnostic investigation of genetic determinants of circulating AAT levels in a general population sample by performing a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1392 individuals of the SAPALDIA cohort.
Five common SNPs, defined by showing minor allele frequencies (MAFs) >5%, reached genome-wide significance, all located in the SERPINA gene cluster at 14q32.13. The top-ranking genotyped SNP rs4905179 was associated with an estimated effect of β = −0.068 g/L per minor allele (P = 1.20*10−12). But denser SERPINA1 locus genotyping in 5569 participants with subsequent stepwise conditional analysis, as well as exon-sequencing in a subsample (N = 410), suggested that AAT serum level is causally determined at this locus by rare (MAF<1%) and low-frequent (MAF 1–5%) variants only, in particular by the well-documented protein inhibitor S and Z (PI S, PI Z) variants. Replication of the association of rs4905179 with AAT serum levels in the Copenhagen City Heart Study (N = 8273) was successful (P<0.0001), as was the replication of its synthetic nature (the effect disappeared after adjusting for PI S and Z, P = 0.57). Extending the analysis to lung function revealed a more complex situation. Only in individuals with severely compromised pulmonary health (N = 397), associations of common SNPs at this locus with lung function were driven by rarer PI S or Z variants. Overall, our meta-analysis of lung function in ever-smokers does not support a functional role of common SNPs in the SERPINA gene cluster in the general population.
Low levels of alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood are a well-established risk factor for accelerated loss in lung function and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. While a few infrequent genetic polymorphisms are known to influence the serum levels of this enzyme, the role of common genetic variants has not been examined so far. The present genome-wide scan for associated variants in approximately 1400 Swiss inhabitants revealed a chromosomal locus containing the functionally established variants of AAT deficiency and variants previously associated with lung function and emphysema. We used dense genotyping of this genetic region in more than 5500 individuals and subsequent conditional analyses to unravel which of these associated variants contribute independently to the phenotype's variability. All associations of common variants could be attributed to the rarer functionally established variants, a result which was then replicated in an independent population-based Danish cohort. Hence, this locus represents a textbook example of how a large part of a trait's heritability can be hidden in infrequent genetic polymorphisms. The attempt to transfer these results to lung function furthermore suggests that effects of common variants in this genetic region in ever-smokers may also be explained by rarer variants, but only in individuals with hampered pulmonary health.
Recent studies have shown an association between cigarettes per day (CPD) and a nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphism in CHRNA5, rs16969968.
To determine whether the association between rs16969968 and smoking is modified by age at onset of regular smoking.
Available genetic studies containing measures of CPD and the genotype of rs16969968 or its proxy.
Uniform statistical analysis scripts were run locally. Starting with 94 050 ever-smokers from 43 studies, we extracted the heavy smokers (CPD >20) and light smokers (CPD ≤10) with age-at-onset information, reducing the sample size to 33 348. Each study was stratified into early-onset smokers (age at onset ≤16 years) and late-onset smokers (age at onset >16 years), and a logistic regression of heavy vs light smoking with the rs16969968 genotype was computed for each stratum. Meta-analysis was performed within each age-at-onset stratum.
Individuals with 1 risk allele at rs16969968 who were early-onset smokers were significantly more likely to be heavy smokers in adulthood (odds ratio [OR]=1.45; 95% CI, 1.36–1.55; n=13 843) than were carriers of the risk allele who were late-onset smokers (OR = 1.27; 95% CI, 1.21–1.33, n = 19 505) (P = .01).
These results highlight an increased genetic vulnerability to smoking in early-onset smokers.
