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1.  Low-density lipoprotein receptor mutations generate synthetic genome-wide associations 
Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have discovered multiple common genetic risk variants related to common diseases. It has been proposed that a number of these signals of common polymorphisms are based on synthetic associations that are generated by rare causative variants. We investigated if mutations in the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) gene causing familial hypercholesterolemia (FH, OMIM #143890) produce such signals. We genotyped 480 254 polymorphisms in 464 FH patients and in 5945 subjects from the general population. A total of 28 polymorphisms located up to 2.4 Mb from the LDLR gene were genome-wide significantly associated with FH (P<10−8). We replicated the 10 top signals in 2189 patients with a clinical diagnosis of FH and in 2157 subjects of a second sample of the general population (P<0.000087). Our findings confirm that rare variants are able to cause synthetic genome-wide significant associations, and that they exert this effect at relatively large distances from the causal mutation.
PMCID: PMC3641383  PMID: 22968135
familial hypercholesterolemia; synthetic associations; LDLR mutations; genome-wide association studies
2.  Systematic identification of trans-eQTLs as putative drivers of known disease associations 
Nature genetics  2013;45(10):1238-1243.
Identifying the downstream effects of disease-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) is challenging: the causal gene is often unknown or it is unclear how the SNP affects the causal gene, making it difficult to design experiments that reveal functional consequences. To help overcome this problem, we performed the largest expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) meta-analysis so far reported in non-transformed peripheral blood samples of 5,311 individuals, with replication in 2,775 individuals. We identified and replicated trans-eQTLs for 233 SNPs (reflecting 103 independent loci) that were previously associated with complex traits at genome-wide significance. Although we did not study specific patient cohorts, we identified trait-associated SNPs that affect multiple trans-genes that are known to be markedly altered in patients: for example, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) SNP rs49170141 altered C1QB and five type 1 interferon response genes, both hallmarks of SLE2-4. Subsequent ChIP-seq data analysis on these trans-genes implicated transcription factor IKZF1 as the causal gene at this locus, with DeepSAGE RNA-sequencing revealing that rs4917014 strongly alters 3’ UTR levels of IKZF1. Variants associated with cholesterol metabolism and type 1 diabetes showed similar phenomena, indicating that large-scale eQTL mapping provides insight into the downstream effects of many trait-associated variants.
PMCID: PMC3991562  PMID: 24013639
3.  A genetic risk score based on direct associations with coronary heart disease improves coronary heart disease risk prediction in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC), but not in the Rotterdam and Framingham Offspring, Studies 
Atherosclerosis  2012;223(2):421-426.
Multiple studies have identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are associated with coronary heart disease (CHD). We examined whether SNPs selected based on predefined criteria will improve CHD risk prediction when added to traditional risk factors (TRFs).
SNPs were selected from the literature based on association with CHD, lack of association with a known CHD risk factor, and successful replication. A genetic risk score (GRS) was constructed based on these SNPs. Cox proportional hazards model was used to calculate CHD risk based on the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) and Framingham CHD risk scores with and without the GRS.
The GRS was associated with risk for CHD (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.10; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.07–1.13). Addition of the GRS to the ARIC risk score significantly improved discrimination, reclassification, and calibration beyond that afforded by TRFs alone in non-Hispanic whites in the ARIC study. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) increased from 0.742 to 0.749 (Δ= 0.007; 95% CI, 0.004–0.013), and the net reclassification index (NRI) was 6.3%. Although the risk estimates for CHD in the Framingham Offspring (HR = 1.12; 95% CI: 1.10–1.14) and Rotterdam (HR = 1.08; 95% CI: 1.02–1.14) Studies were significantly improved by adding the GRS to TRFs, improvements in AUC and NRI were modest.
Addition of a GRS based on direct associations with CHD to TRFs significantly improved discrimination and reclassification in white participants of the ARIC Study, with no significant improvement in the Rotterdam and Framingham Offspring Studies.
PMCID: PMC3595115  PMID: 22789513
Genetics; Risk factors; Coronary disease
4.  Leukocyte telomere length associates with prospective mortality independent of immune-related parameters and known genetic markers 
Background: Human leukocyte telomere length (LTL) decreases with age and shorter LTL has previously been associated with increased prospective mortality. However, it is not clear whether LTL merely marks the health status of an individual by its association with parameters of immune function, for example, or whether telomere shortening also contributes causally to lifespan variation in humans.
