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1.  Association of cigarette smoking and CRP levels with DNA methylation in α-1 antitrypsin deficiency 
Epigenetics  2012;7(7):720-728.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency and tobacco smoking are confirmed risk factors for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. We hypothesized that variable DNA methylation would be associated with smoking and inflammation, as reflected by the level of C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in AAT-deficient subjects. Methylation levels of 1,411 autosomal CpG sites from the Illumina GoldenGate Methylation Cancer Panel I were analyzed in 316 subjects. Associations of five smoking behaviors and CRP levels with individual CpG sites and average methylation levels were assessed using non-parametric testing, linear regression and linear mixed effect models, with and without adjustment for age and gender. Univariate linear regression analysis revealed that methylation levels of 16 CpG sites significantly associated with ever-smoking status. A CpG site in the TGFBI gene was the only site associated with ever-smoking after adjustment for age and gender. No highly significant associations existed between age at smoking initiation, pack-years smoked, duration of smoking, and time since quitting smoking as predictors of individual CpG site methylation levels. However, ever-smoking and younger age at smoking initiation associated with lower methylation level averaged across all sites. DNA methylation at CpG sites in the RUNX3, JAK3 and KRT1 genes associated with CRP levels. The most significantly associated CpG sites with gender and age mapped to the CASP6 and FZD9 genes, respectively. In summary, this study identified multiple potential candidate CpG sites associated with ever-smoking and CRP level in AAT-deficient subjects. Phenotypic variability in Mendelian diseases may be due to epigenetic factors.
PMCID: PMC3414392  PMID: 22617718
68kDa (TGFBI); C-Reactive Protein (CRP); Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Illumina GoldenGate Methylation Cancer Panel I; alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency; beta-induced; methylation; smoking behaviors; transforming growth factor
2.  Association of IREB2 and CHRNA3 polymorphisms with airflow obstruction in severe alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):16.
The development of COPD in subjects with alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is likely to be influenced by modifier genes. Genome-wide association studies and integrative genomics approaches in COPD have demonstrated significant associations with SNPs in the chromosome 15q region that includes CHRNA3 (cholinergic nicotine receptor alpha3) and IREB2 (iron regulatory binding protein 2).
We investigated whether SNPs in the chromosome 15q region would be modifiers for lung function and COPD in AAT deficiency.
The current analysis included 378 PIZZ subjects in the AAT Genetic Modifiers Study and a replication cohort of 458 subjects from the UK AAT Deficiency National Registry. Nine SNPs in LOC123688, CHRNA3 and IREB2 were selected for genotyping. FEV1 percent of predicted and FEV1/FVC ratio were analyzed as quantitative phenotypes. Family-based association analysis was performed in the AAT Genetic Modifiers Study. In the replication set, general linear models were used for quantitative phenotypes and logistic regression models were used for the presence/absence of emphysema or COPD.
Three SNPs (rs2568494 in IREB2, rs8034191 in LOC123688, and rs1051730 in CHRNA3) were associated with pre-bronchodilator FEV1 percent of predicted in the AAT Genetic Modifiers Study. Two SNPs (rs2568494 and rs1051730) were associated with the post-bronchodilator FEV1 percent of predicted and pre-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC ratio; SNP-by-gender interactions were observed. In the UK National Registry dataset, rs2568494 was significantly associated with emphysema in the male subgroup; significant SNP-by-smoking interactions were observed.
IREB2 and CHRNA3 are potential genetic modifiers of COPD phenotypes in individuals with severe AAT deficiency and may be sex-specific in their impact.
PMCID: PMC3306733  PMID: 22356581
CHRNA3; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Genetic association analysis; Genetic modifiers; IREB2
3.  Quantum proteolysis by neutrophils: implications for pulmonary emphysema in α1-antitrypsin deficiency 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1999;104(3):337-344.
