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1.  Use of Cooking Fuels and Cataract in a Population-Based Study: The India Eye Disease Study 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2016;124(12):1857-1862.
Biomass cooking fuels are commonly used in Indian households, especially by the poorest socioeconomic groups. Cataract is highly prevalent in India and the major cause of vision loss. The evidence on biomass fuels and cataract is limited.
To examine the association of biomass cooking fuels with cataract and type of cataract.
We conducted a population-based study in north and south India using randomly sampled clusters to identify people ≥ 60 years old. Participants were interviewed and asked about cooking fuel use, socioeconomic and lifestyle factors and attended hospital for digital lens imaging (graded using the Lens Opacity Classification System III), anthropometry, and blood collection. Years of use of biomass fuels were estimated and transformed to a standardized normal distribution.
Of the 7,518 people sampled, 94% were interviewed and 83% of these attended the hospital. Sex modified the association between years of biomass fuel use and cataract; the adjusted odds ratio (OR) for a 1-SD increase in years of biomass fuel use and nuclear cataract was 1.04 (95% CI: 0.88, 1.23) for men and 1.28 (95% CI: 1.10, 1.48) for women, p interaction = 0.07. Kerosene use was low (10%). Among women, kerosene use was associated with nuclear (OR = 1.76, 95% CI: 1.04, 2.97) and posterior subcapsular cataract (OR = 1.71, 95% CI: 1.10, 2.64). There was no association among men.
Our results provide robust evidence for the association of biomass fuels with cataract for women but not for men. Our finding for kerosene and cataract among women is novel and requires confirmation in other studies.
Ravilla TD, Gupta S, Ravindran RD, Vashist P, Krishnan T, Maraini G, Chakravarthy U, Fletcher AE. 2016. Use of cooking fuels and cataract in a population-based study: the India Eye Disease Study. Environ Health Perspect 124:1857–1862;
PMCID: PMC5132636  PMID: 27227523
2.  StereoTactic radiotherapy for wet Age-Related macular degeneration (STAR): study protocol for a randomised controlled clinical trial 
Trials  2016;17:560.
The standard of care for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) involves ongoing intravitreal injections of anti-angiogenic drugs targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The most commonly used anti-VEGF drugs are ranibizumab, bevacizumab and aflibercept. The main objective of the STAR trial is to determine if stereotactic radiotherapy can reduce the number of anti-VEGF injections that patients with nAMD require.
STAR is a multicentre, double-masked, randomised, sham-controlled clinical trial. It evaluates a new device (manufactured by Oraya, Newark, CA, USA) designed to deliver stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) to nAMD lesions. The trial enrols participants with chronic, active nAMD. Participants receive a single SRT treatment (16 Gy or sham) with a concomitant baseline intravitreal injection of 0.5 mg ranibizumab. Thereafter, they attend every month for 24 months, and ranibizumab is administered at the visit if retreatment criteria are met. The primary outcome is the number of pro re nata ranibizumab injections during the first 24 months. Secondary outcomes include visual acuity, lesion morphology, quality of life and safety. Additional visits occur at 36 and 48 months to inspect for radiation retinopathy.
The target sample size of 411 participants (randomised 2:1 in favour of radiation) is designed to detect a reduction of 2.5 injections against ranibizumab monotherapy, at 90% power, and a significance level (alpha) of 0.025 (one-sided two-sample t test). This gives 97% power to detect non-inferiority of visual acuity at a five-letter margin. The primary analyses will be by intention to treat.
The safety and efficacy outcomes will help determine the role of SRT in the management of chronic, active nAMD.
Trial registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number: ISRCTN12884465. Registered on 28 November 2014. NCT02243878. Registered on 17 September 2014.
PMCID: PMC5121938  PMID: 27881184
Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor; VEGF; Neovascular age-related macular degeneration; Wet age-related macular degeneration; Radiation; Ranibizumab; STAR study; Stereotactic radiotherapy
3.  VEGFR2 Gene Polymorphisms and Response to Anti-VEGF Therapy in Age-Related Macular Degeneration 
Ophthalmology  2015;122(8):1563-1568.
A previously published study demonstrated a pharmacogenetic association between the minor alleles of two VEGFR2 SNPs and greater improvement in visual acuity (VA) to treatment with ranibizumab, an anti-VEGF drug, in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD). We evaluated whether this association was replicated among patients who participated in the Comparison of AMD Treatments Trials (CATT) or the Alternative Treatments to Inhibit VEGF in Patients with Age-Related Choroidal Neovascularisation (IVAN) trial.
Cohort studies within randomized clinical trials.
835 patients participating in CATT and 512 patients participating in IVAN.
Each patient was genotyped for SNPs rs4576072 and rs6828477 in the VEGFR2 gene.
