Genetic mechanisms underlying abnormal early neural development in toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) remain uncertain due to the impossibility of direct brain gene expression measurement during critical periods of early development. Recent findings from a multi‐tissue study demonstrated high expression of many of the same gene networks between blood and brain tissues, in particular with cell cycle functions. We explored relationships between blood gene expression and total brain volume (TBV) in 142 ASD and control male toddlers. In control toddlers, TBV variation significantly correlated with cell cycle and protein folding gene networks, potentially impacting neuron number and synapse development. In ASD toddlers, their correlations with brain size were lost as a result of considerable changes in network organization, while cell adhesion gene networks significantly correlated with TBV variation. Cell cycle networks detected in blood are highly preserved in the human brain and are upregulated during prenatal states of development. Overall, alterations were more pronounced in bigger brains. We identified 23 candidate genes for brain maldevelopment linked to 32 genes frequently mutated in ASD. The integrated network includes genes that are dysregulated in leukocyte and/or postmortem brain tissue of ASD subjects and belong to signaling pathways regulating cell cycle G1/S and G2/M phase transition. Finally, analyses of the CHD8 subnetwork and altered transcript levels from an independent study of CHD8 suppression further confirmed the central role of genes regulating neurogenesis and cell adhesion processes in ASD brain maldevelopment.
Autism Spectrum Disorder; brain development; co‐expression; gene networks; Development & Differentiation; Network Biology; Neuroscience
Socioeconomic disparities are associated with differences in cognitive development. The extent to which this translates to disparities in brain structure is unclear. Here, we investigated relationships between socioeconomic factors and brain morphometry, independently of genetic ancestry, among a cohort of 1099 typically developing individuals between 3 and 20 years. Income was logarithmically associated with brain surface area. Specifically, among children from lower income families, small differences in income were associated with relatively large differences in surface area, whereas, among children from higher income families, similar income increments were associated with smaller differences in surface area. These relationships were most prominent in regions supporting language, reading, executive functions and spatial skills; surface area mediated socioeconomic differences in certain neurocognitive abilities. These data indicate that income relates most strongly to brain structure among the most disadvantaged children. Potential implications are discussed.
Systematic violence is a long-standing problem in Iraq. Research indicates that survivors often experience multiple mental health problems, and that there is a need for more rigorous research that targets symptoms beyond post-traumatic stress (PTS). Our objective was to test the effectiveness of two counseling therapies in Southern Iraq in addressing multiple mental health problems among survivors of systematic violence: (1) a transdiagnostic intervention (Common Elements Treatment Approach or CETA); and (2) cognitive processing therapy (CPT). The therapies were provided by non-specialized health workers since few MH professionals are available to provide therapy in Iraq.
This was a randomized, parallel, two site, two-arm (1:1 allocation), single-blinded, wait-list controlled (WLC) trial of CETA in one site (99 CETA, 50 WLC), and CPT in a second site (129 CPT, 64 WLC). Eligibility criteria were elevated trauma symptoms and experience of systematic violence. The primary and secondary outcomes were trauma symptoms and dysfunction, respectively, with additional assessment of depression and anxiety symptoms. Non-specialized health workers (community mental health worker, CMHW) provided the interventions in government-run primary health centers. Treatment effects were determined using longitudinal, multilevel models with CMHW and client as random effects, and a time by group interaction with robust variance estimation, to test for the net difference in mean score for each outcome between the baseline and follow up interview. Multiple imputation techniques were used to account for missingness at the item level and the participant level. All analyses were conducted using Stata 12.
The CETA intervention showed large effect sizes for all outcomes. The CPT intervention showed moderate effects sizes for trauma and depression, with small to no effect for anxiety or dysfunction, respectively.
Both CETA and CPT appear to benefit survivors of systematic violence in Southern Iraq by reducing multiple mental health symptoms, with CETA providing a very large benefit across a range of symptoms. Non-specialized health workers were able to treat comorbid symptoms of trauma, depression and anxiety, and dysfunction among survivors of systematic violence who have limited access to mental health professionals. The trial further supports the use of evidence-based therapies in lower-resource settings.
Trial registration and protocol
This trial was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov on 16 July 2010 with an identifier of NCT01177072 as the Study of Effectiveness of Mental Health Interventions among Torture Survivors in Southern Iraq.
