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1.  Genome-Wide Meta-Analysis of Myopia and Hyperopia Provides Evidence for Replication of 11 Loci 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107110.
Refractive error (RE) is a complex, multifactorial disorder characterized by a mismatch between the optical power of the eye and its axial length that causes object images to be focused off the retina. The two major subtypes of RE are myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), which represent opposite ends of the distribution of the quantitative measure of spherical refraction. We performed a fixed effects meta-analysis of genome-wide association results of myopia and hyperopia from 9 studies of European-derived populations: AREDS, KORA, FES, OGP-Talana, MESA, RSI, RSII, RSIII and ERF. One genome-wide significant region was observed for myopia, corresponding to a previously identified myopia locus on 8q12 (p = 1.25×10−8), which has been reported by Kiefer et al. as significantly associated with myopia age at onset and Verhoeven et al. as significantly associated to mean spherical-equivalent (MSE) refractive error. We observed two genome-wide significant associations with hyperopia. These regions overlapped with loci on 15q14 (minimum p value = 9.11×10−11) and 8q12 (minimum p value 1.82×10−11) previously reported for MSE and myopia age at onset. We also used an intermarker linkage- disequilibrium-based method for calculating the effective number of tests in targeted regional replication analyses. We analyzed myopia (which represents the closest phenotype in our data to the one used by Kiefer et al.) and showed replication of 10 additional loci associated with myopia previously reported by Kiefer et al. This is the first replication of these loci using myopia as the trait under analysis. “Replication-level” association was also seen between hyperopia and 12 of Kiefer et al.'s published loci. For the loci that show evidence of association to both myopia and hyperopia, the estimated effect of the risk alleles were in opposite directions for the two traits. This suggests that these loci are important contributors to variation of refractive error across the distribution.
PMCID: PMC4169415  PMID: 25233373
2.  Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in five cohorts reveals common variants in RBFOX1, a regulator of tissue-specific splicing, associated with refractive error 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(13):2754-2764.
Visual refractive errors (REs) are complex genetic traits with a largely unknown etiology. To date, genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of moderate size have identified several novel risk markers for RE, measured here as mean spherical equivalent (MSE). We performed a GWAS using a total of 7280 samples from five cohorts: the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS); the KORA study (‘Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg’); the Framingham Eye Study (FES); the Ogliastra Genetic Park-Talana (OGP-Talana) Study and the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Genotyping was performed on Illumina and Affymetrix platforms with additional markers imputed to the HapMap II reference panel. We identified a new genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 16 (rs10500355, P = 3.9 × 10−9) in a combined discovery and replication set (26 953 samples). This single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is located within the RBFOX1 gene which is a neuron-specific splicing factor regulating a wide range of alternative splicing events implicated in neuronal development and maturation, including transcription factors, other splicing factors and synaptic proteins.
PMCID: PMC3674806  PMID: 23474815
3.  Germline Variants and Advanced Colorectal Adenomas: Adenoma Prevention with Celecoxib Trial Genomewide Association Study 
Identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with development of advanced colorectal adenomas.
Experimental Design
Discovery Phase: 1,406 Caucasian patients (139 advanced adenoma cases and 1,267 controls) from the Adenoma Prevention with Celecoxib (APC) trial were included in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify variants associated with post-polypectomy disease recurrence. Genome-wide significance was defined as false discovery rate < 0.05, unadjusted p=7.4×10−7. Validation Phase: Results were further evaluated using 4,175 familial colorectal adenoma or CRC cases and 5,036 controls from patients of European ancestry (COloRectal Gene Identification consortium, Scotland, Australia and VQ58).
Our study identified eight SNPs associated with advanced adenoma risk in the APC trial (rs2837156, rs7278863, rs2837237, rs2837241, rs2837254, rs741864 at 21q22.2, and rs1381392 and rs17651822 at 3p24.1, at p<10–7 level with odds ratio – OR>2). Five variants in strong pairwise linkage disequilbrium (rs7278863, rs2837237, rs741864, rs741864 and rs2837241, r2=0.8–1) are in or near the coding region for the tight junction adhesion protein, IGSF5. An additional variant associated with advanced adenomas, rs1535989 (minor allele frequency 0.11; OR 2.09; 95% confidence interval 1.50–2.91), also predicted CRC development in a validation analysis (p=0.019) using a series of adenoma cases or CRC (CORGI study) and 3 sets of CRC cases and controls (Scotland, VQ58 and Australia, N=9,211).
Our results suggest that common polymorphisms contribute to the risk of developing advanced adenomas and might also contribute to the risk of developing CRC. The variant at rs1535989 may identify patients whose risk for neoplasia warrants increased colonoscopic surveillance.
PMCID: PMC4037290  PMID: 24084763
Colorectal adenomas; colorectal cancer screening; genetic predisposition
4.  Identification of a Rare Coding Variant in Complement 3 Associated with Age-related Macular Degeneration 
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):10.1038/ng.2758.
Macular degeneration is a common cause of blindness in the elderly. To identify rare coding variants associated with a large increase in risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), we sequenced 2,335 cases and 789 controls in 10 candidate loci (57 genes). To increase power, we augmented our control set with ancestry-matched exome sequenced controls. An analysis of coding variation in 2,268 AMD cases and 2,268 ancestry matched controls revealed two large-effect rare variants; previously described R1210C in the CFH gene (fcase = 0.51%, fcontrol = 0.02%, OR = 23.11), and newly identified K155Q in the C3 gene (fcase = 1.06%, fcontrol = 0.39%, OR = 2.68). The variants suggest decreased inhibition of C3 by Factor H, resulting in increased activation of the alternative complement pathway, as a key component of disease biology.
