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1.  Rare and low-frequency coding variants in CXCR2 and other genes are associated with hematological traits 
Nature genetics  2014;46(6):629-634.
Hematological traits are important clinical parameters. To test the role of rare and low-frequency coding variants on hematological traits, we analyzed hemoglobin, hematocrit, white blood cell (WBC) and platelet count in 31,340 individuals genotyped on an exome array. We identified several missense variants of CXCR2 associated with reduced WBC count (gene-based P=2.6×10−13). In a separate family-based re-sequencing study, we identified a novel loss-of-function CXCR2 frameshift mutation in a pedigree with congenital neutropenia that abolished ligand-induced CXCR2 signal transduction and chemotaxis. We also identified novel missense or splice site variants in key hematopoiesis regulators (EPO, TRF2, HBB, TUBB1, SH2B3) associated with blood cell traits. Finally, we were able to detect associations between the rare somatic JAK2 p.Val617Phe mutation and platelet count (P=3.9×10−22) as well as hemoglobin (P=0.002), hematocrit (P=9.5×10−7) and WBC (P=3.1×10−5). In conclusion, exome arrays complement GWAS in identifying new variants that contribute to complex human traits.
PMCID: PMC4050975  PMID: 24777453
2.  A variational Bayes discrete mixture test for rare variant association 
Genetic epidemiology  2014;38(1):21-30.
Recently, many statistical methods have been proposed to test for associations between rare genetic variants and complex traits. Most of these methods test for association by aggregating genetic variations within a predefined region, such as a gene. Although there is evidence that “aggregate” tests are more powerful than the single marker test, these tests generally ignore neutral variants and therefore are unable to identify specific variants driving the association with phenotype. We propose a novel aggregate rare-variant test that explicitly models a fraction of variants as neutral, tests associations at the gene-level, and infers the rare-variants driving the association. Simulations show that in the practical scenario where there are many variants within a given region of the genome with only a fraction causal our approach has greater power compared to other popular tests such as the Sequence Kernel Association Test (SKAT), the Weighted Sum Statistic (WSS), and the collapsing method of Morris and Zeggini (MZ). Our algorithm leverages a fast variational Bayes approximate inference methodology to scale to exome-wide analyses, a significant computational advantage over exact inference model selection methodologies. To demonstrate the efficacy of our methodology we test for associations between von Willebrand Factor (VWF) levels and VWF missense rare-variants imputed from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Exome Sequencing project into 2,487 African Americans within the VWF gene. Our method suggests that a relatively small fraction (~10%) of the imputed rare missense variants within VWF are strongly associated with lower VWF levels in African Americans.
PMCID: PMC4030763  PMID: 24482836
Exome sequencing study; approximate inference; von Willebrand Factor genetics
3.  No Evidence for Genome-Wide Interactions on Plasma Fibrinogen by Smoking, Alcohol Consumption and Body Mass Index: Results from Meta-Analyses of 80,607 Subjects 
Baumert, Jens | Huang, Jie | McKnight, Barbara | Sabater-Lleal, Maria | Steri, Maristella | Chu, Audrey Y. | Trompet, Stella | Lopez, Lorna M. | Fornage, Myriam | Teumer, Alexander | Tang, Weihong | Rudnicka, Alicja R. | Mälarstig, Anders | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Kavousi, Maryam | Lahti, Jari | Tanaka, Toshiko | Hayward, Caroline | Huffman, Jennifer E. | Morange, Pierre-Emmanuel | Rose, Lynda M. | Basu, Saonli | Rumley, Ann | Stott, David J. | Buckley, Brendan M. | de Craen, Anton J. M. | Sanna, Serena | Masala, Marco | Biffar, Reiner | Homuth, Georg | Silveira, Angela | Sennblad, Bengt | Goel, Anuj | Watkins, Hugh | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Rückerl, Regina | Taylor, Kent | Chen, Ming-Huei | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Hofman, Albert | Witteman, Jacqueline C. M. | de Maat, Moniek P. M. | Palotie, Aarno | Davies, Gail | Siscovick, David S. | Kolcic, Ivana | Wild, Sarah H. | Song, Jaejoon | McArdle, Wendy L. | Ford, Ian | Sattar, Naveed | Schlessinger, David | Grotevendt, Anne | Franzosi, Maria Grazia | Illig, Thomas | Waldenberger, Melanie | Lumley, Thomas | Tofler, Geoffrey H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Uitterlinden, André G. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Räikkönen, Katri | Chasman, Daniel I. | Folsom, Aaron R. | Lowe, Gordon D. | Westendorp, Rudi G. J. | Slagboom, P. Eline | Cucca, Francesco | Wallaschofski, Henri | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Seedorf, Udo | Koenig, Wolfgang | Bis, Joshua C. | Mukamal, Kenneth J. | van Dongen, Jenny | Widen, Elisabeth | Franco, Oscar H. | Starr, John M. | Liu, Kiang | Ferrucci, Luigi | Polasek, Ozren | Wilson, James F. | Oudot-Mellakh, Tiphaine | Campbell, Harry | Navarro, Pau | Bandinelli, Stefania | Eriksson, Johan | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Dehghan, Abbas | Clarke, Robert | Hamsten, Anders | Boerwinkle, Eric | Jukema, J. Wouter | Naitza, Silvia | Ridker, Paul M. | Völzke, Henry | Deary, Ian J. | Reiner, Alexander P. | Trégouët, David-Alexandre | O'Donnell, Christopher J. | Strachan, David P. | Peters, Annette | Smith, Nicholas L.
