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1.  Pneumothorax Risk Factors in Smokers with and without Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: The demographic, physiological, and computed tomography (CT) features associated with pneumothorax in smokers with and without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are not clearly defined.
Objectives: We evaluated the hypothesis that pneumothorax in smokers is associated with male sex, tall and thin stature, airflow obstruction, and increased total and subpleural emphysema.
Methods: The study included smokers with and without COPD from the COPDGene Study, with quantitative chest CT analysis. Pleural-based emphysema was assessed on the basis of local histogram measures of emphysema. Pneumothorax history was defined by subject self-report.
Measurements and Main Results: Pneumothorax was reported in 286 (3.2%) of 9,062 participants. In all participants, risk of prior pneumothorax was significantly higher in men (odds ratio [OR], 1.55; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.08–2.22) and non-Hispanic white subjects (OR, 1.90; 95% CI, 1.34–2.69). Risk of prior pneumothorax was associated with increased percent CT emphysema in all participants and participants with COPD (OR, 1.04 for each 1% increase in emphysema; 95% CI, 1.03–1.06). Increased pleural-based emphysema was independently associated with risk of past pneumothorax in all participants (OR, 1.05 for each 1% increase; 95% CI, 1.01–1.10). In smokers with normal spirometry, risk of past pneumothorax was associated with non-Hispanic white race and lifetime smoking intensity (OR, 1.20 for every 10 pack-years; 95% CI, 1.09–1.33).
Conclusions: Among smokers, pneumothorax is associated with male sex, non-Hispanic white race, and increased percentage of total and subpleural CT emphysema. Pneumothorax was not independently associated with height or lung function, even in participants with COPD.
Clinical trial registered with (NCT00608764).
PMCID: PMC4298989  PMID: 25295410
pneumothorax; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema
2.  Integrative Genomics of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a complex disease with both environmental and genetic determinants, the most important of which is cigarette smoking. There is marked heterogeneity in the development of COPD among persons with similar cigarette smoking histories, which is likely partially explained by genetic variation. Genomic approaches such as genomewide association studies and gene expression studies have been used to discover genes and molecular pathways involved in COPD pathogenesis; however, these “first generation” omics studies have limitations. Integrative genomic studies are emerging which can combine genomic datasets to further examine the molecular underpinnings of COPD. Future research in COPD genetics will likely use network-based approaches to integrate multiple genomic data types in order to model the complex molecular interactions involved in COPD pathogenesis. This article reviews the genomic research to date and offers a vision for the future of integrative genomic research in COPD.
PMCID: PMC4172635  PMID: 25078622
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Genomewide Association Study; Genomics; Network Medicine
3.  IREB2 and GALC Are Associated with Pulmonary Artery Enlargement in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Pulmonary hypertension is associated with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), although pulmonary vascular changes occur early in the course of the disease. Pulmonary artery (PA) enlargement (PAE) measured by computed tomography correlates with pulmonary hypertension and COPD exacerbation frequency. Genome-wide association studies of PAE in subjects with COPD have not been reported. To investigate whether genetic variants are associated with PAE within subjects with COPD, we investigated data from current and former smokers from the COPDGene Study and the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints study. The ratio of the diameter of the PA to the diameter of the aorta (A) was measured using computed tomography. PAE was defined as PA/A greater than 1. A genome-wide association study for COPD with PAE was performed using subjects with COPD without PAE (PA/A ≤ 1) as a control group. A secondary analysis used smokers with normal spirometry as a control group. Genotyping was performed on Illumina platforms. The results were summarized using fixed-effect meta-analysis. Both meta-analyses revealed a genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 15q25.1 in IREB2 (COPD with versus without PAE, rs7181486; odds ratio [OR] = 1.32; P = 2.10 × 10−8; versus smoking control subjects, rs2009746; OR = 1.42; P = 1.32 × 10−9). PAE was also associated with a region on 14q31.3 near the GALC gene (rs7140285; OR = 1.55; P = 3.75 × 10−8). Genetic variants near IREB2 and GALC likely contribute to genetic susceptibility to PAE associated with COPD. This study provides evidence for genetic heterogeneity associated with a clinically important COPD vascular subtype.
PMCID: PMC4370263  PMID: 25101718
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genome-wide association; pulmonary hypertension; subtyping
4.  Risk factors for COPD exacerbations in inhaled medication users: the COPDGene study biannual longitudinal follow-up prospective cohort 
Despite inhaled medications that decrease exacerbation risk, some COPD patients experience frequent exacerbations. We determined prospective risk factors for exacerbations among subjects in the COPDGene Study taking inhaled medications.
2113 COPD subjects were categorized into four medication use patterns: triple therapy with tiotropium (TIO) plus long-acting beta-agonist/inhaled-corticosteroid (ICS ± LABA), tiotropium alone, ICS ± LABA, and short-acting bronchodilators. Self-reported exacerbations were recorded in telephone and web-based longitudinal follow-up surveys. Associations with exacerbations were determined within each medication group using four separate logistic regression models. A head-to-head analysis compared exacerbation risk among subjects using tiotropium vs. ICS ± LABA.