Main Outcomes Measures
Mean change in VA from baseline one year after initiation of treatment with ranibizumab or bevacizumab. Differences in VA response between the patient group homozygous for the minor allele of each SNP and the other genotype groups were evaluated with analysis of variance. Differences in VA response by the number of minor alleles present for either SNP or both combined were evaluated with tests of linear trend. Analyses were conducted separately for CATT and IVAN participants and with both the studies combined.
No statistically significant difference in mean change in VA was identified between genotypes of either SNP (p≥0.05). Furthermore, a stepwise analysis failed to show a significant interaction for either SNP based upon the number of minor alleles present. The lack of association was similar in both the CATT and IVAN cohorts and whether the analysis combined patients treated with either ranibizumab or bevacizumab or when restricted to patients treated with ranibizumab only.
The CATT and IVAN data do not support a pharmacogenetic association between the two VEGFR2 SNPs, rs4576072 and rs6828477, and change in VA response to anti-VEGF therapy in patients with nAMD.
PMCID: PMC4516643  PMID: 26028346
4.  UK AMD EMR USERS GROUP REPORT V: benefits of initiating ranibizumab therapy for neovascular AMD in eyes with vision better than 6/12 
The British journal of ophthalmology  2015;99(8):1045-1050.
To study the effectiveness and clinical relevance of eyes treated with good (better than 6/12 or >70 Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study letters) visual acuity (VA) when initiating treatment with ranibizumab for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) in the UK National Health Service. Currently eyes with VA better than (>) 6/12 are not routinely funded for therapy.
Multicentre national nAMD database study on patients treated 3–5 years prior to the analysis. Anonymised structured data were collected from 14 centres. The primary outcome was the mean VA at year 1, 2 and 3. Secondary measures included the number of clinic visits and injections.
The study included 12 951 treatment-naive eyes of 11 135 patients receiving 92 976 ranibizumab treatment episodes. A total of 754 patients had baseline VA better than 6/12 and at least 1-year of follow up. Mean VA of first treated eyes with baseline VA>6/12 at year 1, 2, 3 were 6/10, 6/12, 6/15, respectively and those with baseline VA 6/12 to >6/24 were 6/15, 6/17, 6/20, respectively (p values <0.001 for comparing differences between 6/12 and 6/12–6/24 groups). For the second eyes with baseline VA>6/12, mean VA at year 1, 2, 3 were 6/9, 6/9, 6/10 and those with baseline VA 6/12 to >6/24 were 6/15, 6/15, 6/27, respectively (p values <0.001–0.005). There was no significant difference in the average number of clinic visits or injections between those with VA better and worse than 6/12.
All eyes with baseline VA>6/12 maintained better mean VA than the eyes with baseline VA 6/12 to >6/24 at all time points for at least 2 years. The significantly better visual outcome in patients who were treated with good baseline VA has implications on future policy regarding the treatment criteria for nAMD patients’ funding.
PMCID: PMC4560462  PMID: 25680619
5.  STAT3 activation in circulating monocytes contributes to neovascular age-related macular degeneration 
Current molecular medicine  2016;16(4):412-423.
Infiltrating macrophages are critically involved in pathogenic angiogenesis such as neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD). Macrophages originate from circulating monocytes and three subtypes of monocyte exist in humans: classical (CD14+CD16-), non-classical (CD14-CD16+) and intermediate (CD14+CD16+) monocytes. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of circulating monocyte in neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD). Flow cytometry analysis showed that the intermediate monocytes from nAMD patients expressed higher levels of CX3CR1 and HLA-DR compared to those from controls. Monocytes from nAMD patients expressed higher levels of phosphorylated Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (pSTAT3), and produced higher amount of VEGF. In the mouse model of choroidal neovascularization (CNV), pSTAT3 expression was increased in the retina and RPE/choroid, and 49.24% of infiltrating macrophages express pSTAT3. Genetic deletion of the Suppressor of Cytokine Signalling 3 (SOCS3) in myeloid cells in the LysM-Cre+/-:SOCS3fl/fl mice resulted in spontaneous STAT3 activation and accelerated CNV formation. Inhibition of STAT3 activation using a small peptide LLL12 suppressed laser-induced CNV. Our results suggest that monocytes, in particular the intermediate subset of monocytes are activated in nAMD patients. STAT3 activation in circulating monocytes may contribute to the development of choroidal neovascularisation in AMD.
PMCID: PMC4839497  PMID: 27009107
Macrophage; monocyte; angiogenesis; retina; age-related macular degeneration; cytokine
6.  Effectiveness of Community versus Hospital Eye Service follow-up for patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration with quiescent disease (ECHoES): a virtual non-inferiority trial 
BMJ Open  2016;6(7):e010685.
To compare the ability of ophthalmologists versus optometrists to correctly classify retinal lesions due to neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD).
