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1.  Response to “JC polyoma virus and kidney disease” 
Kidney international  2014;85(5):1242-1243.
PMCID: PMC4143177  PMID: 24786886
2.  Relationships between electrochemical skin conductance and kidney disease in type 2 diabetes 
Journal of diabetes and its complications  2013;28(1):10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2013.09.006.
SUDOSCAN® non-invasively measures peripheral small fiber and autonomic nerve activity using electrochemical skin conductance. Since neuropathy and nephropathy are microvascular type 2 diabetes (T2D) complications, relationships between skin conductance, estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), and urine albumin:creatinine ratio (UACR) were assessed.
205 African Americans (AA) with T2D, 93 AA non-diabetic controls, 185 European Americans (EA) with T2D, and 73 EA non-diabetic controls were evaluated. Linear models were fitted stratified by population ancestry and T2D, adjusted for covariates.
Relative to EA, AA had lower skin conductance (T2D cases p<0.0001; controls p<0.0001). Skin conductance was also lower in T2D cases vs. controls in each population (p<0.0001, AA and EA). Global skin conductance was significantly associated with eGFR in AA and EA with T2D; adjusting for age, gender, BMI, and HbA1c, positive association was detected between skin conductance and eGFR in AA T2D cases (parameter estimate 3.38, standard error 1.2; p=5.2E−3), without association in EA T2D cases (p=0.22).
Non-invasive measurement of skin conductance strongly associated with eGFR in AA with T2D, replicating results in Hong Kong Chinese. SUDOSCAN® may prove useful as a low cost, non-invasive screening tool to detect undiagnosed diabetic kidney disease in populations of African ancestry.
PMCID: PMC3877197  PMID: 24140119
African Americans; diabetes; kidney disease; neuropathy; skin conductance
3.  Population Ancestry and Genetic Risk for Diabetes and Kidney, Cardiovascular, and Bone Disease: Modifiable Environmental Factors May Produce the Cures 
Variable rates of disease observed between members of different continental population groups may be mediated by inherited factors, environmental exposures, or their combination. This manuscript provides evidence in support of differential allele frequency distributions that underlie the higher rates of non-diabetic kidney disease in the focal segmental glomerulosclerosis spectrum of disease and lower rates of coronary artery calcified atherosclerotic plaque and osteoporosis in populations of African ancestry. With recognition that these and other common complex diseases are affected by biologic factors comes the realization that targeted manipulation of environmental exposures and pharmacologic treatments will have different effects based on genotype. The current era of precision medicine will couple one’s genetic make-up with specific therapies to reduce rates of disease based on presence of disease-specific alleles.
PMCID: PMC3840048  PMID: 23896482
ancestry; APOL1; cardiovascular disease; diabetes mellitus; genetics; kidney disease
4.  Perceptions regarding genetic testing in populations at risk for nephropathy 
American journal of nephrology  2013;38(6):453-457.
Population ancestry-based differences exist in genetic risk for many kidney diseases. Substantial debate remains regarding returning genetic test results to participants. African Americans (AAs) and European Americans (EAs) at risk for ESKD were queried for views on the value and use of genetic testing in research.
A standardized survey regarding attitudes toward genetic testing was administered to 130 individuals (64 AA; 66 EA) with first-degree relatives on dialysis. Fisher’s Exact Test was used to assess differences in participant attitudes between population groups.
Mean(SD) age of surveyed AAs and EAs was 45.5(12.8) and 50.5(14.4) years, respectively (p=0.04), with similar familial relationships (p=0.22). AAs and EAs wished to know their test results if risk could be: (1) reduced by diet or exercise (100% and 98%, p=0.99); (2) reduced by medical treatment (100% and 98%, p=0.99); or (3) if no treatments were available (90% and 82%, p=0.21). If informed they lacked a disease susceptibility variant, 87% of AAs and 88% of EAs would be extremely or pretty likely to inform family members (p=0.84). If informed they had a disease susceptibility variant, 92% of AAs and 89% of EAs would be extremely or pretty likely to inform their family (p=0.43).
Attitudes toward obtaining and using genetic test results for disease in research contexts were similar in AAs and EAs at risk for ESKD. A substantial majority would want information regardless of available treatments and would share information with family. These results have important implications for patient care, study design and the informed consent process.
