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1.  Universality of Human Microbial Dynamics 
Nature  2016;534(7606):259-262.
The recent realization that human-associated microbial communities play a crucial role in determining our health and well-being1,2 has led to the ongoing development of microbiome-based therapies3 such as fecal microbiota transplantation4,5. Thosemicrobial communities are very complex, dynamic6 and highly personalized ecosystems3,7, exhibiting a high degree of inter-individual variability in both species assemblages8 and abundance profiles9. It is not known whether the underlying ecological dynamics, which can be parameterized by growth rates, intra- and inter-species interactions in population dynamics models10, are largely host-independent (i.e. “universal”) or host-specific. If the inter-individual variability reflects host-specific dynamics due to differences in host lifestyle11, physiology12, or genetics13, then generic microbiome manipulations may have unintended consequences, rendering them ineffectual or even detrimental. Alternatively, microbial ecosystems of different subjects may follow a universal dynamics with the inter-individual variability mainly stemming from differences in the sets of colonizing species7,14. Here we developed a novel computational method to characterize human microbial dynamics. Applying this method to cross-sectional data from two large-scale metagenomic studies, the Human Microbiome Project9,15 and the Student Microbiome Project16, we found that both gut and mouth microbiomes display pronounced universal dynamics, whereas communities associated with certain skin sites are likely shaped by differences in the host environment. Interestingly, the universality of gut microbial dynamics is not observed in subjects with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection17 but is observed in the same set of subjects after fecal microbiota transplantation. These results fundamentally improve our understanding of forces and processes shaping human microbial ecosystems, paving the way to design general microbiome-based therapies18.
PMCID: PMC4902290  PMID: 27279224
2.  The effect of type and amount of dietary carbohydrate on biomarkers of glucose homeostasis and C-reactive protein in overweight or obese adults: Results from the OmniCarb trial 
The glycemic index (GI) of dietary carbohydrate is thought to affect glucose homeostasis. Recently, the OmniCarb Trial reported that a low GI diet did not improve insulin sensitivity. We conducted this ancillary study of the OmniCarb Trial to determine the effects of GI and carbohydrate content on glucose homeostasis and inflammation.
OmniCarb was a randomized crossover feeding study conducted in overweight or obese adults without diabetes (N=163). Participants were fed each of 4 diets for 5 weeks with 2-week washout periods. Weight was held constant. Diets were: high GI (GI≥65) with high carbohydrate (58% kcal), low GI (GI≤45) with low carbohydrate (40% kcal), low GI with high carbohydrate; and high GI with low carbohydrate. We measured glycated albumin (GA), fructosamine, and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) at baseline and following each dietary period. These biomarkers were compared within-person between diets.
The study population was 52% female and 50% black. Mean age was 53 (SD, 11) years; mean BMI was 32 (SD, 6) kg/m2. Reducing GI had no effect on GA or fructosamine, but increased fasting glucose in the setting of a high carbohydrate diet (+2.2 mg/dl; P=0.02). Reducing carbohydrate content decreased GA in the setting of a high GI diet (−0.2%; P=0.03) and decreased fructosamine in the setting of a low GI diet (−4 μmol/L; P=0.003). Reducing carbohydrate while simultaneously increasing GI significantly reduced both GA (−0.2%; P=0.04) and fructosamine (−4 μmol/L; P=0.009). Neither reducing GI nor amount of carbohydrate affected insulin or CRP.
Reducing carbohydrate, regardless of high or low GI, decreased GA and fructosamine. This suggests that reducing carbohydrate content, rather than GI, is a better strategy for lowering glycemia in adults at risk for diabetes.
PMCID: PMC5140271  PMID: 26636424
carbohydrate; diet; glycemic index; glycated albumin; fructosamine; C-reactive protein; randomized controlled trial
3.  Effect of type and amount of dietary carbohydrate on biomarkers of glucose homeostasis and C reactive protein in overweight or obese adults: results from the OmniCarb trial 
The glycemic index (GI) of dietary carbohydrate is thought to affect glucose homeostasis. Recently, the Effect of Amount and Type of Dietary Carbohydrates on Risk for Cardiovascular Heart Disease and Diabetes Study (OmniCarb) trial reported that a low-GI diet did not improve insulin sensitivity. We conducted this ancillary study of the OmniCarb trial to determine the effects of GI and carbohydrate content on glucose homeostasis and inflammation.
Research design and methods
OmniCarb was a randomized cross-over feeding study conducted in overweight or obese adults without diabetes (N=163). Participants were fed each of 4 diets for 5 weeks with 2-week washout periods. Weight was held constant. Diets were: high GI (GI≥65) with high carbohydrate (58% kcal), low GI (GI≤45) with low carbohydrate (40% kcal), low GI with high carbohydrate, and high GI with low carbohydrate. We measured glycated albumin (GA), fructosamine, and high sensitivity C reactive protein (CRP) at baseline and following each dietary period. These biomarkers were compared within-person between diets.