PMCID: PMC3812337  PMID: 24036949
5.  Technical considerations for genotyping multi-allelic copy number variation (CNV), in regions of segmental duplication 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):329.
Intrachromosomal segmental duplications provide the substrate for non-allelic homologous recombination, facilitating extensive copy number variation in the human genome. Many multi-copy gene families are embedded within genomic regions with high levels of sequence identity (>95%) and therefore pose considerable analytical challenges. In some cases, the complexity involved in analyzing such regions is largely underestimated. Rapid, cost effective analysis of multi-copy gene regions have typically implemented quantitative approaches, however quantitative data are not an absolute means of certainty. Therefore any technique prone to degrees of measurement error can produce ambiguous results that may lead to spurious associations with complex disease.
In this study we have focused on testing the accuracy and reproducibility of quantitative analysis techniques. With reference to the C-C Chemokine Ligand-3-like-1 (CCL3L1) gene, we performed analysis using real-time Quantitative PCR (QPCR), Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA) and Paralogue Ratio Test (PRT). After controlling for potential outside variables on assay performance, including DNA concentration, quality, preparation and storage conditions, we find that real-time QPCR produces data that does not cluster tightly around copy number integer values, with variation substantially greater than that of the MLPA or PRT systems. We find that the method of rounding real-time QPCR measurements can potentially lead to mis-scoring of copy number genotypes and suggest caution should be exercised in interpreting QPCR data.
We conclude that real-time QPCR is inherently prone to measurement error, even under conditions that would seem favorable for association studies. Our results indicate that potential variability in the physicochemical properties of the DNA samples cannot solely explain the poor performance exhibited by the real-time QPCR systems. We recommend that more robust approaches such as PRT or MLPA should be used to genotype multi-allelic copy number variation in disease association studies and suggest several approaches which can be implemented to ensure the quality of the copy number typing using quantitative methods.
PMCID: PMC4035060  PMID: 24885186
Copy number variation; Multi-allelic; CCL3L1; Real-time quantitative PCR; Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification; Paralogue ratio test
6.  Heritability and Genome-wide Association Study To Assess Genetic Differences Between Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration Subtypes  
Ophthalmology  2012;119(9):1874-1885.
To investigate whether the two subtypes of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), choroidal neovascularization (CNV) and geographic atrophy (GA), segregate separately in families and to identify which genetic variants are associated with these two subtypes.
Sibling correlation study and genome-wide association study (GWAS)
For the sibling correlation study, we included 209 sibling pairs with advanced AMD. For the GWAS, we included 2594 participants with advanced AMD subtypes and 4134 controls. Replication cohorts included 5383 advanced AMD participants and 15,240 controls.
Participants had AMD grade assigned based on fundus photography and/or examination. To determine heritability of advanced AMD subtypes, we performed a sibling correlation study. For the GWAS, we conducted genome-wide genotyping and imputed 6,036,699 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs). We then analyzed SNPs with a generalized linear model controlling for genotyping platform and genetic ancestry. The most significant associations were evaluated in independent cohorts.
Main Outcome Measures
Concordance of advanced AMD subtypes in sibling pairs and associations between SNPs with GA and CNV advanced AMD subtypes.
The difference between the observed and expected proportion of siblings concordant for the same subtype of advanced AMD was different to a statistically significant degree (P=4.2 x 10−5) meaning that siblings of probands with CNV or GA are more likely to develop CNV or GA, respectively. In the analysis comparing participants with CNV to those with GA, we observed a statistically significant association at the ARMS2/HTRA1 locus [rs10490924, odds ratio (OR)=1.47, P=4.3 ×10−9] which was confirmed in the replication samples (OR=1.38, P=7.4 x 10−14 for combined discovery and replication analysis).
Whether a patient with AMD develops CNV vs. GA is determined in part by genetic variation. In this large GWAS meta-analysis and replication analysis, the ARMS2/HTRA1 locus confers increased risk for both advanced AMD subtypes but imparts greater risk for CNV than for GA. This locus explains a small proportion of the excess sibling correlation for advanced AMD subtype. Other loci were detected with suggestive associations which differ for advanced AMD subtypes and deserve follow-up in additional studies.
PMCID: PMC3899891  PMID: 22705344
7.  Association of the Hepatocyte Growth Factor Gene with Keratoconus in an Australian Population 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84067.
A previous study has indicated suggestive association of the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) gene with Keratoconus. We wished to assess this association in an independent Caucasian cohort as well as assess its association with corneal curvature.
Keratoconus patients were recruited from private and public clinics in Melbourne, Australia. Non-keratoconic individuals were identified from the Genes in Myopia (GEM) study from Australia. A total of 830 individuals were used for the analysis including 157 keratoconic and 673 non keratoconic subjects.
Tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (tSNPs) were chosen to encompass the hepatocyte growth factor gene as well as 2 kb upstream of the start codon through to 2 kb downstream of the stop codon. Logistic and linear regression including age and gender as covariates were applied in statistical analysis with subsequent Bonferroni correction.
Ten tSNPs were genotyped. Following statistical analysis and multiple testing correction, a statistically significant association was found for the tSNP rs2286194 {p = 1.1×10-3 Odds Ratio 0.52, 95% CI - 0.35, 0.77} for keratoconus. No association was found between the 10 tSNPs and corneal curvature.
These findings provide additional evidence of significant association of the HGF gene with Keratoconus. This association does not appear to act through the corneal curvature route.
PMCID: PMC3885514  PMID: 24416191
8.  Proof of Concept, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study of the Effect of Simvastatin on the Course of Age-Related Macular Degeneration 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83759.
