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1.  Susceptibility to Chronic Mucus Hypersecretion, a Genome Wide Association Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e91621.
Chronic mucus hypersecretion (CMH) is associated with an increased frequency of respiratory infections, excess lung function decline, and increased hospitalisation and mortality rates in the general population. It is associated with smoking, but it is unknown why only a minority of smokers develops CMH. A plausible explanation for this phenomenon is a predisposing genetic constitution. Therefore, we performed a genome wide association (GWA) study of CMH in Caucasian populations.
GWA analysis was performed in the NELSON-study using the Illumina 610 array, followed by replication and meta-analysis in 11 additional cohorts. In total 2,704 subjects with, and 7,624 subjects without CMH were included, all current or former heavy smokers (≥20 pack-years). Additional studies were performed to test the functional relevance of the most significant single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP).
A strong association with CMH, consistent across all cohorts, was observed with rs6577641 (p = 4.25×10−6, OR = 1.17), located in intron 9 of the special AT-rich sequence-binding protein 1 locus (SATB1) on chromosome 3. The risk allele (G) was associated with higher mRNA expression of SATB1 (4.3×10−9) in lung tissue. Presence of CMH was associated with increased SATB1 mRNA expression in bronchial biopsies from COPD patients. SATB1 expression was induced during differentiation of primary human bronchial epithelial cells in culture.
Our findings, that SNP rs6577641 is associated with CMH in multiple cohorts and is a cis-eQTL for SATB1, together with our additional observation that SATB1 expression increases during epithelial differentiation provide suggestive evidence that SATB1 is a gene that affects CMH.
PMCID: PMC3979657  PMID: 24714607
2.  Improving coeliac disease risk prediction by testing non-HLA variants additional to HLA variants 
Gut  2013;63(3):415-422.
The majority of coeliac disease (CD) patients are not being properly diagnosed and therefore remain untreated, leading to a greater risk of developing CD-associated complications. The major genetic risk heterodimer, HLA-DQ2 and DQ8, is already used clinically to help exclude disease. However, approximately 40% of the population carry these alleles and the majority never develop CD.
We explored whether CD risk prediction can be improved by adding non-HLA-susceptible variants to common HLA testing.
We developed an average weighted genetic risk score with 10, 26 and 57 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in 2675 cases and 2815 controls and assessed the improvement in risk prediction provided by the non-HLA SNP. Moreover, we assessed the transferability of the genetic risk model with 26 non-HLA variants to a nested case–control population (n=1709) and a prospective cohort (n=1245) and then tested how well this model predicted CD outcome for 985 independent individuals.
Adding 57 non-HLA variants to HLA testing showed a statistically significant improvement compared to scores from models based on HLA only, HLA plus 10 SNP and HLA plus 26 SNP. With 57 non-HLA variants, the area under the receiver operator characteristic curve reached 0.854 compared to 0.823 for HLA only, and 11.1% of individuals were reclassified to a more accurate risk group. We show that the risk model with HLA plus 26 SNP is useful in independent populations.
Predicting risk with 57 additional non-HLA variants improved the identification of potential CD patients. This demonstrates a possible role for combined HLA and non-HLA genetic testing in diagnostic work for CD.