The study population was 52% female and 50% black. Mean age was 53 (SD, 11) years; mean body mass index was 32 (SD 6) kg/m2. Reducing GI had no effect on GA or fructosamine, but increased fasting glucose in the setting of a high-carbohydrate diet (+2.2 mg/dL; p=0.02). Reducing carbohydrate content decreased GA in the setting of a high-GI diet (−0.2%; p=0.03) and decreased fructosamine in the setting of a low-GI diet (−4 µmol/L; p=0.003). Reducing carbohydrate while simultaneously increasing GI significantly reduced both GA (−0.2%; p=0.04) and fructosamine (−4 µmol/L; p=0.009). Neither reducing GI nor amount of carbohydrate affected insulin or CRP.
Reducing carbohydrate, regardless of high or low GI, decreased GA and fructosamine. This suggests that reducing carbohydrate content, rather than GI, is a better strategy for lowering glycemia in adults at risk for diabetes.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC5128999  PMID: 27933186
Glycemic Index Diet; Carbohydrate(s); Randomized Controlled Trial; Glycated Proteins
4.  The Role of Vitamin D in the Transcriptional Program of Human Pregnancy 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(10):e0163832.
Patterns of gene expression of human pregnancy are poorly understood. In a trial of vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women, peripheral blood transcriptomes were measured longitudinally on 30 women and used to characterize gene co-expression networks.
Studies suggest that increased maternal Vitamin D levels may reduce the risk of asthma in early life, yet the underlying mechanisms have not been examined. In this study, we used a network-based approach to examine changes in gene expression profiles during the course of normal pregnancy and evaluated their association with maternal Vitamin D levels.
The VDAART study is a randomized clinical trial of vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy for reduction of pediatric asthma risk. The trial enrolled 881 women at 10–18 weeks of gestation. Longitudinal gene expression measures were obtained on thirty pregnant women, using RNA isolated from peripheral blood samples obtained in the first and third trimesters. Differentially expressed genes were identified using significance of analysis of microarrays (SAM), and clustered using a weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA). Gene-set enrichment was performed to identify major biological pathways.
Comparison of transcriptional profiles between first and third trimesters of pregnancy identified 5839 significantly differentially expressed genes (FDR<0.05). Weighted gene co-expression network analysis clustered these transcripts into 14 co-expression modules of which two showed significant correlation with maternal vitamin D levels. Pathway analysis of these two modules revealed genes enriched in immune defense pathways and extracellular matrix reorganization as well as genes enriched in notch signaling and transcription factor networks.
Our data show that gene expression profiles of healthy pregnant women change during the course of pregnancy and suggest that maternal Vitamin D levels influence transcriptional profiles. These alterations of the maternal transcriptome may contribute to fetal immune imprinting and reduce allergic sensitization in early life.
Trial Registration NCT00920621
PMCID: PMC5053446  PMID: 27711190
5.  Smoking-Associated Site-Specific Differential Methylation in Buccal Mucosa in the COPDGene Study 
DNA methylation is a complex, tissue-specific phenomenon that can reflect both endogenous factors and exogenous exposures. Buccal brushings represent an easily accessible source of DNA, which may be an appropriate surrogate tissue in the study of environmental exposures and chronic respiratory diseases. Buccal brushings were obtained from a subset of current and former smokers from the COPDGene study. Genome-wide DNA methylation data were obtained in the discovery cohort (n = 82) using the Illumina HumanMethylation450K array. Empirical Bayes methods were used to test for differential methylation by current smoking status at 468,219 autosomal CpG sites using linear models adjusted for age, sex, and race. Pyrosequencing was performed in a nonoverlapping replication cohort (n = 130). Current smokers were significantly younger than former smokers in both the discovery and replication cohorts. Seven CpG sites were associated with current smoking at a false discovery rate less than 0.05 in the discovery cohort. Six of the seven significant sites were pyrosequenced in the replication cohort; five CpG sites, including sites annotated to CYP1B1 and PARVA, were replicated. Correlations between cumulative smoke exposure and time since smoking cessation were observed in a subset of the significantly associated CpG sites. A significant correlation between reduced lung function and increased radiographic emphysema with methylation at cg02162897 (CYP1B1) was observed among female subjects. Site-specific methylation of DNA isolated from buccal mucosa is associated with exposure to cigarette smoke, and may provide insights into the mechanisms underlying differential susceptibility toward the development of smoking-related chronic respiratory diseases.
PMCID: PMC4566042  PMID: 25517428
DNA methylation; smoking; buccal mucosa
6.  Genetic control of gene expression at novel and established chronic obstructive pulmonary disease loci 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;24(4):1200-1210.
Genetic risk loci have been identified for a wide range of diseases through genome-wide association studies (GWAS), but the relevant functional mechanisms have been identified for only a small proportion of these GWAS-identified loci. By integrating results from the largest current GWAS of chronic obstructive disease (COPD) with expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis in whole blood and sputum from 121 subjects with COPD from the ECLIPSE Study, this analysis identifies loci that are simultaneously associated with COPD and the expression of nearby genes (COPD eQTLs). After integrative analysis, 19 COPD eQTLs were identified, including all four previously identified genome-wide significant loci near HHIP, FAM13A, and the 15q25 and 19q13 loci. For each COPD eQTL, fine mapping and colocalization analysis to identify causal shared eQTL and GWAS variants identified a subset of sites with moderate-to-strong evidence of harboring at least one shared variant responsible for both the eQTL and GWAS signals. Transcription factor binding site (TFBS) analysis confirms that multiple COPD eQTL lead SNPs disrupt TFBS, and enhancer enrichment analysis for loci with the strongest colocalization signals showed enrichment for blood-related cell types (CD3 and CD4+ T cells, lymphoblastoid cell lines). In summary, integrative eQTL and GWAS analysis confirms that genetic control of gene expression plays a key role in the genetic architecture of COPD and identifies specific blood-related cell types as likely participants in the functional pathway from GWAS-associated variant to disease phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4806382  PMID: 25315895
7.  Fetal lung and placental methylation is associated with in utero nicotine exposure 
Epigenetics  2014;9(11):1473-1484.
