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1.  Anti-TNF Treatment Response in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Is Associated with Genetic Variation in the NLRP3-Inflammasome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100361.
Many patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) benefit from tumor necrosis factor-α blocking treatment (anti-TNF), but about one third do not respond. The objective of this study was to replicate and extend previously found associations between anti-TNF treatment response and genetic variation in the TNF-, NF-κB- and pattern recognition receptor signalling pathways.
Forty-one single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), including 34 functional, in 28 genes involved in inflammatory pathways were assessed in 538 anti-TNF naive Danish RA patients with clinical data. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to test associations between genotypes and treatment response at 3–6 months using the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criterion. American College of Rheumatology treatment response (ACR50) and relative change in 28-joint disease activity score (relDAS28) were used as secondary outcomes. Subgroup analyses were stratified according to smoking status, type of anti-TNF drug and IgM-Rheumatoid Factor (IgM-RF) status. False discovery rate (FDR) controlling was used to adjust for multiple testing.
Statistically significant associations with EULAR response were found for two SNPs in NLRP3(rs4612666) (OR (odds ratio) for good/moderate response = 0.64 (95% confidence interval: 0.44–0.95), p = 0.025, q = 0.95) and INFG(rs2430561) (OR = 0.40 (0.21–0.76), p = 0.005, q = 0.18) and among IgM-RF positive patients for TNFRS1A(rs4149570) (0.59 (0.36–0.98), p = 0.040, q = 0.76). Current smokers who carried the NLRP3(rs4612666) variant allele were less likely to benefit from anti-TNF treatment (OR = 0.24 (0.10–0.56), p = 0.001, q = 0.04).
In a population of Danish RA patients, we confirm the NLRP3 gene as associated with EULAR anti-TNF response as previously reported. The NLRP3 variant (T) allele is associated with lower treatment response, in particular among current smokers. Furthermore, we find that a functional polymorphism in the interferon-γ gene is associated with anti-TNF response. All findings should be tested by replication in independent validation cohorts and augmented by assessing cytokine levels and activities of the relevant gene products.
PMCID: PMC4072633  PMID: 24967817
2.  Genome Wide Peripheral Blood Leukocyte DNA Methylation Microarrays Identified a Single Association with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases 
Inflammatory bowel diseases  2012;18(12):10.1002/ibd.22956.
Crohn disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are common forms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Monozygotic (MZ) twin discordance rates and epidemiologic data implicate that environmental changes and epigenetic factors may play a pathogenic role in IBD. DNA methylation (the methylation of cytosines within CpG dinucleotides) is an epigenetic modification, which can respond to environmental influences. We investigated whether DNA methylation might be connected with IBD in peripheral blood leukocyte (PBL) DNA by utilizing genome-wide microarrays.
Two different high-throughput microarray based methods for genome wide DNA methylation analysis were employed. First, DNA isolated from MZ twin pairs concordant (CD: 4; UC: 3) and discordant (CD: 4; UC: 7) for IBD was interrogated by a custom made methylation specific amplification microarray (MSAM). Second, the recently developed Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip arrays were used on 48 samples of PBL DNA from discordant MZ twin pairs (CD:3; UC:3) and treatment naive pediatric cases of IBD (CD:14; UC:8), as well as controls (n=14). The microarrays were validated with bisulfite pyrosequencing.
The Methylation BeadChip approach identified a single DNA methylation association of IBD at TEPP (testis, prostate and placenta-expressed protein) when DNA isolated selectively from peripheral blood mononuclear cells was analyzed (8.6% increase in methylation between CD and control, FDR=0.0065).
Microarray interrogation of IBD dependent DNA methylation from PBLs appears to have limited ability to detect significant disease associations. More detailed and/or selective approaches may be useful for the elucidation of connections between the DNA methylome and IBD in the future.
PMCID: PMC3812910  PMID: 22467598
inflammatory bowel disease; DNA methylation; peripheral blood; twin; TEPP
4.  Influence of Host Genetics and Environment on Nasal Carriage of Staphylococcus aureus in Danish Middle-Aged and Elderly Twins 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(8):1178-1184.
