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1.  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
COPD; Comorbidities; Race
2.  Genome-Wide Study of Percent Emphysema on Computed Tomography in the General Population. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Lung/SNP Health Association Resource Study 
Rationale: Pulmonary emphysema overlaps partially with spirometrically defined chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is heritable, with moderately high familial clustering.
Objectives: To complete a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for the percentage of emphysema-like lung on computed tomography in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Lung/SNP Health Association Resource (SHARe) Study, a large, population-based cohort in the United States.
Methods: We determined percent emphysema and upper-lower lobe ratio in emphysema defined by lung regions less than −950 HU on cardiac scans. Genetic analyses were reported combined across four race/ethnic groups: non-Hispanic white (n = 2,587), African American (n = 2,510), Hispanic (n = 2,113), and Chinese (n = 704) and stratified by race and ethnicity.
Measurements and Main Results: Among 7,914 participants, we identified regions at genome-wide significance for percent emphysema in or near SNRPF (rs7957346; P = 2.2 × 10−8) and PPT2 (rs10947233; P = 3.2 × 10−8), both of which replicated in an additional 6,023 individuals of European ancestry. Both single-nucleotide polymorphisms were previously implicated as genes influencing lung function, and analyses including lung function revealed independent associations for percent emphysema. Among Hispanics, we identified a genetic locus for upper-lower lobe ratio near the α-mannosidase–related gene MAN2B1 (rs10411619; P = 1.1 × 10−9; minor allele frequency [MAF], 4.4%). Among Chinese, we identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with upper-lower lobe ratio near DHX15 (rs7698250; P = 1.8 × 10−10; MAF, 2.7%) and MGAT5B (rs7221059; P = 2.7 × 10−8; MAF, 2.6%), which acts on α-linked mannose. Among African Americans, a locus near a third α-mannosidase–related gene, MAN1C1 (rs12130495; P = 9.9 × 10−6; MAF, 13.3%) was associated with percent emphysema.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that some genes previously identified as influencing lung function are independently associated with emphysema rather than lung function, and that genes related to α-mannosidase may influence risk of emphysema.
PMCID: PMC3977717  PMID: 24383474
emphysema; computed tomography; multiethnic; cohort study; genetic association
3.  Racial Differences in CT Phenotypes in COPD 
COPD  2013;10(1):20-27.
Whether African Americans (AA) are more susceptible to COPD than non-Hispanic Whites (NHW) and whether racial differences in disease phenotype exist is controversial. The objective is to determine racial differences in the extent of emphysema and airway remodeling in COPD.
First, 2,500 subjects enrolled in the COPDGene study were used to evaluate racial differences in quantitative CT (QCT) parameters of % emphysema, air trapping and airway wall thickness. Independent variables studied included race, age, gender, education, BMI, pack-years, smoking status, age at smoking initiation, asthma, previous work in dusty job, CT scanner and center of recruitment.
Of the 1,063 subjects with GOLD Stage II-IV COPD, 200 self-reported as AA. AAs had a lower mean % emphysema (13.1 % vs. 16.1%, p = 0.005) than NHW and proportionately less emphysema in the lower lung zones. After adjustment for covariates, there was no statistical difference by race in air trapping or airway wall thickness. Measured QCT parameters were more predictive of poor functional status in NHWs compared to AAs.
AAs have less emphysema than NHWs but the same degree of airway disease. Additional factors not easily assessed by current QCT techniques may account for the poor functional status in AAs.
PMCID: PMC4321889  PMID: 23413893
Airway wall thickness; Air trapping; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Emphysema; Quantitative CT; Race
4.  Association between Lifetime Exposure to Inorganic Arsenic in Drinking Water and Coronary Heart Disease in Colorado Residents 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2014;123(2):128-134.
Background: Chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease (CHD), have been associated with ingestion of drinking water with high levels of inorganic arsenic (> 1,000 μg/L). However, associations have been inconclusive in populations with lower levels (< 100 μg/L) of inorganic arsenic exposure.
Objectives: We conducted a case-cohort study based on individual estimates of lifetime arsenic exposure to examine the relationship between chronic low-level arsenic exposure and risk of CHD.
Methods: This study included 555 participants with 96 CHD events diagnosed between 1984 and 1998 for which individual lifetime arsenic exposure estimates were determined using data from structured interviews and secondary data sources to determine lifetime residence, which was linked to a geospatial model of arsenic concentrations in drinking water. These lifetime arsenic exposure estimates were correlated with historically collected urinary arsenic concentrations. A Cox proportional-hazards model with time-dependent CHD risk factors was used to assess the association between time-weighted average (TWA) lifetime exposure to low-level inorganic arsenic in drinking water and incident CHD.
Results: We estimated a positive association between low-level inorganic arsenic exposure and CHD risk [hazard ratio (HR): = 1.38, 95% CI: 1.09, 1.78] per 15 μg/L while adjusting for age, sex, first-degree family history of CHD, and serum low-density lipoprotein levels. The risk of CHD increased monotonically with increasing TWAs for inorganic arsenic exposure in water relative to < 20 μg/L (HR = 1.2, 95% CI: 0.6, 2.2 for 20–30 μg/L; HR = 2.2; 95% CI: 1.2, 4.0 for 30–45 μg/L; and HR = 3, 95% CI: 1.1, 9.1 for 45–88 μg/L).