Randomised balanced incomplete block trial. Optometrists in the community and ophthalmologists in the Hospital Eye Service classified lesions from vignettes comprising clinical information, colour fundus photographs and optical coherence tomographic images. Participants' classifications were validated against experts' classifications (reference standard).
Internet-based application.
Ophthalmologists with experience in the age-related macular degeneration service; fully qualified optometrists not participating in nAMD shared care.
The trial emulated a conventional trial comparing optometrists' and ophthalmologists' decision-making, but vignettes, not patients, were assessed. Therefore, there were no interventions and the trial was virtual. Participants received training before assessing vignettes.
Main outcome measures
Primary outcome—correct classification of the activity status of a lesion based on a vignette, compared with a reference standard. Secondary outcomes—potentially sight-threatening errors, judgements about specific lesion components and participants' confidence in their decisions.
In total, 155 participants registered for the trial; 96 (48 in each group) completed all assessments and formed the analysis population. Optometrists and ophthalmologists achieved 1702/2016 (84.4%) and 1722/2016 (85.4%) correct classifications, respectively (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.25; p=0.543). Optometrists' decision-making was non-inferior to ophthalmologists' with respect to the prespecified limit of 10% absolute difference (0.298 on the odds scale). Optometrists and ophthalmologists made similar numbers of sight-threatening errors (57/994 (5.7%) vs 62/994 (6.2%), OR 0.93, 95% CI 0.55 to 1.57; p=0.789). Ophthalmologists assessed lesion components as present less often than optometrists and were more confident about their classifications than optometrists.
Optometrists' ability to make nAMD retreatment decisions from vignettes is not inferior to ophthalmologists' ability. Shared care with optometrists monitoring quiescent nAMD lesions has the potential to reduce workload in hospitals.
Trial registration number
ISRCTN07479761; pre-results registration.
PMCID: PMC4947830  PMID: 27401357
AMD; Wet AMD Reactivation; Optical Coherence Tomography
7.  Higher plasma levels of complement C3a, C4a and C5a increase the risk of subretinal fibrosis in neovascular age-related macular degeneration 
The aim of this study was to investigate the plasma levels of complement C3a, C4a, and C5a in different types of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) and whether the levels were related to patients’ responsiveness to anti-VEGF therapy.
Ninety-six nAMD patients (including 61 with choroidal neovascularisation (CNV), 17 with retinal angiomatous proliferation (RAP), 14 with polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy (PCV) and 4 unclassified patients) and 43 controls were recruited to this case–control study. Subretinal fibrosis was observed in 45 nAMD patients and was absent in 51 nAMD patients. In addition, the responsiveness to anti-VEGF (Lucentis) therapy was also evaluated in nAMD patients. Forty-four patients were complete responders, 48 were partially responders, and only 4 patients did not respond to the therapy. The plasma levels of C3a, C4a and C5a were significantly higher in nAMD patients compared to controls. Further analysis of nAMD subgroups showed that the levels of C3a, C4a and C5a were significantly increased in patients with CNV but not RAP and PCV. Significantly increased levels of C3a, C4a and C5a were also observed in nAMD patients with subretinal fibrosis but not in those without subretinal fibrosis. Higher levels of C3a were observed in nAMD patients who responded partially to anti-VEGF therapy.
Our results suggest increased systemic complement activation in nAMD patients with CNV but not RAP and PCV. Our results also suggest that higher levels of systemic complement activation may increase the risk of subretinal fibrosis in nAMD patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12979-016-0060-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4754842  PMID: 26884800
Age-related macular degeneration; Choroidal neovascularisation; Complement; Subretinal fibrosis
8.  A retrospective study of the real-life utilization and effectiveness of ranibizumab therapy for neovascular age-related macular degeneration in the UK 
AURA was an international, retrospective, observational study that monitored the real-life use and effectiveness of ranibizumab injections in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD). This paper reports the findings from the UK.
Patients who started treatment with ranibizumab between January 1, 2009, and August 31, 2009, and had documented follow-up to the end of their treatment and/or monitoring or until August 31, 2011, were retrospectively monitored; the diagnosis and subsequent decision to treat was made by the patient’s own physician. Assessments included the change in visual acuity (standardized letter count) during the first and second years after start of ranibizumab therapy and resource utilization.
Four hundred and ten patients from 13 UK centers were analyzed. The mean (standard deviation [SD]) letter score at baseline was 55.0 (17.8). The mean (SD) change in visual acuity from baseline was +6.0 (15.4) letters at year 1 and +4.1 (16.9) at year 2. Most of the patients (86.6%) completed a 3-month loading phase; the visual improvements were numerically higher in these patients. Over 2 years, the mean (SD) number of clinic visits and injections was 18.4 (5.0) and 9.0 (4.7), respectively. Resource use and visual acuity gains were greater than those observed in the global population, which included other countries enrolled in AURA (Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Venezuela). When patients were stratified according to severity of nAMD (based on letter count at baseline), the mean change in visual acuity score at years 1 and 2 was also higher for the UK than for the global population across all subgroups.