In separate logistic regression models, the presence of gastroesophageal reflux, female gender, and higher scores on the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire were significant predictors of exacerbator status within multiple medication groups (reflux: OR 1.62–2.75; female gender: OR 1.53 - OR 1.90; SGRQ: OR 1.02–1.03). Subjects taking either ICS ± LABA or tiotropium had similar baseline characteristics, allowing comparison between these two groups. In the head-to-head comparison, tiotropium users showed a trend towards lower rates of exacerbations (OR = 0.69 [95 % CI 0.45, 1.06], p = 0.09) compared with ICS ± LABA users, especially in subjects without comorbid asthma (OR = 0.56 [95 % CI 0.31, 1.00], p = 0.05).
Each common COPD medication usage group showed unique risk factor patterns associated with increased risk of exacerbations, which may help clinicians identify subjects at risk. Compared to similar subjects using ICS ± LABA, those taking tiotropium showed a trend towards reduced exacerbation risk, especially in subjects without asthma.
Trial registration NCT00608764, first received 1/28/2008.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12890-016-0191-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4748594  PMID: 26861867
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; COPD exacerbation; Inhaled medications; Prospective cohort study; Long-acting beta-agonist; Inhaled corticosteroid; Tiotropium; Adrenergic beta-agonists
5.  Significance of Medication History at the Time of Entry into the COPDGene Study: Relationship with Exacerbation and CT Metrics 
COPD  2015;12(4):366-373.
Despite the importance of respiratory medication use in COPD, relatively little is known about which clinical phenotypes were associated with respiratory medications.
To determine the association between respiratory medication use and exacerbations or quantitative CT metrics, we analyzed medication history from 4,484 COPD subjects enrolled in the COPDGene Study.
2,941 (65.6%) subjects were receiving one or more respiratory medications; this group experienced more frequent exacerbations in the year before study entry and had increased gas trapping, emphysema, and subsegmental airway wall area, compared to the patients who were on no respiratory medication. In subgroup analysis, subjects who were on triple therapy (long-acting beta2-agonist [LABA], long-acting muscarinic antagonist [LAMA], and inhaled corticosteroids [ICS]) had the highest frequencies of exacerbations and severe exacerbations and tended to have increased quantitative measures of emphysema and gas trapping on CT compared to other five groups. After adjustment for confounding variables, the triple therapy group experienced more exacerbations and severe exacerbations compared with other five groups. In addition, the LABA+LAMA+ICS group was more likely to have emphysema and gas trapping on CT than other groups in multivariable logistic analysis. Interestingly, the total number of respiratory medications was significantly associated with not only the frequency of exacerbations but also gas trapping and airway wall thickness as assessed by CT scan in multivariable analysis.
These results suggest that the use of respiratory medications, especially the number of medications, may identify a more severe phenotype of COPD that is highly susceptible to COPD exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC4620928  PMID: 25254928
CT metrics; exacerbation; medication; triple therapy
6.  A genome-wide association study identifies risk loci for spirometric measures among smokers of European and African ancestry 
BMC Genetics  2015;16:138.
Pulmonary function decline is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality among smokers. Post bronchodilator FEV1 and FEV1/FVC ratio are considered the standard assessment of airflow obstruction. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 9919 current and former smokers in the COPDGene study (6659 non-Hispanic Whites [NHW] and 3260 African Americans [AA]) to identify associations with spirometric measures (post-bronchodilator FEV1 and FEV1/FVC). We also conducted meta-analysis of FEV1 and FEV1/FVC GWAS in the COPDGene, ECLIPSE, and GenKOLS cohorts (total n = 13,532).
Among NHW in the COPDGene cohort, both measures of pulmonary function were significantly associated with SNPs at the 15q25 locus [containing CHRNA3/5, AGPHD1, IREB2, CHRNB4] (lowest p-value = 2.17 × 10−11), and FEV1/FVC was associated with a genomic region on chromosome 4 [upstream of HHIP] (lowest p-value = 5.94 × 10−10); both regions have been previously associated with COPD. For the meta-analysis, in addition to confirming associations to the regions near CHRNA3/5 and HHIP, genome-wide significant associations were identified for FEV1 on chromosome 1 [TGFB2] (p-value = 8.99 × 10−9), 9 [DBH] (p-value = 9.69 × 10−9) and 19 [CYP2A6/7] (p-value = 3.49 × 10−8) and for FEV1/FVC on chromosome 1 [TGFB2] (p-value = 8.99 × 10−9), 4 [FAM13A] (p-value = 3.88 × 10−12), 11 [MMP3/12] (p-value = 3.29 × 10−10) and 14 [RIN3] (p-value = 5.64 × 10−9).