Background. Nasal carriage is a major risk factor for Staphylococcus aureus infection. Approximately, one-quarter of adults carry S. aureus. However, the role of host genetics on S. aureus nasal carriage is unknown.
Methods. Nasal swabs were obtained from a national cohort of middle-aged and elderly Danish twins. Subjects colonized with S. aureus were identified by growth on selective plates and spa typing. A second sample was obtained from twins initially concordant for carriage. Twins found to again be colonized with S. aureus were defined as persistent carriers.
Results. The prevalence of S. aureus carriage among 617 twin pairs (monozygotic/dizygotic pairs: 112/505) was 26.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 24.0%–28.9%). The concordance rate for carriage did not differ significantly between pairs of monozygotic (37.5%; 95% CI, 22.3%–53.8%) twins and same sex (24.2%; 95% CI, 15.4%–34.5%), and opposite sex (21.4%; 95% CI, 12.0%–33.4%) dizygotic twins. Despite shared childhoods, only 1 of 617 pairs was concordant with respect to lineage. Although heritability increased for S. aureus and lineage persistency, no significant heritability was detected.
Conclusion. In this study, host genetic factors exhibited only a modest influence on the S. aureus carrier state of middle-aged and elderly individuals.
PMCID: PMC3448969  PMID: 22872733
5.  A Novel Myosin Essential Light Chain Mutation Causes Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy with Late Onset and Low Expressivity 
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is caused by mutations in genes encoding sarcomere proteins. Mutations in MYL3, encoding the essential light chain of myosin, are rare and have been associated with sudden death. Both recessive and dominant patterns of inheritance have been suggested. We studied a large family with a 38-year-old asymptomatic HCM-affected male referred because of a murmur. The patient had HCM with left ventricular hypertrophy (max WT 21 mm), a resting left ventricular outflow gradient of 36 mm Hg, and left atrial dilation (54 mm). Genotyping revealed heterozygosity for a novel missense mutation, p.V79I, in MYL3. The mutation was not found in 300 controls, and the patient had no mutations in 10 sarcomere genes. Cascade screening revealed a further nine heterozygote mutation carriers, three of whom had ECG and/or echocardiographic abnormalities but did not fulfil diagnostic criteria for HCM. The penetrance, if we consider this borderline HCM the phenotype of the p.V79I mutation, was 40%, but the mean age of the nonpenetrant mutation carriers is 15, while the mean age of the penetrant mutation carriers is 47. The mutation affects a conserved valine replacing it with a larger isoleucine residue in the region of contact between the light chain and the myosin lever arm. In conclusion, MYL3 mutations can present with low expressivity and late onset.
PMCID: PMC3432877  PMID: 22957257
6.  Staphylococcus aureus CC398: Host Adaptation and Emergence of Methicillin Resistance in Livestock 
mBio  2012;3(1):e00305-11.
Since its discovery in the early 2000s, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) clonal complex 398 (CC398) has become a rapidly emerging cause of human infections, most often associated with livestock exposure. We applied whole-genome sequence typing to characterize a diverse collection of CC398 isolates (n = 89), including MRSA and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) from animals and humans spanning 19 countries and four continents. We identified 4,238 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) among the 89 core genomes. Minimal homoplasy (consistency index = 0.9591) was detected among parsimony-informative SNPs, allowing for the generation of a highly accurate phylogenetic reconstruction of the CC398 clonal lineage. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that MSSA from humans formed the most ancestral clades. The most derived lineages were composed predominantly of livestock-associated MRSA possessing three different staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec element (SCCmec) types (IV, V, and VII-like) including nine subtypes. The human-associated isolates from the basal clades carried phages encoding human innate immune modulators that were largely missing among the livestock-associated isolates. Our results strongly suggest that livestock-associated MRSA CC398 originated in humans as MSSA. The lineage appears to have undergone a rapid radiation in conjunction with the jump from humans to livestock, where it subsequently acquired tetracycline and methicillin resistance. Further analyses are required to estimate the number of independent genetic events leading to the methicillin-resistant sublineages, but the diversity of SCCmec subtypes is suggestive of strong and diverse antimicrobial selection associated with food animal production.