HMG Co-A reductase inhibitors are ubiquitous in our community yet their potential role in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) remains to be determined.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Objectives: To evaluate the effect of simvastatin on AMD progression and the effect modification by polymorphism in apolipoprotein E (ApoE) and complement factor H (CFH) genes. Design: A proof of concept double-masked randomized controlled study. Participants: 114 participants aged 53 to 91 years, with either bilateral intermediate AMD or unilateral non-advanced AMD (with advanced AMD in fellow eye), BCVA≥20/60 in at least one eye, and a normal lipid profile. Intervention: Simvastatin 40 mg/day or placebo, allocated 1∶1. Main outcome measures: Progression of AMD either to advanced AMD or in severity of non-advanced AMD. Results. The cumulative AMD progression rates were 70% in the placebo and 54% in the simvastatin group. Intent to treat multivariable logistic regression analysis, adjusted for age, sex, smoking and baseline AMD severity, showed a significant 2-fold decrease in the risk of progression in the simvastatin group: OR 0.43 (0.18–0.99), p = 0.047. Post-hoc analysis stratified by baseline AMD severity showed no benefit from treatment in those who had advanced AMD in the fellow eye before enrolment: OR 0.97 (0.27–3.52), p = 0.96, after adjusting for age, sex and smoking. However, there was a significant reduction in the risk of progression in the bilateral intermediate AMD group compared to placebo [adjusted OR 0.23 (0.07–0.75), p = 0.015]. The most prominent effect was observed amongst those who had the CC (Y402H) at risk genotype of the CFH gene [OR 0.08 (0.02–0.45), p = 0.004]. No evidence of harm from simvastatin intervention was detected.
Simvastatin may slow progression of non-advanced AMD, especially for those with the at risk CFH genotype CC (Y402H). Further exploration of the potential use of statins for AMD, with emphasis on genetic subgroups, is warranted.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry (ANZCTR) ACTRN1260500032065
PMCID: PMC3877099  PMID: 24391822
9.  Genome-wide meta-analyses of multi-ethnic cohorts identify multiple new susceptibility loci for refractive error and myopia 
Verhoeven, Virginie J.M. | Hysi, Pirro G. | Wojciechowski, Robert | Fan, Qiao | Guggenheim, Jeremy A. | Höhn, René | MacGregor, Stuart | Hewitt, Alex W. | Nag, Abhishek | Cheng, Ching-Yu | Yonova-Doing, Ekaterina | Zhou, Xin | Ikram, M. Kamran | Buitendijk, Gabriëlle H.S. | McMahon, George | Kemp, John P. | St. Pourcain, Beate | Simpson, Claire L. | Mäkelä, Kari-Matti | Lehtimäki, Terho | Kähönen, Mika | Paterson, Andrew D. | Hosseini, S. Mohsen | Wong, Hoi Suen | Xu, Liang | Jonas, Jost B. | Pärssinen, Olavi | Wedenoja, Juho | Yip, Shea Ping | Ho, Daniel W. H. | Pang, Chi Pui | Chen, Li Jia | Burdon, Kathryn P. | Craig, Jamie E. | Klein, Barbara E. K. | Klein, Ronald | Haller, Toomas | Metspalu, Andres | Khor, Chiea-Chuen | Tai, E-Shyong | Aung, Tin | Vithana, Eranga | Tay, Wan-Ting | Barathi, Veluchamy A. | Chen, Peng | Li, Ruoying | Liao, Jiemin | Zheng, Yingfeng | Ong, Rick T. | Döring, Angela | Evans, David M. | Timpson, Nicholas J. | Verkerk, Annemieke J.M.H. | Meitinger, Thomas | Raitakari, Olli | Hawthorne, Felicia | Spector, Tim D. | Karssen, Lennart C. | Pirastu, Mario | Murgia, Federico | Ang, Wei | Mishra, Aniket | Montgomery, Grant W. | Pennell, Craig E. | Cumberland, Phillippa M. | Cotlarciuc, Ioana | Mitchell, Paul | Wang, Jie Jin | Schache, Maria | Janmahasathian, Sarayut | Igo, Robert P. | Lass, Jonathan H. | Chew, Emily | Iyengar, Sudha K. | Gorgels, Theo G.M.F. | Rudan, Igor | Hayward, Caroline | Wright, Alan F. | Polasek, Ozren | Vatavuk, Zoran | Wilson, James F. | Fleck, Brian | Zeller, Tanja | Mirshahi, Alireza | Müller, Christian | Uitterlinden, Andre’ G. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Vingerling, Johannes R. | Hofman, Albert | Oostra, Ben A. | Amin, Najaf | Bergen, Arthur A.B. | Teo, Yik-Ying | Rahi, Jugnoo S. | Vitart, Veronique | Williams, Cathy | Baird, Paul N. | Wong, Tien-Yin | Oexle, Konrad | Pfeiffer, Norbert | Mackey, David A. | Young, Terri L. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Saw, Seang-Mei | Wilson, Joan E. Bailey | Stambolian, Dwight | Klaver, Caroline C. | Hammond, Christopher J.
Nature genetics  2013;45(3):314-318.
