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1.  Identification of HKDC1 and BACE2 as Genes Influencing Glycemic Traits During Pregnancy Through Genome-Wide Association Studies 
Diabetes  2013;62(9):3282-3291.
Maternal metabolism during pregnancy impacts the developing fetus, affecting offspring birth weight and adiposity. This has important implications for metabolic health later in life (e.g., offspring of mothers with pre-existing or gestational diabetes mellitus have an increased risk of metabolic disorders in childhood). To identify genetic loci associated with measures of maternal metabolism obtained during an oral glucose tolerance test at ∼28 weeks’ gestation, we performed a genome-wide association study of 4,437 pregnant mothers of European (n = 1,367), Thai (n = 1,178), Afro-Caribbean (n = 1,075), and Hispanic (n = 817) ancestry, along with replication of top signals in three additional European ancestry cohorts. In addition to identifying associations with genes previously implicated with measures of glucose metabolism in nonpregnant populations, we identified two novel genome-wide significant associations: 2-h plasma glucose and HKDC1, and fasting C-peptide and BACE2. These results suggest that the genetic architecture underlying glucose metabolism may differ, in part, in pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3749326  PMID: 23903356
2.  The Calm Mouse: An Animal Model of Stress Reduction 
Molecular Medicine  2012;18(1):606-617.
Chronic stress is associated with negative health outcomes and is linked with neuroendocrine changes, deleterious effects on innate and adaptive immunity, and central nervous system neuropathology. Although stress management is commonly advocated clinically, there is insufficient mechanistic understanding of how decreasing stress affects disease pathogenesis. Therefore, we have developed a “calm mouse model” with caging enhancements designed to reduce murine stress. Male BALB/c mice were divided into four groups: control (Cntl), standard caging; calm (Calm), large caging to reduce animal density, a cardboard nest box for shelter, paper nesting material to promote innate nesting behavior, and a polycarbonate tube to mimic tunneling; control exercise (Cntl Ex), standard caging with a running wheel, known to reduce stress; and calm exercise (Calm Ex), calm caging with a running wheel. Calm, Cntl Ex and Calm Ex animals exhibited significantly less corticosterone production than Cntl animals. We also observed changes in spleen mass, and in vitro splenocyte studies demonstrated that Calm Ex animals had innate and adaptive immune responses that were more sensitive to acute handling stress than those in Cntl. Calm animals gained greater body mass than Cntl, although they had similar food intake, and we also observed changes in body composition, using magnetic resonance imaging. Together, our results suggest that the Calm mouse model represents a promising approach to studying the biological effects of stress reduction in the context of health and in conjunction with existing disease models.
PMCID: PMC3388136  PMID: 22398685
3.  Strong Human Endogenous Retrovirus-Specific T Cell Responses Are Associated with Control of HIV-1 in Chronic Infection ▿†‡  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(14):6977-6985.
Eight percent of the human genome is composed of human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs), which are thought to be inactive remnants of ancient infections. Previously, we showed that individuals with early HIV-1 infection have stronger anti-HERV T cell responses than uninfected controls. In this study, we investigated whether these responses persist in chronic HIV-1 infection and whether they have a role in the control of HIV-1. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 88 subjects diagnosed with HIV-1 infection for at least 1 year (median duration of diagnosis, 13 years) were tested for responses against HERV peptides in gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme immunospot (ELISPOT) assays. Individuals who control HIV-1 viremia without highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) had stronger and broader HERV-specific T cell responses than HAART-suppressed patients, virologic noncontrollers, immunologic progressors, and uninfected controls (P < 0.05 for each pairwise comparison). In addition, the magnitude of the anti-HERV T cell response was inversely correlated with HIV-1 viral load (r2 = 0.197, P = 0.0002) and associated with higher CD4+ T cell counts (r2 = 0.072, P = 0.027) in untreated patients. Flow cytometric analyses of an HLA-B51-restricted CD8+ HERV response in one HIV-1-infected individual revealed a less activated and more differentiated phenotype than that stimulated by a homologous HIV-1 peptide. HLA-B51 tetramer dual staining within this individual confirmed two different T cell populations corresponding to these HERV and HIV-1 epitopes, ruling out cross-reactivity. These findings suggest a possible role for anti-HERV immunity in the control of chronic HIV-1 infection and provide support for a larger effort to design an HIV-1 vaccine that targets conserved antigens such as HERV.
PMCID: PMC3126607  PMID: 21525339

Results 1-3 (3)