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1.  Adult height and the risk of cause-specific death and vascular morbidity in 1 million people: individual participant meta-analysis 
Wormser, David | Angelantonio, Emanuele Di | Kaptoge, Stephen | Wood, Angela M | Gao, Pei | Sun, Qi | Walldius, Göran | Selmer, Randi | Verschuren, WM Monique | Bueno-de-Mesquita, H Bas | Engström, Gunnar | Ridker, Paul M | Njølstad, Inger | Iso, Hiroyasu | Holme, Ingar | Giampaoli, Simona | Tunstall-Pedoe, Hugh | Gaziano, J Michael | Brunner, Eric | Kee, Frank | Tosetto, Alberto | Meisinger, Christa | Brenner, Hermann | Ducimetiere, Pierre | Whincup, Peter H | Tipping, Robert W | Ford, Ian | Cremer, Peter | Hofman, Albert | Wilhelmsen, Lars | Clarke, Robert | de Boer, Ian H | Jukema, J Wouter | Ibañez, Alejandro Marín | Lawlor, Debbie A | D'Agostino, Ralph B | Rodriguez, Beatriz | Casiglia, Edoardo | Stehouwer, Coen DA | Simons, Leon A | Nietert, Paul J | Barrett-Connor, Elizabeth | Panagiotakos, Demosthenes B | Björkelund, Cecilia | Strandberg, Timo E | Wassertheil-Smoller, Sylvia | Blazer, Dan G | Meade, Tom W | Welin, Lennart | Svärdsudd, Kurt | Woodward, Mark | Nissinen, Aulikki | Kromhout, Daan | Jørgensen, Torben | Tilvis, Reijo S | Guralnik, Jack M | Rosengren, Annika | Taylor, James O | Kiechl, Stefan | Dagenais, Gilles R | Gerry, F | Fowkes, R | Wallace, Robert B | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Shaffer, Jonathan A | Visser, Marjolein | Kauhanen, Jussi | Salonen, Jukka T | Gallacher, John | Ben-Shlomo, Yoav | Kitamura, Akihiko | Sundström, Johan | Wennberg, Patrik | Kiyohara, Yutaka | Daimon, Makoto | de la Cámara, Agustin Gómez | Cooper, Jackie A | Onat, Altan | Devereux, Richard | Mukamal, Kenneth J | Dankner, Rachel | Knuiman, Matthew W | Crespo, Carlos J | Gansevoort, Ron T | Goldbourt, Uri | Nordestgaard, Børge G | Shaw, Jonathan E | Mussolino, Michael | Nakagawa, Hidaeki | Fletcher, Astrid | Kuller, Lewis H | Gillum, Richard F | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Assmann, Gerd | Wald, Nicholas | Jousilahti, Pekka R | Greenland, Philip | Trevisan, Maurizio | Ulmer, Hanno | Butterworth, Adam S | Folsom, Aaron R | Davey-Smith, George | Hu, Frank B | Danesh, John | Tipping, Robert W | Ford, Charles E | Simpson, Lara M | Walldius, Göran | Jungner, Ingmar | Folsom, Aaron R | Demerath, Ellen W | Franceschini, Nora | Lutsey, Pamela L | Panagiotakos, Demosthenes B | Pitsavos, Christos | Chrysohoou, Christina | Stefanadis, Christodoulos | Shaw, Jonathan E | Atkins, Robert | Zimmet, Paul Z | Barr, Elizabeth LM | Knuiman, Matthew W | Whincup, Peter H | Wannamethee, S Goya | Morris, Richard W | Willeit, Johann | Kiechl, Stefan | Weger, Siegfried | Oberhollenzer, Friedrich | Wald, Nicholas | Ebrahim, Shah | Lawlor, Debbie A | Gallacher, John | Ben-Shlomo, Yoav | Yarnell, John WG | Casiglia, Edoardo | Tikhonoff, Valérie | Greenland, Philip | Shay, Christina M | Garside, Daniel B | Nietert, Paul J | Sutherland, Susan E | Bachman, David L | Keil, Julian E | de Boer, Ian H | Kizer, Jorge R | Psaty, Bruce M | Mukamal, Kenneth J | Nordestgaard, Børge G | Tybjærg-Hansen, Anne | Jensen, Gorm B | Schnohr, Peter | Giampaoli, Simona | Palmieri, Luigi | Panico, Salvatore | Pilotto, Lorenza | Vanuzzo, Diego | de la Cámara, Agustin Gómez | Simons, Leon A | Simons, Judith | McCallum, John | Friedlander, Yechiel | Gerry, F | Fowkes, R | Price, Jackie F | Lee, Amanda J | Taylor, James O | Guralnik, Jack M | Phillips, Caroline L | Wallace, Robert B | Kohout, Frank J | Cornoni-Huntley, Joan C | Guralnik, Jack M | Blazer, Dan G | Guralnik, Jack M | Phillips, Caroline L | Phillips, Caroline L | Guralnik, Jack M | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Wareham, Nicholas J | Brenner, Hermann | Schöttker, Ben | Müller, Heiko | Rothenbacher, Dietrich | Wennberg, Patrik | Jansson, Jan-Håkan | Nissinen, Aulikki | Donfrancesco, Chiara | Giampaoli, Simona | Woodward, Mark | Vartiainen, Erkki | Jousilahti, Pekka R | Harald, Kennet | Salomaa, Veikko | D'Agostino, Ralph B | Vasan, Ramachandran S | Fox, Caroline S | Pencina, Michael J | Daimon, Makoto | Oizumi, Toshihide | Kayama, Takamasa | Kato, Takeo | Bladbjerg, Else-Marie | Jørgensen, Torben | Møller, Lars | Jespersen, Jørgen | Dankner, Rachel | Chetrit, Angela | Lubin, Flora | Svärdsudd, Kurt | Eriksson, Henry | Welin, Lennart | Lappas, Georgios | Rosengren, Annika | Lappas, Georgios | Welin, Lennart | Svärdsudd, Kurt | Eriksson, Henry | Lappas, Georgios | Bengtsson, Calle | Lissner, Lauren | Björkelund, Cecilia | Cremer, Peter | Nagel, Dorothea | Strandberg, Timo E | Salomaa, Veikko | Tilvis, Reijo S | Miettinen, Tatu A | Tilvis, Reijo S | Strandberg, Timo E | Kiyohara, Yutaka | Arima, Hisatomi | Doi, Yasufumi | Ninomiya, Toshiharu | Rodriguez, Beatriz | Dekker, Jacqueline M | Nijpels, Giel | Stehouwer, Coen DA | Hu, Frank B | Sun, Qi | Rimm, Eric B | Willett, Walter C | Iso, Hiroyasu | Kitamura, Akihiko | Yamagishi, Kazumasa | Noda, Hiroyuki | Goldbourt, Uri | Vartiainen, Erkki | Jousilahti, Pekka R | Harald, Kennet | Salomaa, Veikko | Kauhanen, Jussi | Salonen, Jukka T | Kurl, Sudhir | Tuomainen, Tomi-Pekka | Poppelaars, Jan L | Deeg, Dorly JH | Visser, Marjolein | Meade, Tom W | De Stavola, Bianca Lucia | Hedblad, Bo | Nilsson, Peter | Engström, Gunnar | Verschuren, WM Monique | Blokstra, Anneke | de Boer, Ian H | Shea, Steven J | Meisinger, Christa | Thorand, Barbara | Koenig, Wolfgang | Döring, Angela | Verschuren, WM Monique | Blokstra, Anneke | Bueno-de-Mesquita, H Bas | Wilhelmsen, Lars | Rosengren, Annika | Lappas, Georgios | Fletcher, Astrid | Nitsch, Dorothea | Kuller, Lewis H | Grandits, Greg | Tverdal, Aage | Selmer, Randi | Nystad, Wenche | Mussolino, Michael | Gillum, Richard F | Hu, Frank B | Sun, Qi | Manson, JoAnn E | Rimm, Eric B | Hankinson, Susan E | Meade, Tom W | De Stavola, Bianca Lucia | Cooper, Jackie A | Bauer, Kenneth A | Davidson, Karina W | Kirkland, Susan | Shaffer, Jonathan A | Shimbo, Daichi | Kitamura, Akihiko | Iso, Hiroyasu | Sato, Shinichi | Holme, Ingar | Selmer, Randi | Tverdal, Aage | Nystad, Wenche | Nakagawa, Hidaeki | Miura, Katsuyuki | Sakurai, Masaru | Ducimetiere, Pierre | Jouven, Xavier | Bakker, Stephan JL | Gansevoort, Ron T | van der Harst, Pim | Hillege, Hans L | Crespo, Carlos J | Garcia-Palmieri, Mario R | Kee, Frank | Amouyel, Philippe | Arveiler, Dominique | Ferrières, Jean | Schulte, Helmut | Assmann, Gerd | Jukema, J Wouter | de Craen, Anton JM | Sattar, Naveed | Stott, David J | Cantin, Bernard | Lamarche, Benoît | Després, Jean-Pierre | Dagenais, Gilles R | Barrett-Connor, Elizabeth | Bergstrom, Jaclyn | Bettencourt, Richele R | Buisson, Catherine | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Aspelund, Thor | Sigurdsson, Gunnar | Thorsson, Bolli | Trevisan, Maurizio | Hofman, Albert | Ikram, M Arfan | Tiemeier, Henning | Witteman, Jacqueline CM | Tunstall-Pedoe, Hugh | Tavendale, Roger | Lowe, Gordon DO | Woodward, Mark | Devereux, Richard | Yeh, Jeun-Liang | Ali, Tauqeer | Calhoun, Darren | Ben-Shlomo, Yoav | Davey-Smith, George | Onat, Altan | Can, Günay | Nakagawa, Hidaeki | Sakurai, Masaru | Nakamura, Koshi | Morikawa, Yuko | Njølstad, Inger | Mathiesen, Ellisiv B | Løchen, Maja-Lisa | Wilsgaard, Tom | Sundström, Johan | Ingelsson, Erik | Michaëlsson, Karl | Cederholm, Tommy | Gaziano, J Michael | Buring, Julie | Ridker, Paul M | Gaziano, J Michael | Ridker, Paul M | Ulmer, Hanno | Diem, Günter | Concin, Hans | Rodeghiero, Francesco | Tosetto, Alberto | Wassertheil-Smoller, Sylvia | Manson, JoAnn E | Marmot, Michael | Clarke, Robert | Fletcher, Astrid | Brunner, Eric | Shipley, Martin | Kivimaki, Mika | Ridker, Paul M | Buring, Julie | Ford, Ian | Robertson, Michele | Ibañez, Alejandro Marín | Feskens, Edith | Geleijnse, Johanna M | Kromhout, Daan | Walker, Matthew | Watson, Sarah | Alexander, Myriam | Butterworth, Adam S | Angelantonio, Emanuele Di | Franco, Oscar H | Gao, Pei | Gobin, Reeta | Haycock, Philip | Kaptoge, Stephen | Seshasai, Sreenivasa R Kondapally | Lewington, Sarah | Pennells, Lisa | Rapsomaniki, Eleni | Sarwar, Nadeem | Thompson, Alexander | Thompson, Simon G | Walker, Matthew | Watson, Sarah | White, Ian R | Wood, Angela M | Wormser, David | Zhao, Xiaohui | Danesh, John
Background The extent to which adult height, a biomarker of the interplay of genetic endowment and early-life experiences, is related to risk of chronic diseases in adulthood is uncertain.
Methods We calculated hazard ratios (HRs) for height, assessed in increments of 6.5 cm, using individual–participant data on 174 374 deaths or major non-fatal vascular outcomes recorded among 1 085 949 people in 121 prospective studies.
Results For people born between 1900 and 1960, mean adult height increased 0.5–1 cm with each successive decade of birth. After adjustment for age, sex, smoking and year of birth, HRs per 6.5 cm greater height were 0.97 (95% confidence interval: 0.96–0.99) for death from any cause, 0.94 (0.93–0.96) for death from vascular causes, 1.04 (1.03–1.06) for death from cancer and 0.92 (0.90–0.94) for death from other causes. Height was negatively associated with death from coronary disease, stroke subtypes, heart failure, stomach and oral cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, mental disorders, liver disease and external causes. In contrast, height was positively associated with death from ruptured aortic aneurysm, pulmonary embolism, melanoma and cancers of the pancreas, endocrine and nervous systems, ovary, breast, prostate, colorectum, blood and lung. HRs per 6.5 cm greater height ranged from 1.26 (1.12–1.42) for risk of melanoma death to 0.84 (0.80–0.89) for risk of death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. HRs were not appreciably altered after further adjustment for adiposity, blood pressure, lipids, inflammation biomarkers, diabetes mellitus, alcohol consumption or socio-economic indicators.
Conclusion Adult height has directionally opposing relationships with risk of death from several different major causes of chronic diseases.
doi:10.1093/ije/dys086
PMCID: PMC3465767  PMID: 22825588
Height; cardiovascular disease; cancer; cause-specific mortality; epidemiological study; meta-analysis
2.  Effects of promoting longer-term and exclusive breastfeeding on childhood eating attitudes: a cluster-randomized trial 
Background: Observational studies suggest that breastfeeding benefits later maternal child-feeding practices, which in turn may contribute to positive eating attitudes. We investigated the effect of a randomized intervention to increase duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding on pre-adolescent eating attitudes.