PMCID: PMC3933173  PMID: 23704318
Coeliac Disease; Genetic Testing; Hla; Molecular Genetics; Celiac Disease
3.  ADAM33 Gene Polymorphisms and Mortality. A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67768.
The ADAM33 gene is associated with the pathophysiology of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and atherosclerosis. In this study we investigated all-cause, COPD and cardiovascular mortality, in relation to single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in ADAM33 (Q_1, S_1, S_2, T_1 and T_2) that were genotyped in 1,390 subjects from the Vlagtwedde/Vlaardingen cohort. Participants were examined at entry in 1989/1990 and followed up till evaluation of the vital status on December 31st, 2008. Using Cox proportional hazards regression we estimated the risk of the SNPs in relation to mortality, adjusting for gender, age, FEV1, height, place of residence and packyears of smoking. Additionally, we performed stratified analyses according to gender and smoking habits. After 18 years, 284 (20.4%) subjects had died (107 due to cardiovascular disease and 20 due to COPD). Individuals homozygous for the minor allele of SNP T_2 had an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality compared to wild types: hazard ratio 3.6 (95% confidence interval 2.0 to 6.7) and 3.4 (1.2 to 9.5) respectively. Individuals homozygous for the minor allele of S_1, S_2, T_2 or Q_1 had a significantly increased risk of COPD mortality. In stratified analyses the risk of all-cause mortality associated with SNP T_2 did not change: females 3.5 (1.5 to 8.3), males 3.1 (1.2 to 7.6), never smokers 3.8 (0.9 to 16.3), ever smokers 3.6 (1.8 to 7.2). This study shows for the first time that ADAM33 is a pleiotropic gene that is associated with all-cause, COPD and cardiovascular mortality, independent of potential confounders.
PMCID: PMC3701578  PMID: 23861802
4.  Limited Evidence for Parent-of-Origin Effects in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Associated Loci 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45287.
Genome-wide association studies of two main forms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), have identified 99 susceptibility loci, but these explain only ∼23% of the genetic risk. Part of the ‘hidden heritability’ could be in transmissible genetic effects in which mRNA expression in the offspring depends on the parental origin of the allele (genomic imprinting), since children whose mothers have CD are more often affected than children with affected fathers. We analyzed parent-of-origin (POO) effects in Dutch and Indian cohorts of IBD patients.
We selected 28 genetic loci associated with both CD and UC, and tested them for POO effects in 181 Dutch IBD case-parent trios. Three susceptibility variants in NOD2 were tested in 111 CD trios and a significant finding was re-evaluated in 598 German trios. The UC-associated gene, BTNL2, reportedly imprinted, was tested in 70 Dutch UC trios. Finally, we used 62 independent Indian UC trios to test POO effects of five established Indian UC risk loci.
We identified POO effects for NOD2 (L1007fs; OR = 21.0, P-value = 0.013) for CD; these results could not be replicated in an independent cohort (OR = 0.97, P-value = 0.95). A POO effect in IBD was observed for IL12B (OR = 3.2, P-value = 0.019) and PRDM1 (OR = 5.6, P-value = 0.04). In the Indian trios the IL10 locus showed a POO effect (OR = 0.2, P-value = 0.03).
Little is known about the effect of genomic imprinting in complex diseases such as IBD. We present limited evidence for POO effects for the tested IBD loci. POO effects explain part of the hidden heritability for complex genetic diseases but need to be investigated further.
PMCID: PMC3459955  PMID: 23028907
5.  Rare and functional SIAE variants are not associated with autoimmune disease risk in up to 66,924 individuals of European ancestry 
Nature genetics  2011;44(1):3-5.
PMCID: PMC3287292  PMID: 22200769
7.  Dense genotyping identifies and localizes multiple common and rare variant association signals in celiac disease 
Nature genetics  2011;43(12):1193-1201.
We densely genotyped, using 1000 Genomes Project pilot CEU and additional re-sequencing study variants, 183 reported immune-mediated disease non-HLA risk loci in 12,041 celiac disease cases and 12,228 controls. We identified 13 new celiac disease risk loci at genome wide significance, bringing the total number of known loci (including HLA) to 40. Multiple independent association signals are found at over a third of these loci, attributable to a combination of common, low frequency, and rare genetic variants. In comparison with previously available data such as HapMap3, our dense genotyping in a large sample size provided increased resolution of the pattern of linkage disequilibrium, and suggested localization of many signals to finer scale regions. In particular, 29 of 54 fine-mapped signals appeared localized to specific single genes - and in some instances to gene regulatory elements. We define a complex genetic architecture of risk regions, and refine risk signals, providing a next step towards elucidating causal disease mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3242065  PMID: 22057235
8.  Common Variants in the Type 2 Diabetes KCNQ1 Gene Are Associated with Impairments in Insulin Secretion During Hyperglycaemic Glucose Clamp 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32148.