PMCID: PMC3914164  PMID: 24280773
African Americans; bioethics; kidney disease; European Americans; genetic testing; risk prediction
5.  Cerebral white matter hyperintensity in African Americans and European Americans with type 2 diabetes 
Prior studies involving inner city populations detected higher cerebral white matter hyperintensity (WMH) scores in African Americans (AAs), relative to European Americans (EAs). This finding may be attributable to excess cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in AAs and poorer access to healthcare. Despite racial differences in CVD risk factor profiles, AAs have paradoxically lower levels of subclinical CVD. We hypothesized that AAs with diabetes and access to healthcare would have comparable or lower levels of WMH as EAs.
Racial differences in the distribution of WMH were analyzed in 46 AAs and 156 EAs with type 2 diabetes (T2D) enrolled in the Diabetes Heart Study (DHS)-MIND, and replicated in a sample of 113 AAs and 61 EAs patients who had clinically-indicated cerebral MRIs. Wilcoxon two-sample tests and linear models were used to compare the distribution of WMH in AAs and EAs and test for association between WMH and race.
The unadjusted mean WMH score in AAs from DHS-MIND was 1.9, compared to 2.3 in EAs (p=0.3244). Among those with clinically-indicated MRIs, WMH scores were 2.9 in AAs and 3.9 in EAs (p=0.0503). Adjustment for age and gender showed no statistically significant differences in WMH score between AAs and EAs.
These independent datasets reveal comparable WMH scores between AAs and EAs. This result suggests that disparities in access to healthcare and environmental exposures likely underlie the previously reported excess burden of WMH in AAs.
PMCID: PMC3465633  PMID: 22608346
African American; cognitive performance; diabetes mellitus; MRI; race; white matter hyperintensity
6.  APOL1 and Nephropathy Progression in Populations of African Ancestry 
Seminars in nephrology  2013;33(5):10.1016/j.semnephrol.2013.07.004.
Marked familial aggregation of chronic kidney disease suggests that inherited factors play a major role in nephropathy susceptibility. Molecular genetics analyses have identified a number of genes reproducibly associated with a broad range of renal phenotypes. Most associations show polygenic inheritance patterns with limited effect size. In contrast, genetic association between the apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) gene and several severe nondiabetic forms of kidney disease in African Americans approach Mendelian inheritance patterns and account for a large proportion of glomerulosclerosis in populations of African ancestry. Emerging data support an important role for APOL1 in the progression of diverse etiologies of kidney disease, in concert with requisite environmental (gene*environment) and inherited (gene*gene) interactions. This article reviews the current status of APOL1-associated nephropathy and discusses research questions under active investigation in the search for a cure for these severe and often progressive kidney diseases.
PMCID: PMC3876798  PMID: 24119848
African American; APOL1; FSGS; HIV; kidney disease; progression
7.  JC polyoma virus interacts with APOL1 in African Americans with non-diabetic nephropathy 
Kidney international  2013;84(6):10.1038/ki.2013.173.
Individuals with HIV infection and two apolipoprotein L1 gene (APOL1) risk variants frequently develop nephropathy. Here we tested whether non-HIV viral infections influence nephropathy risk via interactions with APOL1 by assessing APOL1 genotypes and presence of urine JC and BK polyoma virus and plasma HHV6 and CMV by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. We analyzed 300 samples from unrelated and related first-degree relatives of African Americans with non-diabetic nephropathy using linear and non-linear mixed models to account for familial relationships. The four groups evaluated were APOL1 0/1 versus 2 risk alleles, with or without nephropathy. Urine JCV and BKV were detected in 90 and 29 patients while HHV6 and CMV were rare. Adjusting for family age at nephropathy, gender and ancestry, presence of JCV genomic DNA in urine and APOL1 risk alleles were significantly negatively associated with elevated serum cystatin C, albuminuria (albumin to creatinine ratio over 30 mg/g), and kidney disease defined as an eGFR under 60 ml/min per 1.73 m2 and/or albuminuria in an additive (APOL1 plus JCV) model. BK viruria was not associated with kidney disease. Thus, African Americans at increased risk for APOL1-associated nephropathy (two APOL1 risk variants) with JC viruria had a lower prevalence of kidney disease, suggesting that JCV interaction with APOL1 genotype may influence kidney disease risk.