In utero smoke exposure has been shown to have detrimental effects on lung function and to be associated with persistent wheezing and asthma in children. One potential mechanism of IUS effects could be alterations in DNA methylation, which may have life-long implications. The goal of this study was to examine the association between DNA methylation and nicotine exposure in fetal lung and placental tissue in early development; nicotine exposure in this analysis represents a likely surrogate for in-utero smoke. We performed an epigenome-wide analysis of DNA methylation in fetal lung tissue (n = 85, 41 smoke exposed (48%), 44 controls) and the corresponding placental tissue samples (n = 80, 39 smoke exposed (49%), 41 controls) using the Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip array. Differential methylation analyses were conducted to evaluate the variation associated with nicotine exposure. The most significant CpG sites in the fetal lung analysis mapped to the PKP3 (P = 2.94 × 10−03), ANKRD33B (P = 3.12 × 10−03), CNTD2 (P = 4.9 × 10−03) and DPP10 (P = 5.43 × 10−03) genes. In the placental methylome, the most significant CpG sites mapped to the GTF2H2C and GTF2H2D genes (P = 2.87 × 10−06 − 3.48 × 10−05). One hundred and one unique CpG sites with P-values < 0.05 were concordant between lung and placental tissue analyses. Gene Set Enrichment Analysis demonstrated enrichment of specific disorders, such as asthma and immune disorders. Our findings demonstrate an association between in utero nicotine exposure and variable DNA methylation in fetal lung and placental tissues, suggesting a role for DNA methylation variation in the fetal origins of chronic diseases.
PMCID: PMC4623268  PMID: 25482056
asthma; developmental biology; epigenomics; nicotine and DNA methylation; smoking
8.  A genome-wide survey of CD4+ lymphocyte regulatory genetic variants identifies novel asthma genes 
Genome-wide association studies have yet to identify the majority of genetic variants involved in asthma. We hypothesized that expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping can identify novel asthma genes by enabling prioritization of putative functional variants for association testing.
We evaluated 6,706 cis-acting expression-associated variants (eSNP) identified through a genome-wide eQTL survey of CD4+ lymphocytes for association with asthma.
eSNP were tested for association with asthma in 359 asthma cases and 846 controls from the Childhood Asthma Management Program, with verification using family-based testing. Significant associations were tested for replication in 579 parent-child trios with asthma from Costa Rica. Further functional validation was performed by Formaldehyde Assisted Isolation of Regulatory Elements (FAIRE)-qPCR and Chromatin-Immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-PCR in lung derived epithelial cell lines (Beas-2B and A549) and Jurkat cells, a leukemia cell line derived from T lymphocytes.
Cis-acting eSNP demonstrated associations with asthma in both cohorts. We confirmed the previously-reported association of ORMDL3/GSDMB variants with asthma (combined p=2.9 × 108). Reproducible associations were also observed for eSNP in three additional genes: FADS2 (p=0.002), NAGA (p=0.0002), and F13A1 (p=0.0001). We subsequently demonstrated that FADS2 mRNA is increased in CD4+ lymphocytes in asthmatics, and that the associated eSNPs reside within DNA segments with histone modifications that denote open chromatin status and confer enhancer activity.
Our results demonstrate the utility of eQTL mapping in the identification of novel asthma genes, and provide evidence for the importance of FADS2, NAGA, and F13A1 in the pathogenesis of asthma.
PMCID: PMC4253878  PMID: 24934276
Asthma; CD4+; lymphocytes; regulatory variants; Expression Quantitative Trait Locus (eQTL); Haplotype; Integrative Genomics
9.  Expression Quantitative Trait Loci Information Improves Predictive Modeling of Disease Relevance of Non-Coding Genetic Variation 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0140758.
Disease-associated loci identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS) frequently localize to non-coding sequence. We and others have demonstrated strong enrichment of such single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs), supporting an important role for regulatory genetic variation in complex disease pathogenesis. Herein we describe our initial efforts to develop a predictive model of disease-associated variants leveraging eQTL information. We first catalogued cis-acting eQTLs (SNPs within 100kb of target gene transcripts) by meta-analyzing four studies of three blood-derived tissues (n = 586). At a false discovery rate < 5%, we mapped eQTLs for 6,535 genes; these were enriched for disease-associated genes (P < 10−04), particularly those related to immune diseases and metabolic traits. Based on eQTL information and other variant annotations (distance from target gene transcript, minor allele frequency, and chromatin state), we created multivariate logistic regression models to predict SNP membership in reported GWAS. The complete model revealed independent contributions of specific annotations as strong predictors, including evidence for an eQTL (odds ratio (OR) = 1.2–2.0, P < 10−11) and the chromatin states of active promoters, different classes of strong or weak enhancers, or transcriptionally active regions (OR = 1.5–2.3, P < 10−11). This complete prediction model including eQTL association information ultimately allowed for better discrimination of SNPs with higher probabilities of GWAS membership (6.3–10.0%, compared to 3.5% for a random SNP) than the other two models excluding eQTL information. This eQTL-based prediction model of disease relevance can help systematically prioritize non-coding GWAS SNPs for further functional characterization.