Elevated serum urate concentrations can cause gout, a prevalent and painful inflammatory arthritis. By combining data from >140,000 individuals of European ancestry within the Global Urate Genetics Consortium (GUGC), we identified and replicated 28 genome-wide significant loci in association with serum urate concentrations (18 new regions in or near TRIM46, INHBB, SFMBT1, TMEM171, VEGFA, BAZ1B, PRKAG2, STC1, HNF4G, A1CF, ATXN2, UBE2Q2, IGF1R, NFAT5, MAF, HLF, ACVR1B-ACVRL1 and B3GNT4). Associations for many of the loci were of similar magnitude in individuals of non-European ancestry. We further characterized these loci for associations with gout, transcript expression and the fractional excretion of urate. Network analyses implicate the inhibins-activins signaling pathways and glucose metabolism in systemic urate control. New candidate genes for serum urate concentration highlight the importance of metabolic control of urate production and excretion, which may have implications for the treatment and prevention of gout.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) using array-based genotyping technology are widely used to identify genetic loci associated with complex diseases or other phenotypes. The costs of GWAS projects based on individual genotyping are still comparatively high and increase with the size of study populations. Genotyping using pooled DNA samples, as also being referred as to allelotyping approach, offers an alternative at affordable costs. In the present study, data from 100 DNA samples individually genotyped with the Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0 were used to estimate the error of the pooling approach by comparing the results with those obtained using the same array type but DNA pools each composed of 50 of the same samples. Newly developed and established methods for signal intensity correction were applied. Furthermore, the relative allele intensity signals (RAS) obtained by allelotyping were compared to the corresponding values derived from individual genotyping. Similarly, differences in RAS values between pools were determined and compared.
Regardless of the intensity correction method applied, the pooling-specific error of the pool intensity values was larger for single pools than for the comparison of the intensity values of two pools, which reflects the scenario of a case–control study. Using 50 pooled samples and analyzing 10,000 SNPs with a minor allele frequency of >1% and applying the best correction method for the corresponding type of comparison, the 90% quantile (median) of the pooling-specific absolute error of the RAS values for single sub-pools and the SNP-specific difference in allele frequency comparing two pools was 0.064 (0.026) and 0.056 (0.021), respectively.
Correction of the RAS values reduced the error of the RAS values when analyzing single pool intensities. We developed a new correction method with high accuracy but low computational costs. Correction of RAS, however, only marginally reduced the error of true differences between two sample groups and those obtained by allelotyping. Exclusion of SNPs with a minor allele frequency of ≤1% notably reduced the pooling-specific error. Our findings allow for improving the estimation of the pooling-specific error and may help in designing allelotyping studies using the Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0.
Genetic determinants of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) remain largely unknown. To identify genetic variants associated with the ankle-brachial index (ABI), a noninvasive measure of PAD, we conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association study data from 21 population-based cohorts.
Methods and Results
Continuous ABI and PAD (ABI≤0.9) phenotypes adjusted for age and sex were examined. Each study conducted genotyping and imputed data to the ~2.5 million SNPs in HapMap. Linear and logistic regression models were used to test each SNP for association with ABI and PAD using additive genetic models. Study-specific data were combined using fixed-effects inverse variance weighted meta-analyses. There were a total of 41,692 participants of European ancestry (~60% women, mean ABI 1.02 to 1.19), including 3,409 participants with PAD and with GWAS data available. In the discovery meta-analysis, rs10757269 on chromosome 9 near CDKN2B had the strongest association with ABI (β= −0.006, p=2.46x10−8). We sought replication of the 6 strongest SNP associations in 5 population-based studies and 3 clinical samples (n=16,717). The association for rs10757269 strengthened in the combined discovery and replication analysis (p=2.65x10−9). No other SNP associations for ABI or PAD achieved genome-wide significance. However, two previously reported candidate genes for PAD and one SNP associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) were associated with ABI : DAB21P (rs13290547, p=3.6x10−5); CYBA (rs3794624, p=6.3x10−5); and rs1122608 (LDLR, p=0.0026).
GWAS in more than 40,000 individuals identified one genome-wide significant association on chromosome 9p21 with ABI. Two candidate genes for PAD and 1 SNP for CAD are associated with ABI.
cohort study; genetic association; genome-wide association study; meta-analysis; peripheral vascular disease
DHEA is the major precursor of human sex steroid synthesis and is inactivated via sulfonation to DHEAS. A previous genome-wide association study related the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs2637125, located near the coding region of DHEA sulfotransferase, SULT2A1, to serum DHEAS concentrations. However, the functional relevance of this SNP with regard to DHEA sulfonation is unknown. Using data from 3300 participants of the population-based cohort Study of Health in Pomerania, we identified 43 individuals being homozygote for the minor allele of the SNP rs2637125 (AA) and selected two sex- and age-matched individuals with AG and GG genotype (n=172) respectively. Steroid analysis including measurement of serum DHEA and DHEAS was carried out by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry, employing steroid oxime analysis for enhancing the sensitivity of DHEA detection. We applied quantile regression models to compare median hormone levels across SULT2A1 genotypes. Median comparisons by SULT2A1 genotype (AA vs AG and GG genotypes respectively) showed no differences in the considered hormones including DHEAS, DHEA, androstenedione, as well as cortisol and cortisone concentrations. SULT2A1 genotype also had no effect on the DHEA/DHEAS ratio. Sex-stratified analyses, as well as alternative use of the SULT2A1 SNP rs182420, yielded similar negative results. Genetic variants of SULT2A1 do not appear to have an effect on individual DHEA and DHEAS concentrations or the DHEA/DHEAS ratio as a marker of DHEA sulfonation capacity.