PMCID: PMC3844025  PMID: 23677244
APOL1; BK polyomavirus; HIV; JC polyomavirus; kidney disease; proteinuria
8.  Hypertension and chronic kidney disease: controversies in pathogenesis and treatment 
The relationship between hypertension and chronic kidney disease (CKD) has long been the subject of controversy. The pathogenetic mechanisms of nephropathy in non-diabetic individuals with hypertension, as well as optimal hypertension treatment targets in populations with nephropathy remain important clinical concerns. This manuscript reviews breakthroughs in molecular genetics that have clarified the complex relationship between hypertension and kidney disease, answering the question of which factor comes first. An overview of the potential roles that hyperuricemia plays in the pathogenesis of hypertension and CKD and current blood pressure treatment guidelines in populations with CKD are discussed. The ongoing National Institutes of Health-sponsored Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) is underway to help answer these important questions. Enrollment of 9,250 hypertensive SPRINT participants will be completed in 2013; important results on ideal blood pressure control targets for reducing nephropathy progression, cardiovascular disease end-points, and preserving cognitive function are expected. As such, many of the controversial aspects of hypertension management will likely be clarified in the near future.
PMCID: PMC4030753  PMID: 23538309
APOL1; blood pressure control; chronic kidney disease; FSGS; hypertension; uric acid
9.  End-Stage Renal Disease in African Americans With Lupus Nephritis Is Associated With APOL1 
Lupus nephritis (LN) is a severe manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that exhibits familial aggregation and may progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). LN is more prevalent among African Americans than among European Americans. This study was undertaken to investigate the hypothesis that the apolipoprotein L1 gene (APOL1) nephropathy risk alleles G1/G2, common in African Americans and rare in European Americans, contribute to the ethnic disparity in risk.
APOL1 G1 and G2 nephropathy alleles were genotyped in 855 African American SLE patients with LN-ESRD (cases) and 534 African American SLE patients without nephropathy (controls) and tested for association under a recessive genetic model, by logistic regression.
Ninety percent of the SLE patients were female. The mean ± SD age at SLE diagnosis was significantly lower in LN-ESRD cases than in SLE non-nephropathy controls (27.3 ± 10.9 years versus 39.5 ± 12.2 years). The mean ± SD time from SLE diagnosis to development of LN-ESRD in cases was 7.3 ± 7.2 years. The G1/G2 risk alleles were strongly associated with SLE-ESRD, with 25% of cases and 12% of controls having 2 nephropathy alleles (odds ratio [OR] 2.57, recessive model P = 1.49 × 10−9), and after adjustment for age, sex, and ancestry admixture (OR 2.72, P = 6.23 × 10−6). The age-, sex-, and admixture-adjusted population attributable risk for ESRD among patients with G1/G2 polymorphisms was 0.26, compared to 0.003 among European American patients. The mean time from SLE diagnosis to ESRD development was ~2 years earlier among individuals with APOL1 risk genotypes (P = 0.01).
APOL1 G1/G2 alleles strongly impact the risk of LN-ESRD in African Americans, as well as the time to progression to ESRD. The high frequency of these alleles in African Americans with near absence in European Americans explains an important proportion of the increased risk of LN-ESRD in African Americans.
PMCID: PMC4002759  PMID: 24504811
11.  Genotypic variation and outcomes in kidney transplantation: donor and recipient effects 
Kidney international  2013;84(3):431-433.
The genetic composition of a donor impacts long term allograft survival after kidney transplantation. Effects of the recipient’s genetic make-up, particularly variation in immune response pathway genes are less certain. A report in this issue of Kidney International reveals improved graft survival in transplant recipients with lower copy numbers of the complement 4 gene (C4) after receipt of deceased donor kidneys. Genomics breakthroughs in nephrology and immunology will likely revolutionize the field of transplant medicine.