Methods: We measured LTL in 870 nonagenarian siblings (mean age 93 years), 1580 of their offspring and 725 spouses thereof (mean age 59 years) from the Leiden Longevity Study (LLS).
Results: We found that shorter LTL is associated with increased prospective mortality in middle (30–80 years; hazard ratio (HR) = 0.75, P = 0.001) and highly advanced age (≥90 years; HR = 0.92, P = 0.028), and show that this association cannot be explained by the association of LTL with the immune-related markers insulin-like growth factor 1 to insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 molar ratio, C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, cytomegalovirus serostatus or white blood cell counts. We found no difference in LTL between the middle-aged LLS offspring and their spouses (β = 0.006, P = 0.932). Neither did we observe an association of LTL-associated genetic variants with mortality in a prospective meta-analysis of multiple cohorts (n = 8165).
Conclusions: We confirm LTL to be a marker of prospective mortality in middle and highly advanced age and additionally show that this association could not be explained by the association of LTL with various immune-related markers. Furthermore, the approaches performed here do not further support the hypothesis that LTL variation contributes to the genetic propensity for longevity.
PMCID: PMC4052133  PMID: 24425829
Leukocyte telomere length; prospective mortality; immune-related markers; familial longevity; genetics; human
6.  Epigenetic Profiles in Children with a Neural Tube Defect; A Case-Control Study in Two Populations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78462.
Folate deficiency is implicated in the causation of neural tube defects (NTDs). The preventive effect of periconceptional folic acid supplement use is partially explained by the treatment of a deranged folate-dependent one carbon metabolism, which provides methyl groups for DNA-methylation as an epigenetic mechanism. Here, we hypothesize that variations in DNA-methylation of genes implicated in the development of NTDs and embryonic growth are part of the underlying mechanism. In 48 children with a neural tube defect and 62 controls from a Dutch case-control study and 34 children with a neural tube defect and 78 controls from a Texan case-control study, we measured the DNA-methylation levels of imprinted candidate genes (IGF2-DMR, H19, KCNQ1OT1) and non-imprinted genes (the LEKR/CCNL gene region associated with birth weight, and MTHFR and VANGL1 associated with NTD). We used the MassARRAY EpiTYPER assay from Sequenom for the assessment of DNA-methylation. Linear mixed model analysis was used to estimate associations between DNA-methylation levels of the genes and a neural tube defect. In the Dutch study group, but not in the Texan study group we found a significant association between the risk of having an NTD and DNA methylation levels of MTHFR (absolute decrease in methylation of −0.33% in cases, P-value = 0.001), and LEKR/CCNL (absolute increase in methylation: 1.36% in cases, P-value = 0.048), and a borderline significant association for VANGL (absolute increase in methylation: 0.17% in cases, P-value = 0.063). Only the association between MTHFR and NTD-risk remained significant after multiple testing correction. The associations in the Dutch study were not replicated in the Texan study. We conclude that the associations between NTDs and the methylation of the MTHFR gene, and maybe VANGL and LEKKR/CNNL, are in line with previous studies showing polymorphisms in the same genes in association with NTDs and embryonic development, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3818348  PMID: 24223810
7.  Education influences the role of genetics in myopia 
Myopia is a complex inherited ocular trait resulting from an interplay of genes and environmental factors, most of which are currently unknown. In two independent population-based cohorts consisting of 5,256 and 3,938 individuals from European descent, we tested for biological interaction between genetic predisposition and level of education on the risk of myopia. A genetic risk score was calculated based on 26 myopia-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms recently discovered by the Consortium for Refractive Error and Myopia. Educational level was obtained by questionnaire and categorized into primary, intermediate, and higher education. Refractive error was measured during a standardized ophthalmological examination. Biological interaction was assessed by calculation of the synergy index. Individuals at high genetic risk in combination with university-level education had a remarkably high risk of myopia (OR 51.3; 95 % CI 18.5–142.6), while those at high genetic risk with only primary schooling were at a much lower increased risk of myopia (OR 7.2, 95 % CI 3.1–17.0). The combined effect of genetic predisposition and education on the risk of myopia was far higher than the sum of these two effects (synergy index 4.2, 95 % CI 1.9–9.5). This epidemiological study provides evidence of a gene-environment interaction in which an individual’s genetic risk of myopia is significantly affected by his or her educational level.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10654-013-9856-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3898347  PMID: 24142238