PMCID: PMC4608673  PMID: 26474488
10.  Public data and open source tools for multi-assay genomic investigation of disease 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2015;17(4):603-615.
Molecular interrogation of a biological sample through DNA sequencing, RNA and microRNA profiling, proteomics and other assays, has the potential to provide a systems level approach to predicting treatment response and disease progression, and to developing precision therapies. Large publicly funded projects have generated extensive and freely available multi-assay data resources; however, bioinformatic and statistical methods for the analysis of such experiments are still nascent. We review multi-assay genomic data resources in the areas of clinical oncology, pharmacogenomics and other perturbation experiments, population genomics and regulatory genomics and other areas, and tools for data acquisition. Finally, we review bioinformatic tools that are explicitly geared toward integrative genomic data visualization and analysis. This review provides starting points for accessing publicly available data and tools to support development of needed integrative methods.
PMCID: PMC4945830  PMID: 26463000
multiple assays (multi-assays); public data; bioconductor; integrative genomics; cancer; pharmacogenomics; omics
11.  Genome-wide interaction studies reveal sex-specific asthma risk alleles 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(19):5251-5259.
Asthma is a complex disease with sex-specific differences in prevalence. Candidate gene studies have suggested that genotype-by-sex interaction effects on asthma risk exist, but this has not yet been explored at a genome-wide level. We aimed to identify sex-specific asthma risk alleles by performing a genome-wide scan for genotype-by-sex interactions in the ethnically diverse participants in the EVE Asthma Genetics Consortium. We performed male- and female-specific genome-wide association studies in 2653 male asthma cases, 2566 female asthma cases and 3830 non-asthma controls from European American, African American, African Caribbean and Latino populations. Association tests were conducted in each study sample, and the results were combined in ancestry-specific and cross-ancestry meta-analyses. Six sex-specific asthma risk loci had P-values < 1 × 10−6, of which two were male specific and four were female specific; all were ancestry specific. The most significant sex-specific association in European Americans was at the interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1) locus on 5q31.1. We also identify a Latino female-specific association in RAP1GAP2. Both of these loci included single-nucleotide polymorphisms that are known expression quantitative trait loci and have been associated with asthma in independent studies. The IRF1 locus is a strong candidate region for male-specific asthma susceptibility due to the association and validation we demonstrate here, the known role of IRF1 in asthma-relevant immune pathways and prior reports of sex-specific differences in interferon responses.
PMCID: PMC4159149  PMID: 24824216
12.  Peripheral CD5+ B Cells in Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibody–Associated Vasculitis 
CD5+ B cells have been conceptualized as a possible surrogate for Breg cells. The aim of the present study was to determine the utility of CD5+ B cells as biomarkers in antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody–associated vasculitis (AAV).
The absolute and relative numbers (percentages) of CD5+ B cells (explanatory variables) were measured longitudinally during 18 months in 197 patients randomized to receive either rituximab (RTX) or cyclophosphamide (CYC) followed by azathioprine (AZA) for the treatment of AAV (Rituximab in ANCA-Associated Vasculitis [RAVE] trial). Outcome variables included disease activity (status of active disease versus complete remission), responsiveness to induction therapy, disease relapse, disease severity, and, in RTX-treated patients, relapse-free survival according to the percentage of CD5+ B cells detected upon B cell repopulation.
CD5+ B cell numbers were comparable between the treatment groups at baseline. After an initial decline, absolute CD5+ B cell numbers progressively increased in patients in the RTX treatment arm, but remained low in CYC/AZA-treated patients. In both groups, the percentage of CD5+ B cells increased during remission induction and slowly declined thereafter. During relapse, the percentage of CD5+ B cells correlated inversely with disease activity in RTX-treated patients, but not in patients who received CYC/AZA. No significant association was observed between the numbers of CD5+ B cells and induction treatment failure or disease severity. The dynamics of the CD5+ B cell compartment did not anticipate disease relapse. Following B cell repopulation, the percentage of CD5+ B cells was not predictive of time to flare in RTX-treated patients.
The percentage of peripheral CD5+ B cells might reflect disease activity in RTX-treated patients. However, sole staining for CD5 as a putative surrogate marker for Breg cells did not identify a subpopulation of B cells with clear potential for meaningful clinical use. Adequate phenotyping of Breg cells is required to further explore the value of these cells as biomarkers in AAV.
PMCID: PMC4497572  PMID: 25332071
13.  Orchestrating high-throughput genomic analysis with Bioconductor 
Nature methods  2015;12(2):115-121.