PMCID: PMC3761401  PMID: 23989355
12.  Admixture Mapping of Coronary Artery Calcified Plaque in African Americans with Type 2 Diabetes 
The presence and severity of coronary artery calcified plaque (CAC) differs markedly between individuals of African and European descent, suggesting that admixture mapping (AM) may be informative for identifying genetic variants associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Methods and Results
AM of CAC was performed in 1,040 unrelated African Americans with type 2 diabetes mellitus from the African American-Diabetes Heart Study (AA-DHS), Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), and Family Heart Study (FamHS) using the Illumina custom ancestry informative marker (AIM) panel. All cohorts obtained computed tomography scanning of the coronary arteries using identical protocols. For each AIM, the probability of inheriting 0, 1, and 2 copies of a European-derived allele was determined. Linkage analysis was performed by testing for association between each AIM using these probabilities and CAC, accounting for global ancestry, age, gender and study. Markers on 1p32.3 in the GLIS1 gene (rs6663966, LOD=3.7), 1q32.1 near CHIT1 (rs7530895, LOD=3.1), 4q21.2 near PRKG2 (rs1212373, LOD=3.0) and 11q25 in the OPCML gene (rs6590705, LOD=3.4) had statistically significant LOD scores, while markers on 8q22.2 (rs6994682, LOD=2.7), 9p21.2 (rs439314, LOD=2.7), and 13p32.1 (rs7492028, LOD=2.8) manifested suggestive evidence of linkage. These regions were uniformly characterized by higher levels of European ancestry associating with higher levels or odds of CAC. Findings were replicated in 1,350 AAs without diabetes and 2,497 diabetic European Americans from MESA and the Diabetes Heart Study.
Fine mapping these regions will likely identify novel genetic variants that contribute to CAC and clarify racial differences in susceptibility to subclinical CVD.
PMCID: PMC3578054  PMID: 23233742
ancestry; cardiovascular disease risk factors; type 2 diabetes; admixture mapping
13.  Lupus risk variants in the PXK locus alter B-cell receptor internalization 
Frontiers in Genetics  2015;5:450.
Genome wide association studies have identified variants in PXK that confer risk for humoral autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), rheumatoid arthritis and more recently systemic sclerosis. While PXK is involved in trafficking of epidermal growth factor Receptor (EGFR) in COS-7 cells, mechanisms linking PXK to lupus pathophysiology have remained undefined. In an effort to uncover the mechanism at this locus that increases lupus-risk, we undertook a fine-mapping analysis in a large multi-ancestral study of lupus patients and controls. We define a large (257kb) common haplotype marking a single causal variant that confers lupus risk detected only in European ancestral populations and spans the promoter through the 3′ UTR of PXK. The strongest association was found at rs6445972 with P < 4.62 × 10−10, OR 0.81 (0.75–0.86). Using stepwise logistic regression analysis, we demonstrate that one signal drives the genetic association in the region. Bayesian analysis confirms our results, identifying a 95% credible set consisting of 172 variants spanning 202 kb. Functionally, we found that PXK operates on the B-cell antigen receptor (BCR); we confirmed that PXK influenced the rate of BCR internalization. Furthermore, we demonstrate that individuals carrying the risk haplotype exhibited a decreased rate of BCR internalization, a process known to impact B cell survival and cell fate. Taken together, these data define a new candidate mechanism for the genetic association of variants around PXK with lupus risk and highlight the regulation of intracellular trafficking as a genetically regulated pathway mediating human autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC4288052  PMID: 25620976
lupus; PXK; fine-mapping; B cells; BCR
14.  Association of Low-Grade Albuminuria with Adverse Cardiac Mechanics: Findings from the HyperGEN Study 
Circulation  2013;129(1):42-50.
Albuminuria is a marker of endothelial dysfunction and has been associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes. The reasons for this association are unclear, but may be due to the relationship between endothelial dysfunction and intrinsic myocardial dysfunction.