Methods: Long-term follow-up of the Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial (PROBIT), a cluster-randomized trial in 31 maternity hospitals and affiliated polyclinics in Belarus. Sites were randomly assigned an experimental intervention to promote longer duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding in mothers who initiated breastfeeding (n = 16 sites), or a control intervention of continuing usual care (n = 15 sites); 17 046 healthy infants were enrolled in 1996–7, of whom 13 751 (80.7%) completed the Children’s Eating Attitude Test (ChEAT) at 11.5 years of age. A ChEAT score ≥22.5 (85th percentile) was used as an indicator of problematic eating attitudes. Analysis was based on intention-to-treat, accounting for clustering within hospitals/clinics.
Results: Compared with the control arm, the experimental intervention substantially increased breastfeeding exclusivity (43.3% vs 6.4% exclusively breastfed at 3 months of age) and duration of any breastfeeding throughout infancy. The proportion of children with ChEAT scores ≥22.5 was lower in the experimental than control arm (boys 11.4% vs 17.2%; girls 18.5% vs 23.4%) [cluster-adjusted odds ratio (OR), boys: 0.44; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.21,0.93; girls: 0.51; 95% CI: 0.27,0.99). Results were robust to adjustment for potential confounders and using a ChEAT score ≥25.5 (91st percentile) as the outcome (OR: 0.53; 95% CI: 0.28,1.03).
Conclusions: An intervention to improve the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding among term infants in Belarus was associated with a reduction in problematic eating attitudes at 11.5 years of age.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyu072
PMCID: PMC4121559  PMID: 24706729
Breastfeeding; problematic eating attitudes; cluster-randomized trial
3.  Blood pressure and mortality: using offspring blood pressure as an instrument for own blood pressure in the HUNT study 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:12399.
Given that observational associations may be inaccurate, we used offspring blood pressure (BP) to provide alternative estimates of the associations between own BP and mortality. Observational associations between BP and mortality, estimated as hazard ratios (HRs) from Cox regression, were compared to HRs obtained using offspring BP as an instrumental variable (IV) for own BP (N = 32,227 mother-offspring and 27,535 father-offspring pairs). Observationally, there were positive associations between own BP and mortality from all-causes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke and diabetes. Point estimates of the associations between BP and mortality from all-causes, CVD and CHD were amplified in magnitude when using offspring BP as an IV. For example, the HR for all-cause mortality per standard deviation (SD) increase in own systolic BP (SBP) obtained in conventional observational analyses increased from 1.10 (95% CI: 1.09–1.12; P < 0.0001) to 1.31 (95% CI: 1.19–1.43; P < 0.0001). Additionally, SBP was positively associated with diabetes and cancer mortality (HRs: 2.00; 95% CI: 1.12–3.35; P = 0.02 and 1.20; 95% CI: 1.02–1.42; P = 0.03, respectively), and diastolic BP (DBP) with stroke mortality (HR: 1.30; 95% CI: 1.02–1.66; P = 0.03). Results support positive associations between BP and mortality from all-causes, CVD, and CHD, SBP on cancer mortality, and DBP on stroke mortality.
doi:10.1038/srep12399
PMCID: PMC4510525  PMID: 26198310
4.  Association of Body Mass Index with Depression, Anxiety and Suicide—An Instrumental Variable Analysis of the HUNT Study 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0131708.
Objective
While high body mass index is associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety, cumulative evidence indicates that it is a protective factor for suicide. The associations from conventional observational studies of body mass index with mental health outcomes are likely to be influenced by reverse causality or confounding by ill-health. In the present study, we investigated the associations between offspring body mass index and parental anxiety, depression and suicide in order to avoid problems with reverse causality and confounding by ill-health.
Methods
We used data from 32,457 mother-offspring and 27,753 father-offspring pairs from the Norwegian HUNT-study. Anxiety and depression were assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and suicide death from national registers. Associations between offspring and own body mass index and symptoms of anxiety and depression and suicide mortality were estimated using logistic and Cox regression. Causal effect estimates were estimated with a two sample instrument variable approach using offspring body mass index as an instrument for parental body mass index.
Results
Both own and offspring body mass index were positively associated with depression, while the results did not indicate any substantial association between body mass index and anxiety. Although precision was low, suicide mortality was inversely associated with own body mass index and the results from the analysis using offspring body mass index supported these results. Adjusted odds ratios per standard deviation body mass index from the instrumental variable analysis were 1.22 (95% CI: 1.05, 1.43) for depression, 1.10 (95% CI: 0.95, 1.27) for anxiety, and the instrumental variable estimated hazard ratios for suicide was 0.69 (95% CI: 0.30, 1.63).
Conclusion
The present study’s results indicate that suicide mortality is inversely associated with body mass index. We also found support for a positive association between body mass index and depression, but not for anxiety.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131708
PMCID: PMC4500562  PMID: 26167892
5.  Is the Association between Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Confounded by Obesity? Evidence from the Andhra Pradesh Children and Parents Study (APCAPS) 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0129468.
Background
Evidence of an association between serum vitamin D and cardiovascular disease risk is inconsistent and comes predominantly from studies in high-income settings. We assessed the association between serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D) and cardiovascular disease risk factors in a population of young Indian adults.
Methods
Cross-sectional analyses of data from APCAPS (Andhra Pradesh Children and Parents Study); a prospective birth cohort study in rural south India. Participants were 1038 (40.3% females) adults aged 18-24 years. Main outcome measures were blood pressures, fasting serum lipids (cholesterols and triglycerides), fasting glucose, insulin, measures of arterial stiffness (aortic augmentation index and aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV)), carotid intima-media thickness, body mass index (BMI) and body fat (dual X-ray absorptiometry).
Results
Vitamin D deficiency (≤20ng/ml) was observed in 41.1% of this lean (mean BMI: 19.5) and active (mean minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per day: 186) population. Vitamin D deficiency was associated with higher median body fat in both males (15.9% body fat in vitamin D deficient males vs. 14.6% in non-deficient males, p<0.05) and females (29.1% body fat in vitamin D deficient females vs. 27.8% in non-deficient females, p<0.05) but no associations were observed between vitamin D deficiency and mean BMI or median fat mass index (FMI). Except a weak inverse association with fasting insulin in males, there was no clear association between serum vitamin D levels and cardiovascular disease risk factors in fully adjusted models.
Conclusions
We did not find clear evidence for an association between serum vitamin D levels and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Our results, consistent with the limited evidence from randomised trials of vitamin D supplementation and Mendelian randomisation experiments, suggest that the postulated link between serum vitamin D and cardiovascular disease may be non-causal. Instead, it may be attributable to confounding by lifestyle factors such as obesity and physical inactivity which may provide more fruitful targets for cardiovascular disease prevention.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129468
PMCID: PMC4469320  PMID: 26079685
6.  Mendelian randomization with invalid instruments: effect estimation and bias detection through Egger regression 
Background: The number of Mendelian randomization analyses including large numbers of genetic variants is rapidly increasing. This is due to the proliferation of genome-wide association studies, and the desire to obtain more precise estimates of causal effects. However, some genetic variants may not be valid instrumental variables, in particular due to them having more than one proximal phenotypic correlate (pleiotropy).