In a large genome-wide association study of lung function in smokers, we found genome-wide significant associations at several previously described loci with lung function or COPD. We additionally identified a novel genome-wide significant locus with FEV1 on chromosome 9 [DBH] in a meta-analysis of three study populations.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12863-015-0299-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4668640  PMID: 26634245
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; DBH; FEV1; FEV1/FVC; Genome-wide association study; Spirometry
7.  Common Genetic Variants Associated with Resting Oxygenation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Hypoxemia is a major complication of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that correlates with disease prognosis. Identifying genetic variants associated with oxygenation may provide clues for deciphering the heterogeneity in prognosis among patients with COPD. However, previous genetic studies have been restricted to investigating COPD candidate genes for association with hypoxemia. To report results from the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of resting oxygen saturation (as measured by pulse oximetry [Spo2]) in subjects with COPD, we performed a GWAS of Spo2 in two large, well characterized COPD populations: COPDGene, including both the non-Hispanic white (NHW) and African American (AA) groups, and Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE). We identified several suggestive loci (P < 1 × 10−5) associated with Spo2 in COPDGene in the NHW (n = 2810) and ECLIPSE (n = 1758) groups, and two loci on chromosomes 14 and 15 in the AA group (n = 820) from COPDGene achieving a level of genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8). The chromosome 14 single-nucleotide polymorphism, rs6576132, located in an intergenic region, was nominally replicated (P < 0.05) in the NHW group from COPDGene. The chromosome 15 single-nucleotide polymorphisms were rare in subjects of European ancestry, so the results could not be replicated. The chromosome 15 region contains several genes, including TICRR and KIF7, and is proximal to RHCG (Rh family C glyocoprotein gene). We have identified two loci associated with resting oxygen saturation in AA subjects with COPD, and several suggestive regions in subjects of European descent with COPD. Our study highlights the importance of investigating the genetics of complex traits in different racial groups.
PMCID: PMC4224086  PMID: 24825563
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; hypoxemia; pulse oximetry; genome-wide association study; oxygen saturation
8.  Childhood-Onset Asthma in Smokers. Association between CT Measures of Airway Size, Lung Function, and Chronic Airflow Obstruction 
Rationale and Objectives: Asthma is associated with chronic airflow obstruction. Our goal was to assess the association of computed tomographic measures of airway wall volume and lumen volume with the FEV1 and chronic airflow obstruction in smokers with childhood-onset asthma.
Methods: We analyzed clinical, lung function, and volumetric computed tomographic airway volume data from 7,266 smokers, including 590 with childhood-onset asthma. Small wall volume and small lumen volume of segmental airways were defined as measures 1 SD below the mean. We assessed the association between small wall volume, small lumen volume, FEV1, and chronic airflow obstruction (post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC ratio < 0.7) using linear and logistic models.
Measurements and Main Results: Compared with subjects without childhood-onset asthma, those with childhood-onset asthma had smaller wall volume and lumen volume (P < 0.0001) of segmental airways. Among subjects with childhood-onset asthma, those with the smallest wall volume and lumen volume had the lowest FEV1 and greatest odds of chronic airflow obstruction. A similar tendency was seen in those without childhood-onset asthma. When comparing these two groups, both small wall volume and small lumen volume were more strongly associated with FEV1 and chronic airflow obstruction among subjects with childhood-asthma in multivariate models.
Conclusion: In smokers with childhood-onset asthma, smaller airways are associated with reduced lung function and chronic airflow obstruction.
Clinical trial registered with (NCT00608764).
PMCID: PMC4298990  PMID: 25296268
airway wall volume; airway lumen volume; wall area percent
9.  Paradoxical Lung Function Response to Beta2-agonists: Radiologic Correlates and Clinical Implications 
The Lancet. Respiratory medicine  2014;2(11):911-918.
Bronchodilator response is seen in a significant proportion of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, there are also reports of a paradoxical response (PR) to beta2-agonists, resulting in bronchoconstriction. Asymptomatic bronchoconstriction is likely far more common but there has been no systematic study of this phenomenon.We assessed theprevalence of PR in current and former smokers with and without COPD, and its radiologic correlates and clinical implications.
Subjects from a large multicenter study (COPDGene) were categorized into two groups based on PR defined as at least a 12% and 200mLreduction in FEV1 and/or FVC after administration of a short-acting beta2-agonist (180ucg albuterol). Predictors of PR and associations with respiratory morbidity and computed tomographic measures of emphysema and airway disease were assessed.
9986 subjects were included. PR was seen in 4.54% and the frequency was similar in those with COPD and smokers without airflow obstruction. Compared to Caucasians, PR was twice as common in African-Americans (6.9% vs. 3.4%;p <0.001). On multivariate analyses, African- American race (adjusted OR 1.89, 95%CI 1.50 to 2.39), lesspercent emphysema (OR 0.96, 95%CI 0.92 to 0.99) and increased wall-area% of segmental airways (OR 1.04,95%CI 1.01 to 1.08) were independently associated with PR.PR was independently associated with worse dyspnea, lower six-minute-walk distance, higher BODE index, and a greater frequency of exacerbations(increased by a factor of 1.35, 95%CI 1.003 to 1.81).
Paradoxical response to beta2-agonists is associated with respiratory morbidity and is more common in African Americans.
PMCID: PMC4306040  PMID: 25217076
Paradoxical; bronchodilator; beta 2-agonist; COPD
Respiratory medicine  2014;108(10):1469-1480.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by marked phenotypic heterogeneity. Most previous studies have focused on COPD subjects with FEV1 < 80% predicted. We investigated the clinical and genetic heterogeneity in subjects with mild airflow limitation in spirometry grade 1 defined by the Global Initiative for chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD 1).
Data from current and former smokers participating in the COPDGene Study (NCT00608764) were analyzed. K-means clustering was performed to explore subtypes within 794 GOLD 1 subjects. For all subjects with GOLD 1 and with each cluster, a genome-wide association study and candidate gene testing were performed using smokers with normal lung function as a control group. Combinations of COPD genome-wide significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were tested for association with FEV1 (% predicted) in GOLD 1 and in a combined group of GOLD1 and smoking control subjects.