Monitoring and treatment rates were high in the UK, resulting in better visual acuity outcomes compared with other included countries. This suggests that translation of clinical study outcomes into real-life settings is achievable, but at the expense of higher resource utilization than is currently the norm in most developed countries.
PMCID: PMC4716754  PMID: 26834453
neovascular or wet age-related macular degeneration; anti-vascular endothelial growth factor
9.  The reduction of serum soluble Flt-1 in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration 
American journal of ophthalmology  2014;159(1):92-100.e2.
To evaluate serum soluble Flt-1 (sFlt-1) in age-related degeneration (AMD) patients.
Case control study.
Fifty-six non-AMD participants, fifty-three early AMD patients and ninety-seven neovascular AMD patients from Belfast in Northern Ireland. Serum samples were collected from each patient. Serum sFlt-1 was measured by human sVEGFR1/sFlt-1 ELISA kit. The results were analyzed by Excel and SPSS.
Serum sFlt-1 concentration of non-AMD, early AMD, and neovascular AMD were 90.8±2.9 pg/mL (±SEM), 88.2±2.6 pg/mL and 79.9±2.2 pg/mL. sFlt-1 from neovascular AMD patients was significantly decreased compared to non-AMD and early AMD patients (ANOVA, p<0.01). For each 10 point increase in sFlt-1, the odds for having neovascular AMD compared with non-AMD and neovascular AMD decreases by 27.8% OR=0.722 (95% CI: 0.588-0.888, p=0.002) and 27.0% OR=0.730 (95% CI: 0.594–0.898, p=0.003), respectively. In patients over 73 years of age, serum sFlt-1 <80 pg/mL was associated with a >6-fold higher risk of neovascular AMD.
Reduced serum sFlt-1 differentiates those patients with neovascular AMD from both early AMD and non-AMD participants. In those aged over 73, serum sFlt <80 pg/mL seems to indicate a particularly high risk of neovascular AMD. Our results indicate serum sFlt-1 could be a biomarker for development of neovascular AMD.
PMCID: PMC4262635  PMID: 25284761
10.  Alterations in Circulating Immune Cells in Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:16754.
Neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries. Recent advances have highlighted the essential role of inflammation in the development of the disease. In addition to local retinal chronic inflammatory response, systemic immune alterations have also been observed in AMD patients. In this study we investigated the association between the frequency of circulating leukocyte populations and the prevalence as well as clinical presentations of nAMD. Leukocyte subsets of 103 nAMD patients (most of them were receiving anti-VEGF therapy prior to enrolment) and 26 controls were analysed by flow cytometry by relative cell size, granularity and surface markers. Circulating CD11b+ cells and CD16hiHLA-DR− neutrophils were significantly increased (P = 0.015 and 0.009 respectively) in nAMD when compared to controls. The percentage of circulating CD4+ T-cells was reduced in nAMD patients without subretinal fibrosis (P = 0.026) compared to patients with subretinal fibrosis. There was no correlation between the percentage of circulating leukocytes and the responsiveness to anti-VEGF therapy in nAMD patients. Our results suggest that higher levels of circulating CD11b+ cells and neutrophils are associated with nAMD and that reduced levels of CD4+ T-cells are associated with the absence of subretinal fibrosis in nAMD.
PMCID: PMC4648089  PMID: 26572732
11.  Designing, implementing and analysing a virtual trial 
Trials  2015;16(Suppl 2):O82.
PMCID: PMC4659315
12.  Just a simple observational follow-up study? 
Trials  2015;16(Suppl 2):P90.
PMCID: PMC4660137
13.  Systemic safety of bevacizumab versus ranibizumab for neovascular age-related macular degeneration 
Neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of legal blindness in elderly populations of industrialised countries. Bevacizumab (Avastin®) and ranibizumab (Lucentis®) are targeted biological drugs (a monoclonal antibody) that inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor, an angiogenic cytokine that promotes vascular leakage and growth, thereby preventing its pathological angiogenesis. Ranibizumab is approved for intravitreal use to treat neovascular AMD, while bevacizumab is approved for intravenous use as a cancer therapy. However, due to the biological similarity of the two drugs, bevacizumab is widely used off-label to treat neovascular AMD.