Methods: We view Mendelian randomization with multiple instruments as a meta-analysis, and show that bias caused by pleiotropy can be regarded as analogous to small study bias. Causal estimates using each instrument can be displayed visually by a funnel plot to assess potential asymmetry. Egger regression, a tool to detect small study bias in meta-analysis, can be adapted to test for bias from pleiotropy, and the slope coefficient from Egger regression provides an estimate of the causal effect. Under the assumption that the association of each genetic variant with the exposure is independent of the pleiotropic effect of the variant (not via the exposure), Egger’s test gives a valid test of the null causal hypothesis and a consistent causal effect estimate even when all the genetic variants are invalid instrumental variables.
Results: We illustrate the use of this approach by re-analysing two published Mendelian randomization studies of the causal effect of height on lung function, and the causal effect of blood pressure on coronary artery disease risk. The conservative nature of this approach is illustrated with these examples.
Conclusions: An adaption of Egger regression (which we call MR-Egger) can detect some violations of the standard instrumental variable assumptions, and provide an effect estimate which is not subject to these violations. The approach provides a sensitivity analysis for the robustness of the findings from a Mendelian randomization investigation.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyv080
PMCID: PMC4469799  PMID: 26050253
Mendelian randomization; invalid instruments; meta-analysis; pleiotropy; small study bias; MR-Egger test
7.  A genome-wide association study of body mass index across early life and childhood 
Background: Several studies have investigated the effect of known adult body mass index (BMI) associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on BMI in childhood. There has been no genome-wide association study (GWAS) of BMI trajectories over childhood.
Methods: We conducted a GWAS meta-analysis of BMI trajectories from 1 to 17 years of age in 9377 children (77 967 measurements) from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study. Genome-wide significant loci were examined in a further 3918 individuals (48 530 measurements) from Northern Finland. Linear mixed effects models with smoothing splines were used in each cohort for longitudinal modelling of BMI.
Results: A novel SNP, downstream from the FAM120AOS gene on chromosome 9, was detected in the meta-analysis of ALSPAC and Raine. This association was driven by a difference in BMI at 8 years (T allele of rs944990 increased BMI; PSNP = 1.52 × 10−8), with a modest association with change in BMI over time (PWald(Change) = 0.006). Three known adult BMI-associated loci (FTO, MC4R and ADCY3) and one childhood obesity locus (OLFM4) reached genome-wide significance (PWald < 1.13 × 10−8) with BMI at 8 years and/or change over time.
Conclusions: This GWAS of BMI trajectories over childhood identified a novel locus that warrants further investigation. We also observed genome-wide significance with previously established obesity loci, making the novel observation that these loci affected both the level and the rate of change in BMI. We have demonstrated that the use of repeated measures data can increase power to allow detection of genetic loci with smaller sample sizes.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyv077
PMCID: PMC4469798  PMID: 25953783
Body mass index; genome-wide association study; trajectory; childhood; ALSPAC; Raine
9.  Why Do Thin People Have Elevated All-Cause Mortality? Evidence on Confounding and Reverse Causality in the Association of Adiposity and COPD from the British Women’s Heart and Health Study 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0115446.
Low adiposity has been linked to elevated mortality from several causes including respiratory disease. However, this could arise from confounding or reverse causality. We explore the association between two measures of adiposity (BMI and WHR) with COPD in the British Women’s Heart and Health Study including a detailed assessment of the potential for confounding and reverse causality for each adiposity measure. Low BMI was found to be associated with increased COPD risk while low WHR was not (OR = 2.2; 95% CI 1.3 – 3.1 versus OR = 1.2; 95% CI 0.7 – 1.6). Potential confounding variables (e.g. smoking) and markers of ill-health (e.g. unintentional weight loss) were found to be higher in low BMI but not in low WHR. Women with low BMI have a detrimental profile across a broad range of health markers compared to women with low WHR, and women with low WHR do not appear to have an elevated COPD risk, lending support to the hypothesis that WHR is a less confounded measure of adiposity than BMI. Low adiposity does not in itself appear to increase the risk of respiratory disease, and the apparent adverse consequences of low BMI may be due to reverse causation and confounding.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115446
PMCID: PMC4401726  PMID: 25884834
10.  Longitudinal analysis of DNA methylation associated with birth weight and gestational age 
Human Molecular Genetics  2015;24(13):3752-3763.
Gestational age (GA) and birth weight have been implicated in the determination of long-term health. It has been hypothesized that changes in DNA methylation may mediate these long-term effects. We obtained DNA methylation profiles from cord blood and peripheral blood at ages 7 and 17 in the same children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Repeated-measures data were used to investigate changes in birth-related methylation during childhood and adolescence. Ten developmental phenotypes (e.g. height) were analysed to identify possible mediation of health effects by DNA methylation. In cord blood, methylation at 224 CpG sites was found to be associated with GA and 23 CpG sites with birth weight. Methylation changed in the majority of these sites over time, but neither birth characteristic was strongly associated with methylation at age 7 or 17 (using a conservative correction for multiple testing of P < 1.03 × 10–7), suggesting resolution of differential methylation by early childhood. Associations were observed between birth weight-associated CpG sites and phenotypic characteristics in childhood. One strong association involved birth weight, methylation of a CpG site proximal to the NFIX locus and bone mineral density at age 17. Analysis of serial methylation from birth to adolescence provided evidence for a lack of persistence of methylation differences beyond early childhood. Sites associated with birth weight were linked to developmental genes and have methylation levels which are associated with developmental phenotypes. Replication and interrogation of causal relationships are needed to substantiate whether methylation differences at birth influence the association between birth weight and development.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddv119
PMCID: PMC4459393  PMID: 25869828
11.  Shared Genetic Influences Between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Traits in Children and Clinical ADHD 
Objective
Twin studies and genome-wide complex trait analysis (GCTA) are not in agreement regarding heritability estimates for behavioral traits in children from the general population. This has sparked a debate on the possible difference in genetic architecture between behavioral traits and psychiatric disorders. In this study, we test whether polygenic risk scores associated with variation in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) trait levels in children from the general population predict ADHD diagnostic status and severity in an independent clinical sample.
Method
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with p < .5 from a genome-wide association study of ADHD traits in 4,546 children (mean age, 7 years 7 months) from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC; general population sample) were selected to calculate polygenic risk scores in 508 children with an ADHD diagnosis (independent clinical sample) and 5,081 control participants. Polygenic scores were tested for association with case-control status and severity of disorder in the clinical sample.