Myopia; Refractive error; GxE; Gene-environment; Environmental factors
8.  Multi-functionality of computer-aided quantitative vertebral fracture morphometry analyses 
Osteoporotic vertebral fractures are an increasingly active area of research. Oftentimes assessments are performed by software-assisted quantitative morphometry. Here, we will discuss multi-functionality of these data for research purposes. A team of trained research assistants processed lateral spine radiographs from the population-based Rotterdam Study with SpineAnalyzer® software (Optasia Medical Ltd, Cheadle, UK). Next, the raw coordinate data of the two upper corners of Th5 and the two lower corners of Th12 were extracted to calculate the Cobb’s kyphosis angle. In addition, two readers performed independent manual measurements of the Cobb’s kyphosis angle between Th5 and Th12 for a sample (n=99). The mean kyphosis angle and its standard deviation were 53° and 10° for the SpineAnalyzer® software measurements and 54° and 12° by manual measurements, respectively. The Pearson’s correlation coefficient was 0.65 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.53-0.75; P=2×10–13]. There was a substantial intraclass correlation with a coefficient of 0.64 (95% CI: 0.51-0.74). The mean difference between methods was 1° (95% CI: –2°-4°), with 95% limits of agreement of –20°-17° and there were no systematic biases. In conclusion, vertebral fracture morphometry data can be used to derive the Cobb’s kyphosis angle. Even more quantitative measures could be derived from the raw data, such as vertebral wedging, intervertebral disc space, spondylolisthesis and the lordosis angle. These measures may be of interest for research into musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoporosis, degenerative disease or Scheuermann’s disease. Large-scale studies may benefit from efficient capture of multiple quantitative measures in the spine.
PMCID: PMC3834208  PMID: 24273742
Vertebral fracture; quantitative; morphometry; osteoporosis; degenerative disease; spine; software; post-processing
9.  Eight genetic loci associated with variation in lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 mass and activity and coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies from five community-based studies 
European Heart Journal  2011;33(2):238-251.
Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) generates proinflammatory and proatherogenic compounds in the arterial vascular wall and is a potential therapeutic target in coronary heart disease (CHD). We searched for genetic loci related to Lp-PLA2 mass or activity by a genome-wide association study as part of the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium.
Methods and results
In meta-analyses of findings from five population-based studies, comprising 13 664 subjects, variants at two loci (PLA2G7, CETP) were associated with Lp-PLA2 mass. The strongest signal was at rs1805017 in PLA2G7 [P = 2.4 × 10−23, log Lp-PLA2 difference per allele (beta): 0.043]. Variants at six loci were associated with Lp-PLA2 activity (PLA2G7, APOC1, CELSR2, LDL, ZNF259, SCARB1), among which the strongest signals were at rs4420638, near the APOE–APOC1–APOC4–APOC2 cluster [P = 4.9 × 10−30; log Lp-PLA2 difference per allele (beta): −0.054]. There were no significant gene–environment interactions between these eight polymorphisms associated with Lp-PLA2 mass or activity and age, sex, body mass index, or smoking status. Four of the polymorphisms (in APOC1, CELSR2, SCARB1, ZNF259), but not PLA2G7, were significantly associated with CHD in a second study.
Levels of Lp-PLA2 mass and activity were associated with PLA2G7, the gene coding for this protein. Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 activity was also strongly associated with genetic variants related to low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
PMCID: PMC3258449  PMID: 22003152
Genome-wide association; Inflammation; Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2
10.  Large common deletions associate with mortality at old age 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(21):4290-4296.