K-means clustering of GOLD 1 subjects identified putative “near-normal”, “airway-predominant”, “emphysema-predominant” and “lowest FEV1 % predicted” subtypes. In non-Hispanic whites, the only SNP nominally associated with GOLD 1 status relative to smoking controls was rs7671167 (FAM13A) in logistic regression models with adjustment for age, sex, pack-years of smoking, and genetic ancestry. The emphysema-predominant GOLD 1 cluster was nominally associated with rs7671167 (FAM13A) and rs161976 (BICD1). The lowest FEV1 % predicted cluster was nominally associated with rs1980057 (HHIP) and rs1051730 (CHRNA3). Combinations of COPD genome-wide significant SNPs were associated with FEV1 (% predicted) in a combined group of GOLD 1 and smoking control subjects.
Our results indicate that GOLD 1 subjects show substantial clinical heterogeneity, which is at least partially related to genetic heterogeneity.
PMCID: PMC4253548  PMID: 25154699
pulmonary disease; chronic obstructive; population characteristics; cluster analysis; genetic association
11.  Childhood pneumonia increases risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: the COPDGene study 
Respiratory Research  2015;16(1):115.
Development of adult respiratory disease is influenced by events in childhood. The impact of childhood pneumonia on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not well defined. We hypothesize that childhood pneumonia is a risk factor for reduced lung function and COPD in adult smokers.
COPD cases and control smokers between 45–80 years old from the United States COPDGene Study were included. Childhood pneumonia was defined by self-report of pneumonia at <16 years. Subjects with lung disease other than COPD or asthma were excluded. Smokers with and without childhood pneumonia were compared on measures of respiratory disease, lung function, and quantitative analysis of chest CT scans.
Of 10,192 adult smokers, 854 (8.4 %) reported pneumonia in childhood. Childhood pneumonia was associated with COPD (OR 1.40; 95 % CI 1.17-1.66), chronic bronchitis, increased COPD exacerbations, and lower lung function: post-bronchodilator FEV1 (69.1 vs. 77.1 % predicted), FVC (82.7 vs. 87.4 % predicted), FEV1/FVC ratio (0.63 vs. 0.67; p < 0.001 for all comparisons). Childhood pneumonia was associated with increased airway wall thickness on CT, without significant difference in emphysema. Having both pneumonia and asthma in childhood further increased the risk of developing COPD (OR 1.85; 95 % CI 1.10-3.18).
Children with pneumonia are at increased risk for future smoking-related lung disease including COPD and decreased lung function. This association is supported by airway changes on chest CT scans. Childhood pneumonia may be an important factor in the early origins of COPD, and the combination of pneumonia and asthma in childhood may pose the greatest risk.
Clinical trials registration, NCT00608764 (Active since January 28, 2008).
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-015-0273-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4578796  PMID: 26392057
12.  The clinical and genetic features of the COPD asthma overlap syndrome 
The European respiratory journal  2014;44(2):341-350.
Individuals with COPD and asthma are an important but poorly characterized group. The genetic determinants of COPD-asthma overlap have not been studied.
Identify clinical features and genetic risk factors for COPD-asthma overlap.
Subjects were current or former smoking non-Hispanic whites (NHW) or African-Americans (AA) with COPD. Overlap subjects reported a history of physician-diagnosed asthma before the age of 40. We compared clinical and radiographic features between COPD and overlap subjects. We performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in the NHW and AA populations, and combined these results in a meta-analysis.
More women and African Americans reported a history of asthma. Overlap subjects had more severe and more frequent respiratory exacerbations, less emphysema, and greater airway wall thickness compared to subjects with COPD alone. The NHW GWAS identified SNPs in CSMD1 (rs11779254, P=1.57×10−6) and SOX5(rs59569785, P=1.61×10−6) and the meta-analysis identified SNPs in the gene GPR65 (rs6574978, P=1.18×10−7) associated with COPD-asthma overlap.
Overlap subjects have more exacerbations, less emphysema and more airway disease for any degree of lung function impairment compared to COPD alone. We identified novel genetic variants associated with this syndrome. COPD-asthma overlap is an important syndrome and may require distinct clinical management.
PMCID: PMC4154588  PMID: 24876173
13.  Clinical and Radiographic Correlates of Hypoxemia and Oxygen Therapy in the COPDGene Study 
Respiratory medicine  2011;105(8):1211-1221.
Severe hypoxemia is a major complication of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Long term oxygen therapy is beneficial in hypoxemic COPD patients. However, the clinical and radiographic predictors of hypoxemia and the use of oxygen therapy are not well described. This study aimed to find the correlates of resting hypoxemia and the pattern of oxygen use in moderate to severe COPD patients.
Subjects with GOLD stage II or higher COPD from the first 2500 COPDGene subjects were included in this analysis. All subjects were current or ex-smokers between ages 45 and 80. Severe resting hypoxemia was defined as room air oxygen saturation (SpO2) ≤ 88%. Use of supplemental oxygen therapy was determined by questionnaire.