Genome-wide association studies in Japanese populations recently identified common variants in the KCNQ1 gene to be associated with type 2 diabetes. We examined the association of these variants within KCNQ1 with type 2 diabetes in a Dutch population, investigated their effects on insulin secretion and metabolic traits and on the risk of developing complications in type 2 diabetes patients.
The KCNQ1 variants rs151290, rs2237892, and rs2237895 were genotyped in a total of 4620 type 2 diabetes patients and 5285 healthy controls from the Netherlands. Data on macrovascular complications, nephropathy and retinopathy were available in a subset of diabetic patients. Association between genotype and insulin secretion/action was assessed in the additional sample of 335 individuals who underwent a hyperglycaemic clamp.
Principal Findings
We found that all the genotyped KCNQ1 variants were significantly associated with type 2 diabetes in our Dutch population, and the association of rs151290 was the strongest (OR 1.20, 95% CI 1.07–1.35, p = 0.002). The risk C-allele of rs151290 was nominally associated with reduced first-phase glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, while the non-risk T-allele of rs2237892 was significantly correlated with increased second-phase glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (p = 0.025 and 0.0016, respectively). In addition, the risk C-allele of rs2237892 was associated with higher LDL and total cholesterol levels (p = 0.015 and 0.003, respectively). We found no evidence for an association of KCNQ1 with diabetic complications.
Common variants in the KCNQ1 gene are associated with type 2 diabetes in a Dutch population, which can be explained at least in part by an effect on insulin secretion. Furthermore, our data suggest that KCNQ1 is also associated with lipid metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3293880  PMID: 22403629
9.  The quest for genetic risk factors for Crohn's disease in the post-GWAS era 
Genome Medicine  2011;3(2):13.
Multiple genome-wide association studies (GWASs) and two large scale meta-analyses have been performed for Crohn's disease and have identified 71 susceptibility loci. These findings have contributed greatly to our current understanding of the disease pathogenesis. Yet, these loci only explain approximately 23% of the disease heritability. One of the future challenges in this post-GWAS era is to identify potential sources of the remaining heritability. Such sources may include common variants with limited effect size, rare variants with higher effect sizes, structural variations, or even more complicated mechanisms such as epistatic, gene-environment and epigenetic interactions. Here, we outline potential sources of this hidden heritability, focusing on Crohn's disease and the currently available data. We also discuss future strategies to determine more about the heritability; these strategies include expanding current GWAS, fine-mapping, whole genome sequencing or exome sequencing, and using family-based approaches. Despite the current limitations, such strategies may help to transfer research achievements into clinical practice and guide the improvement of preventive and therapeutic measures.
PMCID: PMC3092098  PMID: 21392414
10.  Identification of PCDH1 as a Novel Susceptibility Gene for Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness 
Rationale: Asthma is a chronic inflammatory airway disease that affects more than 300 million individuals worldwide. Asthma is caused by interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) is a hallmark of asthma and results from increased sensitivity of the airways to physical or chemical stimulants. BHR and asthma are linked to chromosome 5q31-q33.
Objectives: To identify a gene for BHR on chromosome 5q31-q33.
Methods: In 200 Dutch families with asthma, linkage analysis and fine mapping were performed, and the Protocadherin 1 gene (PCDH1) was identified. PCDH1 was resequenced in 96 subjects from ethnically diverse populations to identify novel sequence variants. Subsequent replication studies were undertaken in seven populations from The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including two general population samples, two family samples, and three case-control samples. PCDH1 mRNA and protein expression was investigated using polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry.
Measurements and Main Results: In seven out of eight populations (n = 6,168) from The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States, PCHD1 gene variants were significantly associated with BHR (P values, 0.005–0.05) This association was present in both families with asthma and general populations. PCDH1 mRNA and protein were expressed in airway epithelial cells and in macrophages.
Conclusions: PCDH1 is a novel gene for BHR in adults and children. The identification of PCDH1 as a BHR susceptibility gene may suggest that a structural defect in the integrity of the airway epithelium, the first line of defense against inhaled substances, contributes to the development of BHR.