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e111156.
Plasma fibrinogen is an acute phase protein playing an important role in the blood coagulation cascade having strong associations with smoking, alcohol consumption and body mass index (BMI). Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified a variety of gene regions associated with elevated plasma fibrinogen concentrations. However, little is yet known about how associations between environmental factors and fibrinogen might be modified by genetic variation. Therefore, we conducted large-scale meta-analyses of genome-wide interaction studies to identify possible interactions of genetic variants and smoking status, alcohol consumption or BMI on fibrinogen concentration. The present study included 80,607 subjects of European ancestry from 22 studies. Genome-wide interaction analyses were performed separately in each study for about 2.6 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the 22 autosomal chromosomes. For each SNP and risk factor, we performed a linear regression under an additive genetic model including an interaction term between SNP and risk factor. Interaction estimates were meta-analysed using a fixed-effects model. No genome-wide significant interaction with smoking status, alcohol consumption or BMI was observed in the meta-analyses. The most suggestive interaction was found for smoking and rs10519203, located in the LOC123688 region on chromosome 15, with a p value of 6.2×10−8. This large genome-wide interaction study including 80,607 participants found no strong evidence of interaction between genetic variants and smoking status, alcohol consumption or BMI on fibrinogen concentrations. Further studies are needed to yield deeper insight in the interplay between environmental factors and gene variants on the regulation of fibrinogen concentrations.
PMCID: PMC4281156  PMID: 25551457
4.  Genome-wide and gene-centric analyses of circulating myeloperoxidase levels in the charge and care consortia 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(16):3381-3393.
Increased systemic levels of myeloperoxidase (MPO) are associated with the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). To identify the genetic factors that are associated with circulating MPO levels, we carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and a gene-centric analysis in subjects of European ancestry and African Americans (AAs). A locus on chromosome 1q31.1 containing the complement factor H (CFH) gene was strongly associated with serum MPO levels in 9305 subjects of European ancestry (lead SNP rs800292; P = 4.89 × 10−41) and in 1690 AA subjects (rs505102; P = 1.05 × 10−8). Gene-centric analyses in 8335 subjects of European ancestry additionally identified two rare MPO coding sequence variants that were associated with serum MPO levels (rs28730837, P = 5.21 × 10−12; rs35897051, P = 3.32 × 10−8). A GWAS for plasma MPO levels in 9260 European ancestry subjects identified a chromosome 17q22 region near MPO that was significantly associated (lead SNP rs6503905; P = 2.94 × 10−12), but the CFH locus did not exhibit evidence of association with plasma MPO levels. Functional analyses revealed that rs800292 was associated with levels of complement proteins in serum. Variants at chromosome 17q22 also had pleiotropic cis effects on gene expression. In a case–control analysis of ∼80 000 subjects from CARDIoGRAM, none of the identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were associated with CAD. These results suggest that distinct genetic factors regulate serum and plasma MPO levels, which may have relevance for various acute and chronic inflammatory disorders. The clinical implications for CAD and a better understanding of the functional basis for the association of CFH and MPO variants with circulating MPO levels require further study.
PMCID: PMC3723315  PMID: 23620142
5.  Genome-wide association analysis of red blood cell traits in African Americans: the COGENT Network 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(12):2529-2538.