DHEAS; steroids; genome-wide association study; genetics; epidemiology
Microarray profiling of gene expression is widely applied in molecular biology and functional genomics. Experimental and technical variations make meta-analysis of different studies challenging. In a total of 3358 samples, all from German population-based cohorts, we investigated the effect of data preprocessing and the variability due to sample processing in whole blood cell and blood monocyte gene expression data, measured on the Illumina HumanHT-12 v3 BeadChip array.
Gene expression signal intensities were similar after applying the log2 or the variance-stabilizing transformation. In all cohorts, the first principal component (PC) explained more than 95% of the total variation. Technical factors substantially influenced signal intensity values, especially the Illumina chip assignment (33–48% of the variance), the RNA amplification batch (12–24%), the RNA isolation batch (16%), and the sample storage time, in particular the time between blood donation and RNA isolation for the whole blood cell samples (2–3%), and the time between RNA isolation and amplification for the monocyte samples (2%). White blood cell composition parameters were the strongest biological factors influencing the expression signal intensities in the whole blood cell samples (3%), followed by sex (1–2%) in both sample types. Known single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were located in 38% of the analyzed probe sequences and 4% of them included common SNPs (minor allele frequency >5%). Out of the tested SNPs, 1.4% significantly modified the probe-specific expression signals (Bonferroni corrected p-value<0.05), but in almost half of these events the signal intensities were even increased despite the occurrence of the mismatch. Thus, the vast majority of SNPs within probes had no significant effect on hybridization efficiency.
In summary, adjustment for a few selected technical factors greatly improved reliability of gene expression analyses. Such adjustments are particularly required for meta-analyses.
Immunoadsorption with subsequent immunoglobulin G substitution (IA/IgG) represents a novel therapeutic approach in the treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) which leads to the improvement of left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). However, response to this therapeutic intervention shows wide inter-individual variability. In this pilot study, we tested the value of clinical, biochemical, and molecular parameters for the prediction of the response of patients with DCM to IA/IgG.
Methods and results
Forty DCM patients underwent endomyocardial biopsies (EMBs) before IA/IgG. In eight patients with normal LVEF (controls), EMBs were obtained for clinical reasons. Clinical parameters, negative inotropic activity (NIA) of antibodies on isolated rat cardiomyocytes, and gene expression profiles of EMBs were analysed. Dilated cardiomyopathy patients displaying improvement of LVEF (≥20 relative and ≥5% absolute) 6 months after IA/IgG were considered responders. Compared with non-responders (n = 16), responders (n = 24) displayed shorter disease duration (P = 0.006), smaller LV internal diameter in diastole (P = 0.019), and stronger NIA of antibodies. Antibodies obtained from controls were devoid of NIA. Myocardial gene expression patterns were different in responders and non-responders for genes of oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondrial dysfunction, hypertrophy, and ubiquitin–proteasome pathway. The integration of scores of NIA and expression levels of four genes allowed robust discrimination of responders from non-responders at baseline (BL) [sensitivity of 100% (95% CI 85.8–100%); specificity up to 100% (95% CI 79.4–100%); cut-off value: −0.28] and was superior to scores derived from antibodies, gene expression, or clinical parameters only.
Combined assessment of NIA of antibodies and gene expression patterns of DCM patients at BL predicts response to IA/IgG therapy and may enable appropriate selection of patients who benefit from this therapeutic intervention.