Conclusions: Lifetime exposure to low-level inorganic arsenic in drinking water was associated with increased risk for CHD in this population.
Citation: James KA, Byers T, Hokanson JE, Meliker JR, Zerbe GO, Marshall JA. 2015. Association between lifetime exposure to inorganic arsenic in drinking water and coronary heart disease in Colorado residents. Environ Health Perspect 123:128–134;
PMCID: PMC4314243  PMID: 25350952
5.  Comprehensive Evaluation of the Association of APOE Genetic Variation with Plasma Lipoprotein Traits in U.S. Whites and African Blacks 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114618.
Although common APOE genetic variation has a major influence on plasma LDL-cholesterol, its role in affecting HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides is not well established. Recent genome-wide association studies suggest that APOE also affects plasma variation in HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. It is thus important to resequence the APOE gene to identify both common and uncommon variants that affect plasma lipid profile. Here, we have sequenced the APOE gene in 190 subjects with extreme HDL-cholesterol levels selected from two well-defined epidemiological samples of U.S. non-Hispanic Whites (NHWs) and African Blacks followed by genotyping of identified variants in the entire datasets (623 NHWs, 788 African Blacks) and association analyses with major lipid traits. We identified a total of 40 sequence variants, of which 10 are novel. A total of 32 variants, including common tagSNPs (≥5% frequency) and all uncommon variants (<5% frequency) were successfully genotyped and considered for genotype-phenotype associations. Other than the established associations of APOE*2 and APOE*4 with LDL-cholesterol, we have identified additional independent associations with LDL-cholesterol. We have also identified multiple associations of uncommon and common APOE variants with HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. Our comprehensive sequencing and genotype-phenotype analyses indicate that APOE genetic variation impacts HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides in addition to affecting LDL-cholesterol.
PMCID: PMC4264772  PMID: 25502880
6.  Non-emphysematous chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is associated with diabetes mellitus 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2014;14(1):164.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been classically divided into blue bloaters and pink puffers. The utility of these clinical subtypes is unclear. However, the broader distinction between airway-predominant and emphysema-predominant COPD may be clinically relevant. The objective was to define clinical features of emphysema-predominant and non-emphysematous COPD patients.
Current and former smokers from the Genetic Epidemiology of COPD Study (COPDGene) had chest computed tomography (CT) scans with quantitative image analysis. Emphysema-predominant COPD was defined by low attenuation area at -950 Hounsfield Units (LAA-950) ≥10%. Non-emphysematous COPD was defined by airflow obstruction with minimal to no emphysema (LAA-950 < 5%).
Out of 4197 COPD subjects, 1687 were classified as emphysema-predominant and 1817 as non-emphysematous; 693 had LAA-950 between 5–10% and were not categorized. Subjects with emphysema-predominant COPD were older (65.6 vs 60.6 years, p < 0.0001) with more severe COPD based on airflow obstruction (FEV1 44.5 vs 68.4%, p < 0.0001), greater exercise limitation (6-minute walk distance 1138 vs 1331 ft, p < 0.0001) and reduced quality of life (St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire score 43 vs 31, p < 0.0001). Self-reported diabetes was more frequent in non-emphysematous COPD (OR 2.13, p < 0.001), which was also confirmed using a strict definition of diabetes based on medication use. The association between diabetes and non-emphysematous COPD was replicated in the ECLIPSE study.
Non-emphysematous COPD, defined by airflow obstruction with a paucity of emphysema on chest CT scan, is associated with an increased risk of diabetes. COPD patients without emphysema may warrant closer monitoring for diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia and vice versa.
Trial registration identifiers: COPDGene NCT00608764, ECLIPSE NCT00292552.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2466-14-164) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4216374  PMID: 25341556
Airway disease; CT scan; Diabetes mellitus; Emphysema; Spirometry
7.  Epidemiology, genetics, and subtyping of preserved ratio impaired spirometry (PRISm) in COPDGene 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):89.
Preserved Ratio Impaired Spirometry (PRISm), defined as a reduced FEV1 in the setting of a preserved FEV1/FVC ratio, is highly prevalent and is associated with increased respiratory symptoms, systemic inflammation, and mortality. Studies investigating quantitative chest tomographic features, genetic associations, and subtypes in PRISm subjects have not been reported.
Data from current and former smokers enrolled in COPDGene (n = 10,192), an observational, cross-sectional study which recruited subjects aged 45–80 with ≥10 pack years of smoking, were analyzed. To identify epidemiological and radiographic predictors of PRISm, we performed univariate and multivariate analyses comparing PRISm subjects both to control subjects with normal spirometry and to subjects with COPD. To investigate common genetic predictors of PRISm, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS). To explore potential subgroups within PRISm, we performed unsupervised k-means clustering.
