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1.  Mapping of the IRF8 gene identifies a 3’ UTR variant associated with risk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia but not other common non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtypes 
Our genome-wide association study (GWAS) of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) identified 4 highly-correlated intronic variants within the IRF8 gene that were associated with CLL. These results were further supported by a recent meta-analysis of our GWAS with two other GWAS of CLL, supporting the IRF8 gene as a strong candidate for CLL risk.
To refine the genetic association of CLL risk, we performed Sanger sequencing of IRF8 in 94 CLL cases and 96 controls. We then performed fine-mapping by genotyping 39 variants (of which 10 were identified from sequencing) in 745 CLL cases and 1521 controls. We also assessed these associations with risk of other non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) subtypes.
The strongest association with CLL risk was observed with a common SNP located within the 3’ UTR of IRF8 (rs1044873, log additive odds ratio = 0.7, P=1.81×10−6). This SNP was not associated with the other NHL subtypes (all P>0.05).
We provide evidence that rs1044873 in the IRF8 gene accounts for the initial GWAS signal for CLL risk. This association appears to be unique to CLL with little support for association with other common NHL subtypes. Future work is needed to assess functional role of IRF8 in CLL etiology.
These data provide support that a functional variant within the 3’ UTR of IRF8 may be driving the GWAS signal seen on 16q24.1 for CLL risk.
PMCID: PMC3596428  PMID: 23307532
CLL; NHL; SNPs; IRF8; risk locus
2.  Genome-wide Association Study Identifies Multiple Risk Loci for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
Berndt, Sonja I. | Skibola, Christine F. | Joseph, Vijai | Camp, Nicola J. | Nieters, Alexandra | Wang, Zhaoming | Cozen, Wendy | Monnereau, Alain | Wang, Sophia S. | Kelly, Rachel S. | Lan, Qing | Teras, Lauren R. | Chatterjee, Nilanjan | Chung, Charles C. | Yeager, Meredith | Brooks-Wilson, Angela R. | Hartge, Patricia | Purdue, Mark P. | Birmann, Brenda M. | Armstrong, Bruce K. | Cocco, Pierluigi | Zhang, Yawei | Severi, Gianluca | Zeleniuch-Jacquotte, Anne | Lawrence, Charles | Burdette, Laurie | Yuenger, Jeffrey | Hutchinson, Amy | Jacobs, Kevin B. | Call, Timothy G. | Shanafelt, Tait D. | Novak, Anne J. | Kay, Neil E. | Liebow, Mark | Wang, Alice H. | Smedby, Karin E | Adami, Hans-Olov | Melbye, Mads | Glimelius, Bengt | Chang, Ellen T. | Glenn, Martha | Curtin, Karen | Cannon-Albright, Lisa A. | Jones, Brandt | Diver, W. Ryan | Link, Brian K. | Weiner, George J. | Conde, Lucia | Bracci, Paige M. | Riby, Jacques | Holly, Elizabeth A. | Smith, Martyn T. | Jackson, Rebecca D. | Tinker, Lesley F. | Benavente, Yolanda | Becker, Nikolaus | Boffetta, Paolo | Brennan, Paul | Foretova, Lenka | Maynadie, Marc | McKay, James | Staines, Anthony | Rabe, Kari G. | Achenbach, Sara J. | Vachon, Celine M. | Goldin, Lynn R | Strom, Sara S. | Lanasa, Mark C. | Spector, Logan G. | Leis, Jose F. | Cunningham, Julie M. | Weinberg, J. Brice | Morrison, Vicki A. | Caporaso, Neil E. | Norman, Aaron D. | Linet, Martha S. | De Roos, Anneclaire J. | Morton, Lindsay M. | Severson, Richard K. | Riboli, Elio | Vineis, Paolo | Kaaks, Rudolph | Trichopoulos, Dimitrios | Masala, Giovanna | Weiderpass, Elisabete | Chirlaque, María-Dolores | Vermeulen, Roel C H | Travis, Ruth C. | Giles, Graham G. | Albanes, Demetrius | Virtamo, Jarmo | Weinstein, Stephanie | Clavel, Jacqueline | Zheng, Tongzhang | Holford, Theodore R | Offit, Kenneth | Zelenetz, Andrew | Klein, Robert J. | Spinelli, John J. | Bertrand, Kimberly A. | Laden, Francine | Giovannucci, Edward | Kraft, Peter | Kricker, Anne | Turner, Jenny | Vajdic, Claire M. | Ennas, Maria Grazia | Ferri, Giovanni M. | Miligi, Lucia | Liang, Liming | Sampson, Joshua | Crouch, Simon | Park, Ju-hyun | North, Kari E. | Cox, Angela | Snowden, John A. | Wright, Josh | Carracedo, Angel | Lopez-Otin, Carlos | Bea, Silvia | Salaverria, Itziar | Martin, David | Campo, Elias | Fraumeni, Joseph F. | de Sanjose, Silvia | Hjalgrim, Henrik | Cerhan, James R. | Chanock, Stephen J. | Rothman, Nathaniel | Slager, Susan L.