Modern food animal production is characterized by densely concentrated animals and routine antibiotic use, which may facilitate the emergence of novel antibiotic-resistant zoonotic pathogens. Our findings strongly support the idea that livestock-associated MRSA CC398 originated as MSSA in humans. The jump of CC398 from humans to livestock was accompanied by the loss of phage-carried human virulence genes, which likely attenuated its zoonotic potential, but it was also accompanied by the acquisition of tetracycline and methicillin resistance. Our findings exemplify a bidirectional zoonotic exchange and underscore the potential public health risks of widespread antibiotic use in food animal production.
PMCID: PMC3280451  PMID: 22354957
7.  Genetic Variability in Beta-Defensins Is Not Associated with Susceptibility to Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32315.
Human beta-defensins are key components of human innate immunity to a variety of pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus. The aim of the present study was to investigate a potential association between gene variations in DEFB1 and DEFB103/DEFB4 and the development of S. aureus bacteremia (SAB) employing a case-control design.
Cases were unique patients with documented SAB, identified with the National S. aureus Bacteremia Register, a comprehensive dataset of all episodes of community associated-SABs (CA-SAB) occurring in children (≤20 yrs) in Denmark from 1990 to 2006. Controls were age-matched healthy individuals with no history of SAB. DNA obtained from cases and controls using the Danish Newborn Screening Biobank were genotyped for functional polymorphisms of DEFB1 by Sanger sequencing and copy number variation of the DEFB103 and DEFB4 genes using Pyrosequencing-based Paralogue Ratio Test (P-PRT).
193 ethnic Danish SAB cases with 382 age-matched controls were used for this study. S. aureus isolates represented a variety of bacterial (i.e., different spa types) types similar to SAB isolates in general. DEFB1 minor allele frequencies of rs11362 (cases vs. controls 0.47/0.44), rs1800972 (0.21/0.24), and rs1799946 (0.32/0.33) were not significantly different in cases compared with controls. Also, DEFB4/DEFB103 gene copy numbers (means 4.83/4.92) were not significantly different in cases compared with controls.
Using a large, unique cohort of pediatric CA-SAB, we found no significant association between DEFB1 genetic variation or DEFB4/DEFB103 gene copy number and susceptibility for SAB.
PMCID: PMC3285211  PMID: 22384213
8.  Echocardiographic Strain Imaging to Assess Early and Late Consequences of Sarcomere Mutations in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy 
Genetic testing identifies sarcomere mutation carriers (G+) before clinical diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), allowing characterization of initial disease manifestations. Prior studies demonstrated that impaired relaxation develops before left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). The precise impact of sarcomere mutations on systolic function in early and late disease is unclear.
Methods and Results
Comprehensive echocardiography with strain imaging was performed on 146 genotyped individuals with mutations in 5 sarcomere genes. Contractile parameters were compared in 68 preclinical (G+/LVH−), 40 overt (G+/LVH+) HCM subjects, and 38 mutation (−) normal control relatives. All subjects had normal LV ejection fraction (EF). In preclinical HCM, global and regional peak systolic strain (εsys) and longitudinal systolic strain rate (SSR) were not significantly different from controls, but early diastolic mitral annular velocity (Ea) was reduced by 13%. In overt HCM, there was a significant 27% and 14% decrease in global longitudinal εsys and SSR respectively, compared with both preclinical HCM and controls (p<0.013 for all comparisons), and a 33% reduction in Ea.
Sarcomere mutations have disparate initial effects on diastolic and systolic function. Preclinical HCM is characterized by impaired relaxation but preserved systolic strain. In contrast, both diastolic and longitudinal systolic abnormalities are present in overt disease, despite normal EF. We propose that diastolic dysfunction is an early consequence of sarcomere mutations, whereas systolic dysfunction results from mutations combined with subsequent pathologic remodeling. Identifying mechanistic pathways triggered by these mutations may begin to reshape the clinical paradigm for treatment, based on early diagnosis and disease prevention.
PMCID: PMC2773504  PMID: 20031602
Genetics; Cardiomyopathy; Contractility; Hypertrophy; Echocardiography
9.  The role of sarcomere gene mutations in patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2009;17(10):1241-1249.