Traditional enzyme kinetics provide a poor explanation for the increased risk of lung injury in α1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency. Millimolar concentrations of leukocyte elastase, when released from single azurophil granules of activated neutrophils, lead to evanescent quantum bursts of proteolytic activity before catalysis is quenched by pericellular inhibitors. Herein, we tested the possibility that quantum proteolytic events are abnormal in AAT deficiency. We incubated neutrophils on opsonized fluoresceinated fibronectin in serum from individuals with various AAT phenotypes, and then measured and modeled quantum proteolytic events. The mean areas of the events in serum from heterozygous individuals (Pi MZ and Pi SZ) were slightly, but significantly, larger than those in serum from normal patients (Pi M). In marked contrast, mean areas of events in serum from AAT-deficient individuals were 10-fold larger than those in serum from normal patients. Diffusion modeling predicted that local elastase concentrations exceed AAT concentrations for less than 20 milliseconds and for more than 80 milliseconds in Pi M and Pi Z individuals, respectively. Thus, quantum proteolytic events are abnormally large and prolonged in AAT deficiency, leading directly to an increased risk of tissue injury in the immediate vicinity of activated neutrophils. These results have potentially important implications for the pathogenesis and prevention of lung disease in AAT deficiency.
PMCID: PMC408416  PMID: 10430615
4.  Determinants of airflow obstruction in severe alpha‐1‐antitrypsin deficiency 
Thorax  2007;62(9):806-813.
Severe α1‐antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is an autosomal recessive genetic condition associated with an increased but variable risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study was undertaken to assess the impact of chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and sex on the development of COPD in individuals with severe AAT deficiency.
The AAT Genetic Modifier Study is a multicentre family‐based cohort study designed to study the genetic and epidemiological determinants of COPD in AAT deficiency. 378 individuals (age range 33–80 years), confirmed to be homozygous for the SERPINA1 Z mutation, were included in the analyses. The primary outcomes of interest were a quantitative outcome, forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) percentage predicted, and a qualitative outcome, severe airflow obstruction (FEV1 <50% predicted).
In multivariate analysis of the overall cohort, cigarette smoking, sex, asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia were risk factors for reduced FEV1 percentage predicted and severe airflow obstruction (p<0.01). Index cases had lower FEV1 values, higher smoking histories and more reports of adult asthma, pneumonia and asthma before age 16 than non‐index cases (p<0.01). Men had lower pre‐ and post‐bronchodilator FEV1 percentage predicted than women (p<0.0001); the lowest FEV1 values were observed in men reporting a history of childhood asthma (26.9%). This trend for more severe obstruction in men remained when index and non‐index groups were examined separately, with men representing the majority of non‐index individuals with airflow obstruction (71%). Chronic bronchitis (OR 3.8, CI 1.8 to 12.0) and a physician's report of asthma (OR 4.2, CI 1.4 to 13.1) were predictors of severe airflow obstruction in multivariate analysis of non‐index men but not women.
In individuals with severe AAT deficiency, sex, asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia are risk factors for severe COPD, in addition to cigarette smoking. These results suggest that, in subjects severely deficient in AAT, men, individuals with symptoms of chronic bronchitis and/or a past diagnosis of asthma or pneumonia may benefit from closer monitoring and potentially earlier treatment.
PMCID: PMC2117297  PMID: 17389752
5.  IL10 Polymorphisms Are Associated with Airflow Obstruction in Severe α1-Antitrypsin Deficiency 
Severe α1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a proven genetic risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), especially in individuals who smoke. There is marked variability in the development of lung disease in individuals homozygous (PI ZZ) for this autosomal recessive condition, suggesting that modifier genes could be important. We hypothesized that genetic determinants of obstructive lung disease may be modifiers of airflow obstruction in individuals with severe AAT deficiency. To identify modifier genes, we performed family-based association analyses for 10 genes previously associated with asthma and/or COPD, including IL10, TNF, GSTP1, NOS1, NOS3, SERPINA3, SERPINE2, SFTPB, TGFB1, and EPHX1. All analyses were performed in a cohort of 378 PI ZZ individuals from 167 families. Quantitative spirometric phenotypes included forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and the ratio of FEV1/forced vital capacity (FVC). A qualitative phenotype of moderate-to-severe COPD was defined for individuals with FEV1 ⩽ 50 percent predicted. Six of 11 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in IL10 (P = 0.0005–0.05) and 3 of 5 SNPs in TNF (P = 0.01–0.05) were associated with FEV1 and/or FEV1/FVC. IL10 SNPs also demonstrated association with the qualitative COPD phenotype. When phenotypes of individuals with a physician's diagnosis of asthma were excluded, IL10 SNPs remained significantly associated, suggesting that the association with airflow obstruction was independent of an association with asthma. Haplotype analysis of IL10 SNPs suggested the strongest association with IL10 promoter SNPs. IL10 is likely an important modifier gene for the development of COPD in individuals with severe AAT deficiency.