Nature genetics  2013;45(8):868-876.
PMCID: PMC3729927  PMID: 23770605
3.  Immnuophenotypic and Gene Expression Analysis of Monoclonal B Cell Lymphocytosis Shows Biologic Characteristics Associated With Good Prognosis CLL 
Monoclonal B cell lymphocytosis (MBL) is a hematologic condition wherein small B cell clones can be detected in the blood of asymptomatic individuals. Most MBL have an immunophenotype similar to chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and “CLL-like” MBL is a precursor to CLL. We used flow cytometry to identify MBL from unaffected members of CLL kindreds. We identified 101 MBL cases from 622 study subjects; of these, 82 individuals with MBL were further characterized. Ninety-one unique MBL clones were detected: 73 CLL-like MBL (CD5+CD20dimsIgdim), 11 atypical MBL (CD5+CD20+sIg+), and 7 CD5neg MBL (CD5negCD20+sIgneg). Extended immunophenotypic characterization of these MBL subtypes was performed, and significant differences in cell surface expression of CD23, CD49d, CD79b, and FMC-7 were observed among the groups. Markers of risk in CLL such as CD38, ZAP70, and CD49d were infrequently expressed in CLL-like MBL, but were expressed in the majority of atypical MBL. Interphase cytogenetics was performed in 35 MBL cases, and del 13q14 was most common (22/30 CLL-like MBL cases). Gene expression analysis using oligonucleotide arrays was performed on 7 CLL-like MBL, and showed activation of B cell receptor associated pathways. Our findings underscore the diversity of MBL subtypes and further clarify the relationship between MBL and other lymphoproliferative disorders.
PMCID: PMC3164475  PMID: 21617698
4.  Common Occurrence of Monoclonal B-cell Lymphocytosis Among Members of High-Risk CLL Families 
British journal of haematology  2010;151(2):152-158.
Monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis (MBL) is an asymptomatic haematological condition characterized by low absolute levels of B-cell clones with a surface immunophenotype similar to that of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). In the general population, MBL increases with age with a prevalence of 5–9% in individuals over age 60 years. It has been reported to be higher among first-degree relatives from CLL families. We report results of multi-parameter flow cytometry among 505 first-degree relatives with no personal history of lymphoproliferative disease from 140 families having at least two cases of CLL. Seventeen percent of relatives had MBL. Age was the most important determinant where the probability for developing MBL by age 90 years was 61%. MBL clustered in certain families but clustering was independent of the number of known CLL cases in a family. As is the case with CLL, males had a significantly higher risk for MBL than did females (p=0.04). MBL patients had significantly higher mean absolute lymphocyte counts (2.4 × 109/l) and B-cell counts (0.53 × 109/l) than those with a normal B-cell immunophenotype. Our findings show that MBL occurs at a very high rate in high risk CLL families. Both the age and gender distribution of MBL are parallel to CLL, implying a shared inherited risk.
PMCID: PMC2966536  PMID: 20738309
chronic lymphocytic leukaemia; high risk families; monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis; flow cytometry
5.  Genetic susceptibility variants for chronic lymphocytic leukemia 
There is strong and consistent evidence that a genetic component contributes to the etiology of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). A recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) of CLL identified 7 genetic variants that increased the risk of CLL within a European population.
We evaluated the association of these variants, or variants in linkage disequilibrium (LD) with these variants, with CLL risk in an independent sample of 438 CLL cases and 328 controls.
Of these 7 SNPs, 6 had p-trend < 0.05 and had estimated odds ratios (ORs) that were strikingly comparable to those of the previous study. Associations were seen for rs9378805 (OR = 1.47, 95% CI: 1.19, 1.80, p-trend = 0.0003) near IRF4 and rs735665 near GRAMD1B (OR= 1.47; 95% CI: 1.14, 1.89; p-trend = 0.003). However, no associations (P> 0.05) were found for rs11083846, nor were any found for any SNPs in LD with rs11083846.
Our results confirm the previous findings and further support the role of a genetic basis in the etiology of CLL; however, more research is needed to elucidate the causal SNP(s) and the potential manner in which these SNPs or linked SNPs function in CLL pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2852480  PMID: 20332261
IRF4; CLL; genetic association
6.  Genome-wide association study of follicular lymphoma identifies a risk locus at 6p21.32 
Nature genetics  2010;42(8):661-664.
To identify susceptibility loci for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) subtypes, we conducted a three-stage genome-wide association study. We identified two variants associated with follicular lymphoma (FL) in 1,465 FL cases/6,958 controls at 6p21.32 (rs10484561, rs7755224, r2=1.0; combined p-values=1.12×10-29, 2.00×10-19), providing further support that MHC genetic variation influences FL susceptibility. Confirmatory evidence of a previously reported association was also found between chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma and rs735665 (combined p-value=4.24×10-9).