Results
Increased polygenic score for ADHD traits predicted ADHD case-control status (odds ratio = 1.17 [95% CI = 1.08–1.28], p = .0003), higher ADHD symptom severity (β = 0.29 [95% CI = 0.04–0.54], p = 0.02), and symptom domain severity in the clinical sample.
Conclusion
This study highlights the relevance of additive genetic variance in ADHD, and provides evidence that shared genetic factors contribute to both behavioral traits in the general population and psychiatric disorders at least in the case of ADHD.
doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2015.01.010
PMCID: PMC4382052  PMID: 25791149
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); polygenic risk scores; Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC); common variants; genetics
12.  Whole-genome sequence-based analysis of thyroid function 
Nature Communications  2015;6:5681.
Normal thyroid function is essential for health, but its genetic architecture remains poorly understood. Here, for the heritable thyroid traits thyrotropin (TSH) and free thyroxine (FT4), we analyse whole-genome sequence data from the UK10K project (N=2,287). Using additional whole-genome sequence and deeply imputed data sets, we report meta-analysis results for common variants (MAF≥1%) associated with TSH and FT4 (N=16,335). For TSH, we identify a novel variant in SYN2 (MAF=23.5%, P=6.15 × 10−9) and a new independent variant in PDE8B (MAF=10.4%, P=5.94 × 10−14). For FT4, we report a low-frequency variant near B4GALT6/SLC25A52 (MAF=3.2%, P=1.27 × 10−9) tagging a rare TTR variant (MAF=0.4%, P=2.14 × 10−11). All common variants explain ≥20% of the variance in TSH and FT4. Analysis of rare variants (MAF<1%) using sequence kernel association testing reveals a novel association with FT4 in NRG1. Our results demonstrate that increased coverage in whole-genome sequence association studies identifies novel variants associated with thyroid function.
Levels of circulating thyrotropin and free thyroxine reflect thyroid function, however, their genetic underpinnings remain poorly understood. Taylor et al. take advantage of whole-genome sequence data from cohorts within the UK10K project to identify novel variants associated with these traits.
doi:10.1038/ncomms6681
PMCID: PMC4366514  PMID: 25743335
13.  Using published data in Mendelian randomization: a blueprint for efficient identification of causal risk factors 
European Journal of Epidemiology  2015;30(7):543-552.
Finding individual-level data for adequately-powered Mendelian randomization analyses may be problematic. As publicly-available summarized data on genetic associations with disease outcomes from large consortia are becoming more abundant, use of published data is an attractive analysis strategy for obtaining precise estimates of the causal effects of risk factors on outcomes. We detail the necessary steps for conducting Mendelian randomization investigations using published data, and present novel statistical methods for combining data on the associations of multiple (correlated or uncorrelated) genetic variants with the risk factor and outcome into a single causal effect estimate. A two-sample analysis strategy may be employed, in which evidence on the gene-risk factor and gene-outcome associations are taken from different data sources. These approaches allow the efficient identification of risk factors that are suitable targets for clinical intervention from published data, although the ability to assess the assumptions necessary for causal inference is diminished. Methods and guidance are illustrated using the example of the causal effect of serum calcium levels on fasting glucose concentrations. The estimated causal effect of a 1 standard deviation (0.13 mmol/L) increase in calcium levels on fasting glucose (mM) using a single lead variant from the CASR gene region is 0.044 (95 % credible interval −0.002, 0.100). In contrast, using our method to account for the correlation between variants, the corresponding estimate using 17 genetic variants is 0.022 (95 % credible interval 0.009, 0.035), a more clearly positive causal effect.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10654-015-0011-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10654-015-0011-z
PMCID: PMC4516908  PMID: 25773750
Mendelian randomization; Instrumental variable; Causal inference; Published data; Two-sample Mendelian randomization; Summarized data
14.  Risk of suicide for individuals reporting asthma and atopy in young adulthood: Findings from the Glasgow Alumni study 
Psychiatry Research  2015;225(3):364-367.
There is emerging evidence that asthma and atopy may be associated with a higher risk of suicide. We investigated the association of asthma and atopy with mortality from suicide (n=32) in the Glasgow Alumni cohort, adjusting for the key confounders of socioeconomic position and smoking. We found no evidence of an association in our a priori atopy phenotypes with suicide, and there were insufficient suicides in the asthma phenotypes to draw any conclusions. In additional analyses, individuals reporting both eczema–urticaria and hay fever and those with family history of atopy were at higher risk of suicide. As these were secondary analyses and based on small numbers of events we cannot rule out chance findings. The lack of evidence in our main hypothesis may be due to the small number of suicides or reported associations between asthma and atopy may be confounded.
Highlights
•Reported associations between asthma/atopy and suicide may be confounded.•In our analyses we were able to adjust for socioeconomic position and smoking.•We found no evidence of an association in our a priori atopy phenotypes with suicide.•‘Eczema–urticaria and hay fever’ combined and family history of atopy may be associated with higher risk of suicide.•As these were secondary analyses and based on small numbers of events we cannot rule out chance findings.
doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.12.012
PMCID: PMC4326175  PMID: 25596956
Asthma; Atopy; Suicide
15.  Prenatal exposure to maternal smoking and offspring DNA methylation across the lifecourse: findings from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;24(8):2201-2217.
Maternal smoking during pregnancy has been found to influence newborn DNA methylation in genes involved in fundamental developmental processes. It is pertinent to understand the degree to which the offspring methylome is sensitive to the intensity and duration of prenatal smoking. An investigation of the persistence of offspring methylation associated with maternal smoking and the relative roles of the intrauterine and postnatal environment is also warranted. In the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, we investigated associations between prenatal exposure to maternal smoking and offspring DNA methylation at multiple time points in approximately 800 mother–offspring pairs. In cord blood, methylation at 15 CpG sites in seven gene regions (AHRR, MYO1G, GFI1, CYP1A1, CNTNAP2, KLF13 and ATP9A) was associated with maternal smoking, and a dose-dependent response was observed in relation to smoking duration and intensity. Longitudinal analysis of blood DNA methylation in serial samples at birth, age 7 and 17 years demonstrated that some CpG sites showed reversibility of methylation (GFI1, KLF13 and ATP9A), whereas others showed persistently perturbed patterns (AHRR, MYO1G, CYP1A1 and CNTNAP2). Of those showing persistence, we explored the effect of postnatal smoke exposure and found that the major contribution to altered methylation was attributed to a critical window of in utero exposure. A comparison of paternal and maternal smoking and offspring methylation showed consistently stronger maternal associations, providing further evidence for causal intrauterine mechanisms. These findings emphasize the sensitivity of the methylome to maternal smoking during early development and the long-term impact of such exposure.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddu739
PMCID: PMC4380069  PMID: 25552657
16.  Heritability and genome-wide analyses of problematic peer relationships during childhood and adolescence 
Human Genetics  2014;134(6):539-551.