Bioconductor is an open-source, open-development software project for the analysis and comprehension of high-throughput data in genomics and molecular biology. The project aims to enable interdisciplinary research, collaboration and rapid development of scientific software. Based on the statistical programming language R, Bioconductor comprises 934 interoperable packages contributed by a large, diverse community of scientists. Packages cover a range of bioinformatic and statistical applications. They undergo formal initial review and continuous automated testing. We present an overview for prospective users and contributors.
PMCID: PMC4509590  PMID: 25633503
14.  Effects of High vs Low Glycemic Index of Dietary Carbohydrate on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and Insulin Sensitivity 
JAMA  2014;312(23):2531-2541.
Foods that have similar carbohydrate content can differ in the amount they raise blood glucose. The effects of this property, called the glycemic index, on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes are not well understood.
To determine the effect of glycemic index and amount of total dietary carbohydrate on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Randomized crossover-controlled feeding trial conducted in research units in academic medical centers, in which 163 overweight adults (systolic blood pressure, 120–159 mm Hg) were given 4 complete diets that contained all of their meals, snacks, and calorie-containing beverages, each for 5 weeks, and completed at least 2 study diets. The first participant was enrolled April 1, 2008; the last participant finished December 22, 2010. For any pair of the 4 diets, there were 135 to 150 participants contributing at least 1 primary outcome measure.
(1) A high–glycemic index (65% on the glucose scale), high-carbohydrate diet (58% energy); (2) a low–glycemic index (40%), high-carbohydrate diet; (3) a high–glycemic index, low-carbohydrate diet (40% energy); and (4) a low–glycemic index, low-carbohydrate diet. Each diet was based on a healthful DASH-type diet.
The 5 primary outcomes were insulin sensitivity, determined from the areas under the curves of glucose and insulin levels during an oral glucose tolerance test; levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides; and systolic blood pressure.
At high dietary carbohydrate content, the low– compared with high–glycemic index level decreased insulin sensitivity from 8.9 to 7.1 units (−20%, P = .002); increased LDL cholesterol from 139 to 147 mg/dL (6%, P ≤ .001); and did not affect levels of HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, or blood pressure. At low carbohydrate content, the low– compared with high–glycemic index level did not affect the outcomes except for decreasing triglycerides from 91 to 86 mg/dL (−5%, P = .02). In the primary diet contrast, the low–glycemic index, low-carbohydrate diet, compared with the high–glycemic index, high-carbohydrate diet, did not affect insulin sensitivity, systolic blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol but did lower triglycerides from 111 to 86 mg/dL (−23%, P ≤ .001).
In this 5-week controlled feeding study, diets with low glycemic index of dietary carbohydrate, compared with high glycemic index of dietary carbohydrate, did not result in improvements in insulin sensitivity, lipid levels, or systolic blood pressure. In the context of an overall DASH-type diet, using glycemic index to select specific foods may not improve cardiovascular risk factors or insulin resistance.
TRIAL REGISTRATION Identifier: NCT00608049
PMCID: PMC4370345  PMID: 25514303
15.  The Vitamin D Antenatal Asthma Reduction Trial (VDAART): Rationale, design, and methods of a randomized, controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy for the primary prevention of asthma and allergies in children 
Contemporary clinical trials  2014;38(1):37-50.
There is intense interest in the role of vitamin D in the development of asthma and allergies. However, studies differ on whether a higher vitamin D intake or status in pregnancy or at birth is protective against asthma and allergies. To address this uncertainty, the Vitamin D Antenatal Asthma Reduction Trial (VDAART) was developed. VDAART is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women to determine whether prenatal supplementation can prevent the development of asthma and allergies in the women’s offspring. A secondary aim is to determine whether vitamin D supplementation can prevent the development of pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, preterm birth, and gestational diabetes. Women were randomized to the treatment arm of 4,000 IU/day of vitamin D3 plus a daily multivitamin that contained 400 IU of vitamin D3 or the placebo arm of placebo plus a multivitamin that contained 400 IU daily of vitamin D3. Women who were between the gestational ages of 10–18 weeks were randomized from three clinical centers across the United States – Boston Medical Center, Washington University in St. Louis, and Kaiser Permanente Southern California Region (San Diego, CA). Supplementation took place throughout pregnancy. Monthly monitoring of urinary calcium to creatinine ratio was performed in addition to medical record review for adverse events. Offspring are being evaluated quarterly through questionnaires and yearly during in-person visits until the 3rd birthday of the child. Ancillary studies will investigate neonatal T-regulatory cell function, maternal vaginal flora, and maternal and child intestinal flora.
PMCID: PMC4086903  PMID: 24614387
Vitamin D; asthma; allergy; randomized controlled trial; Deveopmental Origins; prenatal
16.  Maternal Antibody at Delivery Protects Neonates From Early Onset Group B Streptococcal Disease 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;209(5):781-788.
Background. Further reduction in the group B streptococcal (GBS) disease burden in neonates in the United States awaits an additional prevention strategy, such as maternal immunization.
Methods. We performed a prospective, multicenter, case-control study of 33 mothers delivering neonates with early onset GBS infection (cases), and 99 age- and ethnicity-matched mothers colonized with the same capsular polysaccharide (CPS) types delivering healthy neonates (controls). Relative risk and absolute risk were calculated for early onset disease associated with concentrations of type Ia, III, or V CPS-specific antibody in maternal serum.