The study protocol can be downloaded from the following website: http://tinyurl.com/CETA-Iraq-Protocol. In the protocol, the CETA intervention is given a different name: components-based intervention or CBI.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12888-015-0622-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Transdiagnostic; Cognitive therapy; Psychological trauma; Global mental health; Randomized controlled trial; Mental health services; Iraq; Torture survivors; Community health workers; Task shifting
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) has a complex etiology that encompasses both genetic and environmental factors. However, to date, despite the identification of several promising candidate genes and linkage regions, the genetic causes of OCD are largely unknown. The objective of this study was to conduct linkage studies of childhood-onset OCD, which is thought to have the strongest genetic etiology, in several OCD-affected families from the genetically isolated population of the Central Valley of Costa Rica (CVCR). The authors used parametric and non-parametric approaches to conduct genome-wide linkage analyses using 5786 single nucleotide repeat polymorphisms (SNPs) in three CVCR families with multiple childhood-onset OCD-affected individuals. We identified areas of suggestive linkage (LOD score ≥2) on chromosomes 1p21, 15q14, 16q24, and 17p12. The strongest evidence for linkage was on chromosome 15q14 (LOD=3.13), identified using parametric linkage analysis with a recessive model, and overlapping a region identified in a prior linkage study using a Caucasian population. Each CVCR family had a haplotype that co-segregated with OCD across a ~7Mbp interval within this region, which contains 18 identified brain expressed genes, several of which are potentially relevant to OCD. Exonic sequencing of the strongest candidate gene in this region, the ryanodine receptor 3 (RYR3), identified several genetic variants of potential interest, although none cosegregated with OCD in all three families. These findings provide evidence that chromosome 15q14 is linked to OCD in families from the CVCR, and supports previous findings to suggest that this region may contain one or more OCD susceptibility loci.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Genetic Linkage; Genetic Isolate; Genetic Loci; Humans; Genetic Predisposition to Disease
Waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) are surrogate measures of central adiposity that are associated with adverse cardiovascular events, type 2 diabetes and cancer independent of body mass index (BMI). WC and WHR are highly heritable with multiple susceptibility loci identified to date. We assessed the association between SNPs and BMI-adjusted WC and WHR and unadjusted WC in up to 57 412 individuals of European descent from 22 cohorts collaborating with the NHLBI's Candidate Gene Association Resource (CARe) project. The study population consisted of women and men aged 20–80 years. Study participants were genotyped using the ITMAT/Broad/CARE array, which includes ∼50 000 cosmopolitan tagged SNPs across ∼2100 cardiovascular-related genes. Each trait was modeled as a function of age, study site and principal components to control for population stratification, and we conducted a fixed-effects meta-analysis. No new loci for WC were observed. For WHR analyses, three novel loci were significantly associated (P < 2.4 × 10−6). Previously unreported rs2811337-G near TMCC1 was associated with increased WHR (β ± SE, 0.048 ± 0.008, P = 7.7 × 10−9) as was rs7302703-G in HOXC10 (β = 0.044 ± 0.008, P = 2.9 × 10−7) and rs936108-C in PEMT (β = 0.035 ± 0.007, P = 1.9 × 10−6). Sex-stratified analyses revealed two additional novel signals among females only, rs12076073-A in SHC1 (β = 0.10 ± 0.02, P = 1.9 × 10−6) and rs1037575-A in ATBDB4 (β = 0.046 ± 0.01, P = 2.2 × 10−6), supporting an already established sexual dimorphism of central adiposity-related genetic variants. Functional analysis using ENCODE and eQTL databases revealed that several of these loci are in regulatory regions or regions with differential expression in adipose tissue.
Within-host microbial communities and interactions among microbes are increasingly recognized as important factors influencing host health and pathogen transmission. The microbial community associated with a host is indeed influenced by a complex network of direct and indirect interactions between the host and the lineages of microbes it harbors, but the mechanisms are rarely established. We investigated the within-host interactions among strains of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, using experimental infections in mice. We used a fully crossed-design with three distinct strains, each group of hosts receiving two sequential inoculations. We used data from these experimental infections to assess the effect of coinfection on bacterial dissemination and fitness (by measuring the transmission of bacteria to xenodiagnostic ticks) as well as the effect of coinfection on host immune response compared to single infection.
The infection and transmission data strongly indicate a competitive interaction among B. burgdorferi strains within a host in which the order of appearance of the strain is the main determinant of the competitive outcome. This pattern is well described by the classic priority effect in the ecological literature. In all cases, the primary strain a mouse was infected with had an absolute fitness advantage primarily since it was transmitted an order of magnitude more than the secondary strain. The mechanism of exclusion of the secondary strain is an inhibition of the colonization of mouse tissues, even though 29% of mice showed some evidence of infection by secondary strain. Contrary to expectation, the strong and specific adaptive immune response evoked against the primary strain was not followed by production of immunoglobulins after the inoculation of the secondary strain, neither against strain-specific antigen nor against antigens common to all strains. Hence, the data do not support a major role of the immune response in the observed priority effect.