Peer behaviour plays an important role in the development of social adjustment, though little is known about its genetic architecture. We conducted a twin study combined with a genome-wide complex trait analysis (GCTA) and a genome-wide screen to characterise genetic influences on problematic peer behaviour during childhood and adolescence. This included a series of longitudinal measures (parent-reported Strengths-and-Difficulties Questionnaire) from a UK population-based birth-cohort (ALSPAC, 4–17 years), and a UK twin sample (TEDS, 4–11 years). Longitudinal twin analysis (TEDS; N ≤ 7,366 twin pairs) showed that peer problems in childhood are heritable (4–11 years, 0.60 < twin-h2 ≤ 0.71) but genetically heterogeneous from age to age (4–11 years, twin-rg = 0.30). GCTA (ALSPAC: N ≤ 5,608, TEDS: N ≤ 2,691) provided furthermore little support for the contribution of measured common genetic variants during childhood (4–12 years, 0.02 < GCTA-h2(Meta) ≤ 0.11) though these influences become stronger in adolescence (13–17 years, 0.14 < GCTA-h2(ALSPAC) ≤ 0.27). A subsequent cross-sectional genome-wide screen in ALSPAC (N ≤ 6,000) focussed on peer problems with the highest GCTA-heritability (10, 13 and 17 years, 0.0002 < GCTA-P ≤ 0.03). Single variant signals (P ≤ 10−5) were followed up in TEDS (N ≤ 2835, 9 and 11 years) and, in search for autism quantitative trait loci, explored within two autism samples (AGRE: NPedigrees = 793; ACC: NCases = 1,453/NControls = 7,070). There was, however, no evidence for association in TEDS and little evidence for an overlap with the autistic continuum. In summary, our findings suggest that problematic peer relationships are heritable but genetically complex and heterogeneous from age to age, with an increase in common measurable genetic variation during adolescence.
doi:10.1007/s00439-014-1514-5
PMCID: PMC4424375  PMID: 25515860
17.  Stratification by Smoking Status Reveals an Association of CHRNA5-A3-B4 Genotype with Body Mass Index in Never Smokers 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(12):e1004799.
We previously used a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the CHRNA5-A3-B4 gene cluster associated with heaviness of smoking within smokers to confirm the causal effect of smoking in reducing body mass index (BMI) in a Mendelian randomisation analysis. While seeking to extend these findings in a larger sample we found that this SNP is associated with 0.74% lower body mass index (BMI) per minor allele in current smokers (95% CI -0.97 to -0.51, P = 2.00×10−10), but also unexpectedly found that it was associated with 0.35% higher BMI in never smokers (95% CI +0.18 to +0.52, P = 6.38×10−5). An interaction test confirmed that these estimates differed from each other (P = 4.95×10−13). This difference in effects suggests the variant influences BMI both via pathways unrelated to smoking, and via the weight-reducing effects of smoking. It would therefore be essentially undetectable in an unstratified genome-wide association study of BMI, given the opposite association with BMI in never and current smokers. This demonstrates that novel associations may be obscured by hidden population sub-structure. Stratification on well-characterized environmental factors known to impact on health outcomes may therefore reveal novel genetic associations.
Author Summary
We found that a single nucleotide polymorphism in the CHRNA5-A3-B4 gene cluster, which is known to influence smoking heaviness, is associated with lower body mass index (BMI) in current smokers, but higher BMI in never smokers. This difference in effects suggests that the variant influences BMI both via pathways other than smoking, and via the weight-reducing effects of smoking, in opposite directions. The overall effect on BMI would therefore be undetectable in an unstratified genome-wide association study, indicating that novel associations may be obscured by hidden population sub-structure.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004799
PMCID: PMC4256159  PMID: 25474695
18.  Prepubertal start of father's smoking and increased body fat in his sons: further characterisation of paternal transgenerational responses 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2014;22(12):1382-1386.
Despite interest in the idea that transgenerational effects of adverse exposures might contribute to population health trends, there are few human data. This non-genetic inheritance is all the more remarkable when transmission is down the male-line as reported in a historical Swedish study, where the paternal grandfather's food supply in mid childhood was associated with the mortality rate in his grandsons. Using the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children's questionnaire data on smoking and smoking onset from 9886 fathers, we examined the growth of their children from 7–17 years. Adjusting for potential confounders, we assessed associations between body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, total fat mass and lean mass with the age at which the father had started smoking regularly. Of 5376 fathers who reported having ever smoked, 166 reported regular smoking <11 years of age. Before adjustment, those offspring whose fathers started smoking <11 years had the highest mean BMIs at each age tested. The adjusted mean differences in BMI, waist circumference and total fat mass in those sons whose fathers started smoking <11 years, compared with all other sons, increased with age, being significantly greater from 13 years onwards. There were no significant BMI associations in daughters, but they showed a reduction in total lean mass. Our results highlight the importance of the developmental timing of the paternal exposure as well as gender differences in offspring outcomes. Smoking by boys in mid childhood may contribute to obesity in adolescent boys of the next generation.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.31
PMCID: PMC4085023  PMID: 24690679
19.  Is vulnerability to cardiometabolic disease in Indians mediated by abdominal adiposity or higher body adiposity 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:1239.
Background
Indians may be particularly vulnerable to cardiometabolic disease, potentially due to higher body fat for a given BMI, or a tendency towards depositing abdominal adiposity. The aim of the study is to assess whether different measures of the distribution of adiposity (abdominal versus whole body) or amount of adiposity (DXA versus traditional anthropometric) are better at predicting prevalent cardiometabolic risk markers in an Indian population.
Methods
Participants were recruited from the Indian Migration Study (IMS) and the Andhra Pradesh Children and Parent Study (APCAPS). Participants attended a clinic in Hyderabad, India, January 2009-December 2010. Adiposity was measured by conventional anthropometry (including weight, height, waist) and DXA scanning (whole body and abdominal). Blood samples were taken and assessed for fasting plasma glucose, insulin, cholesterol, and triglycerides and blood pressure was measured. Lifestyle data were collected by questionnaire.
Results
We invited 4 617 participants to the clinic (1 995 IMS; 2 622 APCAPS) and examined 918 from IMS (46%) and 1 451 from APCAPS (55%). There were strong and consistent relationships between adiposity and cardiometabolic risk factors. Cardiometabolic risk factors did not appear to be more strongly associated with DXA measures as opposed to BMI, or skinfold measures of body fat. There was some evidence that WHR was more closely related to diabetes than total body adiposity, but this was not apparent for the other measures of abdominal adiposity (DXA measures, waist circumference) or other cardiometablic risk factors.