PMCID: PMC2913472  PMID: 20639881
7.  Rare variants of large effect in BRCA2 and CHEK2 affect risk of lung cancer 
Wang, Yufei | McKay, James D. | Rafnar, Thorunn | Wang, Zhaoming | Timofeeva, Maria | Broderick, Peter | Zong, Xuchen | Laplana, Marina | Wei, Yongyue | Han, Younghun | Lloyd, Amy | Delahaye-Sourdeix, Manon | Chubb, Daniel | Gaborieau, Valerie | Wheeler, William | Chatterjee, Nilanjan | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Sulem, Patrick | Liu, Geoffrey | Kaaks, Rudolf | Henrion, Marc | Kinnersley, Ben | Vallée, Maxime | LeCalvez-Kelm, Florence | Stevens, Victoria L. | Gapstur, Susan M. | Chen, Wei V. | Zaridze, David | Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonilia | Lissowska, Jolanta | Rudnai, Peter | Fabianova, Eleonora | Mates, Dana | Bencko, Vladimir | Foretova, Lenka | Janout, Vladimir | Krokan, Hans E. | Gabrielsen, Maiken Elvestad | Skorpen, Frank | Vatten, Lars | Njølstad, Inger | Chen, Chu | Goodman, Gary | Benhamou, Simone | Vooder, Tonu | Valk, Kristjan | Nelis, Mari | Metspalu, Andres | Lener, Marcin | Lubiński, Jan | Johansson, Mattias | Vineis, Paolo | Agudo, Antonio | Clavel-Chapelon, Francoise | Bueno-de-Mesquita, H.Bas | Trichopoulos, Dimitrios | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Johansson, Mikael | Weiderpass, Elisabete | Tjønneland, Anne | Riboli, Elio | Lathrop, Mark | Scelo, Ghislaine | Albanes, Demetrius | Caporaso, Neil E. | Ye, Yuanqing | Gu, Jian | Wu, Xifeng | Spitz, Margaret R. | Dienemann, Hendrik | Rosenberger, Albert | Su, Li | Matakidou, Athena | Eisen, Timothy | Stefansson, Kari | Risch, Angela | Chanock, Stephen J. | Christiani, David C. | Hung, Rayjean J. | Brennan, Paul | Landi, Maria Teresa | Houlston, Richard S. | Amos, Christopher I.
Nature genetics  2014;46(7):736-741.
We conducted imputation to the 1000 Genomes Project of four genome-wide association studies of lung cancer in populations of European ancestry (11,348 cases and 15,861 controls) and genotyped an additional 10,246 cases and 38,295 controls for follow-up. We identified large-effect genome-wide associations for squamous lung cancer with the rare variants of BRCA2-K3326X (rs11571833; odds ratio [OR]=2.47, P=4.74×10−20) and of CHEK2-I157T (rs17879961; OR=0.38 P=1.27×10−13). We also showed an association between common variation at 3q28 (TP63; rs13314271; OR=1.13, P=7.22×10−10) and lung adenocarcinoma previously only reported in Asians. These findings provide further evidence for inherited genetic susceptibility to lung cancer and its biological basis. Additionally, our analysis demonstrates that imputation can identify rare disease-causing variants having substantive effects on cancer risk from pre-existing GWAS data.
PMCID: PMC4074058  PMID: 24880342
8.  Circulating Inflammation Markers and Prospective Risk for Lung Cancer 
Despite growing recognition of an etiologic role for inflammation in lung carcinogenesis, few prospective epidemiologic studies have comprehensively investigated the association of circulating inflammation markers with lung cancer.
We conducted a nested case–control study (n = 526 lung cancer patients and n = 592 control subjects) within the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Control subjects were matched to lung cancer case patients on age, sex, follow-up time (median = 2.9 years), randomization year, and smoking (pack-years and time since quitting). Serum levels of 77 inflammation markers were measured using a Luminex bead-based assay. Conditional logistic regression and weighted Cox models were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and cumulative risks, respectively.
Of 68 evaluable markers, 11 were statistically significantly associated with lung cancer risk (P trend across marker categories < .05), including acute-phase proteins (C-reactive protein [CRP], serum amyloid A [SAA]), proinflammatory cytokines (soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 [sTNFRII]), anti-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin 1 receptor antagonist [IL-1RA]), lymphoid differentiation cytokines (interleukin 7 [IL-7]), growth factors (transforming growth factor alpha [TGF-A]), and chemokines (epithelial neutrophil-activating peptide 78 [ENA 78/CXCL5], monokine induced by gamma interferon [MIG/CXCL9], B cell–attracting chemokine 1 [BCA-1/CXCL13], thymus activation regulated chemokine [TARC/CCL17], macrophage-derived chemokine [MDC/CCL22]). Elevated marker levels were associated with increased lung cancer risk, with odds ratios comparing the highest vs the lowest group ranging from 1.47 (IL-7) to 2.27 (CRP). For IL-1RA, elevated levels were associated with decreased lung cancer risk (OR = 0.71; 95% confidence interval = 0.51 to 1.00). Associations did not differ by smoking, lung cancer histology, or latency. A cross-validated inflammation score using four independent markers (CRP, BCA-1/CXCL13, MDC/CCL22, and IL-1RA) provided good separation in 10-year lung cancer cumulative risks among former smokers (quartile [Q] 1 = 1.1% vs Q4 = 3.1%) and current smokers (Q1 = 2.3% vs Q4 = 7.9%) even after adjustment for smoking.