The strong inhibitory priority effect is a dominant mechanism underlying competition for transmission between coinfecting B. burgdorferi strains, most likely through resource exploitation. The observed priority effect could shape bacterial diversity in nature, with consequences in epidemiology and evolution of the disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-015-0381-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Borrelia burdgorferi; OspC; Priority effect; Transmission; Coinfection; Strain competition; Apparent competition
The diagnostic boundaries of sleep disorders are under considerable debate. The main sleep disorders are partly heritable; therefore, defining heritable pathophysiologic mechanisms could delineate diagnoses and suggest treatment. We collected clinical data and DNA from consenting patients scheduled to undergo clinical polysomnograms, to expand our understanding of the polymorphisms associated with the phenotypes of particular sleep disorders.
Patients at least 21 years of age were recruited to contribute research questionnaires, and to provide access to their medical records, saliva for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and polysomnographic data. From these complex data, 38 partly overlapping phenotypes were derived indicating complaints, subjective and objective sleep timing, and polysomnographic disturbances. A custom chip was used to genotype 768 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Additional assays derived ancestry-informative markers (eg, 751 participants of European ancestry). Linear regressions controlling for age, gender, and ancestry were used to assess the associations of each phenotype with each of the SNPs, highlighting those with Bonferroni-corrected significance.
In peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, coactivator 1 beta (PPARGC1B), rs6888451 was associated with several markers of obstructive sleep apnea. In aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator-like (ARNTL), rs10766071 was associated with decreased polysomnographic sleep duration. The association of rs3923809 in BTBD9 with periodic limb movements in sleep was confirmed. SNPs in casein kinase 1 delta (CSNK1D rs11552085), cryptochrome 1 (CRY1 rs4964515), and retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor A (RORA rs11071547) were less persuasively associated with sleep latency and time of falling asleep.
SNPs associated with several sleep phenotypes were suggested, but due to risks of false discovery, independent replications are needed before the importance of these associations can be assessed, followed by investigation of molecular mechanisms.
Sleep apnea; Sleep-related periodic leg movements; DIMS; rs10766071; rs3923809; PPARGC1B
Starch phosphorylation is an important aspect of plant metabolism due to its role in starch degradation. Moreover, the degree of phosphorylation of starch determines its physicochemical properties and is therefore relevant for industrial uses of starch. Currently, starch is chemically phosphorylated to increase viscosity and paste stability. Potato cultivars with elevated starch phosphorylation would make this process unnecessary, thereby bestowing economic and environmental benefits. Starch phosphorylation is a complex trait which has been previously shown by antisense gene repression to be influenced by a number of genes including those involved in starch synthesis and degradation. We have used an association mapping approach to discover genetic markers associated with the degree of starch phosphorylation. A diverse collection of 193 potato lines was grown in replicated field trials, and the levels of starch phosphorylation at the C6 and C3 positions of the glucosyl residues were determined by mass spectrometry of hydrolyzed starch from tubers. In addition, the potato lines were genotyped by amplicon sequencing and microsatellite analysis, focusing on candidate genes known to be involved in starch synthesis. As potato is an autotetraploid, genotyping included determination of allele dosage. Significant associations (p < 0.001) were found with SNPs in the glucan water dikinase (GWD), starch branching enzyme I (SBEI) and the starch synthase III (SSIII) genes, and with a SSR allele in the SBEII gene. SNPs in the GWD gene were associated with C6 phosphorylation, whereas polymorphisms in the SBEI and SBEII genes were associated with both C6 and C3 phosphorylation and the SNP in the SSIII gene was associated with C3 phosphorylation. These allelic variants have potential as genetic markers for starch phosphorylation in potato.
starch; phosphorylation; potato; glucan water dikinase; starch branching enzyme; starch synthase
Experiencing systematic violence and trauma increases the risk of poor mental health outcomes; few interventions for these types of exposures have been evaluated in low resource contexts. The objective of this randomized controlled trial was to assess the effectiveness of two psychotherapeutic interventions, Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression (BATD) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), in reducing depression symptoms using a locally adapted and validated version of the Hopkins Symptom Checklist and dysfunction measured with a locally developed scale. Secondary outcomes included posttraumatic stress, anxiety, and traumatic grief symptoms.
Twenty community mental health workers, working in rural health clinics, were randomly assigned to training in one of the two interventions. The community mental health workers conducted baseline assessments, enrolled survivors of systematic violence based on severity of depression symptoms, and randomly assigned them to treatment or waitlist-control. Blinded community mental health workers conducted post-intervention assessments on average five months later.