Dilated cardiomyopathy; Immunoadsorption; Gene expression; Negative inotropic activity of antibodies; Prediction of outcome; Biomarker signature; Pilot study
Several linkage analyses implicated the chromosome 9q22 region in attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a neurodevelopmental disease with remarkable persistence into adulthood. This locus contains the brain-expressed GTP-binding RAS-like 2 gene (DIRAS2) thought to regulate neurogenesis. As DIRAS2 is a positional and functional ADHD candidate gene, we conducted an association study in 600 patients suffering from adult ADHD (aADHD) and 420 controls. Replication samples consisted of 1035 aADHD patients and 1381 controls, as well as 166 families with a child affected from childhood ADHD. Given the high degree of co-morbidity with ADHD, we also investigated patients suffering from bipolar disorder (BD) (n=336) or personality disorders (PDs) (n=622). Twelve single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) covering the structural gene and the transcriptional control region of DIRAS2 were analyzed. Four SNPs and two haplotype blocks showed evidence of association with ADHD, with nominal p-values ranging from p=0.006 to p=0.05. In the adult replication samples, we obtained a consistent effect of rs1412005 and of a risk haplotype containing the promoter region (p=0.026). Meta-analysis resulted in a significant common OR of 1.12 (p=0.04) for rs1412005 and confirmed association with the promoter risk haplotype (OR=1.45, p=0.0003). Subsequent analysis in nuclear families with childhood ADHD again showed an association of the promoter haplotype block (p=0.02). rs1412005 also increased risk toward BD (p=0.026) and cluster B PD (p=0.031). Additional SNPs showed association with personality scores (p=0.008–0.048). Converging lines of evidence implicate genetic variance in the promoter region of DIRAS2 in the etiology of ADHD and co-morbid impulsive disorders.
adult ADHD; linkage; genome-wide association; ras pathway; association study; bipolar disorder; biological psychiatry; neurogenetics; depression; unipolar/bipolar; development/developmental disorders; adult ADHD; linkage; genome-wide association study; ras pathway
Childhood maltreatment and depressive disorders have both been associated with a dysregulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. The FKBP5 gene codes for a co-chaperone regulating the glucocorticoid-receptor sensitivity. Previous evidence suggests that subjects carrying the TT genotype of the FKBP5 gene single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1360780 have an increased susceptibility to adverse effects of experimental stress. We therefore tested the hypothesis of an interaction of childhood abuse with rs1360780 in predicting adult depression. In all, 2157 Caucasian subjects from the Study of Health in Pomerania (German general population) completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) and Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. The DSM-IV diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD) was assessed by interview. Genotypes of rs1360780 were taken from the Affymetrix Human SNP Array 6.0. Significant interaction (p=0.006) of physical abuse with the TT genotype of rs1360780 was found increasing the BDI-II score to 17.4 (95% confidence interval (CI)=12.0–22.9) compared with 10.0 (8.2–11.7) in exposed CC/CT carriers. Likewise, the adjusted odds ratio for MDD in exposed TT carriers was 8.2 (95% CI=1.9–35.0) compared with 1.3 (0.8–2.3) in exposed subjects with CC/CT genotypes. Relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI) analyses confirmed a significant additive interaction effect (RERI=6.8; 95% CI=0.64–33.7; p<0.05). In explorative analyses, the most severe degree of sexual and emotional abuse also yielded significant interaction effects (p<0.05). This study revealed interactions between physical abuse and rs1360780 of the FKBP5 gene, confirming its role in the individual susceptibility to depression. Given the large effect sizes, rs1360780 could be included into prediction models for depression in individuals exposed to childhood abuse.
major depression; childhood abuse; general population; FKBP5 gene; gene–environment interaction; CTQ; depression; unipolar/bipolar; epidemiology; mood/anxiety/stress disorders; development/developmental disorders; FKBP5; CTQ; childhood maltreatment; depression; gene environment interaction; sexual abuse
QRS interval on the electrocardiogram reflects ventricular depolarization and conduction time, and is a risk factor for mortality, sudden death, and heart failure. We performed a genome-wide association meta-analysis in 40,407 European-descent individuals from 14 studies, with further genotyping in 7170 additional Europeans, and identified 22 loci associated with QRS duration (P < 5 × 10−8). These loci map in or near genes in pathways with established roles in ventricular conduction such as sodium channels, transcription factors, and calcium-handling proteins, but also point to novel biologic processes, such as kinase inhibitors and genes related to tumorigenesis. We demonstrate that SCN10A, a gene at our most significant locus, is expressed in the mouse ventricular conduction system, and treatment with a selective SCN10A blocker prolongs QRS duration. These findings extend our current knowledge of ventricular depolarization and conduction.