Methods and Results
In the HyperGEN study, a population- and family-based study of hypertension, we examined the relationship between urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) and cardiac mechanics (N=1894, all of whom had normal left ventricular ejection fraction and wall motion). We performed speckle-tracking echocardiographic analysis to quantify global longitudinal, circumferential, and radial strain (GLS, GCS, and GRS, respectively), and early diastolic (e′) tissue velocities. We used E/e′ ratio as a marker of increased LV filling pressures. We used multivariable-adjusted linear mixed effect models to determine independent associations between UACR and cardiac mechanics. The mean age was 50±14 years, 59% were female, and 46% were African-American. Comorbidities were increasingly prevalent among higher UACR quartiles. Albuminuria was associated with GLS, GCS, GRS, e′ velocity, and E/e′ ratio on unadjusted analyses. After adjustment for covariates, UACR was independently associated with lower absolute GLS (multivariable-adjusted mean GLS [95% CI] for UACR Quartile 1 = 15.3 [15.0–15.5]% vs. UACR Q4 = 14.6 [14.3–14.9]%, P for trend <0.001) and increased E/e′ ratio (Q1 = 25.3 [23.5–27.1] vs. Q4 = 29.0 [27.0–31.0], P= 0.003). The association between UACR and GLS was present even in participants with UACR < 30 mg/g (P<0.001 after multivariable adjustment).
Albuminuria, even at low levels, is associated with adverse cardiac mechanics and higher E/e′ ratio.
PMCID: PMC3888488  PMID: 24077169
albuminuria; cardiac mechanics; strain; echocardiography
15.  Insights into the Genetic Architecture of Diabetic Nephropathy 
Current Diabetes Reports  2012;12(4):423-431.
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is a devastating complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and leads to increased morbidity and premature mortality. Susceptibility to DN has an inherent genetic basis as evidenced by familial aggregation and ethnic-specific prevalence rates. Progress in identifying the underlying genetic architecture has been arduous with the realization that a single locus of large effect does not exist, unlike in predisposition to non-diabetic nephropathy in individuals with African ancestry. Numerous risk variants have been identified, each with a nominal effect, and they collectively contribute to disease. These results have identified loci targeting novel pathways for disease susceptibility. With continued technological advances and development of new analytic methods, additional genetic variants and mechanisms (e.g., epigenetic variation) will be identified and help to elucidate the pathogenesis of DN. These advances will lead to early detection and development of novel therapeutic strategies to decrease the incidence of disease.
PMCID: PMC3389140  PMID: 22573336
Nephropathy; Type 2 diabetes; Albuminuria; Kidney; Genetics; Association
16.  Prediction of mortality using a multi-bed vascular calcification score in the Diabetes Heart Study 
Cardiovascular Diabetology  2014;13(1):160.
Vascular calcified plaque, a measure of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD), is unlikely to be limited to a single vascular bed in patients with multiple risk factors. Consideration of vascular calcified plaque as a global phenomenon may allow for a more accurate assessment of the CVD burden. The aim of this study was to examine the utility of a combined vascular calcified plaque score in the prediction of mortality.
Vascular calcified plaque scores from the coronary, carotid, and abdominal aortic vascular beds and a derived multi-bed score were examined for associations with all-cause and CVD-mortality in 699 European-American type 2 diabetes (T2D) affected individuals from the Diabetes Heart Study. The ability of calcified plaque to improve prediction beyond Framingham risk factors was assessed.
Over 8.4 ± 2.3 years (mean ± standard deviation) of follow-up, 156 (22.3%) participants were deceased, 74 (10.6%) from CVD causes. All calcified plaque scores were significantly associated with all-cause (HR: 1.4-1.8; p < 1x10−5) and CVD-mortality (HR: 1.5-1.9; p < 1×10−4) following adjustment for Framingham risk factors. Associations were strongest for coronary calcified plaque. Improvement in prediction of outcome beyond Framingham risk factors was greatest using coronary calcified plaque for all-cause mortality (AUC: 0.720 to 0.757, p = 0.004) and the multi-bed score for CVD mortality (AUC: 0.731 to 0.767, p = 0.008).
Although coronary calcified plaque and the multi-bed score were the strongest predictors of all-cause mortality and CVD-mortality respectively in this T2D-affected sample, carotid and abdominal aortic calcified plaque scores also significantly improved prediction of outcome beyond traditional risk factors and should not be discounted as risk stratification tools.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12933-014-0160-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4266952  PMID: 25496604
Vascular calcified plaque; Mortality; Computed tomography; Type 2 diabetes
17.  A Critical Evaluation of Glycated Protein Parameters in Advanced Nephropathy: A Matter of Life or Death 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(7):1621-1624.