Adult survivors of systematic violence were screened (N = 732) with 281 enrolled in the trial; 215 randomized to an intervention (114 to BATD; 101 to CPT) and 66 to waitlist-control (33 to BATD; 33 to CPT). Nearly 70% (n = 149) of the intervention participants completed treatment and post-intervention assessments; 53 (80%) waitlist-controls completed post-intervention assessments. Estimated effect sizes for depression and dysfunction were 0.60 and 0.55 respectively, comparing BATD participants to all controls and 0.84 and 0.79 respectively, compared to BATD controls only. Estimated effect sizes for depression and dysfunction were 0.70 and 0.90 respectively comparing CPT participants to all controls and 0.44 and 0.63 respectively compared to CPT controls only. Using a permutation-based hypothesis test that is robust to the model assumptions implicit in regression models, BATD had significant effects on depression (p = .003) and dysfunction (p = .007), while CPT had a significant effect on dysfunction only (p = .004).
Both interventions showed moderate to strong effects on most outcomes. This study demonstrates effectiveness of these interventions in low resource environments by mental health workers with limited prior experience.
ClinicalTrials.Gov NCT00925262. Registered June 3, 2009.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12888-014-0360-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Trauma treatment; Iraq; Task sharing; Evidence-based treatments
Written and verbal language are neurobehavioral traits vital to the development of communication skills. Unfortunately, disorders involving these traits—specifically reading disability (RD) and language impairment (LI)—are common and prevent affected individuals from developing adequate communication skills, leaving them at risk for adverse academic, socioeconomic, and psychiatric outcomes. Both RD and LI are complex traits that frequently co-occur, leading us to hypothesize that these disorders share genetic etiologies. To test this, we performed a genome wide association study on individuals affected with both RD and LI in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. The strongest associations were seen with markers in ZNF385D (OR=1.81, p=5.45 × 10−7) and COL4A2 (OR=1.71, p=7.59×10−7). Markers within NDST4 showed the strongest associations with LI individually (OR=1.827, p=1.40×10−7). We replicated association of ZNF385D using receptive vocabulary measures in the Pediatric Imaging Neurocognitive Genetics study (p=0.00245). We then used diffusion tensor imaging fiber tract volume data on 16 fiber tracts to examine the implications of replicated markers. ZNF385D was a predictor of overall fiber tract volumes in both hemispheres, as well as global brain volume. Here, we present evidence for ZNF385D as a candidate gene for RD and LI. The implication of transcription factor ZNF385D in RD and LI underscores the importance of transcriptional regulation in the development of higher order neurocognitive traits. Further study is necessary to discern target genes of ZNF385D and how it functions within neural development of fluent language.
ALSPAC; Language Impairment; Reading Disability; Dyslexia GWAS; ZNF385D; PING
People called night owls habitually have late bedtimes and late times of arising, sometimes suffering a heritable circadian disturbance called delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). Those with DSPS, those with more severe progressively-late non-24-hour sleep-wake cycles, and those with bipolar disorder may share genetic tendencies for slowed or delayed circadian cycles. We searched for polymorphisms associated with DSPS in a case-control study of DSPS research participants and a separate study of Sleep Center patients undergoing polysomnography. In 45 participants, we resequenced portions of 15 circadian genes to identify unknown polymorphisms that might be associated with DSPS, non-24-hour rhythms, or bipolar comorbidities. We then genotyped single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in both larger samples, using Illumina Golden Gate assays. Associations of SNPs with the DSPS phenotype and with the morningness-eveningness parametric phenotype were computed for both samples, then combined for meta-analyses. Delayed sleep and "eveningness" were inversely associated with loci in circadian genes NFIL3 (rs2482705) and RORC (rs3828057). A group of haplotypes overlapping BHLHE40 was associated with non-24-hour sleep-wake cycles, and less robustly, with delayed sleep and bipolar disorder (e.g., rs34883305, rs34870629, rs74439275, and rs3750275 were associated with n=37, p=4.58E-09, Bonferroni p=2.95E-06). Bright light and melatonin can palliate circadian disorders, and genetics may clarify the underlying circadian photoperiodic mechanisms. After further replication and identification of the causal polymorphisms, these findings may point to future treatments for DSPS, non-24-hour rhythms, and possibly bipolar disorder or depression.