Refractive error is the most common eye disorder worldwide, and a prominent cause of blindness. Myopia affects over 30% of Western populations, and up to 80% of Asians. The CREAM consortium conducted genome-wide meta-analyses including 37,382 individuals from 27 studies of European ancestry, and 8,376 from 5 Asian cohorts. We identified 16 new loci for refractive error in subjects of European ancestry, of which 8 were shared with Asians. Combined analysis revealed 8 additional loci. The new loci include genes with functions in neurotransmission (GRIA4), ion channels (KCNQ5), retinoic acid metabolism (RDH5), extracellular matrix remodeling (LAMA2, BMP2), and eye development (SIX6, PRSS56). We also confirmed previously reported associations with GJD2 and RASGRF1. Risk score analysis using associated SNPs showed a tenfold increased risk of myopia for subjects with the highest genetic load. Our results, accumulated across independent multi-ethnic studies, considerably advance understanding of mechanisms involved in refractive error and myopia.
PMCID: PMC3740568  PMID: 23396134
10.  Genetic Loci for Retinal Arteriolar Microcirculation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65804.
Narrow arterioles in the retina have been shown to predict hypertension as well as other vascular diseases, likely through an increase in the peripheral resistance of the microcirculatory flow. In this study, we performed a genome-wide association study in 18,722 unrelated individuals of European ancestry from the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology consortium and the Blue Mountain Eye Study, to identify genetic determinants associated with variations in retinal arteriolar caliber. Retinal vascular calibers were measured on digitized retinal photographs using a standardized protocol. One variant (rs2194025 on chromosome 5q14 near the myocyte enhancer factor 2C MEF2C gene) was associated with retinal arteriolar caliber in the meta-analysis of the discovery cohorts at genome-wide significance of P-value <5×10−8. This variant was replicated in an additional 3,939 individuals of European ancestry from the Australian Twins Study and Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (rs2194025, P-value = 2.11×10−12 in combined meta-analysis of discovery and replication cohorts). In independent studies of modest sample sizes, no significant association was found between this variant and clinical outcomes including coronary artery disease, stroke, myocardial infarction or hypertension. In conclusion, we found one novel loci which underlie genetic variation in microvasculature which may be relevant to vascular disease. The relevance of these findings to clinical outcomes remains to be determined.
PMCID: PMC3680438  PMID: 23776548
11.  Insights into the Genetic Architecture of Early Stage Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Genome-Wide Association Study Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53830.
Genetic factors explain a majority of risk variance for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). While genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for late AMD implicate genes in complement, inflammatory and lipid pathways, the genetic architecture of early AMD has been relatively under studied. We conducted a GWAS meta-analysis of early AMD, including 4,089 individuals with prevalent signs of early AMD (soft drusen and/or retinal pigment epithelial changes) and 20,453 individuals without these signs. For various published late AMD risk loci, we also compared effect sizes between early and late AMD using an additional 484 individuals with prevalent late AMD. GWAS meta-analysis confirmed previously reported association of variants at the complement factor H (CFH) (peak P = 1.5×10−31) and age-related maculopathy susceptibility 2 (ARMS2) (P = 4.3×10−24) loci, and suggested Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) polymorphisms (rs2075650; P = 1.1×10−6) associated with early AMD. Other possible loci that did not reach GWAS significance included variants in the zinc finger protein gene GLI3 (rs2049622; P = 8.9×10−6) and upstream of GLI2 (rs6721654; P = 6.5×10−6), encoding retinal Sonic hedgehog signalling regulators, and in the tyrosinase (TYR) gene (rs621313; P = 3.5×10−6), involved in melanin biosynthesis. For a range of published, late AMD risk loci, estimated effect sizes were significantly lower for early than late AMD. This study confirms the involvement of multiple established AMD risk variants in early AMD, but suggests weaker genetic effects on the risk of early AMD relative to late AMD. Several biological processes were suggested to be potentially specific for early AMD, including pathways regulating RPE cell melanin content and signalling pathways potentially involved in retinal regeneration, generating hypotheses for further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3543264  PMID: 23326517
12.  Hypomethylation of IL17RC Promoter Associates with Age-related Macular Degeneration 
Cell reports  2012;2(5):1151-1158.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the elderly population worldwide. While recent studies have demonstrated strong genetic associations of single nucleotide polymorphisms within a number of genes and AMD, other modes of regulation are also likely to play a role in its etiology. We identified a significantly decreased level of methylation on the IL17RC promoter in AMD patients. Further, we showed that hypomethylation of the IL17RC promoter in AMD patients led to an elevated expression of its protein and mRNA in peripheral blood as well as in the affected retina and choroid, suggesting that the DNA methylation pattern and expression of IL17RC may potentially serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis of AMD and likely plays a role in disease pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3513594  PMID: 23177625
13.  Evidence of association of APOE with age-related macular degeneration - a pooled analysis of 15 studies 
Human mutation  2011;32(12):1407-1416.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of incurable visual impairment in high-income countries. Previous studies report inconsistent associations between AMD and apolipoprotein E (APOE), a lipid transport protein involved in low-density cholesterol modulation. Potential interaction between APOE and sex, and smoking status, has been reported. We present a pooled analysis (n=21,160) demonstrating associations between late AMD and APOε4 (OR=0.72 per haplotype; CI: 0.65–0.74; P=4.41×10−11) and APOε2 (OR=1.83 for homozygote carriers; CI: 1.04–3.23; P=0.04), following adjustment for age-group and sex within each study and smoking status. No evidence of interaction between APOE and sex or smoking was found. Ever smokers had significant increased risk relative to never smokers for both neovascular (OR=1.54; CI: 1.38–1.72; P=2.8×10−15) and atrophic (OR=1.38; CI: 1.18–1.61; P=3.37×10−5) AMD but not early AMD (OR=0.94; CI: 0.86–1.03; P=0.16), implicating smoking as a major contributing factor to disease progression from early signs to the visually disabling late forms. Extended haplotype analysis incorporating rs405509 did not identify additional risks beyondε2 and ε4 haplotypes. Our expanded analysis substantially improves our understanding of the association between the APOE locus and AMD. It further provides evidence supporting the role of cholesterol modulation, and low-density cholesterol specifically, in AMD disease etiology.