Chronic kidney disease remains as one of the major complications for individuals with diabetes and contributes to considerable morbidity. Individuals subjected to dialysis therapy, half of whom are diabetic, experience a mortality of ∼20% per year. Understanding factors related to mortality remains a priority. Outside of dialysis units, A1C is unquestioned as the “gold standard” for glycemic control. In the recent past, however, there is evidence in large cohorts of diabetic dialysis patients that A1C at both the higher and lower levels was associated with mortality. Given the unique conditions associated with the metabolic dysregulation in dialysis patients, there is a critical need to identify accurate assays to monitor glycemic control to relate to cardiovascular endpoints. In this two-part point-counterpoint narrative, Drs. Freedman and Kalantar-Zadeh take opposing views on the utility of A1C in relation to cardiovascular disease and survival and as to consideration of use of other short-term markers in glycemia. In the narrative below, Dr. Freedman suggests that glycated albumin may be the preferred glycemic marker in dialysis subjects. In the counterpoint narrative following Dr. Freedman’s contribution, Dr. Kalantar-Zadeh defends the use of A1C as the unquestioned gold standard for glycemic management in dialysis subjects.
—William T. Cefalu, MD Editor in Chief, Diabetes Care
PMCID: PMC3379614  PMID: 22723586
18.  Apolipoprotein L1 gene variants associate with hypertension-attributed nephropathy and the rate of kidney function decline in African Americans 
Kidney international  2012;83(1):114-120.
Despite intensive anti-hypertensive therapy there was a high incidence of renal end-points in participants of the African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension (AASK) cohort. To better understand this, coding variants in the apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) and the non-muscle myosin heavy chain 9 (MYH9) genes were evaluated for an association with hypertension-attributed nephropathy and clinical outcomes in a case-control study. Clinical data and DNA were available for 675 AASK participant cases and 618 African American non-nephropathy control individuals. APOL1 G1 and G2, and MYH9 E1 variants along with 44 ancestry informative markers were genotyped with allele frequency differences between cases and controls analyzed by logistic regression multivariable models adjusting for ancestry, age, and gender. In recessive models, APOL1 risk variants were significantly associated with kidney disease in all cases compared to controls with an odds ratio of 2.57. In AASK cases with more advanced disease, such as a baseline urine protein to creatinine ratio over 0.6 g/g or a serum creatinine over 3 mg/dL during follow-up, the association was strengthened with odds ratios of 6.29 and 4.61, respectively. APOL1 risk variants were consistently associated with renal disease progression across medication classes and blood pressure targets. Thus, kidney disease in AASK participants was strongly associated with APOL1 renal risk variants.
PMCID: PMC3484228  PMID: 22832513
19.  The new era of APOL1-associated glomerulosclerosis 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2012;27(4):1288-1291.
PMCID: PMC3315674  PMID: 22302261
African American; APOL1; end-stage renal disease; FSGS; hypertensive nephrosclerosis
20.  Association of APOL1 variants with mild kidney disease in first-degree relatives of African American patients with non-diabetic end stage renal disease 
Kidney international  2012;82(7):805-811.
Familial aggregation of non-diabetic end stage renal disease (ESRD) is found in African Americans and variants in the apolipoprotein L1 gene (APOL1) contribute to this risk. To detect genetic associations with milder forms of nephropathy in high-risk families, analyses were performed using generalized estimating equations to assess relationships between kidney disease phenotypes and APOL1 variants in 786 relatives of 470 families. Adjusting for familial correlations, 23.1, 46.7, and 30.2 percent of genotyped relatives possessed two, one, or no APOL1 risk variants, respectively. Relatives with two compared to one or no risk variants had statistically indistinguishable median systolic blood pressure, urine albumin to creatinine ratio, estimated GFR (MDRD equation) and serum cystatin C levels. After adjusting for age, gender, age at ESRD in families, and African ancestry, significant associations were detected between APOL1 with overt proteinuria and estimated GFR (CKD-EPI equation), with a trend toward significance for quantitative albuminuria. Thus, relatives of African Americans with non-diabetic ESRD are enriched for APOL1 risk variants. After adjustment, two APOL1 risk variants weakly predict mild forms of kidney disease. Second hits appear necessary for the initiation of APOL1-associated nephropathy.