QRS interval; ECG; quantitative trait; genome-wide association study
Platelets are the second most abundant cell type in blood and are essential for maintaining haemostasis. Their count and volume are tightly controlled within narrow physiological ranges, but there is only limited understanding of the molecular processes controlling both traits. Here we carried out a high-powered meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in up to 66,867 individuals of European ancestry, followed by extensive biological and functional assessment. We identified 68 genomic loci reliably associated with platelet count and volume mapping to established and putative novel regulators of megakaryopoiesis and platelet formation. These genes show megakaryocyte-specific gene expression patterns and extensive network connectivity. Using gene silencing in Danio rerio and Drosophila melanogaster, we identified 11 of the genes as novel regulators of blood cell formation. Taken together, our findings advance understanding of novel gene functions controlling fate-determining events during megakaryopoiesis and platelet formation, providing a new example of successful translation of GWAS to function.
Prostate cancer (PCa) and colorectal cancer (CRC) are the most commonly diagnosed cancers and cancer-related causes of death in Poland. To date, numerous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with susceptibility to both cancer types have been identified, but their effect on disease risk may differ among populations.
To identify new SNPs associated with PCa and CRC in the Polish population, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed using DNA sample pools on Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP 6.0 arrays. A total of 135 PCa patients and 270 healthy men (PCa sub-study) and 525 patients with adenoma (AD), 630 patients with CRC and 690 controls (AD/CRC sub-study) were included in the analysis. Allele frequency distributions were compared with t-tests and χ2-tests. Only those significantly associated SNPs with a proxy SNP (p<0.001; distance of 100 kb; r2>0.7) were selected. GWAS marker selection was conducted using PLINK. The study was replicated using extended cohorts of patients and controls. The association with previously reported PCa and CRC susceptibility variants was also examined. Individual patients were genotyped using TaqMan SNP Genotyping Assays.
The GWAS selected six and 24 new candidate SNPs associated with PCa and CRC susceptibility, respectively. In the replication study, 17 of these associations were confirmed as significant in additive model of inheritance. Seven of them remained significant after correction for multiple hypothesis testing. Additionally, 17 previously reported risk variants have been identified, five of which remained significant after correction.
Pooled-DNA GWAS enabled the identification of new susceptibility loci for CRC in the Polish population. Previously reported CRC and PCa predisposition variants were also identified, validating the global nature of their associations. Further independent replication studies are required to confirm significance of the newly uncovered candidate susceptibility loci.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an important public health problem with a genetic component. We performed genome-wide association studies in up to 130,600 European ancestry participants overall, and stratified for key CKD risk factors. We uncovered 6 new loci in association with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), the primary clinical measure of CKD, in or near MPPED2, DDX1, SLC47A1, CDK12, CASP9, and INO80. Morpholino knockdown of mpped2 and casp9 in zebrafish embryos revealed podocyte and tubular abnormalities with altered dextran clearance, suggesting a role for these genes in renal function. By providing new insights into genes that regulate renal function, these results could further our understanding of the pathogenesis of CKD.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an important public health problem with a hereditary component. We performed a new genome-wide association study in up to 130,600 European ancestry individuals to identify genes that may influence kidney function, specifically genes that may influence kidney function differently depending on sex, age, hypertension, and diabetes status of individuals. We uncovered 6 new loci associated with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), the primary measure of renal function, in or near MPPED2, DDX1, SLC47A1, CDK12, CASP9, and INO80. CDK12 effect was stronger in younger and absent in older individuals. MPPED2, DDX1, SLC47A1, and CDK12 loci were associated with eGFR in African ancestry samples as well, highlighting the cross-ethnicity validity of our findings. Using the zebrafish model, we performed morpholino knockdown of mpped2 and casp9 in zebrafish embryos and revealed podocyte and tubular abnormalities with altered dextran clearance, suggesting a role for these genes in renal function. These results further our understanding of the pathogenesis of CKD and provide insights into potential novel mechanisms of disease.