The prevalence of PRISm in COPDGene is 12.3%. Increased dyspnea, reduced 6-minute walk distance, increased percent emphysema and decreased total lung capacity, as well as increased segmental bronchial wall area percentage were significant predictors (p-value <0.05) of PRISm status when compared to control subjects in multivariate models. Although no common genetic variants were identified on GWAS testing, a significant association with Klinefelter’s syndrome (47XXY) was observed (p-value < 0.001). Subgroups identified through k-means clustering include a putative “COPD-subtype”, “Restrictive-subtype”, and a highly symptomatic “Metabolic-subtype”.
PRISm subjects are clinically and genetically heterogeneous. Future investigations into the pathophysiological mechanisms behind and potential treatment options for subgroups within PRISm are warranted.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT000608764.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-014-0089-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4256936  PMID: 25096860
Spirometry; Restriction; Lung diseases; Smoking
8.  Implications of the GOLD 2011 Disease Severity Classification in the COPDGene Cohort 
The 2011 Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of COPD (GOLD) consensus report uses symptoms, exacerbation history and FEV1% to define four categories: A, low symptoms/low risk; B, high symptoms/low risk; C, low symptoms/high risk; and D, high symptoms/high risk where risk refers to exacerbations, hospitalization and death. Our objective was to determine (1) the influence of symptom instrument on category membership and (2) prospective exacerbation risk by category.
4,484 COPD subjects from COPDGene were analyzed. All subjects had smoking history ≥ 10 pack-years and FEV1/FVC<0·7. Categories were defined using the modified Medical Research Council Dyspnea [mMRC] (0–1 versus ≥ 2) and the Saint George’s Respiratory Questionnaire [SGRQ] (≥25 versus <25 as a surrogate for the COPD Assessment Test ≥ 10 versus <10) in addition to COPD exacerbations in the prior year (<2 versus ≥ 2), and FEV1% predicted (≥50 versus <50).
Category assignment using mMRC versus SGRQ were similar but not identical. Using the mMRC, category assignments were 34% A, 21% B, 8% C and 38% D and for SGRQ were 29% A, 25% B, 5% C and 41% D (kappa=0·77). Significant heterogeneity in exacerbation rates (exacerbations/person-year) were seen particularly within the D group, depending on the risk factor that determined category assignment (lung function (0·89), prior exacerbation history (1·34) or both (1·86), p<0·001.
The GOLD classification emphasizes the importance of symptoms and exacerbation risk in assessing COPD severity. The choice of symptom measure influences category assignment. The relative number of subjects with low symptoms and high risk for exacerbations (category C) is low. Differences in exacerbation rates for subjects in the highest risk category D were seen depending on whether risk was based on lung function, exacerbation history or both.
PMCID: PMC4105297  PMID: 24321803
9.  Computed Tomographic Measures of Pulmonary Vascular Morphology in Smokers and Their Clinical Implications 
Rationale: Angiographic investigation suggests that pulmonary vascular remodeling in smokers is characterized by distal pruning of the blood vessels.
Objectives: Using volumetric computed tomography scans of the chest we sought to quantitatively evaluate this process and assess its clinical associations.
Methods: Pulmonary vessels were automatically identified, segmented, and measured. Total blood vessel volume (TBV) and the aggregate vessel volume for vessels less than 5 mm2 (BV5) were calculated for all lobes. The lobe-specific BV5 measures were normalized to the TBV of that lobe and the nonvascular tissue volume (BV5/TissueV) to calculate lobe-specific BV5/TBV and BV5/TissueV ratios. Densitometric measures of emphysema were obtained using a Hounsfield unit threshold of −950 (%LAA-950). Measures of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease severity included single breath measures of diffusing capacity of carbon monoxide, oxygen saturation, the 6-minute-walk distance, St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire total score (SGRQ), and the body mass index, airflow obstruction, dyspnea, and exercise capacity (BODE) index.
Measurements and Main Results: The %LAA-950 was inversely related to all calculated vascular ratios. In multivariate models including age, sex, and %LAA-950, lobe-specific measurements of BV5/TBV were directly related to resting oxygen saturation and inversely associated with both the SGRQ and BODE scores. In similar multivariate adjustment lobe-specific BV5/TissueV ratios were inversely related to resting oxygen saturation, diffusing capacity of carbon monoxide, 6-minute-walk distance, and directly related to the SGRQ and BODE.
Conclusions: Smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is characterized by distal pruning of the small blood vessels (<5 mm2) and loss of tissue in excess of the vasculature. The magnitude of these changes predicts the clinical severity of disease.
PMCID: PMC3778757  PMID: 23656466
pulmonary vasculature morphology; CT scan; smoking; COPD
10.  Prospective Association Between Inflammatory Markers and Progression of Coronary Artery Calcification in Adults With and Without Type 1 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(7):1967-1973.
The role of inflammation in the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in type 1 diabetes is unclear. We examined the association of inflammation and progression of coronary artery calcification (CAC)—a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis—in adults with and without type 1 diabetes.