Delayed sleep phase syndrome; Non-24 hour sleep-wake disorder; Bipolar disorder; BHLHE40; NFIL3; RORC
African-American (AA) women have earlier menarche on average than women of European ancestry (EA), and earlier menarche is a risk factor for obesity and type 2 diabetes among other chronic diseases. Identification of common genetic variants associated with age at menarche has a potential value in pointing to the genetic pathways underlying chronic disease risk, yet comprehensive genome-wide studies of age at menarche are lacking for AA women. In this study, we tested the genome-wide association of self-reported age at menarche with common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a total of 18 089 AA women in 15 studies using an additive genetic linear regression model, adjusting for year of birth and population stratification, followed by inverse-variance weighted meta-analysis (Stage 1). Top meta-analysis results were then tested in an independent sample of 2850 women (Stage 2). First, while no SNP passed the pre-specified P < 5 × 10−8 threshold for significance in Stage 1, suggestive associations were found for variants near FLRT2 and PIK3R1, and conditional analysis identified two independent SNPs (rs339978 and rs980000) in or near RORA, strengthening the support for this suggestive locus identified in EA women. Secondly, an investigation of SNPs in 42 previously identified menarche loci in EA women demonstrated that 25 (60%) of them contained variants significantly associated with menarche in AA women. The findings provide the first evidence of cross-ethnic generalization of menarche loci identified to date, and suggest a number of novel biological links to menarche timing in AA women.
Blood pressure (BP) is a heritable determinant of risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). To investigate genetic associations with systolic BP (SBP), diastolic BP (DBP), mean arterial pressure (MAP) and pulse pressure (PP), we genotyped ∼50 000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that capture variation in ∼2100 candidate genes for cardiovascular phenotypes in 61 619 individuals of European ancestry from cohort studies in the USA and Europe. We identified novel associations between rs347591 and SBP (chromosome 3p25.3, in an intron of HRH1) and between rs2169137 and DBP (chromosome1q32.1 in an intron of MDM4) and between rs2014408 and SBP (chromosome 11p15 in an intron of SOX6), previously reported to be associated with MAP. We also confirmed 10 previously known loci associated with SBP, DBP, MAP or PP (ADRB1, ATP2B1, SH2B3/ATXN2, CSK, CYP17A1, FURIN, HFE, LSP1, MTHFR, SOX6) at array-wide significance (P < 2.4 × 10−6). We then replicated these associations in an independent set of 65 886 individuals of European ancestry. The findings from expression QTL (eQTL) analysis showed associations of SNPs in the MDM4 region with MDM4 expression. We did not find any evidence of association of the two novel SNPs in MDM4 and HRH1 with sequelae of high BP including coronary artery disease (CAD), left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) or stroke. In summary, we identified two novel loci associated with BP and confirmed multiple previously reported associations. Our findings extend our understanding of genes involved in BP regulation, some of which may eventually provide new targets for therapeutic intervention.
The NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery (NTCB) was designed to provide a brief, efficient computerized test of key neuropsychological functions appropriate for use in children as young as 3 years of age. This report describes the performance of a large group of typically developing children and adolescents and examines the impact of age and sociocultural variables on test performance.
The NTCB was administered to a sample of 1020 typically developing males and females ranging in age from 3 to 20 years, diverse in terms of socioeconomic status (SES) and race/ethnicity, as part of the new publicly accessible Pediatric Imaging, Neurocognition, and Genetics (PING) data resource, at 9 sites across the United States.
General additive models of nonlinear age-functions were estimated from age-differences in test performance on the 8 NTCB subtests while controlling for family SES and genetic ancestry factors (GAFs). Age accounted for the majority of the variance across all NTCB scores, with additional significant contributions of gender on some measures, and of SES and race/ethnicity (GAFs) on all. After adjusting for age and gender, SES and GAFs explained a substantial proportion of the remaining unexplained variance in Picture Vocabulary scores.
The results highlight the sensitivity to developmental effects and efficiency of this new computerized assessment battery for neurodevelopmental research. Limitations are observed in the form of some ceiling effects in older children, some floor effects, particularly on executive function tests in the youngest participants, and evidence for variable measurement sensitivity to cultural/socioeconomic factors.
Computerized Assessment; Cognitive Development; Socioeconomic Status
Ethnic differences in cardiac arrhythmia incidence have been reported, with a particularly high incidence of sudden cardiac death (SCD) and low incidence of atrial fibrillation in individuals of African ancestry. We tested the hypotheses that African ancestry and common genetic variants are associated with prolonged duration of cardiac repolarization, a central pathophysiological determinant of arrhythmia, as measured by the electrocardiographic QT interval.