Some circulating inflammation marker levels are associated with prospective lung cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3888091  PMID: 24249745
11.  Rare missense variants in POT1 predispose to familial cutaneous malignant melanoma 
Nature genetics  2014;46(5):482-486.
Although CDKN2A is the most frequent high-risk melanoma susceptibility gene, the underlying genetic factors for most melanoma-prone families remain unknown. Using whole exome sequencing, we identified a rare variant that arose as a founder mutation in the telomere shelterin POT1 gene (g.7:124493086 C>T, Ser270Asn) in five unrelated melanoma-prone families from Romagna, Italy. Carriers of this variant had increased telomere length and elevated fragile telomeres suggesting that this variant perturbs telomere maintenance. Two additional rare POT1 variants were identified in all cases sequenced in two other Italian families, yielding a frequency of POT1 variants comparable to that of CDKN2A mutations in this population. These variants were not found in public databases or in 2,038 genotyped Italian controls. We also identified two rare recurrent POT1 variants in American and French familial melanoma cases. Our findings suggest that POT1 is a major susceptibility gene for familial melanoma in several populations.
PMCID: PMC4056593  PMID: 24686846
12.  Maximizing DNA Yield for Epidemiologic Studies: No More Buffy Coats? 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;178(7):1170-1176.
Some molecular analyses require microgram quantities of DNA, yet many epidemiologic studies preserve only the buffy coat. In Frederick, Maryland, in 2010, we estimated DNA yields from 5 mL of whole blood and from equivalent amounts of all-cell-pellet (ACP) fraction, buffy coat, and residual blood cells from fresh blood (n = 10 volunteers) and from both fresh and frozen blood (n = 10). We extracted DNA with the QIAamp DNA Blood Midi Kit (Qiagen Sciences, Germantown, Maryland) for silica spin column capture and measured double-stranded DNA. Yields from frozen blood fractions were not statistically significantly different from those obtained from fresh fractions. ACP fractions yielded 80.6% (95% confidence interval: 66, 97) of the yield of frozen whole blood and 99.3% (95% confidence interval: 86, 100) of the yield of fresh blood. Frozen buffy coat and residual blood cells each yielded only half as much DNA as frozen ACP, and the yields were more variable. Assuming that DNA yield and quality from frozen ACP are stable, we recommend freezing plasma and ACP. Not only does ACP yield twice as much DNA as buffy coat but it is easier to process, and its yield is less variable from person to person. Long-term stability studies are needed. If one wishes to separate buffy coat before freezing, one should also save the residual blood cell fraction, which contains just as much DNA.
PMCID: PMC3783090  PMID: 23857774
all-cell-pellet fraction; buffy coat; DNA extraction yield; residual blood cells; whole blood
13.  Genetic Susceptibility to Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
Seminars in hematology  2013;50(4):10.1053/j.seminhematol.2013.09.007.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common adult leukemia in the West and is an incurable malignancy. No firmly established evidence exists for environmental risk-factors in the etiology of CLL. However, CLL is estimated to have one of the highest familial risks for a hematologic malignancy; this along with other evidence strongly supports an inherited genetic component. In the past five years, genome-wide association studies have provided the foundation for new avenues in the investigation of pathogenesis of this disease with 22 susceptibility loci currently identified. We review here the advances made in identifying these loci, the potential to translate these findings into clinical practice, and future directions needed to advance our understanding of the genetic susceptibility of CLL.
PMCID: PMC3834539  PMID: 24246697
CLL; SNP associations; etiology
14.  Heme-related gene expression signatures of meat intakes in lung cancer tissues 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2013;53(7):548-556.
Lung cancer causes more deaths worldwide than any other cancer. In addition to cigarette smoking, dietary factors may contribute to lung carcinogenesis. Epidemiologic studies, including the Environment and Genetics in Lung cancer Etiology (EAGLE), have reported increased consumption of red/processed meats to be associated with higher risk of lung cancer. Heme-iron toxicity may link meat intake with cancer. We investigated this hypothesis in meat-related lung carcinogenesis using whole genome expression.