A nested case-control study was performed within the prospective cohort of the Coronary Artery Calcification in Type 1 Diabetes (CACTI) study. Participants underwent two CAC measurements ∼2.5 years apart. Case subjects (n = 204) were those with significant progression of CAC. Control subjects (n = 258) were frequency-matched to case subjects on diabetes status, sex, age, and baseline CAC status. Inflammatory marker assessments were performed on stored blood samples from baseline. A principal components analysis (PCA) was performed and a composite score derived from that analysis. The composite score was constructed by assigning a value of 1 for each PCA component where at least one of the markers exceeded the 75th percentile (range 0–4). Conditional logistic regression was used for the matching strategy.
The first two components of the PCA were modestly (odds ratio 1.38 [95% CI 1.08–1.77] and 1.27 [1.02–1.59], respectively) associated with CAC progression after adjustment for other risk factors. The composite score was more strongly associated with CAC progression for those with elevated markers in three or four of the principal components compared with those with none.
Measures of inflammation were associated with progression of CAC in a population of adults with and without type 1 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3687315  PMID: 23340891
11.  An alternative hypothesis testing strategy for secondary phenotype data in case-control genetic association studies 
Frontiers in Genetics  2014;5:188.
Motivated by the challenges associated with accounting for the ascertainment when analyzing secondary phenotypes that are correlated with case-control status, Lin and Zeng have proposed a method that properly reflects the case-control sampling (Lin and Zeng, 2009). The Lin and Zeng method has the advantage of accurately estimating effect sizes for secondary phenotypes that are normally distributed or dichotomous. This method can be computationally intensive in practice under the null hypothesis when the likelihood surface that needs to be maximized can be relatively flat. We propose an extension of the Lin and Zeng method for hypothesis testing that uses proportional odds logistic regression to circumvent these computational issues. Through simulation studies, we compare the power and type-1 error rate of our method to standard approaches and Lin and Zeng's approach.
PMCID: PMC4076613  PMID: 25071819
secondary phenotype; case-control study; ascertainment; genetic association; proportional odds logistic regression
12.  Dissecting direct and indirect genetic effects on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility 
Human genetics  2013;132(4):431-441.
Cigarette smoking is the major environmental risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Genome-wide association studies have provided compelling associations for three loci with COPD. In this study, we aimed to estimate direct, i.e., independent from smoking, and indirect effects of those loci on COPD development using mediation analysis. We included a total of 3,424 COPD cases and 1,872 unaffected controls with data on two smoking-related phenotypes: lifetime average smoking intensity and cumulative exposure to tobacco smoke (pack years). Our analysis revealed that effects of two linked variants (rs1051730 and rs8034191) in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development are significantly, yet not entirely, mediated by the smoking-related phenotypes. Approximately 30 % of the total effect of variants in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development was mediated by pack years. Simultaneous analysis of modestly (r2 = 0.21) linked markers in CHRNA3 and IREB2 revealed that an even larger (~42 %) proportion of the total effect of the CHRNA3 locus on COPD was mediated by pack years after adjustment for an IREB2 single nucleotide polymorphism. This study confirms the existence of direct effects of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3, IREB2, FAM13A and HHIP loci on COPD development. While the association of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 locus with COPD is significantly mediated by smoking-related phenotypes, IREB2 appears to affect COPD independently of smoking.
PMCID: PMC3600068  PMID: 23299987
13.  Effects of Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists on the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death in Patients With Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction 
Circulation. Heart failure  2013;6(2):166-173.
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is an important cause of death in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (MRAs) may attenuate this risk. The objective of this meta-analysis was to assess the impact of MRAs on SCD in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction.
Methods and Results
We systematically searched PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane, and other databases through March 30, 2012, without language restrictions. We included trials that enrolled patients with left ventricular ejection fraction of ≤45%, randomized subjects to MRAs versus control and reported outcomes on SCD, total and cardiovascular mortality. Eight published trials that enrolled 11875 patients met inclusion criteria. Of these, 6 reported data on SCD and cardiovascular mortality, and 7 reported data on total mortality. No heterogeneity was observed among the trials. Patients treated with MRAs had 23% lower odds of experiencing SCD compared with controls (odds ratio, 0.77; 95% confidence interval, 0.66–0.89; P=0.001). Similar reductions were observed in cardiovascular (0.75; 95% confidence interval, 0.68– 0.84; P<0.001) and total mortality (odds ratio, 0.74; 95% confidence interval, 0.63–0.86; P<0.001). Although publication bias was observed, the results did not change after a trim and fill test, suggesting that the impact of this bias was likely insignificant.
MRAs reduce the risk of SCD in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Comparative effectiveness studies of MRAs on SCD in usual care as well as studies evaluating the efficacy of other therapies to prevent SCD in patients receiving optimal MRA therapy are needed to guide clinical decision-making.
PMCID: PMC3893922  PMID: 23403436
left ventricular systolic dysfunction; meta-analysis; mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists; sudden cardiac death
14.  The effect of excess weight gain with intensive diabetes treatment on cardiovascular disease risk factors and atherosclerosis in type 1 diabetes: Results from the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial / Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Study (DCCT/EDIC) study 
Circulation  2012;127(2):10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.077487.