Copy-number variants (CNVs) are a source of genetic variation that increasingly are associated with human disease. However, the role of CNVs in human lifespan is to date unknown. To identify CNVs that influence mortality at old age, we analyzed genome-wide CNV data in 5178 participants of Rotterdam Study (RS1) and positive findings were evaluated in 1714 participants of the second cohort of the Rotterdam Study (RS2) and in 4550 participants of Framingham Heart Study (FHS). First, we assessed the total burden of rare (frequency <1%) and common (frequency >1%) CNVs for association with mortality during follow-up. These analyses were repeated by stratifying CNVs by type and size. Secondly, we assessed individual common CNV regions (CNVR) for association with mortality. We observed that the burden of common but not of rare CNVs influences mortality. A higher burden of large (≥500 kb) common deletions associated with 4% higher mortality [hazard ratio (HR) per CNV 1.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02–1.07, P = 5.82 × 10−5] in the 11 442 participants of RS1, RS2 and FHS. In the analysis of 312 individual common CNVRs, we identified two regions (11p15.5; 14q21.3) that associated with higher mortality in these cohorts. The 11p15.5 region (combined HR 1.59, 95% CI 1.31–1.93, P = 2.87 × 10−6) encompasses 41 genes, of which some have previously been related to longevity, whereas the 14q21.3 region (combined HR 1.57, 95% CI 1.19–2.07, P = 1.53 × 10−3) does not encompass any genes. In conclusion, the burden of large common deletions, as well as common CNVs in 11p15.5 and 14q21.3 region, associate with higher mortality.
PMCID: PMC3188993  PMID: 21835882
11.  Genome-wide association study confirms extant PD risk loci among the Dutch 
In view of the population-specific heterogeneity in reported genetic risk factors for Parkinson's disease (PD), we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in a large sample of PD cases and controls from the Netherlands. After quality control (QC), a total of 514 799 SNPs genotyped in 772 PD cases and 2024 controls were included in our analyses. Direct replication of SNPs within SNCA and BST1 confirmed these two genes to be associated with PD in the Netherlands (SNCA, rs2736990: P=1.63 × 10−5, OR=1.325 and BST1, rs12502586: P=1.63 × 10−3, OR=1.337). Within SNCA, two independent signals in two different linkage disequilibrium (LD) blocks in the 3′ and 5′ ends of the gene were detected. Besides, post-hoc analysis confirmed GAK/DGKQ, HLA and MAPT as PD risk loci among the Dutch (GAK/DGKQ, rs2242235: P=1.22 × 10−4, OR=1.51; HLA, rs4248166: P=4.39 × 10−5, OR=1.36; and MAPT, rs3785880: P=1.9 × 10−3, OR=1.19).
PMCID: PMC3110043  PMID: 21248740
12.  How to deal with the early GWAS data when imputing and combining different arrays is necessary 
Genotype imputation has become an essential tool in the analysis of genome-wide association scans. This technique allows investigators to test association at ungenotyped genetic markers, and to combine results across studies that rely on different genotyping platforms. In addition, imputation is used within long-running studies to reuse genotypes produced across generations of platforms. Typically, genotypes of controls are reused and cases are genotyped on more novel platforms yielding a case–control study that is not matched for genotyping platforms. In this study, we scrutinize such a situation and validate GWAS results by actually retyping top-ranking SNPs with the Sequenom MassArray platform. We discuss the needed quality controls (QCs). In doing so, we report a considerable discrepancy between the results from imputed and retyped data when applying recommended QCs from the literature. These discrepancies appear to be caused by extrapolating differences between arrays by the process of imputation. To avoid false positive results, we recommend that more stringent QCs should be applied. We also advocate reporting the imputation quality measure (RT2) for the post-imputation QCs in publications.
PMCID: PMC3330212  PMID: 22189269
GWAS; imputation; quality control
13.  Multicenter cohort association study of SLC2A1 single nucleotide polymorphisms and age-related macular degeneration 
Molecular Vision  2012;18:657-674.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of blindness in older adults and has a genetically complex background. This study examines the potential association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the glucose transporter 1 (SLC2A1) gene and AMD. SLC2A1 regulates the bioavailability of glucose in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which might influence oxidative stress–mediated AMD pathology.
Twenty-two SNPs spanning the SLC2A1 gene were genotyped in 375 cases and 199 controls from an initial discovery cohort (the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Netherlands study). Replication testing was performed in The Rotterdam Study (the Netherlands) and study populations from Würzburg (Germany), the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS; United States), Columbia University (United States), and Iowa University (United States). Subsequently, a meta-analysis of SNP association was performed.