Eighty-two of 1060 COPD subjects (7.7%) had severe resting hypoxemia. Twenty-one of the 82 (25.6%) were not using continuous supplemental oxygen. Female sex, higher BMI, lower FEV1, and enrollment in Denver were independent risk factors for hypoxemia; emphysema severity on quantitative chest CT scan did not predict hypoxemia. 132 of 971(13.6%) subjects without severe resting hypoxemia were using continuous supplemental oxygen. In non-hypoxemic oxygen users, Denver recruitment, higher BMI, lower FEV1, and more severe dyspnea were associated with the use of continuous oxygen.
A large number of COPD patients without severe hypoxemia were using supplemental oxygen therapy and the pattern of oxygen use was affected by factors other than resting SpO2 and emphysema severity. Longitudinal data will be required to reveal the effects of oxygen therapy in this subgroup.
PMCID: PMC3116986  PMID: 21396809
Hypoxemia; long-term oxygen therapy; COPD; emphysema
14.  SOX5 Is a Candidate Gene for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Susceptibility and Is Necessary for Lung Development 
Rationale: Chromosome 12p has been linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study (BEOCOPD), but a susceptibility gene in that region has not been identified.
Objectives: We used high-density single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mapping to implicate a COPD susceptibility gene and an animal model to determine the potential role of SOX5 in lung development and COPD.
Methods: On chromosome 12p, we genotyped 1,387 SNPs in 386 COPD cases from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial and 424 control smokers from the Normative Aging Study. SNPs with significant associations were then tested in the BEOCOPD study and the International COPD Genetics Network. Based on the human results, we assessed histology and gene expression in the lungs of Sox5−/− mice.
Measurements and Main Results: In the case-control analysis, 27 SNPs were significant at P ≤ 0.01. The most significant SNP in the BEOCOPD replication was rs11046966 (National Emphysema Treatment Trial–Normative Aging Study P = 6.0 × 10−4, BEOCOPD P = 1.5 × 10−5, combined P = 1.7 × 10−7), located 3′ to the gene SOX5. Association with rs11046966 was not replicated in the International COPD Genetics Network. Sox5−/− mice showed abnormal lung development, with a delay in maturation before the saccular stage, as early as E16.5. Lung pathology in Sox5−/− lungs was associated with a decrease in fibronectin expression, an extracellular matrix component critical for branching morphogenesis.
Conclusions: Genetic variation in the transcription factor SOX5 is associated with COPD susceptibility. A mouse model suggests that the effect may be due, in part, to its effects on lung development and/or repair processes.
PMCID: PMC3137139  PMID: 21330457
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; knockout mice; lung development; single nucleotide polymorphism
15.  Multistudy Fine Mapping of Chromosome 2q Identifies XRCC5 as a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Susceptibility Gene 
Rationale: Several family-based studies have identified genetic linkage for lung function and airflow obstruction to chromosome 2q.
Objectives: We hypothesized that merging results of high-resolution single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mapping in four separate populations would lead to the identification of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility genes on chromosome 2q.
Methods: Within the chromosome 2q linkage region, 2,843 SNPs were genotyped in 806 COPD cases and 779 control subjects from Norway, and 2,484 SNPs were genotyped in 309 patients with severe COPD from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial and 330 community control subjects. Significant associations from the combined results across the two case-control studies were followed up in 1,839 individuals from 603 families from the International COPD Genetics Network (ICGN) and in 949 individuals from 127 families in the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study.
Measurements and Main Results: Merging the results of the two case-control analyses, 14 of the 790 overlapping SNPs had a combined P < 0.01. Two of these 14 SNPs were consistently associated with COPD in the ICGN families. The association with one SNP, located in the gene XRCC5, was replicated in the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, with a combined P = 2.51 × 10−5 across the four studies, which remains significant when adjusted for multiple testing (P = 0.02). Genotype imputation confirmed the association with SNPs in XRCC5.
Conclusions: By combining data from COPD genetic association studies conducted in four independent patient samples, we have identified XRCC5, an ATP-dependent DNA helicase, as a potential COPD susceptibility gene.
PMCID: PMC2937234  PMID: 20463177
emphysema; genetic linkage; metaanalysis; single nucleotide polymorphism
16.  Cluster Analysis in the COPDGene Study Identifies Subtypes of Smokers with Distinct Patterns of Airway Disease and Emphysema 
Thorax  2014;69(5):416-423.
There is notable heterogeneity in the clinical presentation of patients with COPD. To characterize this heterogeneity, we sought to identify subgroups of smokers by applying cluster analysis to data from the COPDGene Study.
We applied a clustering method, k-means, to data from 10,192 smokers in the COPDGene Study. After splitting the sample into a training and validation set, we evaluated three sets of input features across a range of k (user-specified number of clusters). Stable solutions were tested for association with four COPD-related measures and five genetic variants previously associated with COPD at genome-wide significance. The results were confirmed in the validation set.
We identified four clusters that can be characterized as 1) relatively resistant smokers (i.e. no/mild obstruction and minimal emphysema despite heavy smoking), 2) mild upper zone emphysema predominant, 3) airway disease predominant, and 4) severe emphysema. All clusters are strongly associated with COPD-related clinical characteristics, including exacerbations and dyspnea (p<0.001). We found strong genetic associations between the mild upper zone emphysema group and rs1980057 near HHIP, and between the severe emphysema group and rs8034191 in the chromosome 15q region (p<0.001). All significant associations were replicated at p<0.05 in the validation sample (12/12 associations with clinical measures and 2/2 genetic associations).