Intensive diabetes therapy of type 1 diabetes (T1DM) reduces diabetes complications but can be associated with excess weight gain, central obesity, and dyslipidemia.
The purpose of this study was to determine if excessive weight gain with diabetes therapy of T1DM is prospectively associated with atherosclerotic disease.
Methods and Results
Subjects with T1DM (97% Caucasian, 45% female, mean age 35 years) randomly assigned to intensive (INT) or conventional (CONV) diabetes treatment during the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) underwent intima-media thickness (IMT) (n=1015) and coronary artery calcium (CAC) score (n=925) measurements during follow-up in the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC) Study. INT subjects were classified by quartile of BMI change during the DCCT. Excess gainers (4th quartile, including CONV subjects meeting this threshold) maintained greater BMI and waist circumference (WC), needed more insulin, had greater IMT (+5%, P<0.001 EDIC year 1, P=0.003 EDIC year 6), and trended towards greater CAC scores (OR 1.55, CI 0.97 – 2.49, P=0.07) than minimal gainers. DCCT subjects meeting metabolic syndrome criteria for WC and blood pressure had greater IMT in both EDIC years (P =0.02 to <0.001); those meeting HDL criteria had greater CAC scores (OR 1.6 and CI 1.1 – 2.4, P=0.01) during follow-up. Increasing frequency of a family history of diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia was associated with greater IMT thickness with INT but not CONV.
Excess weight gain in DCCT is associated with sustained increases in central obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and blood pressure, as well as more extensive atherosclerosis during EDIC.
PMCID: PMC3819101  PMID: 23212717
diabetes mellitus; carotid intima media thickness; coronary artery calcium; imaging; obesity
15.  Gender Differences of Airway Dimensions in Anatomically Matched Sites on CT in Smokers 
COPD  2011;8(4):285-292.
Rationale and Objectives
There are limited data on, and controversies regarding gender differences in the airway dimensions of smokers. Multi-detector CT (MDCT) images were analyzed to examine whether gender could explain differences in airway dimensions of anatomically matched airways in smokers.
Materials and Methods
We used VIDA imaging software to analyze MDCT scans from 2047 smokers (M:F, 1021:1026) from the COPDGene® cohort. The airway dimensions were analyzed from segmental to subsubsegmental bronchi. We compared the differences of luminal area, inner diameter, wall thickness, wall area percentage (WA%) for each airway between men and women, and multiple linear regression including covariates (age, gender, body sizes, and other relevant confounding factors) was used to determine the predictors of each airway dimensions.
Lumen area, internal diameter and wall thickness were smaller for women than men in all measured airway (18.4 vs 22.5 mm2 for segmental bronchial lumen area, 10.4 vs 12.5 mm2 for subsegmental bronchi, 6.5 vs 7.7 mm2 for subsubsegmental bronchi, respectively p < 0.001). However, women had greater WA% in subsegmental and subsubsegmental bronchi. In multivariate regression, gender remained one of the most significant predictors of WA%, lumen area, inner diameter and wall thickness.
Women smokers have higher WA%, but lower luminal area, internal diameter and airway thickness in anatomically matched airways as measured by CT scan than do male smokers. This difference may explain, in part, gender differences in the prevalence of COPD and airflow limitation.
PMCID: PMC3703311  PMID: 21756032
Airway dimensions; CT scan; Gender differences; Smoker
16.  Pulmonary Arterial Enlargement and Acute Exacerbations of COPD 
The New England journal of medicine  2012;367(10):913-921.
Exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are associated with accelerated loss of lung function and death. Identification of patients at risk for these events, particularly those requiring hospitalization, is of major importance. Severe pulmonary hypertension is an important complication of advanced COPD and predicts acute exacerbations, though pulmonary vascular abnormalities also occur early in the course of the disease. We hypothesized that a computed tomographic (CT) metric of pulmonary vascular disease (pulmonary artery enlargement, as determined by a ratio of the diameter of the pulmonary artery to the diameter of the aorta [PA:A ratio] of >1) would be associated with severe COPD exacerbations.
We conducted a multicenter, observational trial that enrolled current and former smokers with COPD. We determined the association between a PA:A ratio of more than 1 and a history at enrollment of severe exacerbations requiring hospitalization and then examined the usefulness of the ratio as a predictor of these events in a longitudinal follow-up of this cohort, as well as in an external validation cohort. We used logistic-regression and zero-inflated negative binomial regression analyses and adjusted for known risk factors for exacerbation.
Multivariate logistic-regression analysis showed a significant association between a PA:A ratio of more than 1 and a history of severe exacerbations at the time of enrollment in the trial (odds ratio, 4.78; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.43 to 6.65; P<0.001). A PA:A ratio of more than 1 was also independently associated with an increased risk of future severe exacerbations in both the trial cohort (odds ratio, 3.44; 95% CI, 2.78 to 4.25; P<0.001) and the external validation cohort (odds ratio, 2.80; 95% CI, 2.11 to 3.71; P<0.001). In both cohorts, among all the variables analyzed, a PA:A ratio of more than 1 had the strongest association with severe exacerbations.