In the discovery cohort, significant genotypic association between three SNPs (rs3754219, rs4660687, and rs841853) and AMD was found. Replication in five large independent (Caucasian) cohorts (4,860 cases and 4,004 controls) did not yield consistent association results. The genotype frequencies for these SNPs were significantly different for the controls and/or cases among the six individual populations. Meta-analysis revealed significant heterogeneity of effect between the studies.
No overall association between SLC2A1 SNPs and AMD was demonstrated. Since the genotype frequencies for the three SLC2A1 SNPs were significantly different for the controls and/or cases between the six cohorts, this study corroborates previous evidence that population dependent genetic risk heterogeneity in AMD exists.
PMCID: PMC3324365  PMID: 22509097
14.  Gene set analysis of GWAS data for human longevity highlights the relevance of the insulin/IGF-1 signaling and telomere maintenance pathways 
Age  2011;35(1):235-249.
In genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of complex traits, single SNP analysis is still the most applied approach. However, the identified SNPs have small effects and provide limited biological insight. A more appropriate approach to interpret GWAS data of complex traits is to analyze the combined effect of a SNP set grouped per pathway or gene region. We used this approach to study the joint effect on human longevity of genetic variation in two candidate pathways, the insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) signaling (IIS) pathway and the telomere maintenance (TM) pathway. For the analyses, we used genotyped GWAS data of 403 unrelated nonagenarians from long-lived sibships collected in the Leiden Longevity Study and 1,670 younger population controls. We analyzed 1,021 SNPs in 68 IIS pathway genes and 88 SNPs in 13 TM pathway genes using four self-contained pathway tests (PLINK set-based test, Global test, GRASS and SNP ratio test). Although we observed small differences between the results of the different pathway tests, they showed consistent significant association of the IIS and TM pathway SNP sets with longevity. Analysis of gene SNP sets from these pathways indicates that the association of the IIS pathway is scattered over several genes (AKT1, AKT3, FOXO4, IGF2, INS, PIK3CA, SGK, SGK2, and YWHAG), while the association of the TM pathway seems to be mainly determined by one gene (POT1). In conclusion, this study shows that genetic variation in genes involved in the IIS and TM pathways is associated with human longevity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-011-9340-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3543749  PMID: 22113349
Genetics; Aging; Longevity; Gene set analysis; Insulin/IGF-1 signaling; Telomere maintenance
15.  The Rotterdam Study: 2012 objectives and design update 
European Journal of Epidemiology  2011;26(8):657-686.
The Rotterdam Study is a prospective cohort study ongoing since 1990 in the city of Rotterdam in The Netherlands. The study targets cardiovascular, endocrine, hepatic, neurological, ophthalmic, psychiatric, dermatological, oncological, and respiratory diseases. As of 2008, 14,926 subjects aged 45 years or over comprise the Rotterdam Study cohort. The findings of the Rotterdam Study have been presented in over a 1,000 research articles and reports (see This article gives the rationale of the study and its design. It also presents a summary of the major findings and an update of the objectives and methods.
PMCID: PMC3168750  PMID: 21877163
Biomarkers; Cardiovascular diseases; Cohort study; Dermatological diseases; Endocrine diseases; Epidemiologic methods; Genetic epidemiology; Liver diseases; Neurological diseases; Oncology; Ophthalmic diseases; Pharmacoepidemiology; Renal diseases; Psychiatric diseases; Respiratory diseases
16.  Runs of Homozygosity Do Not Influence Survival to Old Age 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22580.
Runs of homozygosity (ROH) are extended tracts of adjacent homozygous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are more common in unrelated individuals than previously thought. It has been proposed that estimating ROH on a genome-wide level, by making use of the genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data, will enable to indentify recessive variants underlying complex traits. Here, we examined ROH larger than 1.5 Mb individually and in combination for association with survival in 5974 participants of the Rotterdam Study. In addition, we assessed the role of overall homozygosity, expressed as a percentage of the autosomal genome that is in ROH longer than 1.5 Mb, on survival during a mean follow-up period of 12 years. None of these measures of homozygosity was associated with survival to old age.