Cluster analysis identifies four subgroups of smokers that show robust associations with clinical characteristics of COPD and known COPD-associated genetic variants.
PMCID: PMC4004338  PMID: 24563194
17.  Transforming Growth Factor-β Receptor-3 Is Associated with Pulmonary Emphysema 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous syndrome, including emphysema and airway disease. Phenotypes defined on the basis of chest computed tomography (CT) may decrease disease heterogeneity and aid in the identification of candidate genes for COPD subtypes. To identify these genes, we performed genome-wide linkage analysis in extended pedigrees from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, stratified by emphysema status (defined by chest CT scans) of the probands, followed by genetic association analysis of positional candidate genes. A region on chromosome 1p showed strong evidence of linkage to lung function traits in families of emphysema-predominant probands in the stratified analysis (LOD score = 2.99 in families of emphysema-predominant probands versus 1.98 in all families). Association analysis in 949 individuals from 127 early-onset COPD pedigrees revealed association for COPD-related traits with an intronic single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in transforming growth factor-β receptor-3 (TGFBR3) (P = 0.005). This SNP was significantly associated with COPD affection status comparing 389 cases from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial to 472 control smokers (P = 0.04), and with FEV1 (P = 0.004) and CT emphysema (P = 0.05) in 3,117 subjects from the International COPD Genetics Network. Gene-level replication of association with lung function was seen in 427 patients with COPD from the Lung Health Study. In conclusion, stratified linkage analysis followed by association testing identified TGFBR3 (betaglycan) as a potential susceptibility gene for COPD. Published human microarray and murine linkage studies have also demonstrated the importance of TGFBR3 in emphysema and lung function, and our group and others have previously found association of COPD-related traits with TGFB1, a ligand for TGFBR3.
PMCID: PMC2742752  PMID: 19131638
betaglycan; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; computed tomography; linkage; single nucleotide polymorphism
18.  Genetic Associations With Hypoxemia and Pulmonary Arterial Pressure in COPD* 
Chest  2008;135(3):737-744.
Hypoxemia, hypercarbia, and pulmonary arterial hypertension are known complications of advanced COPD. We sought to identify genetic polymorphisms associated with these traits in a population of patients with severe COPD from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT).
In 389 participants from the NETT Genetics Ancillary Study, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in five candidate genes previously associated with COPD susceptibility (EPHX1, SERPINE2, SFTPB, TGFB1, and GSTP1). Linear regression models were used to test for associations among these SNPs and three quantitative COPD-related traits (Pao2, Paco2, and pulmonary artery systolic pressure). Genes associated with hypoxemia were tested for replication in probands from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study.
In the NETT Genetics Ancillary Study population, SNPs in microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX1) [p = 0.01 to 0.04] and serpin peptidase inhibitor, clade E, member 2 (SERPINE2) [p = 0.04 to 0.008] were associated with hypoxemia. One SNP within surfactant protein B (SFTPB) was associated with pulmonary artery systolic pressure (p = 0.01). In probands from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, SNPs in EPHX1 and in SERPINE2 were associated with the requirement for supplemental oxygen.
In participants with severe COPD, SNPs in EPHX1 and SERPINE2 were associated with hypoxemia in two separate study populations, and SNPs from SFTPB were associated with pulmonary artery pressure in the NETT participants.
PMCID: PMC2906241  PMID: 19017876
case-control studies; COPD; genetics; phenotype; single-nucleotide polymorphism
19.  Genome‐wide linkage analysis of pulmonary function in families of children with asthma in Costa Rica 
Thorax  2006;62(3):224-230.
Although asthma is highly prevalent among certain Hispanic subgroups, genetic determinants of asthma and asthma‐related traits have not been conclusively identified in Hispanic populations. A study was undertaken to identify genomic regions containing susceptibility loci for pulmonary function and bronchodilator responsiveness (BDR) in Costa Ricans.
Eight extended pedigrees were ascertained through schoolchildren with asthma in the Central Valley of Costa Rica. Short tandem repeat (STR) markers were genotyped throughout the genome at an average spacing of 8.2 cM. Multipoint variance component linkage analyses of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and FEV1/ forced vital capacity (FVC; both pre‐bronchodilator and post‐bronchodilator) and BDR were performed in these eight families (pre‐bronchodilator spirometry, n = 640; post‐bronchodilator spirometry and BDR, n = 624). Nine additional STR markers were genotyped on chromosome 7. Secondary analyses were repeated after stratification by cigarette smoking.
Among all subjects, the highest logarithm of the odds of linkage (LOD) score for FEV1 (post‐bronchodilator) was found on chromosome 7q34–35 (LOD = 2.45, including the additional markers). The highest LOD scores for FEV1/FVC (pre‐bronchodilator) and BDR were found on chromosomes 2q (LOD = 1.53) and 9p (LOD = 1.53), respectively. Among former and current smokers there was near‐significant evidence of linkage to FEV1/FVC (post‐bronchodilator) on chromosome 5p (LOD = 3.27) and suggestive evidence of linkage to FEV1 on chromosomes 3q (pre‐bronchodilator, LOD = 2.74) and 4q (post‐bronchodilator, LOD = 2.66).