Laboratory red blood cell (RBC) measurements are clinically important, heritable and differ among ethnic groups. To identify genetic variants that contribute to RBC phenotypes in African Americans (AAs), we conducted a genome-wide association study in up to ∼16 500 AAs. The alpha-globin locus on chromosome 16pter [lead SNP rs13335629 in ITFG3 gene; P < 1E−13 for hemoglobin (Hgb), RBC count, mean corpuscular volume (MCV), MCH and MCHC] and the G6PD locus on Xq28 [lead SNP rs1050828; P < 1E − 13 for Hgb, hematocrit (Hct), MCV, RBC count and red cell distribution width (RDW)] were each associated with multiple RBC traits. At the alpha-globin region, both the common African 3.7 kb deletion and common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) appear to contribute independently to RBC phenotypes among AAs. In the 2p21 region, we identified a novel variant of PRKCE distinctly associated with Hct in AAs. In a genome-wide admixture mapping scan, local European ancestry at the 6p22 region containing HFE and LRRC16A was associated with higher Hgb. LRRC16A has been previously associated with the platelet count and mean platelet volume in AAs, but not with Hgb. Finally, we extended to AAs the findings of association of erythrocyte traits with several loci previously reported in Europeans and/or Asians, including CD164 and HBS1L-MYB. In summary, this large-scale genome-wide analysis in AAs has extended the importance of several RBC-associated genetic loci to AAs and identified allelic heterogeneity and pleiotropy at several previously known genetic loci associated with blood cell traits in AAs.
PMCID: PMC3658166  PMID: 23446634
6.  Sex-influenced Association of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease with Coronary Heart Disease 
Atherosclerosis  2013;227(2):420-424.
This study investigated whether nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) predicts prevalent coronary heart disease (CHD).
Epidemiologic studies have used various definitions for NAFLD. Here, we considered both liver fat burden measured by CT (FL) and the non-specific measure of hepatic inflammation –alanine aminotransferase (ALT). The association of FL and ALT with CHD (self report of coronary bypass, myocardial infarction, or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty) was investigated in 2,756 European-American participants of the Family Heart Study.
FL (p=0.0084) and ALT (≥40U/L, p=0.014) were each individually associated with prevalent CHD. However, when accounting for traditional metabolic risk factors in a multivariate model FL had no predictive value for CHD in either men or women; whereas ALT was a significant predictor of CHD in men, and the association strengthened among non-diabetic men. In non-diabetic women, neither FL nor ALT was associated with CHD.
ALT (≥40U/L) was a predictor of prevalent CHD in men but not in women, while CT measured FL was not significant in either sex. The failure to account for traditional risk factors, heterogeneity by sex, and varying definitions of NAFLD may account for some of the conflicting evidence in the literature regarding the association between NAFLD and coronary disease.
PMCID: PMC3602396  PMID: 23390892
cardiovascular disease; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; sex-specific association; insulin resistance; glucose metabolism
7.  The Impact of Ancestry and Common Genetic Variants on QT Interval in African Americans 
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.
PMCID: PMC3568265  PMID: 23166209
electrocardiography; electrophysiology; genome-wide association studies; ion channels; repolarization
8.  Kidney stones and subclinical atherosclerosis in young adults: Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study 
The Journal of urology  2011;185(3):10.1016/j.juro.2010.10.086.
Recent reports suggest that nephrolithiasis and atherosclerosis share a number of risk factors. There has been no previous examination of the relationship between kidney stones and subclinical atherosclerotic disease Here we assessed the relationship between nephrolithiasis and carotid wall thickness and carotid stenosis assessed by B-mode ultrasound in the general community using data from The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study.
CARDIA is a U.S. population-based, observational study of 5,115 white and African-American men and women between the ages of 18 and 30 years at recruitment in 1985-1986.
By the year 20 exam, 200 (3.9%) of CARDIA participants had reported ever having kidney stones. Symptomatic kidney stones were associated with greater carotid wall thickness measured at the year 20 exam, particularly of the internal carotid/bulb region. Using a composite dichotomous endpoint of carotid stenosis and/or upper quartile of internal carotid/bulb wall thickness, the association of kidney stones with carotid atherosclerosis was significant (odds ratio=1.6; 95% confidence interval 1.1-2.3; p=0.01) even after adjusting for major atherosclerotic risk factors.