PMCID: PMC3143169  PMID: 21799906
17.  The Complement Component 5 gene and Age-related Macular Degeneration 
Ophthalmology  2009;117(3):500-511.
To investigate the association between variants in the complement component 5 (C5) gene and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Separate and combined data from three large AMD case-control studies and a prospective population-based study (The Rotterdam Study).
A total of 2599 AMD cases and 3458 ethnically matched controls.
Fifteen single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning the C5 gene were initially genotyped in 375 cases and 199 controls from the Netherlands (The AMRO-NL study population). Replication testing of selected SNPs was performed in the Rotterdam Study (NL) and study populations from Southampton, United Kingdom (UK) and New York, United States (US).
Main Outcome Measures
Early and late stages of prevalent and incident AMD, graded according to (a modification of) the international grading and classification system of AMD.
Significant allelic or genotypic associations between eight C5 SNPs and AMD were found in the AMRO-NL study and this risk appeared independently of CFH Y402H, LOC387715 A69S, age and gender. None of these findings could be confirmed consistently in three replication populations.
Although the complement pathway, including C5, plays a crucial role in AMD, and the C5 protein is present in drusen, no consistent significant associations between C5 SNPs and AMD were found in all studies. The implications for genetic screening of AMD are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2830367  PMID: 20022638
18.  The relationship between fertility and lifespan in humans 
Age  2011;33(4):615-622.
Evolutionary theories of aging predict a trade-off between fertility and lifespan, where increased lifespan comes at the cost of reduced fertility. Support for this prediction has been obtained from various sources. However, which genes underlie this relationship is unknown. To assess it, we first analyzed the association of fertility with age at menarche and menopause, and with mortality in 3,575 married female participants of the Rotterdam Study. In addition, we conducted a candidate gene study where 1,664 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 25 candidate genes were analyzed in relation to number of children as a measure of fertility. SNPs that associated with fertility were analyzed for association with mortality. We observed no associations between fertility and age at menarche (p = 0.38) and menopause (p = 0.07). In contrast, fertility was associated with mortality. Women with two to three children had significantly lower mortality (hazard ratio (HR), 0.82; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.69–0.97) compared to women with no children. No such benefit was observed for women with four or more children, who had a similar mortality risk (HR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.76–1.13) as women with no children. The analysis of candidate genes revealed four genes that influence fertility after correction for multiple testing: CGB/LHB gene cluster (p = 0.0036), FSHR (p = 0.023), FST (p = 0.023), and INHBA (p = 0.021). However, none of the independent SNPs in these genes predicted mortality. In conclusion, women who bear two to three children live longer than those who bear none or many children, but this relationship was not mediated by the candidate genes analyzed in this study.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-010-9202-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3220400  PMID: 21222045
Fertility; Lifespan; Trade-off; Gene; SNP
19.  SIRT1 Genetic Variation Is Related to BMI and Risk of Obesity 
Diabetes  2009;58(12):2828-2834.
SIRT1 has pleiotropic metabolic functions. We investigated whether SIRT1 genetic variation is associated with obesity.
In 6,251 elderly subjects from the prospective, population-based Rotterdam Study, three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the SIRT1 gene were studied in relation to BMI and risk of obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) and prospectively with BMI change after 6.4 years of follow-up. We used cross-sectional data from 2,347 participants from the Erasmus Rucphen Family (ERF) study for replication.
Minor alleles of rs7895833 (G = 20.2%) and rs1467568 (A = 36.8%) were associated with lower BMI in the Rotterdam Study (P = 0.02 and 0.04) and in the replication cohort ERF study (P = 0.03 and 0.008) and in both studies combined (P = 0.002 for both SNPs), with a 0.2–0.4 kg/m2 decrease in BMI per allele copy. Carriers of these alleles had 13–18% decreased risk of obesity (for rs7895833 in the Rotterdam Study: odds ratio 0.79 [95% CI 0.67–0.94], P = 0.007; in the ERF study: 0.93 [0.73–1.19], P = 0.37; and in the studies combined 0.87 [0.77–0.97], P = 0.02; for rs1467568 in the Rotterdam Study: 0.80 [0.68–0.94], P = 0.007; in the ERF study: 0.85 [0.72–0.99], P = 0.04; and in the studies combined: 0.82 [0.73–0.92], P = 0.0009). In the Rotterdam Study, the two variants were also associated with a lower BMI increase during 6.4 years of follow-up (P = 0.01 and 0.08).