Pulmonary artery enlargement (a PA:A ratio of >1), as detected by CT, was associated with severe exacerbations of COPD. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; numbers, NCT00608764 and NCT00292552.)
PMCID: PMC3690810  PMID: 22938715
17.  Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2 Activity Predicts Progression of Subclinical Coronary Atherosclerosis 
Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) is a lipoprotein-associated enzyme that cleaves oxidized phosphatidylcholines, generating pro-atherosclerotic lysophosphatidylcholine and oxidized free fatty acids. Lp-PLA2 is independently associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a variety of populations. Coronary calcium is a measure of subclinical CVD, and progression of coronary calcification predicts future CVD events. In type 1 diabetes there is an increase in coronary calcium and CVD despite a favorable lipid profile. Levels of Lp-PLA2 in type 1 diabetes are not known, nor is the relationship between Lp-PLA2 and progression of coronary calcification.
The Coronary Artery Calcification in Type 1 Diabetes study measured coronary calcium by electron-beam computed tomography twice over a 2.6 ± 0.3-year interval. Lp-PLA2 mass and activity were measured at baseline (n = 1,097 subjects, 506 with and 591 without type 1 diabetes).
In type 1 diabetes Lp-PLA2 mass was marginally higher (285 ± 79 vs. 278 ± 78 ng/mL, P = 0.1), and Lp-PLA2 activity was significantly lower (137 ± 30 vs. 146 ± 36 nmol/min/mL, P < 0.0001) than in those without diabetes. There was a greater proportion of those with progression of coronary calcification in type 1 diabetes compared with those without diabetes (24% vs. 10%, P < 0.0001). Lp-PLA2 activity was independently associated with progression of coronary calcification in multivariate analysis (4th quartile verses bottom three quartiles, odds ratio = 1.77 [1.08–2.91], P = 0.02). LpPLA2 mass was not significantly associated with progression of coronary calcification in this cohort (P = 0.09).
Lp-PLA2 activity predicts progression of subclinical atherosclerosis in individuals with and without type 1 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3101921  PMID: 21291330
18.  A Multiethnic Replication Study of Plasma Lipoprotein Levels-Associated SNPs Identified in Recent GWAS 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63469.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified a number of loci/SNPs associated with plasma total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and triglyceride (TG) levels. The purpose of this study was to replicate 40 recent GWAS-identified HDL-C-related new loci in 3 epidemiological samples comprising U.S. non-Hispanic Whites (NHWs), U.S. Hispanics, and African Blacks. In each sample, the association analyses were performed with all 4 major lipid traits regardless of previously reported specific associations with selected SNPs. A total of 22 SNPs showed nominally significant association (p<0.05) with at least one lipid trait in at least one ethnic group, although not always with the same lipid traits reported as genome-wide significant in the original GWAS. The total number of significant loci was 10 for TC, 12 for LDL-C, 10 for HDL-C, and 6 for TG levels. Ten SNPs were significantly associated with more than one lipid trait in at least one ethnic group. Six SNPs were significantly associated with at least one lipid trait in more than one ethnic group, although not always with the same trait across various ethnic groups. For 25 SNPs, the associations were replicated with the same genome-wide significant lipid traits in the same direction in at least one ethnic group; at nominal significance for 13 SNPs and with a trend for association for 12 SNPs. However, the associations were not consistently present in all ethnic groups. This observation was consistent with mixed results obtained in other studies that also examined various ethnic groups.
PMCID: PMC3661596  PMID: 23717430
19.  Paired inspiratory-expiratory chest CT scans to assess for small airways disease in COPD 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):42.
Gas trapping quantified on chest CT scans has been proposed as a surrogate for small airway disease in COPD. We sought to determine if measurements using paired inspiratory and expiratory CT scans may be better able to separate gas trapping due to emphysema from gas trapping due to small airway disease.
Smokers with and without COPD from the COPDGene Study underwent inspiratory and expiratory chest CT scans. Emphysema was quantified by the percent of lung with attenuation < −950HU on inspiratory CT. Four gas trapping measures were defined: (1) Exp−856, the percent of lung < −856HU on expiratory imaging; (2) E/I MLA, the ratio of expiratory to inspiratory mean lung attenuation; (3) RVC856-950, the difference between expiratory and inspiratory lung volumes with attenuation between −856 and −950 HU; and (4) Residuals from the regression of Exp−856 on percent emphysema.
In 8517 subjects with complete data, Exp−856 was highly correlated with emphysema. The measures based on paired inspiratory and expiratory CT scans were less strongly correlated with emphysema. Exp−856, E/I MLA and RVC856-950 were predictive of spirometry, exercise capacity and quality of life in all subjects and in subjects without emphysema. In subjects with severe emphysema, E/I MLA and RVC856-950 showed the highest correlations with clinical variables.