PMCID: PMC3443536  PMID: 22695330
African American; APOL1; end-stage renal disease; FSGS; kidney; screening
21.  Target Organ Damage in African American Hypertension: Role of APOL1 
Current Hypertension Reports  2012;14(1):21-28.
Apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) gene association studies and results of the African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension are disproving the longstanding concept that mild to moderate essential hypertension contributes substantially to end-stage renal disease susceptibility in African Americans. APOL1 coding variants underlie a spectrum of kidney diseases, including that attributed to hypertension (labeled arteriolar or hypertensive nephrosclerosis), focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, and HIV-associated nephropathy. APOL1 nephropathy risk variants persist because of protection afforded by the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness. This breakthrough will lead to novel treatments for hypertensive African Americans with low-level proteinuria, for whom effective therapies are lacking. Furthermore, APOL1 nephropathy risk variants contribute to racially variable allograft survival rates after kidney transplantation and assist in detecting nondiabetic forms of nephropathy in African Americans with diabetes. Discovery of APOL1-associated nephropathy was a major success of the genetics revolution, demonstrating that secondary hypertension is typically present in nondiabetic African Americans with nephropathy.
PMCID: PMC3253170  PMID: 22068337
African American; African sleeping sickness; Arteriolar nephrosclerosis; APOL1; Chronic kidney disease; Dialysis; End-stage renal disease; ESRD: Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis; Genetics; Glomerulosclerosis; Hypertension; Hypertensive nephrosclerosis; Kidney disease; Kidney donors; MYH9; Nondiabetic nephropathy; Racial differences; Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense; Transplantation
22.  Genetic Association and Gene-Gene Interaction Analyses in African American Dialysis Patients With Nondiabetic Nephropathy 
African Americans (AAs) have increased susceptibility to non-diabetic nephropathy relative to European Americans.
Study Design
Follow-up of a pooled genome-wide association study (GWAS) in AA dialysis patients with nondiabetic nephropathy; novel gene-gene interaction analyses.
Setting & Participants
Wake Forest sample: 962 AA nondiabetic nephropathy cases; 931 non-nephropathy controls. Replication sample: 668 Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) AA nondiabetic nephropathy cases; 804 non-nephropathy controls.
Individual genotyping of top 1420 pooled GWAS-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 54 SNPs in six nephropathy susceptibility genes.
APOL1 genetic association and additional candidate susceptibility loci interacting with, or independently from, APOL1.
The strongest GWAS associations included two non-coding APOL1 SNPs, rs2239785 (odds ratio [OR], 0.33; dominant; p = 5.9 × 10−24) and rs136148 (OR, 0.54; additive; p = 1.1 × 10−7) with replication in FIND (p = 5.0 × 10−21 and 1.9 × 10−05, respectively). Rs2239785 remained significantly associated after controlling for the APOL1 G1 and G2 coding variants. Additional top hits included a CFH SNP(OR from meta-analysis in above 3367 AA cases and controls, 0.81; additive; p = 6.8 × 10−4). The 1420 SNPs were tested for interaction with APOL1 G1 and G2 variants. Several interactive SNPs were detected, the most significant was rs16854341 in the podocin gene (NPHS2) (p = 0.0001).
Non-pooled GWAS have not been performed in AA nondiabetic nephropathy.
This follow-up of a pooled GWAS provides additional and independent evidence that APOL1 variants contribute to nondiabetic nephropathy in AAs and identified additional associated and interactive non-diabetic nephropathy susceptibility genes.
PMCID: PMC3259209  PMID: 22119407
African American; APOL1; CFH; end-stage renal disease; FIND; FSGS; hypertension
Diabetes & metabolism  2011;37(5):452-455.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is commonly diagnosed in patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and has been associated with the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs738409 in the PNPLA3 gene. This association remains to be investigated in African Americans with T2DM, a group at lower risk for hepatic steatosis relative to European Americans with T2DM.