To assess the systemic safety of intravitreal bevacizumab (brand name Avastin®; Genentech/Roche) compared with intravitreal ranibizumab (brand name Lucentis®; Novartis/Genentech) in people with neovascular AMD. Primary outcomes were death and All serious systemic adverse events (All SSAEs), the latter as a composite outcome in accordance with the International Conference on Harmonisation Good Clinical Practice. Secondary outcomes examined specific SSAEs: fatal and non-fatal myocardial infarctions, strokes, arteriothrombotic events, serious infections, and events grouped in some Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities System Organ Classes (MedDRA SOC). We assessed the safety at the longest available follow-up to a maximum of two years.
Search methods
We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE and other online databases up to 27 March 2014. We also searched abstracts and clinical study presentations at meetings, trial registries, and contacted authors of included studies when we had questions.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) directly comparing intravitreal bevacizumab (1.25 mg) and ranibizumab (0.5 mg) in people with neovascular AMD, regardless of publication status, drug dose, treatment regimen, or follow-up length, and whether the SSAEs of interest were reported in the trial report.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently selected studies and assessed the risk of bias for each study. Three authors independently extracted data.
We conducted random-effects meta-analyses for the primary and secondary outcomes. We planned a pre-specified analysis to explore deaths and All SSAEs at the one-year follow-up.
Main results
We included data from nine studies (3665 participants), including six published (2745 participants) and three unpublished (920 participants) RCTs, none supported by industry. Three studies excluded participants at high cardiovascular risk, increasing clinical heterogeneity among studies. The studies were well designed, and we did not downgrade the quality of the evidence for any of the outcomes due to risk of bias. Although the estimated effects of bevacizumab and ranibizumab on our outcomes were similar, we downgraded the quality of the evidence due to imprecision.
At the maximum follow-up (one or two years), the estimated risk ratio (RR) of death with bevacizumab compared with ranibizumab was 1.10 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.78 to 1.57, P value = 0.59; eight studies, 3338 participants; moderate quality evidence). Based on the event rates in the studies, this gives a risk of death with ranibizumab of 3.4% and with bevacizumab of 3.7% (95% CI 2.7% to 5.3%).
For All SSAEs, the estimated RR was 1.08 (95% CI 0.90 to 1.31, P value = 0.41; nine studies, 3665 participants; low quality evidence). Based on the event rates in the studies, this gives a risk of SSAEs of 22.2% with ranibizumab and with bevacizumab of 24% (95% CI 20% to 29.1%).
For the secondary outcomes, we could not detect any difference between bevacizumab and ranibizumab, with the exception of gastrointestinal disorders MedDRA SOC where there was a higher risk with bevacizumab (RR 1.82; 95% CI 1.04 to 3.19, P value = 0.04; six studies, 3190 participants).
Pre-specified analyses of deaths and All SSAEs at one-year follow-up did not substantially alter the findings of our review.
Fixed-effect analysis for deaths did not substantially alter the findings of our review, but fixed-effect analysis of All SSAEs showed an increased risk for bevacizumab (RR 1.12; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.26, P value = 0.04; nine studies, 3665 participants): the meta-analysis was dominated by a single study (weight = 46.9%).
The available evidence was sensitive to the exclusion of CATT or unpublished results. For All SSAEs, the exclusion of CATT moved the overall estimate towards no difference (RR 1.01; 95% CI 0.82 to 1.25, P value = 0.92), while the exclusion of LUCAS yielded a larger RR, with more SSAEs in the bevacizumab group, largely driven by CATT (RR 1.19; 95% CI 1.06 to 1.34, P value = 0.004). The exclusion of all unpublished studies produced a RR of 1.12 for death (95% CI 0.78 to 1.62, P value = 0.53) and a RR of 1.21 for SSAEs (95% CI 1.06 to 1.37, P value = 0.004), indicating a higher risk of SSAEs in those assigned to bevacizumab than ranibizumab.
Authors’ conclusions
This systematic review of non-industry sponsored RCTs could not determine a difference between intravitreal bevacizumab and ranibizumab for deaths, All SSAEs, or specific subsets of SSAEs in the first two years of treatment, with the exception of gastrointestinal disorders. The current evidence is imprecise and might vary across levels of patient risks, but overall suggests that if a difference exists, it is likely to be small. Health policies for the utilisation of ranibizumab instead of bevacizumab as a routine intervention for neovascular AMD for reasons of systemic safety are not sustained by evidence. The main results and quality of evidence should be verified once all trials are fully published.