PMCID: PMC2778155  PMID: 19729670
bronchial hyperresponsiveness; asthma genetics; protocadherin-1; cell adhesion; airway epithelium
11.  A disintegrin and metalloprotease 33 and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease pathophysiology 
Thorax  2006;62(3):242-247.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a respiratory disorder with increasing prevalence and mortality. It is associated with airway obstruction, increased airway hyper‐responsiveness (AHR), and ongoing airway and lung inflammation dominated by CD8 lymphocytes and neutrophils. Single‐nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a disintegrin and metalloprotease 33 (ADAM33) gene have been associated with AHR and COPD.
To assess whether SNPs in ADAM33 are associated with the severity of AHR and airway inflammation in COPD.
Eight SNPs in ADAM33 (F+1, Q‐1, S_1, S_2, ST+5, T_1, T_2, V_4) were genotyped in 111 patients with COPD (96 males, 69 current smokers, mean (standard deviation (SD)), aged 62 (8) years, median pack‐years 42 (IQR 31–55), mean postbronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1)% predicted 63 (9). Provocative concentration of methacholine causing a decrease in FEV1 of 20% (PC20 methacholine), sputum and bronchial biopsies were collected.
Patients with the ST+5 AA genotype had more severe AHR, higher numbers of sputum inflammatory cells and CD8 cells in bronchial biopsies than patients with the GG genotype (p = 0.03, 0.05 and 0.01, respectively). CD8 cell numbers were lower in patients carrying the minor allele of SNP T_1 and T_2, and homozygotic minor variants of SNP S_2 compared with the wild type (p = 0.02, 0.01 and 0.02, respectively).
This is the first study revealing that SNPs in a gene that confers susceptibility to COPD in the general population—that is, ADAM33—are associated with AHR and airway inflammation in COPD. These findings constitute an important step forward in linking gene polymorphisms with COPD pathophysiology, thereby possibly contributing to better treatments for this progressive and disabling disease in the future.
PMCID: PMC2117167  PMID: 17090574
12.  Decorin and TGF-β1 polymorphisms and development of COPD in a general population 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):89.
Decorin, an extracellular matrix (ECM) proteoglycan, and TGF-β1 are both involved in lung ECM turnover. Decorin and TGF-β1 expression are decreased respectively increased in COPD lung tissue. Interestingly, they act as each other's feedback regulator. We investigated whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in decorin and TGF-β1 underlie accelerated decline in FEV1 and development of COPD in the general population.
We genotyped 1390 subjects from the Vlagtwedde/Vlaardingen cohort. Lung function was measured every 3 years for a period of 25 years. We tested whether five SNPs in decorin (3'UTR and four intron SNPs) and three SNPs in TGF-β1 (3'UTR rs6957, C-509T rs1800469 and Leu10Pro rs1982073), and their haplotypes, were associated with COPD (last survey GOLD stage = II). Linear mixed effects models were used to analyze genotype associations with FEV1 decline.
We found a significantly higher prevalence of carriers of the minor allele of the TGF-β1 rs6957 SNP (p = 0.001) in subjects with COPD. Additionally, we found a significantly lower prevalence of the haplotype with the major allele of rs6957 and minor alleles for rs1800469 and rs1982073 SNPs in TGF-β1 in subjects with COPD (p = 0.030), indicating that this association is due to the rs6957 SNP. TGF-β1 SNPs were not associated with FEV1 decline. SNPs in decorin, and haplotypes constructed of both TGF-β1 and decorin SNPs were not associated with development of COPD or with FEV1 decline.
Our study shows for the first time that SNPs in decorin on its own or in interaction with SNPs in TGF-β1 do not underlie the disturbed balance in expression between these genes in COPD. TGF-β1 SNPs are associated with COPD, yet not with accelerated FEV1 decline in the general population.
PMCID: PMC1539000  PMID: 16780585

Results 1-12 (12)