Brachial circumference (BC), also known as upper arm or mid arm circumference, can be used as an indicator of muscle mass and fat tissue, which are distributed differently in men and women. Analysis of anthropometric measures of peripheral fat distribution such as BC could help in understanding the complex pathophysiology behind overweight and obesity. The purpose of this study is to identify genetic variants associated with BC through a large-scale genome-wide association scan (GWAS) meta-analysis. We used fixed-effects meta-analysis to synthesise summary results across 14 GWAS discovery and 4 replication cohorts comprising overall 22,376 individuals (12,031 women and 10,345 men) of European ancestry. Individual analyses were carried out for men, women, and combined across sexes using linear regression and an additive genetic model: adjusted for age and adjusted for age and BMI. We prioritised signals for follow-up in two-stages. We did not detect any signals reaching genome-wide significance. The FTO rs9939609 SNP showed nominal evidence for association (p<0.05) in the age-adjusted strata for men and across both sexes. In this first GWAS meta-analysis for BC to date, we have not identified any genome-wide significant signals and do not observe robust association of previously established obesity loci with BC. Large-scale collaborations will be necessary to achieve higher power to detect loci underlying BC.
Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) are involved in cell replication, proliferation, differentiation, protein synthesis, carbohydrate homeostasis and bone metabolism. Circulating IGF-I and IGFBP-3 concentrations predict anthropometric traits and risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. In a genome-wide association study of 10 280 middle-aged and older men and women from four community-based cohort studies, we confirmed a known association of single nucleotide polymorphisms in the IGFBP3 gene region on chromosome 7p12.3 with IGFBP-3 concentrations using a significance threshold of P < 5 × 10−8 (P = 3.3 × 10−101). Furthermore, the same IGFBP3 gene locus (e.g. rs11977526) that was associated with IGFBP-3 concentrations was also associated with the opposite direction of effect, with IGF-I concentration after adjustment for IGFBP-3 concentration (P = 1.9 × 10−26). A novel and independent locus on chromosome 7p12.3 (rs700752) had genome-wide significant associations with higher IGFBP-3 (P = 4.4 × 10−21) and higher IGF-I (P = 4.9 × 10−9) concentrations; when the two measurements were adjusted for one another, the IGF-I association was attenuated but the IGFBP-3 association was not. Two additional loci demonstrated genome-wide significant associations with IGFBP-3 concentration (rs1065656, chromosome 16p13.3, P = 1.2 × 10−11, IGFALS, a confirmatory finding; and rs4234798, chromosome 4p16.1, P = 4.5 × 10−10, SORCS2, a novel finding). Together, the four genome-wide significant loci explained 6.5% of the population variation in IGFBP-3 concentration. Furthermore, we observed a borderline statistically significant association between IGF-I concentration and FOXO3 (rs2153960, chromosome 6q21, P = 5.1 × 10−7), a locus associated with longevity. These genetic loci deserve further investigation to elucidate the biological basis for the observed associations and clarify their possible role in IGF-mediated regulation of cell growth and metabolism.
Testosterone concentrations in men are associated with cardiovascular morbidity, osteoporosis, and mortality and are affected by age, smoking, and obesity. Because of serum testosterone's high heritability, we performed a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data in 8,938 men from seven cohorts and followed up the genome-wide significant findings in one in silico (n = 871) and two de novo replication cohorts (n = 4,620) to identify genetic loci significantly associated with serum testosterone concentration in men. All these loci were also associated with low serum testosterone concentration defined as <300 ng/dl. Two single-nucleotide polymorphisms at the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) locus (17p13-p12) were identified as independently associated with serum testosterone concentration (rs12150660, p = 1.2×10−41 and rs6258, p = 2.3×10−22). Subjects with ≥3 risk alleles of these variants had 6.5-fold higher risk of having low serum testosterone than subjects with no risk allele. The rs5934505 polymorphism near FAM9B on the X chromosome was also associated with testosterone concentrations (p = 5.6×10−16). The rs6258 polymorphism in exon 4 of SHBG affected SHBG's affinity for binding testosterone and the measured free testosterone fraction (p<0.01). Genetic variants in the SHBG locus and on the X chromosome are associated with a substantial variation in testosterone concentrations and increased risk of low testosterone. rs6258 is the first reported SHBG polymorphism, which affects testosterone binding to SHBG and the free testosterone fraction and could therefore influence the calculation of free testosterone using law-of-mass-action equation.