PMCID: PMC4262120  PMID: 25220133
14.  A Candidate Gene Association Study Identifies DAPL1 as a Female-Specific Susceptibility Locus for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) 
Neuromolecular Medicine  2015;17(2):111-120.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness among white caucasians over the age of 50 years with a prevalence rate expected to increase markedly with an anticipated increase in the life span of the world population. To further expand our knowledge of the genetic architecture of the disease, we pursued a candidate gene approach assessing 25 genes and a total of 109 variants. Of these, synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs17810398 located in death-associated protein-like 1 (DAPL1) was found to be associated with AMD in a joint analysis of 3,229 cases and 2,835 controls from five studies [combined PADJ = 1.15 × 10−6, OR 1.332 (1.187–1.496)]. This association was characterized by a highly significant sex difference (Pdiff = 0.0032) in that it was clearly confined to females with genome-wide significance [PADJ = 2.62 × 10−8, OR 1.541 (1.324–1.796); males: PADJ = 0.382, OR 1.084 (0.905–1.298)]. By targeted resequencing of risk and non-risk associated haplotypes in the DAPL1 locus, we identified additional potentially functional risk variants, namely a common 897-bp deletion and a SNP predicted to affect a putative binding site of an exonic splicing enhancer. We show that the risk haplotype correlates with a reduced retinal transcript level of two, less frequent, non-canonical DAPL1 isoforms. DAPL1 plays a role in epithelial differentiation and may be involved in apoptotic processes thereby suggesting a possible novel pathway in AMD pathogenesis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12017-015-8342-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4419162  PMID: 25680934
Age-related macular degeneration; Death-associated protein-like 1, DAPL1; Canonical DAPL1 isoforms; Genetic association study
15.  FLT1 Genetic Variation Predisposes to Neovascular AMD in Ethnically Diverse Populations and Alters Systemic FLT1 Expression 
Current understanding of the genetic risk factors for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is not sufficiently predictive of the clinical course. The VEGF pathway is a key therapeutic target for treatment of neovascular AMD; however, risk attributable to genetic variation within pathway genes is unclear. We sought to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with AMD within the VEGF pathway.
Using a tagSNP, direct sequencing and meta-analysis approach within four ethnically diverse cohorts, we identified genetic risk present in FLT1, though not within other VEGF pathway genes KDR, VEGFA, or VASH1. We used ChIP and ELISA in functional analysis.
The FLT1 SNPs rs9943922, rs9508034, rs2281827, rs7324510, and rs9513115 were significantly associated with increased risk of neovascular AMD. Each association was more significant after meta-analysis than in any one of the four cohorts. All associations were novel, within noncoding regions of FLT1 that do not tag for coding variants in linkage disequilibrium. Analysis of soluble FLT1 demonstrated higher expression in unaffected individuals homozygous for the FLT1 risk alleles rs9943922 (P = 0.0086) and rs7324510 (P = 0.0057). In silico analysis suggests that these variants change predicted splice sites and RNA secondary structure, and have been identified in other neovascular pathologies. These data were supported further by murine chromatin immunoprecipitation demonstrating that FLT1 is a target of Nr2e3, a nuclear receptor gene implicated in regulating an AMD pathway.
Although exact variant functions are not known, these data demonstrate relevancy across ethnically diverse genetic backgrounds within our study and, therefore, hold potential for global efficacy.
Significance of VEGF pathway genetic variation within AMD is unclear. We demonstrate genetic risk for neovascular AMD present in FLT1, but not KDR, VASH1, or VEGFA using multiple, ethnically diverse cohorts. The association was more significant in meta-analysis than in any single cohort.
PMCID: PMC4073997  PMID: 24812550
age-related macular degeneration; angiogenesis; FLT1; VEGF
16.  Small RNAs from plants, bacteria and fungi within the order Hypocreales are ubiquitous in human plasma 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):933.
The human microbiome plays a significant role in maintaining normal physiology. Changes in its composition have been associated with bowel disease, metabolic disorders and atherosclerosis. Sequences of microbial origin have been observed within small RNA sequencing data obtained from blood samples. The aim of this study was to characterise the microbiome from which these sequences are derived.
Abundant non-human small RNA sequences were identified in plasma and plasma exosomal samples. Assembly of these short sequences into longer contigs was the pivotal novel step in ascertaining their origin by BLAST searches. Most reads mapped to rRNA sequences. The taxonomic profiles of the microbes detected were very consistent between individuals but distinct from microbiomes reported at other sites. The majority of bacterial reads were from the phylum Proteobacteria, whilst for 5 of 6 individuals over 90% of the more abundant fungal reads were from the phylum Ascomycota; of these over 90% were from the order Hypocreales. Many contigs were from plants, presumably of dietary origin. In addition, extremely abundant small RNAs derived from human Y RNAs were detected.
A characteristic profile of a subset of the human microbiome can be obtained by sequencing small RNAs present in the blood. The source and functions of these molecules remain to be determined, but the specific profiles are likely to reflect health status. The potential to provide biomarkers of diet and for the diagnosis and prognosis of human disease is immense.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-933) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4230795  PMID: 25344700
Small RNAs; Fungi; Plasma; Microbiome; Metagenomics; Next generation sequencing; MicroRNA; Biomarker; Blood; Y RNA
17.  Cost-effectiveness of ranibizumab and bevacizumab for age-related macular degeneration: 2-year findings from the IVAN randomised trial 
BMJ Open  2014;4(7):e005094.
