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1.  Large Scale Replication Study of the Association between HLA Class II/BTNL2 Variants and Osteoarthritis of the Knee in European-Descent Populations 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23371.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and a major cause of disability. This study evaluates the association in Caucasian populations of two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) mapping to the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) region and deriving from a genome wide association scan (GWAS) of knee OA in Japanese populations. The frequencies for rs10947262 were compared in 36,408 controls and 5,749 knee OA cases from European-descent populations. rs7775228 was tested in 32,823 controls and 1,837 knee OA cases of European descent. The risk (major) allele at rs10947262 in Caucasian samples was not significantly associated with an odds ratio (OR)  = 1.07 (95%CI 0.94 -1.21; p = 0.28). For rs7775228 the meta-analysis resulted in OR = 0.94 (95%CI 0.81-1.09; p = 0.42) for the allele associated with risk in the Japanese GWAS. In Japanese individuals these two SNPs are in strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) (r2 = 0.86) with the HLA class II haplotype DRB1*1502 DQA1*0103 DQB1*0601 (frequency 8%). In Caucasian and Chinese samples, using imputed data, these SNPs appear not to be in LD with that haplotype (r2<0.07). The rs10947262 and rs7775228 variants are not associated with risk of knee OA in European descent populations and they do not appear tag the same HLA class II haplotype as they do in Japanese individuals.
PMCID: PMC3154440  PMID: 21853121
2.  A meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies identifies novel variants associated with osteoarthritis of the hip 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(12):2130-2136.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis with a clear genetic component. To identify novel loci associated with hip OA we performed a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on European subjects.
We performed a two-stage meta-analysis on more than 78 000 participants. In stage 1, we synthesised data from eight GWAS whereas data from 10 centres were used for ‘in silico’ or ‘de novo’ replication. Besides the main analysis, a stratified by sex analysis was performed to detect possible sex-specific signals. Meta-analysis was performed using inverse-variance fixed effects models. A random effects approach was also used.
We accumulated 11 277 cases of radiographic and symptomatic hip OA. We prioritised eight single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) for follow-up in the discovery stage (4349 OA cases); five from the combined analysis, two male specific and one female specific. One locus, at 20q13, represented by rs6094710 (minor allele frequency (MAF) 4%) near the NCOA3 (nuclear receptor coactivator 3) gene, reached genome-wide significance level with p=7.9×10−9 and OR=1.28 (95% CI 1.18 to 1.39) in the combined analysis of discovery (p=5.6×10−8) and follow-up studies (p=7.3×10−4). We showed that this gene is expressed in articular cartilage and its expression was significantly reduced in OA-affected cartilage. Moreover, two loci remained suggestive associated; rs5009270 at 7q31 (MAF 30%, p=9.9×10−7, OR=1.10) and rs3757837 at 7p13 (MAF 6%, p=2.2×10−6, OR=1.27 in male specific analysis).
Novel genetic loci for hip OA were found in this meta-analysis of GWAS.
PMCID: PMC4251181  PMID: 23989986
Epidemiology; Gene Polymorphism; Osteoarthritis
3.  The effect of FTO variation on increased osteoarthritis risk is mediated through body mass index: a mendelian randomisation study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(12):2082-2086.
Variation in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene influences susceptibility to obesity. A variant in the FTO gene has been implicated in genetic risk to osteoarthritis (OA). We examined the role of the FTO polymorphism rs8044769 in risk of knee and hip OA in cases and controls incorporating body mass index (BMI) information.
5409 knee OA patients, 4355 hip OA patients and up to 5362 healthy controls from 7 independent cohorts from the UK and Australia were genotyped for rs8044769. The association of the FTO variant with OA was investigated in case/control analyses with and without BMI adjustment and in analyses matched for BMI category. A mendelian randomisation approach was employed using the FTO variant as the instrumental variable to evaluate the role of overweight on OA.
In the meta-analysis of all overweight (BMI≥25) samples versus normal-weight controls irrespective of OA status the association of rs8044769 with overweight is highly significant (OR[CIs] for allele G=1.14 [01.08 to 1.19], p=7.5×10−7). A significant association with knee OA is present in the analysis without BMI adjustment (OR[CIs]=1.08[1.02 to 1.14], p=0.009) but the signal fully attenuates after BMI adjustment (OR[CIs]=0.99[0.93 to 1.05], p=0.666). We observe no evidence for association in the BMI-matched meta-analyses. Using mendelian randomisation approaches we confirm the causal role of overweight on OA.
Our data highlight the contribution of genetic risk to overweight in defining risk to OA but the association is exclusively mediated by the effect on BMI. This is consistent with what is known of the biology of the FTO gene and supports the causative role of high BMI in OA.
PMCID: PMC4251538  PMID: 23921993
Osteoarthritis; Knee Osteoarthritis; Gene Polymorphism; Epidemiology

Results 1-3 (3)