In eight families of children with asthma in Costa Rica, there is suggestive evidence of linkage to FEV1 on chromosome 7q34–35. In these families, FEV1/FVC may be influenced by an interaction between cigarette smoking and a locus (loci) on chromosome 5p.
PMCID: PMC2117166  PMID: 17099076
Respiratory medicine  2013;108(3):491-499.
As the clinical significance of chronic bronchitis among smokers without airflow obstruction is unclear, we sought to determine morbidity associated with this disorder.
We examined subjects from the COPDGene study and compared those with FEV1/FVC ≥0.70, no diagnosis of asthma and chronic bronchitis as defined as a history of cough and phlegm production for ≥3 months/year for ≥2 years (NCB) to non-obstructed subjects without chronic bronchitis (CB−). Multivariate analysis was used to determine factors associated with and impact of NCB.
We identified 597 NCB and 4,283 CB− subjects. NCB participants were younger (55.4 vs. 57.2 years, p<0.001) with greater tobacco exposure (42.9 vs. 37.8 pack-years, p<0.001) and more often current smokers; more frequently reported occupational exposure to fumes (52.8% vs. 42.2%, p<0.001), dust for ≥1 year (55.3% vs. 42.0%, p<0.001) and were less likely to be currently working. NCB subjects demonstrated worse quality-of-life (SGRQ 35.6 vs. 15.1, p<0.001) and exercise capacity (walk distance 415 vs. 449 m, p<0.001) and more frequently reported respiratory “flare-ups” requiring treatment with antibiotics or steroids (0.30 vs. 0.10 annual events/subject, p<0.001) prior to enrollment and during follow-up (0.34 vs. 0.16 annual events/subject, p<0.001). In multivariate analysis, current smoking, GERD, sleep apnea and occupational exposures were significantly associated with NCB.
While longitudinal data will be needed to determine whether NCB progresses to COPD, NCB patients have poorer quality-of-life, exercise capacity and frequent respiratory events. Beyond smoking cessation interventions, further research is warranted to determine the benefit of other therapeutics in this population.
PMCID: PMC3943716  PMID: 24280543
Cough; quality of life; gastroesophageal reflux; occupational exposure; GERD; tobacco
21.  Quantitative Computed Tomography Measures of Pectoralis Muscle Area and Disease Severity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. A Cross-Sectional Study 
Rationale: Muscle wasting in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with a poor prognosis and is not readily assessed by measures of body mass index (BMI). BMI does not discriminate between relative proportions of adipose tissue and lean muscle and may be insensitive to early pathologic changes in body composition. Computed tomography (CT)–based assessments of the pectoralis muscles may provide insight into the clinical significance of skeletal muscles in smokers.
Objectives: We hypothesized that objective assessment of the pectoralis muscle area on chest CT scans provides information that is clinically relevant and independent of BMI.
Methods: Data from the ECLIPSE (Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints) Study (n = 73) were used to assess the relationship between pectoralis muscle area and fat-free mass. We then used data in a subset (n = 966) of a larger cohort, the COPDGene (COPD Genetic Epidemiology) Study, to explore the relationship between pectoralis muscle area and COPD-related traits.
Measurements and Main Results: We first investigated the correlation between pectoralis muscle area and fat-free mass, using data from a subset of participants in the ECLIPSE Study. We then further investigated pectoralis muscle area in COPDGene Study participants and found that higher pectoralis muscle area values were associated with greater height, male sex, and younger age. On subsequent clinical correlation, compared with BMI, pectoralis muscle area was more significantly associated with COPD-related traits, including spirometric measures, dyspnea, and 6-minute-walk distance (6MWD). For example, on average, each 10-cm2 increase in pectoralis muscle area was associated with a 0.8-unit decrease in the BODE (Body mass index, Obstruction, Dyspnea, Exercise) index (95% confidence interval, –1.0 to –0.6; P < 0.001). Furthermore, statistically significant associations between pectoralis muscle area and COPD-related traits remained even after adjustment for BMI.
Conclusions: CT-derived pectoralis muscle area provides relevant indices of COPD morbidity that may be more predictive of important COPD-related traits than BMI. However, the relationship with clinically relevant outcomes such as hospitalization and death requires additional investigation. Pectoralis muscle area is a convenient measure that can be collected in the clinical setting in addition to BMI.
PMCID: PMC4028743  PMID: 24558953
COPD; wasting; pectoral muscle area; imaging
22.  Risk loci for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis 
The Lancet. Respiratory medicine  2014;2(3):214-225.
The genetic risk factors for susceptibility to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are still largely unknown. Additional genetic variants are likely to be identified by genome-wide association studies in larger cohorts or specific subgroups.
Genome-wide association analysis in COPDGene (non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans) was combined with existing data from the ECLIPSE, NETT/NAS, and GenKOLS (Norway) studies. Analyses were performed both using all moderate-to-severe cases and the subset of severe cases. Top loci not previously described as genome-wide significant were genotyped in the ICGN study, and results combined in a joint meta-analysis.