To assess the incremental cost and cost-effectiveness of continuous and discontinuous regimens of bevacizumab (Avastin) and ranibizumab (Lucentis) for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) from a UK National Health Service (NHS) perspective.
A within-trial cost-utility analysis with a 2-year time horizon, based on a multicentre factorial, non-inferiority randomised controlled trial.
23 hospital ophthalmology clinics.
610 patients aged ≥50 years with untreated nAMD in the study eye.
0.5 mg ranibizumab or 1.25 mg bevacizumab given continuously (monthly) or discontinuously (as-needed) for 2 years.
Main outcome measures
Quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs).
Total 2-year costs ranged from £3002/patient ($4700; 95% CI £2601 to £3403) for discontinuous bevacizumab to £18 590/patient ($29 106; 95% CI £18 258 to £18 922) for continuous ranibizumab. Ranibizumab was significantly more costly than bevacizumab for both continuous (+£14 989/patient ($23 468); 95% CI £14 522 to £15 456; p<0.001) and discontinuous treatment (+£8498 ($13 305); 95% CI £7700 to £9295; p<0.001), with negligible difference in QALYs. Continuous ranibizumab would only be cost-effective compared with continuous bevacizumab if the NHS were willing to pay £3.5 million ($5.5 million) per additional QALY gained. Patients receiving continuous bevacizumab accrued higher total costs (+£599 ($938); 95% CI £91 to £1107; p=0.021) than those receiving discontinuous bevacizumab, but also accrued non-significantly more QALYs (+0.020; 95% CI −0.032 to 0.071; p=0.452). Continuous bevacizumab therefore cost £30 220 ($47 316) per QALY gained versus discontinuous bevacizumab. However, bootstrapping demonstrated that if the NHS is willing to pay £20 000/QALY gained, there is a 37% chance that continuous bevacizumab is cost-effective versus discontinuous bevacizumab.
Ranibizumab is not cost-effective compared with bevacizumab, being substantially more costly and producing little or no QALY gain. Discontinuous bevacizumab is likely to be the most cost-effective of the four treatment strategies evaluated in this UK trial, although there is a 37% chance that continuous bevacizumab is cost-effective.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC4120317  PMID: 25079928
Neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD); vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors; trial-based economic evaluation; cost-utility analysis; cost-minimisation analysis; cost-effectiveness
18.  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
19.  Polymorphisms in ARMS2/HTRA1 and Complement Genes and Age-Related Macular Degeneration in India: Findings from the INDEYE Study 
Association between genetic variants in complement factor H (CFH), factor B (CFB), component 2 (C2), and in the ARMS2/HTRA1 region with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) comes mainly from studies of European ancestry and case-control studies of late-stage disease. We investigated associations of both early and late AMD with these variants in a population-based study of people aged 60 years and older in India.
Fundus images were graded using the Wisconsin Age-Related Maculopathy Grading System and participants assigned to one of four mutually exclusive stages based on the worse affected eye (0 = no AMD, 1–3 = early AMD, 4 = late AMD). Multinomial logistic regression was used to derive risk ratios (RR) accounting for sampling method and adjusting for age, sex, and study center.
Of 3569 participants, 53.2% had no signs of AMD, 45.6% had features of early AMD, and 1.2% had late AMD. CFH (rs1061170), C2 (rs547154), or CFB (rs438999) was not associated with early or late AMD. In the ARMS2 locus, rs10490924 was associated with both early (adjusted RR 1.22, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.13–1.33, P < 0.0001) and late AMD (adjusted RR 1.81, 95% CI: 1.15–2.86; P = 0.01); rs2672598 was associated only with early AMD (adjusted RR 1.12, 95% CI: 1.02–1.23; P = 0.02); rs10490923 was not associated with early or late AMD.
Two variants in ARMS2/HTRA1 were associated with increased risk of early AMD, and for one of these, the increased risk was also evident for late AMD. The study provides new insights into the role of these variants in early stages of AMD in India.
We report results from a genetic association study of early AMD in an Indian population. Two variants in the ARMS/HTRA1 region were associated with early AMD but variants in C2, CFH, and CFB were not.
PMCID: PMC3490538  PMID: 23060141
20.  Complement factor H genetic variant and age-related macular degeneration: effect size, modifiers and relationship to disease subtype 
Background Variation in the complement factor H gene (CFH) is associated with risk of late age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Previous studies have been case–control studies in populations of European ancestry with little differentiation in AMD subtype, and insufficient power to confirm or refute effect modification by smoking.