PMCID: PMC3217135  PMID: 21882290
age-related macular degeneration; AMD; apolipoprotein E; APOE; case-control association study
14.  Assessment of the Association of Matrix Metalloproteinases with Myopia, Refractive Error and Ocular Biometric Measures in an Australian Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47181.
Extracellular matrix proteins have been implicated in protein remodelling of the sclera in refractive error. The matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) falling into the collagenase (MMP1, MMP8, MMP13), gelatinase (MMP2, MMP9) and stromelysin (MMP3, MMP10, MMP11) functional groups are particularly important. We wished to assess their association with myopia, refractive error and ocular biometric measures in an Australian cohort. A total of 543 unrelated individuals of Caucasian ethnicity were genotyped including 269 myopes (≤−1.0D) and 274 controls (>−1.0D). Tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (n = 53) were chosen to encompass these eight MMPs. Association tests were performed using linear and logistic regression analysis with age and gender as covariates. Spherical equivalent, myopia, axial length, anterior chamber depth and corneal curvature were the phenotypes of interest. Initial findings indicated that the best p values for each trait were 0.02 for myopia at rs2274755 (MMP9), 0.02 for SE at both rs3740938 (MMP8) and rs131451 (MMP11), 0.01 for axial length at rs11225395 (MMP8), 0.01 for anterior chamber depth at rs498186 (MMP1) and 0.02 at rs10488 (MMP1). However, following correction for multiple testing, none of these SNPs remained statistically significant. Our data suggests that the MMPs in the collagenase, gelatinase and stromelysin categories do not appear to be associated with myopia, refractive error or ocular biometric measures in this cohort.
PMCID: PMC3471969  PMID: 23077567
15.  Androgen Receptor Repeat Length Polymorphism Associated with Male-to-Female Transsexualism 
Biological Psychiatry  2008;65(1):93-96.
There is a likely genetic component to transsexualism, and genes involved in sex steroidogenesis are good candidates. We explored the specific hypothesis that male-to-female transsexualism is associated with gene variants responsible for undermasculinization and/or feminization. Specifically, we assessed the role of disease-associated repeat length polymorphisms in the androgen receptor (AR), estrogen receptor β (ERβ), and aromatase (CYP19) genes.
Subject-control analysis included 112 male-to-female transsexuals and 258 non-transsexual males. Associations and interactions were investigated between CAG repeat length in the AR gene, CA repeat length in the ERβ gene, and TTTA repeat length in the CYP19 gene and male-to-female transsexualism.
A significant association was identified between transsexualism and the AR allele, with transsexuals having longer AR repeat lengths than non-transsexual male control subjects (p = .04). No associations for transsexualism were evident in repeat lengths for CYP19 or ERβ genes. Individuals were then classified as short or long for each gene polymorphism on the basis of control median polymorphism lengths in order to further elucidate possible combined effects. No interaction associations between the three genes and transsexualism were identified.
This study provides evidence that male gender identity might be partly mediated through the androgen receptor.
PMCID: PMC3402034  PMID: 18962445
Androgen receptor; AR; aromatase; CYP19; ERβ; estrogen receptor β; gender identity disorder; transsexualism
16.  Variations in Apolipoprotein E Frequency With Age in a Pooled Analysis of a Large Group of Older People 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2011;173(12):1357-1364.
Variation in the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) has been reported to be associated with longevity in humans. The authors assessed the allelic distribution of APOE isoforms ε2, ε3, and ε4 among 10,623 participants from 15 case-control and cohort studies of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in populations of European ancestry (study dates ranged from 1990 to 2009). The authors included only the 10,623 control subjects from these studies who were classified as having no evidence of AMD, since variation within the APOE gene has previously been associated with AMD. In an analysis stratified by study center, gender, and smoking status, there was a decreasing frequency of the APOE ε4 isoform with increasing age (χ2 for trend = 14.9 (1 df); P = 0.0001), with a concomitant increase in the ε3 isoform (χ2 for trend = 11.3 (1 df); P = 0.001). The association with age was strongest in ε4 homozygotes; the frequency of ε4 homozygosity decreased from 2.7% for participants aged 60 years or less to 0.8% for those over age 85 years, while the proportion of participants with the ε3/ε4 genotype decreased from 26.8% to 17.5% across the same age range. Gender had no significant effect on the isoform frequencies. This study provides strong support for an association of the APOE gene with human longevity.