We measured genome-wide expression (HG-U133A) in 49 tumor and 42 non-involved fresh frozen lung tissues of 64 adenocarcinoma EAGLE patients. We studied gene expression profiles by high-versus-low meat consumption, with and without adjustment by sex, age, and smoking. Threshold for significance was a False Discovery Rate (FDR) ≤0.15. We studied whether the identified genes played a role in heme-iron related processes by means of manually curated literature search and gene ontology-based pathway analysis.
We found that gene expression of 232 annotated genes in tumor tissue significantly distinguished lung adenocarcinoma cases who consumed above/below the median intake of fresh red meats (FDR=0.12). Sixty-three (~28%) of the 232 identified genes (12 expected by chance, p-value<0.001) were involved in heme binding, absorption, transport, and Wnt signaling pathway (e.g., CYPs, TPO, HPX, HFE, SLCs, WNTs). We also identified several genes involved in lipid metabolism (e.g., NCR1, TNF, UCP3) and oxidative stress (e.g., TPO, SGK2, MTHFR) that may be indirectly related to heme-toxicity.
The study’s results provide preliminary evidence that heme-iron toxicity might be one underlying mechanism linking fresh red meat intake and lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC4152901  PMID: 23681825
15.  Characterizing the genetic basis of methylome diversity in histologically normal human lung tissue 
Nature communications  2014;5:3365.
The genetic regulation of the human epigenome is not fully appreciated. Here we describe the effects of genetic variants on the DNA methylome in human lung based on methylation-quantitative trait loci (meQTL) analyses. We report 34,304 cis- and 585 trans-meQTLs, a genetic-epigenetic interaction of surprising magnitude, including a regulatory hotspot. These findings are replicated in both breast and kidney tissues and show distinct patterns: cis-meQTLs mostly localize to CpG sites outside of genes, promoters, and CpG islands (CGIs), while trans-meQTLs are over-represented in promoter CGIs. meQTL SNPs are enriched in CTCF binding sites, DNaseI hypersensitivity regions and histone marks. Importantly, 4 of the 5 established lung cancer risk loci in European ancestry are cis-meQTLs and, in aggregate, cis-meQTLs are enriched for lung cancer risk in a genome-wide analysis of 11,587 subjects. Thus, inherited genetic variation may affect lung carcinogenesis by regulating the human methylome.
PMCID: PMC3982882  PMID: 24572595
16.  Reproductive and hormonal factors and the risk of lung cancer: the EAGLE Study 
Evidence about the role for reproductive and hormonal factors in the etiology of lung cancer in women is conflicting. To clarify this question, we examined 407 female cases and 499 female controls from the Environment And Genetics in Lung cancer Etiology (EAGLE) population-based case-control study. Subjects were interviewed in person using a computer-assisted personal interview to assess demographics, education, smoking history, medical history, occupational history, reproductive and hormonal factors. Associations of interest were investigated using logistic regression models, adjusted for catchment area and age (matching variables), cigarette smoking (status, pack-years, and time since quitting). Additional confounding variables were investigated but did not substantially affect the results. We observed a reduced risk of lung cancer among women with later age at first live birth (≥31 years: OR=0.57, 95%CI=0.31–1.06, p-trend=0.05), later age at menopause (≥51 years: OR=0.49, 95%CI=0.31–0.79, p-trend=0.003), and longer reproductive periods (≥41 years: OR=0.44, 95%CI=0.25–0.79, p-trend=0.01). A reduced risk was also observed for Hormone Replacement Therapy (OR=0.63, 95%CI=0.42–0.95, p=0.03) and oral contraceptive use (OR=0.67, 95%CI=0.45–1.00, p=0.05), but no trend with duration of use was detected. Menopausal status (both natural and induced) was associated with an augmented risk. No additional associations were identified for other reproductive variables. This study suggests that women who continue to produce estrogens have a lower lung cancer risk. Large studies with great number of never smoking women, biomarkers of estrogen and molecular classification of lung cancer are needed for a more comprehensive view of the association between reproductive factors and lung cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3609937  PMID: 23129166
case-control study; lung cancer; reproductive factors
17.  Precursors to Lymphoproliferative Malignancies 
We review monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis (MBL) as a precursor to chronic lymphocytic leukemia and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) as a precursor to plasma cell disorders. These conditions are present in the general population and increase with age. These precursors aggregate with lymphoproliferative malignancies in families suggesting shared inheritance. MBL and MGUS may share some of the same risk factors as their related malignancies but data are limited. While these conditions are characterized by enhanced risk for the associated malignancy, the majority of individuals with these conditions do not progress to malignancy. A key focus for current work is to identify markers that predict progression to malignancy.
PMCID: PMC3616401  PMID: 23549397
18.  Are Women Who Smoke at Higher Risk for Lung Cancer Than Men Who Smoke? 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;177(7):601-612.