PMCID: PMC2176135  PMID: 17690329
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetic modifiers; interleukin 10; family-based association analysis
7.  Proteolysis by Neutrophils 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1982;70(4):845-852.
Polymorphonuclear leukocytes have been implicated in connective tissue injury in a variety of disease processes. To gain insight into mechanisms by which neutrophils might degrade connective tissue macromolecules in the presence of proteinase inhibitors, we have used a model system that allows neutrophils to be held in vitro under physiologic conditions in close proximity to a very proteinase-sensitive substrate, 125I-labeled fibronectin. We have found: (a) neutrophils spread rapidly on the fibronectin substrate; (b) fibronectin proteolysis by neutrophils is largely attributable to released elastase, and is linearly related to cell number over the range of 2,000 to 30,000 cells per assay; (c) oxidants released from neutrophils stimulated by opsonized zymosan or phorbol myristate acetate do not protect released elastase from inhibition by α1-proteinase inhibitor or α2-macroglobulin; (d) neutrophil myeloperoxidase and enzymatically generated superoxide anion render α1-proteinase inhibitor ineffective against fibronectin proteolysis when neutrophils are added 30 min later; and (e) α1-proteinase inhibitor and α2-macroglobulin incompletely inhibit fibronectin proteolysis by neutrophils (79.8±6.3 and 73.5±12.0%, respectively.) The data suggested that proteolysis due to neutrophils that are in contact with susceptible macromolecules may occur due to partial exclusion of inhibitors from the cell-substrate interface. Although confirming that α1-proteinase inhibitor is ineffective against neutrophil-derived proteolysis after exposure to oxidants, these studies did not support the hypothesis that oxidants released from stimulated neutrophils enhance activity of proteinases they release in the presence of α1-proteinase inhibitor. We anticipate that further studies with this test system will be helpful in defining conditions that modulate inflammatory connective tissue injury in diseases such as pulmonary emphysema and rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC370293  PMID: 6181097
8.  Elastase of U-937 Monocytelike Cells 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1982;69(2):384-393.
As an approach to facilitating the understanding of proteinases associated with monocytes we have studied U-937 monocytelike cells. Elastase activity was identified in U-937 cell extracts and compared to monocyte elastase activity, neutrophil elastase, and the elastase activity from a continuous line of murine macrophagelike cells (P388D1). Serine proteinase activity which solubilized 14C-labeled elastin accounted for >90% of the neutral proteinase activity of both U-937 cells and monocyte extracts. U-937 cell and monocyte elastase activities were similar catalytically, resembling neutrophil elastase. U-937 cells and monocytes showed other similarities: (a) both had activities reacting with [3H]diisopropylfluorophosphate that migrated in sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) polyacrylamide gels at ∼30,000 and 60,000 daltons and (b) both contained material that cross-reacted with antiserum raised to neutrophil elastase. Preliminary characterization of U-937 cell elastase activity by affinity chromatography and ion-exchange chromatography suggested the presence of at least two distinct elastases. Minimal elastase activity was found in U-937 cell-conditioned medium, indicating that the activity is not spontaneously released by the cells. In contrast to the elastase activity associated with U-937 cells and monocytes, the elastase activity associated with P388D1 cells was a metalloproteinase and was found principally in the culture medium. These results indicate (a) U-937 cells will be useful for further investigation of proteinases associated with normal monocytes; (b) monocytes and U-937 cells contain material with catalytic and immunologic similarities to neutrophil elastase; (c) monocyte elastase activity differs from elastase activity secreted by murine macrophages and murine macrophagelike cells of the P388D1 line.
PMCID: PMC370988  PMID: 6915940

Results 1-8 (8)