PMCID: PMC3145394  PMID: 21498624
aged; apolipoprotein E2; apolipoprotein E3; apolipoprotein E4; apolipoproteins E; longevity; meta-analysis; multicenter study
17.  Large scale international replication and meta-analysis study confirms association of the 15q14 locus with myopia. The CREAM consortium 
Verhoeven, Virginie J. M. | Hysi, Pirro G. | Saw, Seang-Mei | Vitart, Veronique | Mirshahi, Alireza | Guggenheim, Jeremy A. | Cotch, Mary Frances | Yamashiro, Kenji | Baird, Paul N. | Mackey, David A. | Wojciechowski, Robert |  Ikram, M. Kamran | Hewitt, Alex W. | Duggal, Priya | Janmahasatian, Sarayut | Khor, Chiea-Chuen | Fan, Qiao | Zhou, Xin | Young, Terri L. | Tai, E-Shyong | Goh, Liang-Kee | Li, Yi-Ju | Aung, Tin | Vithana, Eranga | Teo, Yik-Ying | Tay, Wanting | Sim, Xueling | Rudan, Igor | Hayward, Caroline | Wright, Alan F. | Polasek, Ozren | Campbell, Harry | Wilson, James F. | Fleck, Brian W. | Nakata, Isao | Yoshimura, Nagahisa | Yamada, Ryo | Matsuda, Fumihiko | Ohno-Matsui, Kyoko | Nag, Abhishek | McMahon, George | Pourcain, Beate St. | Lu, Yi | Rahi, Jugnoo S. | Cumberland, Phillippa M. | Bhattacharya, Shomi | Simpson, Claire L. | Atwood, Larry D. | Li, Xiaohui | Raffel, Leslie J. | Murgia, Federico | Portas, Laura | Despriet, Dominiek D. G. | van Koolwijk, Leonieke M. E. | Wolfram, Christian | Lackner, Karl J. | Tönjes, Anke | Mägi, Reedik | Lehtimäki, Terho | Kähönen, Mika | Esko, Tõnu | Metspalu, Andres | Rantanen, Taina | Pärssinen, Olavi | Klein, Barbara E. | Meitinger, Thomas | Spector, Timothy D. | Oostra, Ben A. | Smith, Albert V. | de Jong, Paulus T. V. M. | Hofman, Albert | Amin, Najaf | Karssen, Lennart C. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Vingerling, Johannes R. | Eiríksdóttir, Guðný | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Döring, Angela | Bettecken, Thomas | Uitterlinden, André G. | Williams, Cathy | Zeller, Tanja | Castagné, Raphaële | Oexle, Konrad | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Iyengar, Sudha K. | Mitchell, Paul | Wang, Jie Jin | Höhn, René | Pfeiffer, Norbert | Bailey-Wilson, Joan E. | Stambolian, Dwight | Wong, Tien-Yin | Hammond, Christopher J. | Klaver, Caroline C. W.
Human Genetics  2012;131(9):1467-1480.
Myopia is a complex genetic disorder and a common cause of visual impairment among working age adults. Genome-wide association studies have identified susceptibility loci on chromosomes 15q14 and 15q25 in Caucasian populations of European ancestry. Here, we present a confirmation and meta-analysis study in which we assessed whether these two loci are also associated with myopia in other populations. The study population comprised 31 cohorts from the Consortium of Refractive Error and Myopia (CREAM) representing 4 different continents with 55,177 individuals; 42,845 Caucasians and 12,332 Asians. We performed a meta-analysis of 14 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on 15q14 and 5 SNPs on 15q25 using linear regression analysis with spherical equivalent as a quantitative outcome, adjusted for age and sex. We calculated the odds ratio (OR) of myopia versus hyperopia for carriers of the top-SNP alleles using a fixed effects meta-analysis. At locus 15q14, all SNPs were significantly replicated, with the lowest P value 3.87 × 10−12 for SNP rs634990 in Caucasians, and 9.65 × 10−4 for rs8032019 in Asians. The overall meta-analysis provided P value 9.20 × 10−23 for the top SNP rs634990. The risk of myopia versus hyperopia was OR 1.88 (95 % CI 1.64, 2.16, P < 0.001) for homozygous carriers of the risk allele at the top SNP rs634990, and OR 1.33 (95 % CI 1.19, 1.49, P < 0.001) for heterozygous carriers. SNPs at locus 15q25 did not replicate significantly (P value 5.81 × 10−2 for top SNP rs939661). We conclude that common variants at chromosome 15q14 influence susceptibility for myopia in Caucasian and Asian populations world-wide.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00439-012-1176-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3418496  PMID: 22665138
18.  Comprehensive Analysis of Copy Number Variation of Genes at Chromosome 1 and 10 Loci Associated with Late Age Related Macular Degeneration 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35255.
Copy Number Variants (CNVs) are now recognized as playing a significant role in complex disease etiology. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss in the western world. While a number of genes and environmental factors have been associated with both risk and protection in AMD, the role of CNVs has remained largely unexplored. We analyzed the two major AMD risk-associated regions on chromosome 1q32 and 10q26 for CNVs using Multiplex Ligation-dependant Probe Amplification. The analysis targeted nine genes in these two key regions, including the Complement Factor H (CFH) gene, the 5 CFH-related (CFHR) genes representing a known copy number “hotspot”, the F13B gene as well as the ARMS2 and HTRA1 genes in 387 cases of late AMD and 327 controls. No copy number variation was detected at the ARMS2 and HTRA1 genes in the chromosome 10 region, nor for the CFH and F13B genes at the chromosome 1 region. However, significant association was identified for the CFHR3-1 deletion in AMD cases (p = 2.38×10−12) OR = 0.31, CI-0.95 (0.23–0.44), for both neovascular disease (nAMD) (p = 8.3×10−9) OR = 0.36 CI-0.95 (0.25–0.52) and geographic atrophy (GA) (p = 1.5×10−6) OR = 0.36 CI-0.95 (0.25–0.52) compared to controls. In addition, a significant association with deletion of CFHR1-4 was identified only in patients who presented with bilateral GA (p = 0.02) (OR = 7.6 CI-0.95 1.38–41.8). This is the first report of a phenotype specific association of a CNV for a major subtype of AMD and potentially allows for pre-diagnostic identification of individuals most likely to proceed to this end stage of disease.
PMCID: PMC3338825  PMID: 22558131
19.  Variants in the APOE Gene Are Associated with Improved Outcome after Anti-VEGF Treatment for Neovascular AMD 
In patients with neovascular AMD, the presence of the apolipoprotein E e4 allele confers a significantly better chance of visual improvement after anti-VEGF treatment, suggesting a potential role for a personalized approach to therapy.
Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs have dramatically improved the treatment of neovascular AMD. In pivotal studies, almost 90% of patients maintain vision, with approximately 30% showing significant improvement. Despite these successes, 10% to 15% of patients continue to lose vision, even with treatment. It has been reported that variants in some AMD-associated genes influence treatment outcome. This study showed an association of treatment outcome with variants in the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene.
One hundred ninety-two patients receiving anti-VEGF treatment for subfoveal choroidal neovascularization secondary to AMD were enrolled. Information on demographics, lesion characteristics, delay until treatment, visual acuity (VA), and number of treatments was collected, and variants of APOE were assessed in all patients at baseline. Best corrected logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution (logMAR) VA was recorded in all patients.
The presence of the APOE ε4 allele was associated with improved treatment outcome at 3 (P = 0.02) and 12 (P = 0.06) months, compared with the presence of the ε2 allele, after adjustment for baseline acuity, treatment delay after first symptoms, age, and sex. Patients with an APOE ε4 allele had an odds ratio (OR) of 4.04 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11–14.70) for a 2-line gain in vision from baseline at 3 months (P = 0.03) and an OR of 2.54 (95% CI, 0.61–10.52; P = 0.20) at 12 months after treatment, based on multivariate analysis.
In patients with neovascular AMD, the presence of the APOE ε4 allele conferred significantly better visual outcomes after anti-VEGF treatment than did the ε2 allele. These findings suggest a possible role for a personalized approach to treatment with anti-VEGF.
PMCID: PMC3175959  PMID: 21245410
20.  Refinement of the associations between risk of colorectal cancer and polymorphisms on chromosomes 1q41 and 12q13.13 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(4):934-946.
In genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of colorectal cancer, we have identified two genomic regions in which pairs of tagging-single nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNPs) are associated with disease; these comprise chromosomes 1q41 (rs6691170, rs6687758) and 12q13.13 (rs7163702, rs11169552). We investigated these regions further, aiming to determine whether they contain more than one independent association signal and/or to identify the SNPs most strongly associated with disease. Genotyping of additional sample sets at the original tagSNPs showed that, for both regions, the two tagSNPs were unlikely to identify a single haplotype on which the functional variation lay. Conversely, one of the pair of SNPs did not fully capture the association signal in each region. We therefore undertook more detailed analyses, using imputation, logistic regression, genealogical analysis using the GENECLUSTER program and haplotype analysis. In the 1q41 region, the SNP rs11118883 emerged as a strong candidate based on all these analyses, sufficient to account for the signals at both rs6691170 and rs6687758. rs11118883 lies within a region with strong evidence of transcriptional regulatory activity and has been associated with expression of PDGFRB mRNA. For 12q13.13, a complex situation was found: SNP rs7972465 showed stronger association than either rs11169552 or rs7136702, and GENECLUSTER found no good evidence for a two-SNP model. However, logistic regression and haplotype analyses supported a two-SNP model, in which a signal at the SNP rs706793 was added to that at rs11169552. Post-GWAS fine-mapping studies are challenging, but the use of multiple tools can assist in identifying candidate functional variants in at least some cases.
PMCID: PMC3263985  PMID: 22076443
21.  Clinical validation of a genetic model to estimate the risk of developing choroidal neovascular age-related macular degeneration 
Human Genomics  2011;5(5):420-440.
Predictive tests for estimating the risk of developing late-stage neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are subject to unique challenges. AMD prevalence increases with age, clinical phenotypes are heterogeneous and control collections are prone to high false-negative rates, as many control subjects are likely to develop disease with advancing age. Risk prediction tests have been presented previously, using up to ten genetic markers and a range of self-reported non-genetic variables such as body mass index (BMI) and smoking history. In order to maximise the accuracy of prediction for mainstream genetic testing, we sought to derive a test comparable in performance to earlier testing models but based purely on genetic markers, which are static through life and not subject to misreporting. We report a multicentre assessment of a larger panel of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) than previously analysed, to improve further the classification performance of a predictive test to estimate the risk of developing choroidal neovascular (CNV) disease. We developed a predictive model based solely on genetic markers and avoided inclusion of self-reported variables (eg smoking history) or non-static factors (BMI, education status) that might otherwise introduce inaccuracies in calculating individual risk estimates. We describe the performance of a test panel comprising 13 SNPs genotyped across a consolidated collection of four patient cohorts obtained from academic centres deemed appropriate for pooling. We report on predictive effect sizes and their classification performance. By incorporating multiple cohorts of homogeneous ethnic origin, we obtained >80 per cent power to detect differences in genetic variants observed between cases and controls. We focused our study on CNV, a subtype of advanced AMD associated with a severe and potentially treatable form of the disease. Lastly, we followed a two-stage strategy involving both test model development and test model validation to present estimates of classification performance anticipated in the larger clinical setting. The model contained nine SNPs tagging variants in the regulators of complement activation (RCA) locus spanning the complement factor H (CFH), complement factor H-related 4 (CFHR4), complement factor H-related 5 (CFHR5) and coagulation factor XIII B subunit (F13B) genes; the four remaining SNPs targeted polymorphisms in the complement component 2 (C2), complement factor B (CFB), complement component 3 (C3) and age-related maculopathy susceptibility protein 2 (ARMS2) genes. The pooled sample size (1,132 CNV cases, 822 controls) allowed for both model development and model validation to confirm the accuracy of risk prediction. At the validation stage, our test model yielded 82 per cent sensitivity and 63 per cent specificity, comparable with metrics reported with earlier testing models that included environmental risk factors. Our test had an area under the curve of 0.80, reflecting a modest improvement compared with tests reported with fewer SNPs.