Methods and Results
First, individual estimates of African and European ancestry were inferred from genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data in seven population-based cohorts of African Americans (n=12 097) and regressed on measured QT interval from electrocardiograms. Second, imputation was performed for 2.8 million SNPs and a genome-wide association (GWA) study of QT interval performed in ten cohorts (n=13 105). There was no evidence of association between genetic ancestry and QT interval (p=0.94). Genome-wide significant associations (p<2.5×10−8) were identified with SNPs at two loci, upstream of the genes NOS1AP (rs12143842, p=2×10−15) and ATP1B1 (rs1320976, p=2×10−10). The most significant SNP in NOS1AP was the same as the strongest SNP previously associated with QT interval in individuals of European ancestry. Low p-values (p<10−5) were observed for SNPs at several other loci previously identified in GWA studies in individuals of European ancestry, including KCNQ1, KCNH2, LITAF and PLN.
We observed no difference in duration of cardiac repolarization with global genetic indices of African ancestry. In addition, our GWA study extends the association of polymorphisms at several loci associated with repolarization in individuals of European ancestry to include African Americans.
electrocardiography; electrophysiology; genome-wide association studies; ion channels; repolarization
The PR interval (PR) as measured by the resting, standard 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) reflects the duration of atrial/atrioventricular nodal depolarization. Substantial evidence exists for a genetic contribution to PR, including genome-wide association studies that have identified common genetic variants at nine loci influencing PR in populations of European and Asian descent. However, few studies have examined loci associated with PR in African Americans.
Methods and Results
We present results from the largest genome-wide association study to date of PR in 13,415 adults of African descent from ten cohorts. We tested for association between PR (ms) and approximately 2.8 million genotyped and imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms. Imputation was performed using HapMap 2 YRI and CEU panels. Study-specific results, adjusted for global ancestry and clinical correlates of PR, were meta-analyzed using the inverse variance method. Variation in genome-wide test statistic distributions was noted within studies (lambda range: 0.9–1.1), although not after genomic control correction was applied to the overall meta-analysis (lambda: 1.008). In addition to generalizing previously reported associations with MEIS1, SCN5A, ARHGAP24, CAV1, and TBX5 to African American populations at the genome-wide significance level (P<5.0×10−8), we also identified a novel locus: ITGA9, located in a region previously implicated in SCN5A expression. The 3p21 region harboring SCN5A also contained two additional independent secondary signals influencing PR (P<5.0×10−8).
This study demonstrates the ability to map novel loci in African Americans as well as the generalizability of loci associated with PR across populations of African, European and Asian descent.
electrocardiography; epidemiology; GWAS; single nucleotide polymorphism genetics; PR interval
We have used a custom 1,536-SNP array to interrogate 94 functionally relevant candidate genes for schizophrenia and identify associations with 12 heritable neurophysiological and neurocognitive endophenotypes collected as part of the Consortium on the Genetics of Schizophrenia (COGS).
Variance-component association analyses of 534 genotyped subjects from 130 families were conducted using Merlin. A novel bootstrap Total Significance Test was also developed to overcome the limitations of existing genomic multiple testing methods and robustly demonstrate the presence of significant associations in the context of complex family data and possible population stratification effects.
Associations were observed for 46 genes of potential functional significance with 3 SNPs at p<10−4, 27 SNPs at p<10−3, and 147 SNPs at p<0.01. The bootstrap analyses confirmed that the 47 SNP-endophenotype combinations with the strongest evidence of association significantly exceeded (p=0.001) that expected by chance alone with 93% of these findings expected to be true. Many of the genes interact on a molecular level, and eight genes displayed evidence for pleiotropy (e.g., NRG1 and ERBB4), revealing associations with four or more endophenotypes. Our results collectively support a strong role for genes related to glutamate signaling in mediating schizophrenia susceptibility.
This study supports the use of relevant endophenotypes and the bootstrap Total Significance Test for the identification of genetic variation underlying the etiology of schizophrenia. In addition, the observation of extensive pleiotropy for some genes and singular associations for others in our data suggests alternative, independent pathways mediating pathogenesis in the “group of schizophrenias”.
There are several indications that malfunctions of the circadian clock contribute to depression. To search for particular circadian gene polymorphisms associated with depression, diverse polymorphisms were genotyped in two samples covering a range of depressed volunteers and participants with normal mood.
Depression mood self-ratings and DNA were collected independently from a sample of patients presenting to a sleep disorders center (1086 of European origin) and from a separate sample consisting of 399 participants claiming delayed sleep phase symptoms and 406 partly-matched controls. A custom Illumina Golden Gate array of 768 selected single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was assayed in both samples, supplemented by additional SNPlex and Taqman assays, including assay of 41 ancestry-associated markers (AIMs) to control stratification.