Conclusions
No strong evidence supports that DXA measures or abdominal measures of adiposity are better at predicting the prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors in comparison to BMI.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1239) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1239
PMCID: PMC4289237  PMID: 25438835
Adiposity; India; Cardiometabolic; Diabetes; Hypertension; Cardiovascular; Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
20.  Haptoglobin Duplicon, Hemoglobin, and Vitamin C: Analyses in the British Women's Heart and Health Study and Caerphilly Prospective Study 
Disease Markers  2014;2014:529456.
Background. Haptoglobin acts as an antioxidant by limiting peroxidative tissue damage by free hemoglobin. The haptoglobin gene allele Hp2 comprises a 1.7 kb partial duplication. Relative to allele Hp1, Hp2 carriers form protein multimers, suboptimal for hemoglobin scavenging. Objective. To examine the association of haptoglobin genotype with a range of phenotypes, with emphasis on vitamin C and hemoglobin levels. Methods. We applied a quantitative PCR assay for the duplication junction to two population cohorts including 2747 British women and 1198 British men. We examined the association of haptoglobin duplicon copy number with hemoglobin and vitamin C and used the copy number to complete a phenome scan. Results. Hemoglobin concentrations were greater in those with Hp2,2 genotype, in women only (Hp1,1 13.45 g/dL, Hp1,2 13.49 g/dL, Hp2,2 13.61 g/dL; P = 0.002), though statistically there was no evidence of a difference between the sexes (z value = 1.2, P = 0.24). Haptoglobin genotype was not associated with vitamin C or any other phenotype in either cohort. Conclusions. Our results do not support association of haptoglobin genotype with vitamin C or with other phenotypes measured in two population cohorts. The apparent association between haptoglobin genotype and hemoglobin in the women's cohort merits further investigation.
doi:10.1155/2014/529456
PMCID: PMC4265517  PMID: 25525287
21.  Variation in the SLC23A1 gene does not influence cardiometabolic outcomes to the extent expected given its association with l-ascorbic acid1234 
Background: Observational studies showed that circulating l-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is inversely associated with cardiometabolic traits. However, these studies were susceptible to confounding and reverse causation.
Objectives: We assessed the relation between l-ascorbic acid and 10 cardiometabolic traits by using a single nucleotide polymorphism in the solute carrier family 23 member 1 (SLC23A1) gene (rs33972313) associated with circulating l-ascorbic acid concentrations. The observed association between rs33972313 and cardiometabolic outcomes was compared with that expected given the rs33972313-l-ascorbic acid and l-ascorbic acid–outcome associations.
Design: A meta-analysis was performed in the following 5 independent studies: the British Women's Heart and Health Study (n = 1833), the MIDSPAN study (n = 1138), the Ten Towns study (n = 1324), the British Regional Heart Study (n = 2521), and the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (n = 3737).
Results: With the use of a meta-analysis of observational estimates, inverse associations were shown between l-ascorbic acid and systolic blood pressure, triglycerides, and the waist-hip ratio [the strongest of which was the waist-hip ratio (−0.13-SD change; 95% CI: −0.20-, −0.07-SD change; P = 0.0001) per SD increase in l-ascorbic acid], and a positive association was shown with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. The variation at rs33972313 was associated with a 0.18-SD (95% CI: 0.10-, 0.25-SD; P = 3.34 × 10−6) increase in l-ascorbic acid per effect allele. There was no evidence of a relation between the variation at rs33972313 and any cardiometabolic outcome. Although observed estimates were not statistically different from expected associations between rs33972313 and cardiometabolic outcomes, estimates for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, and body mass index were in the opposite direction to those expected.
Conclusions: The nature of the genetic association exploited in this study led to limited statistical application, but despite this, when all cardiometabolic traits were assessed, there was no evidence of any trend supporting a protective role of l-ascorbic acid. In the context of existing work, these results add to the suggestion that observational relations between l-ascorbic acid and cardiometabolic health may be attributable to confounding and reverse causation.
doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.092981
PMCID: PMC4266888  PMID: 25527764
l-ascorbic acid; cardiometabolic traits; confounding; genetic variants; reverse causation
22.  Analysis of Self-Selection Bias in a Population-Based Cohort Study of Autism Spectrum Disorders 
Paediatric and perinatal epidemiology  2013;27(6):10.1111/ppe.12077.
Background
This study examined potential self-selection bias in a large pregnancy cohort by comparing exposure-outcome associations from the cohort to similar associations obtained from nationwide registry data. The outcome under study was specialist-confirmed diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.
Methods
The cohort sample (n = 89,836) was derived from the population-based prospective Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study and its sub-study of autism spectrum disorders, the Autism Birth Cohort study. The nationwide registry data were derived from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway (n = 507,856). The children were born in 1999-2007, and seven prenatal and perinatal exposures were selected for analyses.
Results
Autism spectrum disorders were reported for 234 (0.26%) children in the cohort and 2,072 (0.41%) in the nationwide population. Compared with the nationwide population, the cohort had an underrepresentation of the youngest women (<25 years), those who had single status, mothers who smoked during pregnancy, and nonusers of prenatal folic acid supplements. The ratios of the adjusted odds ratios in the cohort over the adjusted odds ratios in the nationwide population were as follows; primipara pregnancy: 1.39/1.22, prenatal folic acid use: 0.85/0.86, prenatal smoking: 1.20/1.17, preterm birth (<37 weeks): 1.48/1.42, low birthweight (<2,500 g): 1.60/1.58, male sex: 4.39/4.59 (unadjusted only); and cesarean section history: 1.03/1.04.
Conclusions
Associations estimated between autism spectrum disorders and perinatal and prenatal exposures in the cohort are close to those estimated in the nationwide population. Self-selection does not appear to compromise validity of exposure-outcome associations in the Autism Birth Cohort study.