PMCID: PMC3525964  PMID: 21807600
age-related macular degeneration (AMD); choroidal neovascularisation (CNV); complement factor H (CFH); genetic testing
22.  Common variants near FRK/COL10A1 and VEGFA are associated with advanced age-related macular degeneration 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(18):3699-3709.
Despite significant progress in the identification of genetic loci for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), not all of the heritability has been explained. To identify variants which contribute to the remaining genetic susceptibility, we performed the largest meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies to date for advanced AMD. We imputed 6 036 699 single-nucleotide polymorphisms with the 1000 Genomes Project reference genotypes on 2594 cases and 4134 controls with follow-up replication of top signals in 5640 cases and 52 174 controls. We identified two new common susceptibility alleles, rs1999930 on 6q21-q22.3 near FRK/COL10A1 [odds ratio (OR) 0.87; P = 1.1 × 10−8] and rs4711751 on 6p12 near VEGFA (OR 1.15; P = 8.7 × 10−9). In addition to the two novel loci, 10 previously reported loci in ARMS2/HTRA1 (rs10490924), CFH (rs1061170, and rs1410996), CFB (rs641153), C3 (rs2230199), C2 (rs9332739), CFI (rs10033900), LIPC (rs10468017), TIMP3 (rs9621532) and CETP (rs3764261) were confirmed with genome-wide significant signals in this large study. Loci in the recently reported genes ABCA1 and COL8A1 were also detected with suggestive evidence of association with advanced AMD. The novel variants identified in this study suggest that angiogenesis (VEGFA) and extracellular collagen matrix (FRK/COL10A1) pathways contribute to the development of advanced AMD.
PMCID: PMC3159552  PMID: 21665990
23.  Multiple Common Susceptibility Variants near BMP Pathway Loci GREM1, BMP4, and BMP2 Explain Part of the Missing Heritability of Colorectal Cancer 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(6):e1002105.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified 14 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNPs) that are associated with the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), and several of these tagSNPs are near bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway loci. The penalty of multiple testing implicit in GWAS increases the attraction of complementary approaches for disease gene discovery, including candidate gene- or pathway-based analyses. The strongest candidate loci for additional predisposition SNPs are arguably those already known both to have functional relevance and to be involved in disease risk. To investigate this proposition, we searched for novel CRC susceptibility variants close to the BMP pathway genes GREM1 (15q13.3), BMP4 (14q22.2), and BMP2 (20p12.3) using sample sets totalling 24,910 CRC cases and 26,275 controls. We identified new, independent CRC predisposition SNPs close to BMP4 (rs1957636, P = 3.93×10−10) and BMP2 (rs4813802, P = 4.65×10−11). Near GREM1, we found using fine-mapping that the previously-identified association between tagSNP rs4779584 and CRC actually resulted from two independent signals represented by rs16969681 (P = 5.33×10−8) and rs11632715 (P = 2.30×10−10). As low-penetrance predisposition variants become harder to identify—owing to small effect sizes and/or low risk allele frequencies—approaches based on informed candidate gene selection may become increasingly attractive. Our data emphasise that genetic fine-mapping studies can deconvolute associations that have arisen owing to independent correlation of a tagSNP with more than one functional SNP, thus explaining some of the apparently missing heritability of common diseases.
Author Summary
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several colorectal cancer (CRC) susceptibility polymorphisms near genes that encode proteins in the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway. However, most of the inherited susceptibility to CRC remains unexplained. We investigated three of the best candidate BMP genes (GREM1, BMP4, and BMP2) for additional polymorphisms associated with CRC. By extensive validation of polymorphisms with only modest evidence of association in the initial phases of the GWAS, we identified new, independent CRC predisposition polymorphisms close to BMP4 (rs1957636) and BMP2 (rs4813802). Near GREM1, we used additional genotyping around the GWAS-identified polymorphism rs4779584 to demonstrate two independent signals represented by rs16969681 and rs11632715. Common genes with modest effects on disease risk are becoming harder to identify, and approaches based on informed candidate gene selection may become increasingly attractive. In addition, genetic fine mapping around polymorphisms identified in GWAS can deconvolute associations which have arisen owing to two independent functional variants. These types of study can identify some of the apparently missing heritability of common disease.
PMCID: PMC3107194  PMID: 21655089
24.  Can HMG Co-A reductase inhibitors (“statins”) slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration? The Age-Related Maculopathy Statin Study (ARMSS) 
Clinical Interventions in Aging  2008;3(3):581-593.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is responsible for the majority of visual impairment in the Western world. The role of cholesterol-lowering medications, HMG Co-A reductase inhibitors or statins, in reducing the risk of AMD or of delaying its progression has not been fully investigated. A 3-year prospective randomized controlled trial of 40 mg simvastatin per day compared to placebo in subjects at high risk of AMD progression is described. This paper outlines the primary aims of the Age-Related Maculopathy Statin Study (ARMSS), and the methodology involved. Standardized clinical grading of macular photographs and comparison of serial macular digital photographs, using the International grading scheme, form the basis for assessment of primary study outcomes. In addition, macular function is assessed at each visit with detailed psychophysical measurements of rod and cone function. Information collected in this study will assist in the assessment of the potential value of HMG Co-A reductase inhibitors (statins) in reducing the risk of AMD progression.
PMCID: PMC2682391  PMID: 18982929
age-related macular degeneration; progression; randomized controlled trial; HMG Co-A reductase inhibitor; statin; visual function

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