Results. For GBS types Ia and III, maternal CPS–specific antibody concentrations of ≥0.5 µg/mL were associated with a relative risk of approximately 0.1 (95% confidence intervals [CIs], .01–.74 and 0–.72, respectively; P = .02 for each), corresponding to a 90% risk reduction (by logistic regression). For type V, the relative risk was 0.3 (95% CI, .01–3.1), corresponding to a 70% risk reduction. By Bayesian modeling, the risk of early onset disease would decrease by 70% if maternal CPS-specific antibody concentrations for these 3 GBS types were ≥1 µg/mL.
Conclusions. Maternal CPS-specific antibody serum concentrations of ≥1 μg/mL at the time of delivery appear to protect most neonates from early onset GBS type Ia and III disease.
PMCID: PMC3923540  PMID: 24133184
Group B Streptococcus; neonate; neonatal sepsis; meningitis; glycoconjugate vaccine; immunization; serocorrelate; protective immunity
17.  Diet Type and Changes in Food Cravings following Weight Loss: Findings from the POUNDS LOST Trial 
Eating and weight disorders : EWD  2012;17(2):e101-e108.
Few well-controlled trials have evaluated the effects that macronutrient composition has on changes in food cravings during weight loss treatment. The present study, which was part of the POUNDS LOST trial, investigated whether the fat and protein content of four different diets affected changes in specific food cravings in overweight and obese adults. A sample of 811 adults were recruited across two clinical sites, and each participant was randomly assigned to one of four macronutrient prescriptions: (1) Low fat (20% of energy), average protein (15% of energy); (2) Moderate fat (40%), average protein (15%); (3) Low fat (20%), high protein (25%); (4) Moderate fat (40%), high protein (25%). With few exceptions, the type of diet that participants were assigned did not differentially affect changes in specific food cravings. Participants assigned to the high fat diets, however, had reduced cravings for carbohydrates at Month12 (p< .05) and fruits and vegetables at Month 24. Also, participants assigned to high protein diets had increased cravings for sweets at Month 6 (p< .05). Participants in all four dietary conditions reported significant reductions in food cravings for specific types of foods (i.e., high fat foods, fast food fats, sweets, and carbohydrates/starches; all ps< .05). Cravings for fruits and vegetables, however, were increased at Month 24 (p< .05). Calorically restricted diets (regardless of their macronutrient composition) yielded significant reductions in cravings for fats, sweets, and starches whereas cravings for fruits and vegetables were increased.
PMCID: PMC4189179  PMID: 23010779
Macronutrient composition; Caloric restriction; Food type; Fat; Carbohydrate; Protein
18.  Contribution of High Plasma Triglycerides and Low High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol to Residual Risk of Coronary Heart Disease After Establishment of Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Control 
The American journal of cardiology  2010;106(6):757-763.
To determine the relative contributions of triglycerides (TGs) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the residual risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) after the reduction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to guideline-recommended levels, we conducted a hospital-based, case-control study with optimal matching in the strata of LDL cholesterol, gender, ethnicity, and age. The 170 cases and 175 controls were patients at Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts) from 2005 to 2008 who had an LDL cholesterol level <130 mg/dl. The cases had incident CHD, and the controls had diagnoses unrelated to CHD. The 170 cases and 175 controls had a mean LDL cholesterol level of 73 and 87 mg/dl, respectively. The association between TG and HDL cholesterol levels and CHD risk was assessed using conditional and unconditional logistic regression analysis. The models investigated accommodated the possibility of an interaction between lipid factors. The odds of CHD increased by approximately 20% per 23-mg/dl increase in TGs and decreased by approximately 40% per 7.5-mg/dl decrease in HDL cholesterol. High TGs and low HDL cholesterol interacted synergistically to increase the odds ratio to 10 for the combined greatest TG (≥190 mg/dl) and lowest HDL cholesterol quintiles (<30 mg/dl). High TG levels were more strongly associated with CHD when the HDL cholesterol was low than average or high; and low HDL cholesterol levels were more strongly associated with CHD when the TGs were high. TGs and HDL cholesterol were associated with CHD in patients with a LDL cholesterol level of ≤70 mg/dl, with a risk similar to, or greater than, those in the total group. In conclusion, high TG and low HDL cholesterol levels contribute strongly and synergistically to CHD when LDL cholesterol is well controlled. Thus, high TGs might have greater importance in patients with optimal rather than greater LDL cholesterol concentrations.
PMCID: PMC4102341  PMID: 20816113
19.  Practice-Level Effects of Interventions to Improve Asthma Care in Primary Care Settings: The Pediatric Asthma Care Patient Outcomes Research Team 
Health Services Research  2005;40(6 Pt 1):1737-1757.
To assess the practice-level effects of (1) a physician peer leader intervention and (2) peer leaders in combination with the introduction of asthma education nurses to facilitate care improvement. And, to compare findings with previously reported patient-level outcomes of trial enrollees.
Study Setting
Data were included on children 5–17 years old with asthma in 40 primary care practices, affiliated with managed health care plans enrolled in the Pediatric Asthma Care Patient Outcomes Research Team (PORT) randomized trial.