doi:10.1111/ppe.12077
PMCID: PMC3851582  PMID: 23919580
23.  A novel common variant in DCST2 is associated with length in early life and height in adulthood 
van der Valk, Ralf J.P. | Kreiner-Møller, Eskil | Kooijman, Marjolein N. | Guxens, Mònica | Stergiakouli, Evangelia | Sääf, Annika | Bradfield, Jonathan P. | Geller, Frank | Hayes, M. Geoffrey | Cousminer, Diana L. | Körner, Antje | Thiering, Elisabeth | Curtin, John A. | Myhre, Ronny | Huikari, Ville | Joro, Raimo | Kerkhof, Marjan | Warrington, Nicole M. | Pitkänen, Niina | Ntalla, Ioanna | Horikoshi, Momoko | Veijola, Riitta | Freathy, Rachel M. | Teo, Yik-Ying | Barton, Sheila J. | Evans, David M. | Kemp, John P. | St Pourcain, Beate | Ring, Susan M. | Davey Smith, George | Bergström, Anna | Kull, Inger | Hakonarson, Hakon | Mentch, Frank D. | Bisgaard, Hans | Chawes, Bo | Stokholm, Jakob | Waage, Johannes | Eriksen, Patrick | Sevelsted, Astrid | Melbye, Mads | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Medina-Gomez, Carolina | Hofman, Albert | de Jongste, Johan C. | Taal, H. Rob | Uitterlinden, André G. | Armstrong, Loren L. | Eriksson, Johan | Palotie, Aarno | Bustamante, Mariona | Estivill, Xavier | Gonzalez, Juan R. | Llop, Sabrina | Kiess, Wieland | Mahajan, Anubha | Flexeder, Claudia | Tiesler, Carla M.T. | Murray, Clare S. | Simpson, Angela | Magnus, Per | Sengpiel, Verena | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Keinanen-Kiukaanniemi, Sirkka | Lewin, Alexandra | Da Silva Couto Alves, Alexessander | Blakemore, Alexandra I. | Buxton, Jessica L. | Kaakinen, Marika | Rodriguez, Alina | Sebert, Sylvain | Vaarasmaki, Marja | Lakka, Timo | Lindi, Virpi | Gehring, Ulrike | Postma, Dirkje S. | Ang, Wei | Newnham, John P. | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Pahkala, Katja | Raitakari, Olli T. | Panoutsopoulou, Kalliope | Zeggini, Eleftheria | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Groen-Blokhuis, Maria | Ilonen, Jorma | Franke, Lude | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Pers, Tune H. | Liang, Liming | Huang, Jinyan | Hocher, Berthold | Knip, Mikael | Saw, Seang-Mei | Holloway, John W. | Melén, Erik | Grant, Struan F.A. | Feenstra, Bjarke | Lowe, William L. | Widén, Elisabeth | Sergeyev, Elena | Grallert, Harald | Custovic, Adnan | Jacobsson, Bo | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Atalay, Mustafa | Koppelman, Gerard H. | Pennell, Craig E. | Niinikoski, Harri | Dedoussis, George V. | Mccarthy, Mark I. | Frayling, Timothy M. | Sunyer, Jordi | Timpson, Nicholas J. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Bønnelykke, Klaus | Jaddoe, Vincent W.V.
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;24(4):1155-1168.
Common genetic variants have been identified for adult height, but not much is known about the genetics of skeletal growth in early life. To identify common genetic variants that influence fetal skeletal growth, we meta-analyzed 22 genome-wide association studies (Stage 1; N = 28 459). We identified seven independent top single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (P < 1 × 10−6) for birth length, of which three were novel and four were in or near loci known to be associated with adult height (LCORL, PTCH1, GPR126 and HMGA2). The three novel SNPs were followed-up in nine replication studies (Stage 2; N = 11 995), with rs905938 in DC-STAMP domain containing 2 (DCST2) genome-wide significantly associated with birth length in a joint analysis (Stages 1 + 2; β = 0.046, SE = 0.008, P = 2.46 × 10−8, explained variance = 0.05%). Rs905938 was also associated with infant length (N = 28 228; P = 5.54 × 10−4) and adult height (N = 127 513; P = 1.45 × 10−5). DCST2 is a DC-STAMP-like protein family member and DC-STAMP is an osteoclast cell-fusion regulator. Polygenic scores based on 180 SNPs previously associated with human adult stature explained 0.13% of variance in birth length. The same SNPs explained 2.95% of the variance of infant length. Of the 180 known adult height loci, 11 were genome-wide significantly associated with infant length (SF3B4, LCORL, SPAG17, C6orf173, PTCH1, GDF5, ZNFX1, HHIP, ACAN, HLA locus and HMGA2). This study highlights that common variation in DCST2 influences variation in early growth and adult height.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddu510
PMCID: PMC4447786  PMID: 25281659
24.  Common variation near ROBO2 is associated with expressive vocabulary in infancy 
Nature Communications  2014;5:4831.
Twin studies suggest that expressive vocabulary at ~24 months is modestly heritable. However, the genes influencing this early linguistic phenotype are unknown. Here we conduct a genome-wide screen and follow-up study of expressive vocabulary in toddlers of European descent from up to four studies of the EArly Genetics and Lifecourse Epidemiology consortium, analysing an early (15–18 months, ‘one-word stage’, NTotal=8,889) and a later (24–30 months, ‘two-word stage’, NTotal=10,819) phase of language acquisition. For the early phase, one single-nucleotide polymorphism (rs7642482) at 3p12.3 near ROBO2, encoding a conserved axon-binding receptor, reaches the genome-wide significance level (P=1.3 × 10−8) in the combined sample. This association links language-related common genetic variation in the general population to a potential autism susceptibility locus and a linkage region for dyslexia, speech-sound disorder and reading. The contribution of common genetic influences is, although modest, supported by genome-wide complex trait analysis (meta-GCTA h215–18-months=0.13, meta-GCTA h224–30-months=0.14) and in concordance with additional twin analysis (5,733 pairs of European descent, h224-months=0.20).
The genetic basis of expressive vocabulary in children around 2 years old is poorly understood. Here, the authors show that a genetic variant near the ROBO2 gene is associated with early language acquisition in the general population and highlight a potential genetic link between language-related common genetic variation and a linkage region for dyslexia, speech-sound disorder and reading.
doi:10.1038/ncomms5831
PMCID: PMC4175587  PMID: 25226531
25.  Associations Between Change in Sleep Duration and Inflammation: Findings on C-reactive Protein and Interleukin 6 in the Whitehall II Study 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;178(6):956-961.
Cross-sectional evidence suggests associations between sleep duration and levels of the inflammatory markers, C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. This longitudinal study uses data from the London-based Whitehall II study to examine whether changes in sleep duration are associated with average levels of inflammation from 2 measures 5 years apart. Sleep duration (≤5, 6, 7, 8, ≥9 hours on an average week night) was assessed in 5,003 middle-aged women and men in 1991/1994 and 1997/1999. Fasting levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 were measured in 1997/1999 and 2002/2004. Cross-sectional analyses indicated that shorter sleep is associated with higher levels of inflammatory markers. Longitudinal analyses showed that each hour per night decrease in sleep duration between 1991/1994 and 1997/1999 was associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein (8.1%) and interleukin-6 (4.5%) averaged across measures in 1997/1999 and 2002/2004. Adjustment for longstanding illness and major cardiometabolic risk factors indicated that disease processes may partially underlie these associations. An increase in sleep duration was not associated with average levels of inflammatory markers. These results suggest that both short sleep and reductions in sleep are associated with average levels of inflammation over a 5-year period.
doi:10.1093/aje/kwt072
PMCID: PMC3817449  PMID: 23801012
change in sleep duration; C-reactive protein; inflammatory markers; interleukin-6; sleep duration

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