In the Sleep Clinic sample, these assays yielded Bonferroni-significant association with depressed mood in three linked SNPs of the gene FMR1: rs25702 (nominal P=1.77E-05), rs25714 (P=1.83E-05), and rs28900 (P=5.24E-05). This FMR1 association was supported by 8 SNPs with nominal significance and a nominally-significant gene-wise set test. There was no association of depressed mood with FMR1 in the delayed sleep phase case–control sample or in downloaded GWAS data from the GenRED 2 sample contrasting an early-onset recurrent depression sample with controls. No replication was located in other GWAS studies of depression. Our data did weakly replicate a previously-reported association of depression with PPARGC1B rs7732671 (P=0.0235). Suggestive associations not meeting strict criteria for multiple testing and replication were found with GSK3B, NPAS2, RORA, PER3, CRY1, MTNR1A and NR1D1. Notably, 16 SNPs nominally associated with depressed mood (14 in GSK3B) were also nominally associated with delayed sleep phase syndrome (P=3E10-6).
Considering the inconsistencies between samples and the likelihood that the significant three FMR1 SNPs might be linked to complex polymorphisms more functionally related to depression, large gene resequencing studies may be needed to clarify the import for depression of these circadian genes.
Circadian; Depression; DSPS; FMR1; PPARGC1B; GSK3B; NR1D1; rs25702; rs28900; rs7732671
Clinical relevance of a genetic predisposition to elevated blood pressure was quantified during the transition from childhood to adulthood in a population-based Finnish cohort (N=2,357). Blood pressure was measured at baseline in 1980 (age 3–18 years) and in follow-ups in 1983, 1986, 2001 and 2007. Thirteen single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with blood pressure were genotyped and three genetic risk scores associated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure and their combination were derived for all participants. Effects of the genetic risk score were 0.47 mmHg for systolic and 0.53 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure (both p<0.01). The combination genetic risk score was associated with diastolic blood pressure from age 9 onwards (β=0.68 mmHg, p=0.015). Replications in 1194 participants of the Bogalusa Heart Study showed essentially similar results. The participants in the highest quintile of the combination genetic risk score had a 1.82-fold risk of hypertension in adulthood (p<0.0001) compared with the lowest quintile, independent of a family history of premature hypertension. These findings show that genetic variants are associated with preclinical blood pressure traits in childhood, individuals with several susceptibility alleles have on average a 0.5 mmHg higher blood pressure and this trajectory continues from childhood to adulthood.
Epidemiological study; Genetic risk score; Blood Pressure; Cardiovascular disease
Communication failures are a significant contributor to medical errors that harm patients. Critical care delivery is a complex system of inter-professional work that is distributed across time, space, and multiple disciplines. Because health-care education and delivery remain siloed by profession, we lack a shared framework within which we discuss and subsequently optimize patient care. Furthermore, our disparate professional perspectives and interests often interfere with our ability to effectively prioritize individual care. It is important, therefore, to develop a cognitively shared framework for understanding a patient's severity of illness and plan of care across multiple, traditionally poorly communicating disciplines. We suggest that the 'phases-of-illness paradigm' will facilitate communication about critically ill patients and create a shared mental model for interdisciplinary patient care. In so doing, this paradigm may reduce communication errors, complications, and costs while improving resource utilization and trainee education. Additional research applications are feasible.
Autism is a highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder, yet the genetic underpinnings of the disorder are largely unknown. Aberrant brain overgrowth is a well-replicated observation in the autism literature; but association, linkage, and expression studies have not identified genetic factors that explain this trajectory. Few studies have had sufficient statistical power to investigate whole-genome gene expression and genotypic variation in the autistic brain, especially in regions that display the greatest growth abnormality. Previous functional genomic studies have identified possible alterations in transcript levels of genes related to neurodevelopment and immune function. Thus, there is a need for genetic studies involving key brain regions to replicate these findings and solidify the role of particular functional pathways in autism pathogenesis. We therefore sought to identify abnormal brain gene expression patterns via whole-genome analysis of mRNA levels and copy number variations (CNVs) in autistic and control postmortem brain samples. We focused on prefrontal cortex tissue where excess neuron numbers and cortical overgrowth are pronounced in the majority of autism cases. We found evidence for dysregulation in pathways governing cell number, cortical patterning, and differentiation in young autistic prefrontal cortex. In contrast, adult autistic prefrontal cortex showed dysregulation of signaling and repair pathways. Genes regulating cell cycle also exhibited autism-specific CNVs in DNA derived from prefrontal cortex, and these genes were significantly associated with autism in genome-wide association study datasets. Our results suggest that CNVs and age-dependent gene expression changes in autism may reflect distinct pathological processes in the developing versus the mature autistic prefrontal cortex. Our results raise the hypothesis that genetic dysregulation in the developing brain leads to abnormal regional patterning, excess prefrontal neurons, cortical overgrowth, and neural dysfunction in autism.