Quantitative measures based on paired inspiratory and expiratory chest CT scans can be used as markers of small airway disease in smokers with and without COPD, but this will require that future studies acquire both inspiratory and expiratory CT scans.
PMCID: PMC3627637  PMID: 23566024
Emphysema; Chest CT scan; Small airways; Lung function tests; Smoking
20.  A genome-wide association study of COPD identifies a susceptibility locus on chromosome 19q13 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(4):947-957.
The genetic risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are still largely unknown. To date, genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of limited size have identified several novel risk loci for COPD at CHRNA3/CHRNA5/IREB2, HHIP and FAM13A; additional loci may be identified through larger studies. We performed a GWAS using a total of 3499 cases and 1922 control subjects from four cohorts: the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE); the Normative Aging Study (NAS) and National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT); Bergen, Norway (GenKOLS); and the COPDGene study. Genotyping was performed on Illumina platforms with additional markers imputed using 1000 Genomes data; results were summarized using fixed-effect meta-analysis. We identified a new genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 19q13 (rs7937, OR = 0.74, P = 2.9 × 10−9). Genotyping this single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and another nearby SNP in linkage disequilibrium (rs2604894) in 2859 subjects from the family-based International COPD Genetics Network study (ICGN) demonstrated supportive evidence for association for COPD (P = 0.28 and 0.11 for rs7937 and rs2604894), pre-bronchodilator FEV1 (P = 0.08 and 0.04) and severe (GOLD 3&4) COPD (P = 0.09 and 0.017). This region includes RAB4B, EGLN2, MIA and CYP2A6, and has previously been identified in association with cigarette smoking behavior.
PMCID: PMC3298111  PMID: 22080838
21.  The Association of Genome-Wide Significant Spirometric Loci with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Susceptibility 
Two recent metaanalyses of genome-wide association studies conducted by the CHARGE and SpiroMeta consortia identified novel loci yielding evidence of association at or near genome-wide significance (GWS) with FEV1 and FEV1/FVC. We hypothesized that a subset of these markers would also be associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility. Thirty-two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in or near 17 genes in 11 previously identified GWS spirometric genomic regions were tested for association with COPD status in four COPD case-control study samples (NETT/NAS, the Norway case-control study, ECLIPSE, and the first 1,000 subjects in COPDGene; total sample size, 3,456 cases and 1,906 controls). In addition to testing the 32 spirometric GWS SNPs, we tested a dense panel of imputed HapMap2 SNP markers from the 17 genes located near the 32 GWS SNPs and in a set of 21 well studied COPD candidate genes. Of the previously identified GWS spirometric genomic regions, three loci harbored SNPs associated with COPD susceptibility at a 5% false discovery rate: the 4q24 locus including FLJ20184/INTS12/GSTCD/NPNT, the 6p21 locus including AGER and PPT2, and the 5q33 locus including ADAM19. In conclusion, markers previously associated at or near GWS with spirometric measures were tested for association with COPD status in data from four COPD case-control studies, and three loci showed evidence of association with COPD susceptibility at a 5% false discovery rate.
PMCID: PMC3262664  PMID: 21659657
22.  Genome-wide association study of smoking behaviors in COPD patients 
Thorax  2011;66(10):894-902.
Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for COPD and COPD severity. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified numerous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) and a Dopamine Beta-Hydroxylase (DBH) locus associated with smoking cessation in multiple populations.
To identify SNPs associated with lifetime average and current CPD, age at smoking initiation, and smoking cessation in COPD subjects.
GWAS were conducted in 4 independent cohorts encompassing 3,441 ever-smoking COPD subjects (GOLD stage II or higher). Untyped SNPs were imputed using HapMap (phase II) panel. Results from all cohorts were meta-analyzed.
Several SNPs near the HLA region on chromosome 6p21 and in an intergenic region on chromosome 2q21 showed associations with age at smoking initiation, both with the lowest p=2×10−7. No SNPs were associated with lifetime average CPD, current CPD or smoking cessation with p<10−6. Nominally significant associations with candidate SNPs within alpha-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors 3/5 (CHRNA3/CHRNA5; e.g. p=0.00011 for SNP rs1051730) and Cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6; e.g. p=2.78×10−5 for a nonsynonymous SNP rs1801272) regions were observed for lifetime average CPD, however only CYP2A6 showed evidence of significant association with current CPD. A candidate SNP (rs3025343) in the DBH was significantly (p=0.015) associated with smoking cessation.
We identified two candidate regions associated with age at smoking initiation in COPD subjects. Associations of CHRNA3/CHRNA5 and CYP2A6 loci with CPD and DBH with smoking cessation are also likely of importance in the smoking behaviors of COPD patients.
PMCID: PMC3302576  PMID: 21685187
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Genome Wide Association study (GWAS); smoking behaviors; Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP)
23.  Early-Onset Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Is Associated with Female Sex, Maternal Factors, and African American Race in the COPDGene Study 
Rationale: The characterization of young adults who develop late-onset diseases may augment the detection of novel genes and promote new pathogenic insights.