Methods To precisely quantify the association of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP rs1061170, ‘Y402H’) with risk of AMD among studies with differing study designs, participant ancestry and AMD grade and to investigate effect modification by smoking, we report two unpublished genetic association studies (n = 2759) combined with data from 24 published studies (26 studies, 26 494 individuals, including 14 174 cases of AMD) of European ancestry, 10 of which provided individual-level data used to test gene–smoking interaction; and 16 published studies from non-European ancestry.
Results In individuals of European ancestry, there was a significant association between Y402H and late-AMD with a per-allele odds ratio (OR) of 2.27 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.10–2.45; P = 1.1 x 10−161]. There was no evidence of effect modification by smoking (P = 0.75). The frequency of Y402H varied by ancestral origin and the association with AMD in non-Europeans was less clear, limited by paucity of studies.
Conclusion The Y402H variant confers a 2-fold higher risk of late-AMD per copy in individuals of European descent. This was stable to stratification by study design and AMD classification and not modified by smoking. The lack of association in non-Europeans requires further verification. These findings are of direct relevance for disease prediction. New research is needed to ascertain if differences in circulating levels, expression or activity of factor H protein explain the genetic association.
PMCID: PMC3304526  PMID: 22253316
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD); Complement factor H gene; meta-ananlysis
21.  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
22.  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
23.  EPHA2 Polymorphisms and Age-Related Cataract in India 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33001.
We investigated whether previously reported single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of EPHA2 in European studies are associated with cataract in India.
We carried out a population-based genetic association study. We enumerated randomly sampled villages in two areas of north and south India to identify people aged 40 and over. Participants attended a clinical examination including lens photography and provided a blood sample for genotyping. Lens images were graded by the Lens Opacification Classification System (LOCS III). Cataract was defined as a LOCS III grade of nuclear ≥4, cortical ≥3, posterior sub-capsular (PSC) ≥2, or dense opacities or aphakia/pseudophakia in either eye. We genotyped SNPs rs3754334, rs7543472 and rs11260867 on genomic DNA extracted from peripheral blood leukocytes using TaqMan assays in an ABI 7900 real-time PCR. We used logistic regression with robust standard errors to examine the association between cataract and the EPHA2 SNPs, adjusting for age, sex and location.
7418 participants had data on at least one of the SNPs investigated. Genotype frequencies of controls were in Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium (p>0.05). There was no association of rs3754334 with cataract or type of cataract. Minor allele homozygous genotypes of rs7543472 and rs11260867 compared to the major homozygote genotype were associated with cortical cataract, Odds ratio (OR) = 1.8, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) (1.1, 3.1) p = 0.03 and 2.9 (1.2, 7.1) p = 0.01 respectively, and with PSC cataract, OR = 1.5 (1.1, 2.2) p = 0.02 and 1.8 (0.9, 3.6) p = 0.07 respectively. There was no consistent association of SNPs with nuclear cataract or a combined variable of any type of cataract including operated cataract.
Our results in the Indian population agree with previous studies of the association of EPHA2 variants with cortical cataracts. We report new findings for the association with PSC which is particularly prevalent in Indians.
PMCID: PMC3297613  PMID: 22412971
25.  Prevalence and Risk Factors for Vitamin C Deficiency in North and South India: A Two Centre Population Based Study in People Aged 60 Years and Over 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28588.
Studies from the UK and North America have reported vitamin C deficiency in around 1 in 5 men and 1 in 9 women in low income groups. There are few data on vitamin C deficiency in resource poor countries.
To investigate the prevalence of vitamin C deficiency in India.
We carried out a population-based cross-sectional survey in two areas of north and south India. Randomly sampled clusters were enumerated to identify people aged 60 and over. Participants (75% response rate) were interviewed for tobacco, alcohol, cooking fuel use, 24 hour diet recall and underwent anthropometry and blood collection. Vitamin C was measured using an enzyme-based assay in plasma stabilized with metaphosphoric acid. We categorised vitamin C status as deficient (<11 µmol/L), sub-optimal (11–28 µmol/L) and adequate (>28 µmol/L). We investigated factors associated with vitamin C deficiency using multivariable Poisson regression.
The age, sex and season standardized prevalence of vitamin C deficiency was 73.9% (95% confidence Interval, CI 70.4,77.5) in 2668 people in north India and 45.7% (95% CI 42.5,48.9) in 2970 from south India. Only 10.8% in the north and 25.9% in the south met the criteria for adequate levels. Vitamin C deficiency varied by season, and was more prevalent in men, with increasing age, users of tobacco and biomass fuels, in those with anthropometric indicators of poor nutrition and with lower intakes of dietary vitamin C.
In poor communities, such as in our study, consideration needs to be given to measures to improve the consumption of vitamin C rich foods and to discourage the use of tobacco.
PMCID: PMC3232233  PMID: 22163038

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