Testosterone is the most important testicular androgen in men. Low serum testosterone concentrations are associated with cardiovascular morbidity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and increased mortality risk. Thus, there is growing evidence that serum testosterone is a valuable biomarker of men's overall health status. Studies in male twins indicate that there is a strong heritability of serum testosterone. Here we perform a large-scale genome-wide association study to examine the effects of common genetic variants on serum testosterone concentrations. By examining 14,429 men, we show that genetic variants in the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) locus and on the X chromosome are associated with a substantial variation in serum testosterone concentrations and increased risk of low testosterone. The reported associations may now be used in order to better understand the functional background of recently identified disease associations related to low testosterone. Importantly, we identified the first known genetic variant, which affects SHBG's affinity for binding testosterone and the free testosterone fraction and could therefore influence the calculation of free testosterone. This finding suggests that individual-based SHBG-testosterone affinity constants are required depending on the genotype of this single-nucleotide polymorphism.
Family studies suggest a genetic component to the etiology of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end stage renal disease (ESRD). Previously, we identified 16 loci for eGFR in genome-wide association studies, but the associations of these single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for incident CKD or ESRD are unknown. We thus investigated the association of these loci with incident CKD in 26,308 individuals of European ancestry free of CKD at baseline drawn from eight population-based cohorts followed for a median of 7.2 years (including 2,122 incident CKD cases defined as eGFR <60ml/min/1.73m2 at follow-up) and with ESRD in four case-control studies in subjects of European ancestry (3,775 cases, 4,577 controls). SNPs at 11 of the 16 loci (UMOD, PRKAG2, ANXA9, DAB2, SHROOM3, DACH1, STC1, SLC34A1, ALMS1/NAT8, UBE2Q2, and GCKR) were associated with incident CKD; p-values ranged from p = 4.1e-9 in UMOD to p = 0.03 in GCKR. After adjusting for baseline eGFR, six of these loci remained significantly associated with incident CKD (UMOD, PRKAG2, ANXA9, DAB2, DACH1, and STC1). SNPs in UMOD (OR = 0.92, p = 0.04) and GCKR (OR = 0.93, p = 0.03) were nominally associated with ESRD. In summary, the majority of eGFR-related loci are either associated or show a strong trend towards association with incident CKD, but have modest associations with ESRD in individuals of European descent. Additional work is required to characterize the association of genetic determinants of CKD and ESRD at different stages of disease progression.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects about 6%–11% of the general population, and progression to end stage renal disease (ESRD) has a significant public health impact. Family studies suggest that the risk for CKD and ESRD is heritable. Unraveling the genetic underpinning of risk for these diseases may lead to the identification of novel mechanisms and thus diagnostic and therapeutic tools. We have previously identified 16 genetic markers in association with kidney function and prevalent CKD in general population studies. However, little is known about the relevance of these SNPs to the initial development of CKD or to ESRD risk. Therefore, we have now analyzed the association of these markers with the initiation of CKD in more than 26,000 individuals from the general population using serial estimations of kidney function, and with ESRD in four case-control studies in subjects of European ancestry (3,775 cases, 4,577 controls). We show that many of the 16 markers are also associated or show a strong trend towards association with initiation of CKD, while only 2 markers are nominally associated with ESRD. Further work is required to characterize the association of genetic determinants of different stages of CKD progression.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a heritable marker of chronic inflammation that is strongly associated with cardiovascular disease. We aimed to identify genetic variants that are associated with CRP levels.
Methods and Results
We performed a genome wide association (GWA) analysis of CRP in 66,185 participants from 15 population-based studies. We sought replication for the genome wide significant and suggestive loci in a replication panel comprising 16,540 individuals from ten independent studies. We found 18 genome-wide significant loci and we provided evidence of replication for eight of them. Our results confirm seven previously known loci and introduce 11 novel loci that are implicated in pathways related to the metabolic syndrome (APOC1, HNF1A, LEPR, GCKR, HNF4A, and PTPN2), immune system (CRP, IL6R, NLRP3, IL1F10, and IRF1), or that reside in regions previously not known to play a role in chronic inflammation (PPP1R3B, SALL1, PABPC4, ASCL1, RORA, and BCL7B). We found significant interaction of body mass index (BMI) with LEPR (p<2.9×10−6). A weighted genetic risk score that was developed to summarize the effect of risk alleles was strongly associated with CRP levels and explained approximately 5% of the trait variance; however, there was no evidence for these genetic variants explaining the association of CRP with coronary heart disease.