The association between a history of kidney stones and subclinical carotid atherosclerosis in young adults adds further support to the notion that nephrolithiasis and atherosclerosis share common systemic risk factors and/or pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC3827917  PMID: 21251678
urolithiasis; atherosclerosis
9.  Genome-Wide Association of Body Fat Distribution in African Ancestry Populations Suggests New Loci 
Liu, Ching-Ti | Monda, Keri L. | Taylor, Kira C. | Lange, Leslie | Demerath, Ellen W. | Palmas, Walter | Wojczynski, Mary K. | Ellis, Jaclyn C. | Vitolins, Mara Z. | Liu, Simin | Papanicolaou, George J. | Irvin, Marguerite R. | Xue, Luting | Griffin, Paula J. | Nalls, Michael A. | Adeyemo, Adebowale | Liu, Jiankang | Li, Guo | Ruiz-Narvaez, Edward A. | Chen, Wei-Min | Chen, Fang | Henderson, Brian E. | Millikan, Robert C. | Ambrosone, Christine B. | Strom, Sara S. | Guo, Xiuqing | Andrews, Jeanette S. | Sun, Yan V. | Mosley, Thomas H. | Yanek, Lisa R. | Shriner, Daniel | Haritunians, Talin | Rotter, Jerome I. | Speliotes, Elizabeth K. | Smith, Megan | Rosenberg, Lynn | Mychaleckyj, Josyf | Nayak, Uma | Spruill, Ida | Garvey, W. Timothy | Pettaway, Curtis | Nyante, Sarah | Bandera, Elisa V. | Britton, Angela F. | Zonderman, Alan B. | Rasmussen-Torvik, Laura J. | Chen, Yii-Der Ida | Ding, Jingzhong | Lohman, Kurt | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Zhao, Wei | Peyser, Patricia A. | Kardia, Sharon L. R. | Kabagambe, Edmond | Broeckel, Ulrich | Chen, Guanjie | Zhou, Jie | Wassertheil-Smoller, Sylvia | Neuhouser, Marian L. | Rampersaud, Evadnie | Psaty, Bruce | Kooperberg, Charles | Manson, JoAnn E. | Kuller, Lewis H. | Ochs-Balcom, Heather M. | Johnson, Karen C. | Sucheston, Lara | Ordovas, Jose M. | Palmer, Julie R. | Haiman, Christopher A. | McKnight, Barbara | Howard, Barbara V. | Becker, Diane M. | Bielak, Lawrence F. | Liu, Yongmei | Allison, Matthew A. | Grant, Struan F. A. | Burke, Gregory L. | Patel, Sanjay R. | Schreiner, Pamela J. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Evans, Michele K. | Taylor, Herman | Sale, Michele M. | Howard, Virginia | Carlson, Christopher S. | Rotimi, Charles N. | Cushman, Mary | Harris, Tamara B. | Reiner, Alexander P. | Cupples, L. Adrienne | North, Kari E. | Fox, Caroline S.
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003681.
Central obesity, measured by waist circumference (WC) or waist-hip ratio (WHR), is a marker of body fat distribution. Although obesity disproportionately affects minority populations, few studies have conducted genome-wide association study (GWAS) of fat distribution among those of predominantly African ancestry (AA). We performed GWAS of WC and WHR, adjusted and unadjusted for BMI, in up to 33,591 and 27,350 AA individuals, respectively. We identified loci associated with fat distribution in AA individuals using meta-analyses of GWA results for WC and WHR (stage 1). Overall, 25 SNPs with single genomic control (GC)-corrected p-values<5.0×10−6 were followed-up (stage 2) in AA with WC and with WHR. Additionally, we interrogated genomic regions of previously identified European ancestry (EA) WHR loci among AA. In joint analysis of association results including both Stage 1 and 2 cohorts, 2 SNPs demonstrated association, rs2075064 at LHX2, p = 2.24×10−8 for WC-adjusted-for-BMI, and rs6931262 at RREB1, p = 2.48×10−8 for WHR-adjusted-for-BMI. However, neither signal was genome-wide significant after double GC-correction (LHX2: p = 6.5×10−8; RREB1: p = 5.7×10−8). Six of fourteen previously reported loci for waist in EA populations were significant (p<0.05 divided by the number of independent SNPs within the region) in AA studied here (TBX15-WARS2, GRB14, ADAMTS9, LY86, RSPO3, ITPR2-SSPN). Further, we observed associations with metabolic traits: rs13389219 at GRB14 associated with HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting insulin, and rs13060013 at ADAMTS9 with HDL-cholesterol and fasting insulin. Finally, we observed nominal evidence for sexual dimorphism, with stronger results in AA women at the GRB14 locus (p for interaction = 0.02). In conclusion, we identified two suggestive loci associated with fat distribution in AA populations in addition to confirming 6 loci previously identified in populations of EA. These findings reinforce the concept that there are fat distribution loci that are independent of generalized adiposity.