Methods: We analyzed data from 2,500 individuals of African and European ancestry in the COPDGene Study. Subjects with severe, early-onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (n = 70, age < 55 yr, FEV1 < 50% predicted) were compared with older subjects with COPD (n = 306, age > 64 yr, FEV1 < 50% predicted).
Measurements and Main Results: Subjects with severe, early-onset COPD were predominantly females (66%), P = 0.0004. Proportionally, early-onset COPD was seen in 42% (25 of 59) of African Americans versus 14% (45 of 317) of non-Hispanic whites, P < 0.0001. Other risk factors included current smoking (56 vs. 17%, P < 0.0001) and self-report of asthma (39 vs. 25%, P = 0.008). Maternal smoking (70 vs. 44%, P = 0.0001) and maternal COPD (23 vs. 12%, P = 0.03) were reported more commonly in subjects with early-onset COPD. Multivariable regression analysis found association with African American race, odds ratio (OR), 7.5 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.3–24; P = 0.0007); maternal COPD, OR, 4.7 (95% CI, 1.3–17; P = 0.02); female sex, OR, 3.1 (95% CI, 1.1–8.7; P = 0.03); and each pack-year of smoking, OR, 0.98 (95% CI, 0.96–1.0; P = 0.03).
Conclusions: These observations support the hypothesis that severe, early-onset COPD is prevalent in females and is influenced by maternal factors. Future genetic studies should evaluate (1) gene-by-sex interactions to address sex-specific genetic contributions and (2) gene-by-race interactions.
PMCID: PMC3175544  PMID: 21562134
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; female; African Americans
24.  Clinical and Radiographic Predictors of GOLD–Unclassified Smokers in the COPDGene Study 
Rationale: A significant proportion of smokers have lung function impairment characterized by a reduced FEV1 with a preserved FEV1/FVC ratio. These smokers are a poorly characterized group due to their systematic exclusion from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) studies.
Objectives: To characterize the clinical, functional, and radiographic features of Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD)-Unclassified (FEV1/FVC ≥ 0.7 and FEV1 < 80% predicted) and lower limits of normal (LLN)-unclassified (FEV1/FVC ≥ LLN and FEV1 < LLN) subjects compared to smokers with normal lung function and subjects with COPD.
Methods: Data from the first 2,500 subjects enrolled in the COPDGene study were analyzed. All subjects had 10 or more pack-years of smoking and were between the ages of 45 and 80 years. Multivariate regression models were constructed to determine the clinical and radiological variables associated with GOLD-Unclassified (GOLD-U) and LLN-Unclassified status. Separate multivariate regressions were performed in the subgroups of subjects with complete radiologic measurement variables available.
Measurements and Main Results: GOLD-U smokers account for 9% of smokers in COPDGene and have increased body mass index (BMI), a disproportionately reduced total lung capacity, and a higher proportion of nonwhite subjects and subjects with diabetes. GOLD-U subjects exhibit increased airway wall thickness compared to smoking control subjects and decreased gas trapping and bronchodilator responsiveness compared to subjects with COPD. When LLN criteria were used to define the “unclassified” group, African American subjects were no longer overrepresented. Both GOLD-U and LLN-Unclassified subjects demonstrated a wide range of lung function impairment, BMI, and percentage of total lung emphysema.
Conclusions: Subjects with reduced FEV1 and a preserved FEV1/FVC ratio are a heterogeneous group with significant symptoms and functional limitation who likely have a variety of underlying etiologies beyond increased BMI.
Clinical trial registered with (NCT000608764).
PMCID: PMC3172890  PMID: 21493737
lung diseases, classification; lung diseases, diagnosis; lung diseases, epidemiology
25.  Gender Differences in the Prognostic Value of Exercise Treadmill Test Characteristics 
American heart journal  2011;161(5):908-914.
Although exercise treadmill testing (ETT) is known to be less sensitive and specific for diagnosis of coronary disease in women, little is known about gender differences in the prognostic importance of ETT variables.
We studied9569 consecutive patients (46.8% women) referred for ETT between July 2001- June 2004 in a community-based system. We assessed the association between ETT variables (exercise capacity, symptoms, ST-segment deviations, heart rate recovery, and chronotropic response) and time to all-cause death and myocardial infarction adjusting for patient and stress test characteristics. Models were stratified by gender to determine the relationship between ETT variables and outcomes.
In the entire population, exercise capacity and heart rate recovery were significantly associated with all-cause death, whereas, exercise capacity, chest pain and ST-segment deviations were significantly associated with subsequent MI. The relationship between ETT variables and outcomes were similar between men and women except for abnormal exercise capacity, which was had a significantly stronger association with death in men (men: HR = 2.89, 95% CI 1.89–4.44; women: HR = 0.99, 95% CI 0.52–1.93; interaction
While many traditional ETT variables had similar prognostic value in both men and women, exercise capacity was more prognostically important in men and chronotropic incompetence was more important in women. Future studies should confirm these findings in additional populations.
PMCID: PMC3096065  PMID: 21570521
gender differences; stress testing; prognosis

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