Worldwide lung cancer incidence is decreasing or leveling off among men, but rising among women. Sex differences in associations of tobacco carcinogens with lung cancer risk have been hypothesized, but the epidemiologic evidence is conflicting. We tested sex-smoking interaction in association with lung cancer risk within a population-based case-control study, the Environment and Genetics in Lung Cancer Etiology (EAGLE) Study (Lombardy, Italy, 2002–2005). Detailed lifetime smoking histories were collected by personal interview in 2,100 cases with incident lung cancer and 2,120 controls. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for pack-years of cigarette smoking were estimated by logistic regression, adjusted for age, residence area, and time since quitting smoking. To assess sex-smoking interaction, we compared the slopes of odds ratios for logarithm of pack-years in a model for men and women combined. Overall, the slope for pack-years was steeper in men (odds ratio for female-smoking interaction = 0.39, 95% confidence interval: 0.24, 0.62; P < 0.0001); after restriction to ever smokers, the difference in slopes was much smaller (odds ratio for interaction = 0.63, 95% confidence interval: 0.29, 1.37; P = 0.24). Similar results were found by histological type. Results were unchanged when additional confounders were evaluated (e.g., tobacco type, inhalation depth, Fagerström-assessed nicotine dependence). These findings do not support a higher female susceptibility to tobacco-related lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3657535  PMID: 23425629
case-control studies; lung cancer; sex differences; smoking
19.  VTET: a variable threshold exact test for identifying disease-associated copy number variations enriched in short genomic regions 
Copy number variations (CNVs) constitute a major source of genetic variations in human populations and have been reported to be associated with complex diseases. Methods have been developed for detecting CNVs and testing CNV associations in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) based on SNP arrays. Commonly used two-step testing procedures work well only for long CNVs while direct CNV association testing methods work only for recurrent CNVs. Assuming that short CNVs disrupting any part of a given genomic region increase disease risk, we developed a variable threshold exact test (VTET) for testing disease associations of CNVs randomly distributed in the genome using intensity data from SNP arrays. By extensive simulations, we found that VTET outperformed two-step testing procedures based on existing CNV calling algorithms for short CNVs and that the performance of VTET was robust to the length of the genomic region. In addition, VTET had a comparable performance with CNVtools for testing the association of recurrent CNVs. Thus, we expect VTET to be useful for testing disease associations of both recurrent and randomly distributed CNVs using existing GWAS data. We applied VTET to a lung cancer GWAS and identified a genome-wide significant region on chromosome 18q22.3 for lung squamous cell carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3957064  PMID: 24672538
copy number varination; variable threshold exact test; genome-wide association study; interval-based association test; lung cancer CNV analysis
20.  Genome-wide Association Study Identifies Two Susceptibility Loci for Osteosarcoma 
Nature genetics  2013;45(7):799-803.
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone malignancy of adolescents and young adults. In order to better understand the genetic etiology of osteosarcoma, we performed a multi-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS) consisting of 941 cases and 3,291 cancer-free adult controls of European ancestry. Two loci achieved genome-wide significance: rs1906953 at 6p21.3, in the glutamate receptor metabotropic 4 [GRM4] gene (P = 8.1 ×10-9), and rs7591996 and rs10208273 in a gene desert on 2p25.2 (P = 1.0 ×10-8 and 2.9 ×10-7). These two susceptibility loci warrant further exploration to uncover the biological mechanisms underlying susceptibility to osteosarcoma.
PMCID: PMC3910497  PMID: 23727862
22.  Targeting of Low-Dose CT Screening According to the Risk of Lung-Cancer Death 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(3):245-254.
In the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), screening with low-dose computed tomography (CT) resulted in a 20% reduction in lung-cancer mortality among participants between the ages of 55 and 74 years with a minimum of 30 pack-years of smoking and no more than 15 years since quitting. It is not known whether the benefits and potential harms of such screening vary according to lung-cancer risk.
We assessed the variation in efficacy, the number of false positive results, and the number of lung-cancer deaths prevented among 26,604 participants in the NLST who underwent low-dose CT screening, as compared with the 26,554 participants who underwent chest radiography, according to the quintile of 5-year risk of lung-cancer death (ranging from 0.15 to 0.55% in the lowest-risk group [quintile 1] to more than 2.00% in the highest-risk group [quintile 5]).
The number of lung-cancer deaths per 10,000 person-years that were prevented in the CT-screening group, as compared with the radiography group, increased according to risk quintile (0.2 in quintile 1, 3.5 in quintile 2, 5.1 in quintile 3, 11.0 in quintile 4, and 12.0 in quintile 5; P = 0.01 for trend). Across risk quintiles, there were significant decreasing trends in the number of participants with false positive results per screening-prevented lung-cancer death (1648 in quintile 1, 181 in quintile 2, 147 in quintile 3, 64 in quintile 4, and 65 in quintile 5). The 60% of participants at highest risk for lung-cancer death (quintiles 3 through 5) accounted for 88% of the screening-prevented lung-cancer deaths and for 64% of participants with false positive results. The 20% of participants at lowest risk (quintile 1) accounted for only 1% of prevented lung-cancer deaths.