Study Design
Primary care practices were randomly assigned to one of two care improvement arms or to usual care. Automated claims data were analyzed for 12-month periods using a repeated cross-sectional design. The primary outcome was evidence of at least one controller medication dispensed among patients with persistent asthma. Secondary outcomes included controller dispensing among all identified asthmatics, evidence of chronic controller use, and the dispensing of oral steroids. Health service utilization outcomes included numbers of ambulatory visits and hospital-based events.
Principal Findings
The proportion of children with persistent asthma prescribed controllers increased in all study arms. No effect of the interventions on the proportion receiving controllers was detected (peer leader intervention effect 0.01, 95 percent confidence interval [CI]: −0.07, 0.08; planned care intervention effect −0.03, 95 percent CI: −0.09, 0.02). A statistical trend was seen toward an increased number of oral corticosteroid bursts dispensed in intervention practices. Significant adjusted increases in ambulatory visits of 0.08–0.10 visits per child per year were seen in the first intervention year, but only a statistical trend in these outcomes persisted into the second year of follow-up. No differences in hospital-based events were detected.
This analysis showed a slight increase in ambulatory asthma visits as a result of asthma care improvement interventions, using automated data. The absence of detectable impact on medication use at the practice level differs from the positive intervention effect observed in patient self-reported data from trial enrollees. Analysis of automated data on nonenrollees adds information about practice-level impact of care improvement strategies. Benefits of practice-level interventions may accrue disproportionately to the subgroup of trial enrollees. The effect of such interventions may be less apparent at the level of practices or health plans.
PMCID: PMC1361234  PMID: 16336546
Asthma care; randomized controlled trial; chronic care model; physician behavior change
20.  Identification of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus LANA Regions Important for Episome Segregation, Replication, and Persistence 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(22):12270-12283.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) is a 1,162-amino-acid protein that mediates the maintenance of episomal viral genomes in latently infected cells. The two central components of episome persistence are DNA replication with each cell division and the segregation of DNA to progeny nuclei. LANA self-associates to bind KSHV terminal-repeat (TR) DNA and to mediate its replication. LANA also simultaneously binds to TR DNA and mitotic chromosomes to mediate the segregation of episomes to daughter nuclei. The N-terminal region of LANA binds histones H2A and H2B to attach to mitotic chromosomes, while the C-terminal region binds TR DNA and also associates with chromosomes. Both the N- and C-terminal regions of LANA are essential for episome persistence. We recently showed that deletion of all internal LANA sequences results in highly deficient episome maintenance. Here we assess independent internal LANA regions for effects on episome persistence. We generated a panel of LANA mutants that included deletions in the large internal repeat region and in the unique internal sequence. All mutants contained the essential N- and C-terminal regions, and as expected, all maintained the ability to associate with mitotic chromosomes in a wild-type fashion and to bind TR DNA, as assessed by electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA). Deletion of the internal regions did not reduce the half-life of LANA. Notably, deletions within either the repeat elements or the unique sequence resulted in deficiencies in DNA replication. However, only the unique internal sequence exerted effects on the ability of LANA to retain green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression from TR-containing episomes deficient in DNA replication, consistent with a role in episome segregation; this region did not independently associate with mitotic chromosomes. All mutants were deficient in episome persistence, and the deficiencies ranged from minor to severe. Mutants deficient in DNA replication that contained deletions within the unique internal sequence had the most-severe deficits. These data suggest that internal LANA regions exert critical roles in LANA-mediated DNA replication, segregation, and episome persistence, likely through interactions with key host cell factors.
PMCID: PMC3807934  PMID: 24006437
21.  Systemic Steroid Exposure Is Associated with Differential Methylation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: Systemic glucocorticoids are used therapeutically to treat a variety of medical conditions. Epigenetic processes such as DNA methylation may reflect exposure to glucocorticoids and may be involved in mediating the responses and side effects associated with these medications.
Objectives: To test the hypothesis that differences in DNA methylation are associated with current systemic steroid use.
Methods: We obtained DNA methylation data at 27,578 CpG sites in 14,475 genes throughout the genome in two large, independent cohorts: the International COPD Genetics Network (ndiscovery = 1,085) and the Boston Early Onset COPD study (nreplication = 369). Sites were tested for association with current systemic steroid use using generalized linear mixed models.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 511 sites demonstrated significant differential methylation by systemic corticosteroid use in all three of our primary models. Pyrosequencing validation confirmed robust differential methylation at CpG sites annotated to genes such as SLC22A18, LRP3, HIPK3, SCNN1A, FXYD1, IRF7, AZU1, SIT1, GPR97, ABHD16B, and RABGEF1. Functional annotation clustering demonstrated significant enrichment in intrinsic membrane components, hemostasis and coagulation, cellular ion homeostasis, leukocyte and lymphocyte activation and chemotaxis, protein transport, and responses to nutrients.
Conclusions: Our analyses suggest that systemic steroid use is associated with site-specific differential methylation throughout the genome. Differentially methylated CpG sites were found in biologically plausible and previously unsuspected pathways; these genes and pathways may be relevant in the development of novel targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3622442  PMID: 23065012
DNA methylation; glucocorticoids; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
22.  Software for Computing and Annotating Genomic Ranges 
PLoS Computational Biology  2013;9(8):e1003118.