Two common variants in SIRT1 are associated with lower BMI in two independent Dutch populations. Carriers of these variants have 13–18% decreased risk of obesity and gain less weight over time. The availability of SIRT1 stimulators makes these findings relevant in light of the growing obesity epidemic.
PMCID: PMC2780870  PMID: 19741164
20.  Genetic variation in NOS1AP is associated with sudden cardiac death: evidence from the Rotterdam Study 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;18(21):4213-4218.
Common variation within the nitric oxide-1 synthase activator protein (NOS1AP) locus is strongly related to QT interval, a sudden cardiac death (SCD) risk factor. A recent report describes common variation in NOS1AP associated with SCD in a US population of European ancestry. The objective of the current study was to obtain additional evidence by investigating the association between NOS1AP variants and SCD in the prospective population-based Rotterdam Study. The study population consisted of 5974 European ancestry subjects, aged 55 years and older, genotyped on Illumina arrays. SCD was defined according to European Society of Cardiology guidelines. Smoking, body mass index, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart failure and myocardial infarction were used as covariates in Cox proportional hazard models. Results were combined with reported evidence using inverse-variance weighted meta-analysis. Two hundred and eight (109 witnessed) cases of SCD occurred during a mean follow-up of 10.4 years. Within the Rotterdam Study alone, no significant associations were observed. Upon pooling of results with existing data, we observed strengthening of existing evidence for rs16847549 (US data HR = 1.31, P = 0.0024; Rotterdam Study HR = 1.18, P = 0.16; joint HR = 1.26, P = 0.0011). When the case definition in the Rotterdam Study was restricted to witnessed SCD, association of rs16847549 with SCD became stronger (joint P = 0.00019) and additionally the association between rs12567209 and SCD gained significance (US data HR = 0.57, P = 0.0035; Rotterdam Study HR = 0.69, P = 0.23; joint HR = 0.60, P = 0.0018). In conclusion, this study provided additional evidence for association between genetic variation within NOS1AP and SCD. The mechanism by which this effect is exerted remains to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC2758139  PMID: 19643915
21.  The ERCC6 Gene and Age-Related Macular Degeneration 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13786.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible visual loss in the developed countries and is caused by both environmental and genetic factors. A recent study (Tuo et al., PNAS) reported an association between AMD and a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) (rs3793784) in the ERCC6 (NM_000124) gene. The risk allele also increased ERCC6 expression. ERCC6 is involved in DNA repair and mutations in ERCC6 cause Cockayne syndrome (CS). Amongst others, photosensitivity and pigmentary retinopathy are hallmarks of CS.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Separate and combined data from three large AMD case-control studies and a prospective population-based study (The Rotterdam Study) were used to analyse the genetic association between ERCC6 and AMD (2682 AMD cases and 3152 controls). We also measured ERCC6 mRNA levels in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells of healthy and early AMD affected human donor eyes. Rs3793784 conferred a small increase in risk for late AMD in the Dutch population (The Rotterdam and AMRO-NL study), but this was not replicated in two non-European studies (AREDS, Columbia University). In addition, the AMRO-NL study revealed no significant association for 9 other variants spanning ERCC6. Finally, we determined that ERCC6 expression in the human RPE did not depend on rs3793784 genotype, but, interestingly, on AMD status: Early AMD-affected donor eyes had a 50% lower ERCC6 expression than healthy donor eyes (P = 0.018).
Our meta-analysis of four Caucasian cohorts does not replicate the reported association between SNPs in ERCC6 and AMD. Nevertheless, our findings on ERCC6 expression in the RPE suggest that ERCC6 may be functionally involved in AMD. Combining our data with those of the literature, we hypothesize that the AMD-related reduced transcriptional activity of ERCC6 may be caused by diverse, small and heterogeneous genetic and/or environmental determinants.
PMCID: PMC2967476  PMID: 21072178
22.  OCT1 polymorphism is associated with response and survival time in anti-Parkinsonian drug users 
Neurogenetics  2010;12(1):79-82.