We investigated a Danish cohort of 31 unrelated patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (IDC), to assess the role that mutations in sarcomere protein genes play in IDC. Patients were genetically screened by capillary electrophoresis single strand conformation polymorphism and subsequently by bidirectional DNA sequencing of conformers in the coding regions of MYH7, MYBPC3, TPM1, ACTC, MYL2, MYL3, TNNT2, CSRP3 and TNNI3. Eight probands carried disease-associated genetic variants (26%). In MYH7, three novel mutations were found; in MYBPC3, one novel variant and two known mutations were found; and in TNNT2, a known mutation was found. One proband was double heterozygous. We find evidence of phenotypic plasticity: three mutations described earlier as HCM causing were found in four cases of IDC, with no history of a hypertrophic phase. Furthermore, one pedigree presented with several cases of classic DCM as well as one case with left ventricular non-compaction. Disease-causing sarcomere gene mutations were found in about one-quarter of IDC patients, and seem to play an important role in the causation of the disease. The genetics is as complex as seen in HCM. Thus, our data suggest that a genetic work-up should include screening of the most prominent sarcomere genes even in the absence of a family history of the disease.
PMCID: PMC2986634  PMID: 19293840
cardiomyopathies; dilated; heart failure; sarcomere gene mutations; DNA mutational analysis
10.  Determination of Beta-Defensin Genomic Copy Number in Different Populations: A Comparison of Three Methods 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16768.
There have been conflicting reports in the literature on association of gene copy number with disease, including CCL3L1 and HIV susceptibility, and β-defensins and Crohn's disease. Quantification of precise gene copy numbers is important in order to define any association of gene copy number with disease. At present, real-time quantitative PCR (QPCR) is the most commonly used method to determine gene copy number, however the Paralogue Ratio Test (PRT) is being used in more and more laboratories.
In this study we compare a Pyrosequencing-based Paralogue Ratio Test (PPRT) for determining beta-defensin gene copy number with two currently used methods for gene copy number determination, QPCR and triplex PRT by typing five different cohorts (UK, Danish, Portuguese, Ghanaian and Czech) of DNA from a total of 576 healthy individuals. We found a systematic measurement bias between DNA cohorts revealed by QPCR, but not by the PRT-based methods. Using PRT, copy number ranged from 2 to 9 copies, with a modal copy number of 4 in all populations.
QPCR is very sensitive to quality of the template DNA, generating systematic biases that could produce false-positive or negative disease associations. Both triplex PRT and PPRT do not show this systematic bias, and type copy number within the correct range, although triplex PRT appears to be a more precise and accurate method to type beta-defensin copy number.
PMCID: PMC3043064  PMID: 21364933
11.  PPARγ Pro12Ala polymorphism and risk of acute coronary syndrome in a prospective study of Danes 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:52.
Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the western world. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) plays a key role in the regulation of the energy balance, adipocyte differentiation and lipid biosynthesis. The aim was to investigate if the polymorphism PPARγ2 Pro12Ala, which encodes a less efficient transcription factor, was associated with risk of acute coronary disease and if there were interactions between this polymorphism and factors that modify PPARγ activity, such as alcohol intake, smoking, and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine.
A case-cohort study including 1031 ACS cases and a sub-cohort of 1703 persons was nested within the population-based prospective study Diet, Cancer and Health of 57,053 individuals.
Homozygous male variant allele carriers of PPARγ2 Pro12Ala were at higher risk of ACS (HR = 2.12, 95% CI: 1.00–4.48) than homozygous carriers of the Pro-allele. Among men, there was a statistically significant interaction between genotypes and alcohol intake such that homozygous variant allele carriers with a low alcohol intake were at higher risk of ACS (HR = 25.3, CI: 16.5–38.7) compared to homozygous common allele carriers (p for interaction < 0.0001). Overall, the association was only observed among homozygous variant allele carriers. Thus, all the observed associations were obtained in subgroups including small numbers of cases. It is therefore possible that the observed associations were due to chance.
In the present study, there were no consistent associations between PPARγ Pro12Ala and risk of ACS, and no consistent interaction with alcohol, BMI, NSAID or smoking in relation to ACS.
PMCID: PMC2698834  PMID: 19500413

Results 1-11 (11)