Autism is a disorder characterized by aberrant social, communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviors. It develops clinically in the first years of life. Toddlers and children with autism often exhibit early brain enlargement and excess neuron numbers in the prefrontal cortex. Adults with autism generally do not display enlargement but instead may have a smaller brain size. Thus, we investigated DNA and mRNA patterns in prefrontal cortex from young versus adult postmortem individuals with autism to identify age-related gene expression differences as well as possible genetic correlates of abnormal brain enlargement, excess neuron numbers, and abnormal functioning in this disorder. We found abnormalities in genetic pathways governing cell number, neurodevelopment, and cortical lateralization in autism. We also found that the key pathways associated with autism are different between younger and older autistic individuals. These findings suggest that dysregulated gene pathways in the early stages of neurodevelopment could lead to later behavioral and cognitive deficits associated with autism.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified multiple common variants associated with body mass index (BMI). In this study, we tested 23 genotyped GWAS-significant SNPs (p-value<5*10-8) for longitudinal associations with BMI during childhood (3–17 years) and adulthood (18–45 years) for 658 subjects. We also proposed a heuristic forward search for the best joint effect model to explain the longitudinal BMI variation. After using false discovery rate (FDR) to adjust for multiple tests, childhood and adulthood BMI were found to be significantly associated with six SNPs each (q-value<0.05), with one SNP associated with both BMI measurements: KCTD15 rs29941 (q-value<7.6*10-4). These 12 SNPs are located at or near genes either expressed in the brain (BDNF, KCTD15, TMEM18, MTCH2, and FTO) or implicated in cell apoptosis and proliferation (FAIM2, MAP2K5, and TFAP2B). The longitudinal effects of FAIM2 rs7138803 on childhood BMI and MAP2K5 rs2241423 on adulthood BMI decreased as age increased (q-value<0.05). The FTO candidate SNPs, rs6499640 at the 5 ′-end and rs1121980 and rs8050136 downstream, were associated with childhood and adulthood BMI, respectively, and the risk effects of rs6499640 and rs1121980 increased as birth weight decreased. The best joint effect model for childhood and adulthood BMI contained 14 and 15 SNPs each, with 11 in common, and the percentage of explained variance increased from 0.17% and 9.0*10−6% to 2.22% and 2.71%, respectively. In summary, this study evidenced the presence of long-term major effects of genes on obesity development, implicated in pathways related to neural development and cell metabolism, and different sets of genes associated with childhood and adulthood BMI, respectively. The gene effects can vary with age and be modified by prenatal development. The best joint effect model indicated that multiple variants with effects that are weak or absent alone can nevertheless jointly exert a large longitudinal effect on BMI.
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified a large number of variants (SNPs) associating with an increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). Recently, the CARDIoGRAM consortium published a GWAS based on the largest study population so far. They successfully replicated twelve already known associations and discovered thirteen new SNPs associating with CAD. We examined whether the genetic profiling of these variants improves prediction of subclinical atherosclerosis – i.e., carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) and carotid artery elasticity (CAE) – beyond classical risk factors.
Subjects and Methods
We genotyped 24 variants found in a population of European ancestry and measured CIMT and CAE in 2001 and 2007 from 2,081, and 2,015 subjects (aged 30–45 years in 2007) respectively, participating in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study (YFS). The Bogalusa Heart Study (BHS; n = 1179) was used as a replication cohort (mean age of 37.5). For additional replication, a sub-sample of 5 SNPs was genotyped for 1,291 individuals aged 46–76 years participating in the Health 2000 population survey. We tested the impact of genetic risk score (GRS24SNP/CAD) calculated as a weighted (by allelic odds ratios for CAD) sum of CAD risk alleles from the studied 24 variants on CIMT, CAE, the incidence of carotid atherosclerosis and the progression of CIMT and CAE during a 6-year follow-up.
CIMT or CAE did not significantly associate with GRS24SNP/CAD before or after adjusting for classical CAD risk factors (p>0.05 for all) in YFS or in the BHS. CIMT and CAE associated with only one SNP each in the YFS. The findings were not replicated in the replication cohorts. In the meta-analysis CIMT or CAE did not associate with any of the SNPs.
Genetic profiling, by using known CAD risk variants, should not improve risk stratification for subclinical atherosclerosis beyond conventional risk factors among healthy young adults.