We describe Bioconductor infrastructure for representing and computing on annotated genomic ranges and integrating genomic data with the statistical computing features of R and its extensions. At the core of the infrastructure are three packages: IRanges, GenomicRanges, and GenomicFeatures. These packages provide scalable data structures for representing annotated ranges on the genome, with special support for transcript structures, read alignments and coverage vectors. Computational facilities include efficient algorithms for overlap and nearest neighbor detection, coverage calculation and other range operations. This infrastructure directly supports more than 80 other Bioconductor packages, including those for sequence analysis, differential expression analysis and visualization.
PMCID: PMC3738458  PMID: 23950696
23.  Isoniazid pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and dosing in South African infants 
Therapeutic Drug Monitoring  2012;34(4):446-451.
There are limited data on isoniazid (INH) pharmacokinetics in infants and young children and, therefore, uncertainty on appropriate dosing.
Pharmacokinetic data were obtained from perinatally HIV-exposed South African infants ages 3–24 months receiving INH 10–20 mg/kg/day orally for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) prophylaxis. INH pharmacokinetic parameters were characterized with a population pharmacokinetic approach. Dosing simulations were performed to evaluate weight-based INH doses in children based on N-acetyltransferase 2 enzyme (NAT2) genotype, age, maximum concentrations (Cmax) ≥ 3mg/L, and area under the curve (AUC0-24) ≥ 10.52 mg*hr/L.
In 151 infants (53% female, 48% HIV positive) receiving a mean INH dose of 14.5 mg/kg/day, mean (±SD) Cmax at 3, 6, and 23 months of age were 10.0 (3.5), 8.6 (2.6), and 9.3 (3.8) mg/L, respectively, mean (±SD) AUC0-24 were 53.6 (26.8), 42 (19.9), and 44 (30.7) mg*hr/L, respectively, and mean (±SD) half-life were 2.1 (0.7), 1.9 (0.6), and 1.8 (0.9) hours, respectively. A trimodal apparent oral clearance of INH as a function of NAT2 genotype was apparent as early as 3 months. INH was well tolerated. At an average INH dose of 14.5 mg/kg/day, 99% of infants ages 3–24 months have an INH Cmax ≥ 3 mg/L and 98% have an INH AUC0-24 ≥ 10.52 mg*hr/L.
INH at an average dose of 14.5 mg/kg once daily was well tolerated in infants and achieved INH Cmax values ≥ 3 mg/L and AUC0-24 values ≥ 10.52 mg*hr/L.
PMCID: PMC3397663  PMID: 22695364
isoniazid; pharmacokinetics; dosing; infants; children
24.  The Impact of Self-Identified Race on Epidemiologic Studies of Gene Expression 
Genetic epidemiology  2011;35(2):93-101.
Although population differences in gene expression have been established, the impact on differential gene expression studies in large populations is not well understood. We describe the effect of self-reported race on a gene expression study of lung function in asthma. We generated gene expression profiles for 254 young adults (205 non-Hispanic whites and 49 African Americans) with asthma on whom concurrent total RNA derived from peripheral blood CD4+ lymphocytes and lung function measurements were obtained. We identified four principal components that explained 62% of the variance in gene expression. The dominant principal component, which explained 29% of the total variance in gene expression, was strongly associated with self-identified race (P<10−16). The impact of these racial differences was observed when we performed differential gene expression analysis of lung function. Using multivariate linear models, we tested whether gene expression was associated with a quantitative measure of lung function: pre-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1). Though unadjusted linear models of FEV1 identified several genes strongly correlated with lung function, these correlations were due to racial differences in the distribution of both FEV1 and gene expression, and were no longer statistically significant following adjustment for self-identified race. These results suggest that self-identified race is a critical confounding covariate in epidemiologic studies of gene expression and that, similar to genetic studies, careful consideration of self-identified race in gene expression profiling studies is needed to avoid spurious association.
PMCID: PMC3718033  PMID: 21254216
ancestry; gene expression; population stratification; self-identified race
25.  Cigarette smoking behaviors and time since quitting are associated with differential DNA methylation across the human genome 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(13):3073-3082.
The impact of cigarette smoking can persist for extended periods following smoking cessation and may involve epigenetic reprogramming. Changes in DNA methylation associated with smoking may help to identify molecular pathways that contribute to the latency between exposure and disease onset. Cross-sectional cohort data from subjects in the International COPD Genetics Network (n = 1085) and the Boston Early-Onset COPD study (n = 369) were analyzed as the discovery and replication cohorts, respectively. Genome-wide methylation data on 27 578 CpG sites in 14 475 genes were obtained on DNA from peripheral blood leukocytes using the Illumina HumanMethylation27K Beadchip in both cohorts. We identified 15 sites significantly associated with current smoking, 2 sites associated with cumulative smoke exposure, and, within the subset of former smokers, 3 sites associated with time since quitting cigarettes. Two loci, factor II receptor-like 3 (F2RL3) and G-protein-coupled receptor 15 (GPR15), were significantly associated in all three analyses and were validated by pyrosequencing. These findings (i) identify a novel locus (GPR15) associated with cigarette smoking and (ii) suggest the existence of dynamic, site-specific methylation changes in response to smoking which may contribute to the extended risks associated with cigarette smoking that persist after cessation.
PMCID: PMC3373248  PMID: 22492999

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