Analysis of a total of 6,633 moderate-to-severe cases and 5,704 controls confirmed association at three known loci: CHRNA3/CHRNA5/IREB2, FAM13A, and HHIP (10−12 < P < 10−14), and also showed significant evidence of association at a novel locus near RIN3 (overall P, including ICGN = 5•4×10−9). In the severe COPD analysis (n=3,497), the effects at two of three previously described loci were significantly stronger; we also identified two additional loci previously reported to affect gene expression of MMP12 and TGFB2 (overall P = 2•6x10−9 and 8•3×10−9). RIN3 and TGFB2 expression levels were reduced in a set of Lung Tissue Research Consortium COPD lung tissue samples compared with controls.
In a genome-wide study of COPD, we confirmed associations at three known loci and found additional genome-wide significant associations with moderate-to-severe COPD near RIN3 and with severe COPD near MMP12 and TGFB2. Genetic variants, apart from alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, increase the risk of COPD. Our analysis of severe COPD suggests additional genetic variants may be identified by focusing on this subgroup.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the COPD Foundation through contributions from AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, and Sepracor; GlaxoSmithKline; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; US Department of Veterans Affairs.
PMCID: PMC4176924  PMID: 24621683
23.  Comorbidities of COPD have a major impact on clinical outcomes, particularly in African Americans 
COPD patients have a great burden of comorbidity. However, it is not well established whether this is due to shared risk factors such as smoking, if they impact patients exercise capacity and quality of life, or whether there are racial disparities in their impact on COPD.
We analyzed data from 10,192 current and ex-smokers with (cases) and without COPD (controls) from the COPDGene® cohort to establish risk for COPD comorbidities adjusted for pertinent covariates. In adjusted models, we examined comorbidities prevalence and impact in African-Americans (AA) and Non-Hispanic Whites (NHW).
Comorbidities are more common in COPD compared to those with normal spirometry (controls), and the risk persists after adjustments for covariates including pack-years smoked. After adjustment for confounders, eight conditions were independently associated with worse exercise capacity, quality of life and dyspnea. There were racial disparities in the impact of comorbidities on exercise capacity, dyspnea and quality of life, presence of osteoarthritis and gastroesophageal reflux disease having a greater negative impact on all three outcomes in AAs than NHWs (p<0.05 for all interaction terms).
Individuals with COPD have a higher risk for comorbidities than controls, an important finding shown for the first time comprehensively after accounting for confounders. Individual comorbidities are associated with worse exercise capacity, quality of life, and dyspnea, in African-Americans compared to non-Hispanic Whites.
PMCID: PMC4329763  PMID: 25695106
COPD; Comorbidities; Race
24.  Haploinsufficiency of Hedgehog interacting protein causes increased emphysema induced by cigarette smoke through network rewiring 
Genome Medicine  2015;7(1):12.
The HHIP gene, encoding Hedgehog interacting protein, has been implicated in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and our subsequent studies identified a functional upstream genetic variant that decreased HHIP transcription. However, little is known about how HHIP contributes to COPD pathogenesis.
We exposed Hhip haploinsufficient mice (Hhip+/-) to cigarette smoke (CS) for 6 months to model the biological consequences caused by CS in human COPD risk-allele carriers at the HHIP locus. Gene expression profiling in murine lungs was performed followed by an integrative network inference analysis, PANDA (Passing Attributes between Networks for Data Assimilation) analysis.
We detected more severe airspace enlargement in Hhip+/- mice vs. wild-type littermates (Hhip+/+) exposed to CS. Gene expression profiling in murine lungs suggested enhanced lymphocyte activation pathways in CS-exposed Hhip+/- vs. Hhip+/+ mice, which was supported by increased numbers of lymphoid aggregates and enhanced activation of CD8+ T cells after CS-exposure in the lungs of Hhip+/-mice compared to Hhip+/+ mice. Mechanistically, results from PANDA network analysis suggested a rewired and dampened Klf4 signaling network in Hhip+/- mice after CS exposure.
In summary, HHIP haploinsufficiency exaggerated CS-induced airspace enlargement, which models CS-induced emphysema in human smokers carrying COPD risk alleles at the HHIP locus. Network modeling suggested rewired lymphocyte activation signaling circuits in the HHIP haploinsufficiency state.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13073-015-0137-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4355149  PMID: 25763110
25.  National Emphysema Treatment Trial State of the Art 
Although a hereditary contribution to emphysema has been long suspected, severe α1-antitrypsin deficiency remains the only conclusively proven genetic risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Recently, genome-wide linkage analysis has led to the identification of two promising candidate genes for COPD: TGFB1 and SERPINE2. Like multiple other COPD candidate gene associations, even these positionally identified genes have not been universally replicated across all studies. Differences in phenotype definition may contribute to nonreplication in genetic studies of heterogeneous disorders such as COPD. The use of precisely measured phenotypes, including emphysema quantification on high-resolution chest computed tomography scans, has aided in the discovery of additional genes for clinically relevant COPD-related traits. The use of computed tomography scans to assess emphysema and airway disease as well as newer genetic technologies, including gene expression microarrays and genome-wide association studies, has great potential to detect novel genes affecting COPD susceptibility, severity, and response to treatment.
PMCID: PMC2645324  PMID: 18453360
α1-antitrypsin deficiency; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetic linkage; single-nucleotide polymorphism

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