Screening with low-dose CT prevented the greatest number of deaths from lung cancer among participants who were at highest risk and prevented very few deaths among those at lowest risk. These findings provide empirical support for risk-based targeting of smokers for such screening. (Funded by the National Cancer Institute.)
PMCID: PMC3783654  PMID: 23863051
23.  Urinary concentrations of estrogens and estrogen metabolites and smoking in Caucasian women 
Smoking has been hypothesized to decrease biosynthesis of parent estrogens (estradiol and estrone) and increase their metabolism by 2-hydroxylation. However, comprehensive studies of smoking and estrogen metabolism by 2-, 4-, or 16-hydroxylation are sparse.
Fifteen urinary estrogens and estrogen metabolites (jointly called EM) were measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in luteal phase urines collected during 1996–99 from 603 premenopausal women in Nurses’ Health Study II (35 current, 140 former, 428 never smokers). We calculated geometric means and percent differences of individual EM (pmol/mg creatinine), metabolic pathway groups, and pathway ratios, by smoking status and cigarettes per day (CPD).
Total EM and parent estrogens were nonsignificantly lower in current compared to never smokers, with estradiol significant (pmultivariate=0.02). We observed nonsignificantly lower 16-pathway EM (p=0.08) and higher 4-pathway EM (p=0.25) and similar 2-pathway EM in current vs. never smokers. EM measures among former smokers were similar to never smokers. Increasing CPD was significantly associated with lower 16-pathway EM (p-trend=0.04) and higher 4-pathway EM (p-trend=0.05). Increasing CPD was significantly positively associated with the ratios of 2- and 4-pathway to parent estrogens (p-trend=0.01 and 0.002), 2- and 4-pathway to 16-pathway (p-trend=0.02 and 0.003), and catechols to methylated catechols (p-trend=0.02).
As hypothesized, we observed lower urinary levels of total EM and parent estrogens in active smokers. Our results also suggest smoking is associated with altered estrogen metabolism, specifically increased 2- and 4-hydroxylation, decreased 16-hydroxylation, and decreased catechol methylation.
Our study suggests how smoking might influence estrogen-related cancers and conditions.
PMCID: PMC3643002  PMID: 23104668
Estradiol; estrogen metabolism; smoking; urine
24.  Integrative Cancer Epidemiology - The Next Generation 
Cancer discovery  2012;2(12):1087-1090.
We outline an integrative approach to extend the boundaries of molecular cancer epidemiology by integrating modern and rapidly evolving “omics” technologies into state-of-the-art molecular epidemiology. In this way, one can comprehensively explore the mechanistic underpinnings of epidemiologic observations into cancer risk and outcome. We highlight the exciting opportunities to collaborate across large observational studies and to forge new interdisciplinary collaborative ventures.
PMCID: PMC3531829  PMID: 23230187
multidisciplinary epidemiologic research; integrating new technologies
25.  A Meta-Analysis Identifies New Loci Associated with Body Mass index in Individuals of African Ancestry 
Monda, Keri L. | Chen, Gary K. | Taylor, Kira C. | Palmer, Cameron | Edwards, Todd L. | Lange, Leslie A. | Ng, Maggie C.Y. | Adeyemo, Adebowale A. | Allison, Matthew A. | Bielak, Lawrence F. | Chen, Guanji | Graff, Mariaelisa | Irvin, Marguerite R. | Rhie, Suhn K. | Li, Guo | Liu, Yongmei | Liu, Youfang | Lu, Yingchang | Nalls, Michael A. | Sun, Yan V. | Wojczynski, Mary K. | Yanek, Lisa R. | Aldrich, Melinda C. | Ademola, Adeyinka | Amos, Christopher I. | Bandera, Elisa V. | Bock, Cathryn H. | Britton, Angela | Broeckel, Ulrich | Cai, Quiyin | Caporaso, Neil E. | Carlson, Chris | Carpten, John | Casey, Graham | Chen, Wei-Min | Chen, Fang | Chen, Yii-Der I. | Chiang, Charleston W.K. | Coetzee, Gerhard A. | Demerath, Ellen | Deming-Halverson, Sandra L. | Driver, Ryan W. | Dubbert, Patricia | Feitosa, Mary F. | Freedman, Barry I. | Gillanders, Elizabeth M. | Gottesman, Omri | Guo, Xiuqing | Haritunians, Talin | Harris, Tamara | Harris, Curtis C. | Hennis, Anselm JM | Hernandez, Dena G. | McNeill, Lorna H. | Howard, Timothy D. | Howard, Barbara V. | Howard, Virginia