Substrates for the Organic Cation Transporter 1, encoded by the SLC22A1 gene, are metformin, amantadine, pramipexole, and, possibly, levodopa. Recently, we identified that the rs622342 A > C polymorphism is associated with the HbA1c lowering effect in metformin users. In the Rotterdam Study, we associated this polymorphism with higher prescribed doses of all anti-Parkinsonian drugs. Between the first and fifth prescriptions for levodopa, for each minor rs622342 C allele, the prescribed doses were 0.34 defined daily dose higher (95% CI 0.064, 0.62; p = 0.017). The mortality ratio after start of levodopa therapy was 1.47 times higher (95% CI 1.01, 2.13; p = 0.045).
PMCID: PMC3029819  PMID: 20680652
Organic Cation Transporter 1; Anti-Parkinson Agents; Pharmacogenetics; Pharmacoepidemiology
24.  Genetic Variation in the Multidrug and Toxin Extrusion 1 Transporter Protein Influences the Glucose-Lowering Effect of Metformin in Patients With Diabetes: A Preliminary Study 
Diabetes  2009;58(3):745-749.
OBJECTIVE— Metformin, an oral glucose-lowering drug, is taken up in hepatocytes by the organic cation transporter (OCT) 1 and in renal epithelium by OCT2. In these cells, the multidrug and toxin extrusion (MATE) 1 protein, encoded by the SLC47A1 gene, is responsible for the excretion of metformin into the bile and urine, respectively. We studied the effect of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the SLC47A1 gene on the A1C-lowering effect of metformin.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS— We identified all incident metformin users in the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort study. Associations between 12 tagging SNPs in the SLC47A1 gene and change in A1C level were analyzed.
RESULTS— One hundred and sixteen incident metformin users were included in the study sample. The rs2289669 G>A SNP was significantly associated with metformin response. For the other SNPs, no associations were found. For each minor A allele at rs2289669, the A1C reduction was 0.30% (95% CI −0.51 to −0.10; P = 0.005) larger. After Bonferroni correction for multiple testing, the P value was 0.045.
CONCLUSIONS— The rs2289669 G>A SNP is associated with a reduction in A1C level, consistent with a reduction in MATE1 transporter activity. These results suggest that the transporter MATE1, encoded by SLC47A1, may have an important role in the pharmacokinetics of metformin, although replication is necessary.
PMCID: PMC2646075  PMID: 19228809
25.  The Role of Body Mass Index, Insulin, and Adiponectin in the Relation Between Fat Distribution and Bone Mineral Density 
Calcified Tissue International  2009;86(2):116-125.
Despite the positive association between body mass index (BMI) and bone mineral density (BMD) and content (BMC), the role of fat distribution in BMD/BMC remains unclear. We examined relationships between BMD/BMC and various measurements of fat distribution and studied the role of BMI, insulin, and adiponectin in these relations. Using a cross-sectional investigation of 2631 participants from the Erasmus Rucphen Family study, we studied associations between BMD (using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA]) at the hip, lumbar spine, total body (BMD and BMC), and fat distribution by the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), waist-to-thigh ratio (WTR), and DXA-based trunk-to-leg fat ratio and android-to-gynoid fat ratio. Analyses were stratified by gender and median age (48.0 years in women and 49.2 years in men) and were performed with and without adjustment for BMI, fasting insulin, and adiponectin. Using linear regression (adjusting for age, height, smoking, and use of alcohol), most relationships between fat distribution and BMD and BMC were positive, except for WTR. After BMI adjustment, most correlations were negative except for trunk-to-leg fat ratio in both genders. No consistent influence of age or menopausal status was found. Insulin and adiponectin levels did not explain either positive or negative associations. In conclusion, positive associations between android fat distribution and BMD/BMC are explained by higher BMI but not by higher insulin and/or lower adiponectin levels. Inverse associations after adjustment for BMI suggest that android fat deposition as measured by the WHR, WTR, and DXA-based android-to-gynoid fat ratio is not beneficial and possibly even deleterious for bone.
PMCID: PMC2809303  PMID: 19957167
Fat distribution; Bone mineral density; Body composition; Android-to-gynoid fat ratio; Waist-to-hip ratio; Insulin; Adiponectin

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