We examined 422 African Americans with T2DM (40.3% male; age: 56.4 ± 9.6 years; BMI: 35.2 ± 8.2 kg/m2), all with measures of liver density reflecting hepatic fat content on abdominal computed tomography, and blood glucose and lipid profiles. Associations between rs738409 and phenotypes of interest were determined using SOLAR, assuming an additive model of inheritance with covariates age, sex, BMI and use of lipid-lowering medications.
Mean ± SD liver density was 55.4 ± 10.2 Hounsfield Units. SNP rs738409 in PNPLA3 was significantly associated with liver density (P=0.0075) and hepatic steatosis (P=0.0350), but not with blood glucose, HbA1c, total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density or low-density lipoprotein levels or liver function tests (P=0.15–0.96).
These findings provide evidence that the PNPLA3 SNP rs738409 contributes to risk for increased liver fat content in African Americans with T2DM, an effect that appears to be independent from serum lipids. Although African Americans are less susceptible to fatty liver than European Americans, PNPLA3 appears to be a risk locus for hepatic steatosis in diabetic African Americans.
PMCID: PMC3215942  PMID: 21665509
type 2 diabetes; genetics; fatty liver disease; African American
24.  Apolipoprotein L1 nephropathy risk variants associate with HDL subfraction concentration in African Americans 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2011;26(11):3805-3810.
Background. Coding variants in the apolipoprotein L1 gene (APOL1) are strongly associated with non-diabetic nephropathy in African Americans. ApoL1 proteins associate with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles in the circulation. Plasma HDL particle subclass concentrations were compared in 73 African Americans based on APOL1 genotypes to detect differences potentially contributing to renal disease.
Methods. HDL subclass concentrations were measured using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in African American first-degree relatives of patients with non-diabetic end-stage renal disease. Participants had estimated glomerular filtration rates (GFRs) > 80 mL/min and lacked albuminuria. Additive effects of the number of APOL1 risk variants on natural logarithm-transformed HDL subclass concentrations were computed.
Results. Participants were 58.9% female with mean ± SD age 47.2 ± 13.3 years and GFR 92.4 ± 18.8 mL/min. The numbers with 2, 1 and 0 APOL1 nephropathy risk variants, respectively, were 36, 17 and 20. Mean ± SD medium-sized HDL concentrations were significantly lower for each additional APOL1 risk variant (2 versus 1 versus 0 risk variants: 9.0 ± 5.6 versus 10.1 ± 5.5 versus 13.1 ± 8.2 μmol/L, respectively; P = 0.0222 unadjusted; P = 0.0162 triglyceride- and ancestry adjusted).
Conclusions. Lower medium-sized HDL subclass concentrations are present in African Americans based on increasing numbers of APOL1 nephropathy risk variants. Potential mechanistic roles of altered medium HDL concentrations on APOL1-associated renal microvascular diseases should be evaluated.
PMCID: PMC3203631  PMID: 21931123
APOL1; arteriolar nephrosclerosis; FSGS; HDL cholesterol; kidney
25.  The influence of subclinical cardiovascular disease and related risk factors on cognition in type 2 diabetes mellitus: The DHS-Mind study 
We hypothesized that measures of coronary artery calcified plaque (CAC) collected at baseline from the Diabetes Heart Study (DHS) would explain associations between cognition and diabetes collected at follow-up approximately 7 years later. The DHS is a sibling study of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a cohort with a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes (~80%). Associations between baseline CAC and cognitive performance were tested using generalized estimating equations and mixed effects models to adjust for familial relationships. Diabetes status was associated (p<0.05) with poorer performance on tests of verbal memory, processing speed, and semantic fluency adjusting for age, sex, education, and hypertension status. As hypothesized, including CAC in the statistical model attenuated this association. Additionally, CAC and fasting glucose predicted performance in tasks not associated with diabetes status in this study (Stroop Task, Phonemic Fluency). These results confirm work attributing the heterogeneity of cognitive outcomes in type 2 diabetes to subclinical risk factors that combine to affect different aspects of brain function. Importantly, these results imply that risk factor intervention should begin before comorbidities, particularly CVD, become clinically apparent.
PMCID: PMC3770734  PMID: 23659774
type 2 diabetes; cardiovascular disease; atherosclerosis; cognition

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