We identified 18 loci that were associated with CRP levels. Our study highlights immune response and metabolic regulatory pathways involved in the regulation of chronic inflammation.
genome-wide association; C-reactive protein; inflammation; epidemiology; coronary heart disease
The number and volume of cells in the blood affect a wide range of disorders including cancer and cardiovascular, metabolic, infectious and immune conditions. We consider here the genetic variation in eight clinically relevant hematological parameters, including hemoglobin levels, red and white blood cell counts and platelet counts and volume. We describe common variants within 22 genetic loci reproducibly associated with these hematological parameters in 13,943 samples from six European population-based studies, including 6 associated with red blood cell parameters, 15 associated with platelet parameters and 1 associated with total white blood cell count. We further identified a long-range haplotype at 12q24 associated with coronary artery disease in 9,479 cases and 10,527 controls. We show that this haplotype demonstrates extensive disease pleiotropy, as it contains known risk loci for type 1 diabetes, hypertension and celiac disease and has been spread by a selective sweep specific to European and geographically nearby populations.
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) is the most abundant circulating steroid secreted by adrenal glands—yet its function is unknown. Its serum concentration declines significantly with increasing age, which has led to speculation that a relative DHEAS deficiency may contribute to the development of common age-related diseases or diminished longevity. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data with 14,846 individuals and identified eight independent common SNPs associated with serum DHEAS concentrations. Genes at or near the identified loci include ZKSCAN5 (rs11761528; p = 3.15×10−36), SULT2A1 (rs2637125; p = 2.61×10−19), ARPC1A (rs740160; p = 1.56×10−16), TRIM4 (rs17277546; p = 4.50×10−11), BMF (rs7181230; p = 5.44×10−11), HHEX (rs2497306; p = 4.64×10−9), BCL2L11 (rs6738028; p = 1.72×10−8), and CYP2C9 (rs2185570; p = 2.29×10−8). These genes are associated with type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, actin filament assembly, drug and xenobiotic metabolism, and zinc finger proteins. Several SNPs were associated with changes in gene expression levels, and the related genes are connected to biological pathways linking DHEAS with ageing. This study provides much needed insight into the function of DHEAS.
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), mainly secreted by the adrenal gland, is the most abundant circulating steroid in humans. It shows a significant physiological decline after the age of 25 and diminishes about 95% by the age of 85 years, which has led to speculation that a relative DHEAS deficiency may contribute to the development of common age-related diseases or diminished longevity. Twin- and family-based studies have shown that there is a substantial genetic effect with heritability estimate of 60%, but no specific genes regulating serum DHEAS concentration have been identified to date. Here we take advantage of recent technical and methodological advances to examine the effects of common genetic variants on serum DHEAS concentrations. By examining 14,846 Caucasian individuals, we show that eight common genetic variants are associated with serum DHEAS concentrations. Genes at or near these genetic variants include BCL2L11, ARPC1A, ZKSCAN5, TRIM4, HHEX, CYP2C9, BMF, and SULT2A1. These genes have various associations with steroid hormone metabolism—co-morbidities of ageing including type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, actin filament assembly, drug and xenobiotic metabolism, and zinc finger proteins—suggesting a wider functional role for DHEAS than previously thought.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a significant public health problem, and recent genetic studies have identified common CKD susceptibility variants. The CKDGen consortium performed a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data in 67,093 Caucasian individuals from 20 population-based studies to identify new susceptibility loci for reduced renal function, estimated by serum creatinine (eGFRcrea), cystatin C (eGFRcys), and CKD (eGFRcrea <60 ml/min/1.73m2; n = 5,807 CKD cases). Follow-up of the 23 genome-wide significant loci (p<5×10−8) in 22,982 replication samples identified 13 novel loci for renal function and CKD (in or near LASS2, GCKR, ALMS1, TFDP2, DAB2, SLC34A1, VEGFA, PRKAG2, PIP5K1B, ATXN2, DACH1, UBE2Q2, and SLC7A9) and 7 creatinine production and secretion loci (CPS1, SLC22A2, TMEM60, WDR37, SLC6A13, WDR72, BCAS3). These results further our understanding of biologic mechanisms of kidney function by identifying loci potentially influencing nephrogenesis, podocyte function, angiogenesis, solute transport, and metabolic functions of the kidney.
genome-wide association; renal disease; population-based; genetics; chronic kidney disease