J. | Johnson, Karen C. | Kang, Sun J. | Keating, Brendan J. | Kolb, Suzanne | Kuller, Lewis H. | Kutlar, Abdullah | Langefeld, Carl D. | Lettre, Guillaume | Lohman, Kurt | Lotay, Vaneet | Lyon, Helen | Manson, JoAnn E. | Maixner, William | Meng, Yan A. | Monroe, Kristine R. | Morhason-Bello, Imran | Murphy, Adam B. | Mychaleckyj, Josyf C. | Nadukuru, Rajiv | Nathanson, Katherine L. | Nayak, Uma | N’Diaye, Amidou | Nemesure, Barbara | Wu, Suh-Yuh | Leske, M. Cristina | Neslund-Dudas, Christine | Neuhouser, Marian | Nyante, Sarah | Ochs-Balcom, Heather | Ogunniyi, Adesola | Ogundiran, Temidayo O. | Ojengbede, Oladosu | Olopade, Olufunmilayo I. | Palmer, Julie R. | Ruiz-Narvaez, Edward A. | Palmer, Nicholette D. | Press, Michael F. | Rampersaud, Evandine | Rasmussen-Torvik, Laura J. | Rodriguez-Gil, Jorge L. | Salako, Babatunde | Schadt, Eric E. | Schwartz, Ann G. | Shriner, Daniel A. | Siscovick, David | Smith, Shad B. | Wassertheil-Smoller, Sylvia | Speliotes, Elizabeth K. | Spitz, Margaret R. | Sucheston, Lara | Taylor, Herman | Tayo, Bamidele O. | Tucker, Margaret A. | Van Den Berg, David J. | Velez Edwards, Digna R. | Wang, Zhaoming | Wiencke, John K. | Winkler, Thomas W. | Witte, John S. | Wrensch, Margaret | Wu, Xifeng | Yang, James J. | Levin, Albert M. | Young, Taylor R. | Zakai, Neil A. | Cushman, Mary | Zanetti, Krista A. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Zhao, Wei | Zheng, Yonglan | Zhou, Jie | Ziegler, Regina G. | Zmuda, Joseph M. | Fernandes, Jyotika K. | Gilkeson, Gary S. | Kamen, Diane L. | Hunt, Kelly J. | Spruill, Ida J. | Ambrosone, Christine B. | Ambs, Stefan | Arnett, Donna K. | Atwood, Larry | Becker, Diane M. | Berndt, Sonja I. | Bernstein, Leslie | Blot, William J. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Bottinger, Erwin P. | Bowden, Donald W. | Burke, Gregory | Chanock, Stephen J. | Cooper, Richard S. | Ding, Jingzhong | Duggan, David | Evans, Michele K. | Fox, Caroline | Garvey, W. Timothy | Bradfield, Jonathan P. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Grant, Struan F.A. | Hsing, Ann | Chu, Lisa | Hu, Jennifer J. | Huo, Dezheng | Ingles, Sue A. | John, Esther M. | Jordan, Joanne M. | Kabagambe, Edmond K. | Kardia, Sharon L.R. | Kittles, Rick A. | Goodman, Phyllis J. | Klein, Eric A. | Kolonel, Laurence N. | Le Marchand, Loic | Liu, Simin | McKnight, Barbara | Millikan, Robert C. | Mosley, Thomas H. | Padhukasahasram, Badri | Williams, L. Keoki | Patel, Sanjay R. | Peters, Ulrike | Pettaway, Curtis A. | Peyser, Patricia A. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Redline, Susan | Rotimi, Charles N. | Rybicki, Benjamin A. | Sale, Michèle M. | Schreiner, Pamela J. | Signorello, Lisa B. | Singleton, Andrew B. | Stanford, Janet L. | Strom, Sara S. | Thun, Michael J. | Vitolins, Mara | Zheng, Wei | Moore, Jason H. | Williams, Scott M. | Zhu, Xiaofeng | Zonderman, Alan B. | Kooperberg, Charles | Papanicolaou, George | Henderson, Brian E. | Reiner, Alex P. | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Loos, Ruth JF | North, Kari E. | Haiman, Christopher A.
Nature genetics  2013;45(6):690-696.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified 36 loci associated with body mass index (BMI), predominantly in populations of European ancestry. We conducted a meta-analysis to examine the association of >3.2 million SNPs with BMI in 39,144 men and women of African ancestry, and followed up the most significant associations in an additional 32,268 individuals of African ancestry. We identified one novel locus at 5q33 (GALNT10, rs7708584, p=3.4×10−11) and another at 7p15 when combined with data from the Giant consortium (MIR148A/NFE2L3, rs10261878, p=1.2×10−10). We also found suggestive evidence of an association at a third locus at 6q16 in the African ancestry sample (KLHL32, rs974417, p=6.9×10−8). Thirty-two of the 36 previously established BMI variants displayed directionally consistent effect estimates in our GWAS (binomial p=9.7×10−7), of which five reached genome-wide significance. These findings provide strong support for shared BMI loci across populations as well as for the utility of studying ancestrally diverse populations.
PMCID: PMC3694490  PMID: 23583978

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