Author Summary
Central obesity is a marker of body fat distribution and is known to have a genetic underpinning. Few studies have reported genome-wide association study (GWAS) results among individuals of predominantly African ancestry (AA). We performed a collaborative meta-analysis in order to identify genetic loci associated with body fat distribution in AA individuals using waist circumference (WC) and waist to hip ratio (WHR) as measures of fat distribution, with and without adjustment for body mass index (BMI). We uncovered 2 genetic loci potentially associated with fat distribution: LHX2 in association with WC-adjusted-for-BMI and at RREB1 for WHR-adjusted-for-BMI. Six of fourteen previously reported loci for waist in EA populations were significant in AA studied here (TBX15-WARS2, GRB14, ADAMTS9, LY86, RSPO3, ITPR2-SSPN). These findings reinforce the concept that there are loci for body fat distribution that are independent of generalized adiposity.
PMCID: PMC3744443  PMID: 23966867
10.  Simultaneously Testing for Marginal Genetic Association and Gene-Environment Interaction 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;176(2):164-173.
In this article, the authors propose to simultaneously test for marginal genetic association and gene-environment interaction to discover single nucleotide polymorphisms that may be involved in gene-environment or gene-treatment interaction. The asymptotic independence of the marginal association estimator and various interaction estimators leads to a simple and flexible way of combining the 2 tests, allowing for exploitation of gene-environment independence in estimating gene-environment interaction. The proposed test differs from the 2-df test proposed by Kraft et al. (Hum Hered. 2007;63(2):111–119) in two respects. First, for the genetic association component, it tests for marginal association, which is often the primary objective in inference, rather than the main effect in a model with gene-environment interaction. Second, the gene-environment testing component can easily exploit putative gene-environment independence using either the case-only estimator or the empirical Bayes estimator, depending on whether the goal is gene-treatment interaction in a randomized trial or gene-environment interaction in an observational study. The use of the proposed joint test is illustrated through simulations and a genetic study (1993–2005) from the Women's Health Initiative.
PMCID: PMC3499112  PMID: 22771729
association; empirical Bayes; genetic epidemiology; genetics; gene-environment interaction; two-stage procedure
11.  A novel variational Bayes multiple locus Z-statistic for genome-wide association studies with Bayesian model averaging 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(13):1738-1744.
Motivation: For many complex traits, including height, the majority of variants identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have small effects, leaving a significant proportion of the heritable variation unexplained. Although many penalized multiple regression methodologies have been proposed to increase the power to detect associations for complex genetic architectures, they generally lack mechanisms for false-positive control and diagnostics for model over-fitting. Our methodology is the first penalized multiple regression approach that explicitly controls Type I error rates and provide model over-fitting diagnostics through a novel normally distributed statistic defined for every marker within the GWAS, based on results from a variational Bayes spike regression algorithm.
Results: We compare the performance of our method to the lasso and single marker analysis on simulated data and demonstrate that our approach has superior performance in terms of power and Type I error control. In addition, using the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) SNP Health Association Resource (SHARe) GWAS of African-Americans, we show that our method has power to detect additional novel associations with body height. These findings replicate by reaching a stringent cutoff of marginal association in a larger cohort.
Availability: An R-package, including an implementation of our variational Bayes spike regression (vBsr) algorithm, is available at
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3381972  PMID: 22563072
12.  Variation in the TLR10/TLR1/TLR6 Locus is the Major Genetic Determinant of Inter-Individual Difference in TLR1/2-Mediated Responses 
Genes and immunity  2012;14(1):52-57.
Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated innate immune responses are important in early host defense. Using a candidate gene approach, we previously identified genetic variation within TLR1 that is associated with hyper-responsiveness to a TLR1/2 agonist in vitro and with death and organ dysfunction in patients with sepsis. Here we report a genome-wide association study designed to identify genetic loci controlling whole blood cytokine responses to the TLR1/2 lipopeptide agonist, Pam3CSK4 ex vivo. We identified a very strong association (p<1×10−27) between genetic variation within the TLR10/1/6 locus on chromosome 4, and Pam3CSK4-induced cytokine responses. This was the predominant association explaining over 35% of the population variance for this phenotype. Notably, strong associations were observed within TLR10 suggesting genetic variation in TLR10 may influence bacterial lipoprotein-induced responses. These findings establish the TLR10/1/6 locus as the dominant common genetic factor controlling inter-individual variability in Pam3CSK4-induced whole blood responses in the healthy population.
PMCID: PMC3554851  PMID: 23151486
TLR; polymorphism; genomics; innate immunity
13.  Association of common genetic variation in the insulin/IGF1 signaling pathway with human longevity 
Aging cell  2009;8(4):460-472.
The insulin/IGF1 signaling pathways affect lifespan in several model organisms, including worms, flies and mice. To investigate whether common genetic variation in this pathway influences lifespan in humans, we genotyped 291 common variants in 30 genes encoding proteins in the insulin/IGF1 signaling pathway in a cohort of elderly Caucasian women selected from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures (SOF), including 293 long-lived cases (lifespan ≥ 92 years (y), mean ± standard deviation (SD) = 95.3 ± 2.2y) and 603 average-lifespan controls (lifespan ≤ 79y, mean=75.7 ± 2.6y). Variants were selected for genotyping using a haplotype tagging approach. We found a modest excess of variants nominally associated with longevity. We then replicated nominally significant variants in two additional Caucasian cohorts containing both males and females: the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) and Ashkenazi Jewish Centenarians (AJC). An intronic single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in AKT1, rs3803304, was significantly associated with lifespan in a meta-analysis across the three cohorts (odds ratio (OR)=0.78 (95% confidence interval (CI)=0.68-0.89), adjusted p=0.043); two intronic SNPs in FOXO3A demonstrated a significant lifespan association among women only (rs1935949, OR=1.35, 95% CI=1.15-1.57, adjusted p=0.0093). Conclusion: common variants in several insulin/IGF1 pathway genes are associated with human lifespan.
PMCID: PMC3652804  PMID: 19489743
IGF1; longevity; gene; SNP; AKT1; FOXO3A
14.  Genetic determinants of the ankle-brachial index: A meta-analysis of a cardiovascular candidate gene 50K SNP panel in the candidate gene association resource (CARe) consortium 
Atherosclerosis  2012;222(1):138-147.
Candidate gene association studies for peripheral artery disease (PAD), including subclinical disease assessed with the ankle-brachial index (ABI), have been limited by the modest number of genes examined. We conducted a two stage meta-analysis of ~50,000 SNPs across ~2100 candidate genes to identify genetic variants for ABI.
Methods and results
We studied subjects of European ancestry from 8 studies (n = 21,547, 55% women, mean age 44–73 years) and African American ancestry from 5 studies (n = 7267, 60% women, mean age 41–73 years) involved in the candidate gene association resource (CARe) consortium. In each ethnic group, additive genetic models were used (with each additional copy of the minor allele corresponding to the given beta) to test each SNP for association with continuous ABI (excluding ABI > 1.40) and PAD (defined as ABI < 0.90) using linear or logistic regression with adjustment for known PAD risk factors and population stratification. We then conducted a fixed-effects inverse-variance weighted meta-analyses considering a p < 2 × 10−6 to denote statistical significance.
In the European ancestry discovery meta-analyses, rs2171209 in SYTL3 (β = −0.007, p = 6.02 × 10−7) and rs290481 in TCF7L2 (β = −0.008, p = 7.01 × 10−7) were significantly associated with ABI. None of the SNP associations for PAD were significant, though a SNP in CYP2B6 (p = 4.99 × 10−5) was among the strongest associations. These 3 genes are linked to key PAD risk factors (lipoprotein(a), type 2 diabetes, and smoking behavior, respectively). We sought replication in 6 population-based and 3 clinical samples (n = 15,440) for rs290481 and rs2171209. However, in the replication stage (rs2171209, p = 0.75; rs290481, p = 0.19) and in the combined discovery and replication analysis the SNP–ABI associations were no longer significant (rs2171209, p = 1.14 × 10−3; rs290481, p = 8.88 × 10−5). In African Americans, none of the SNP associations for ABI or PAD achieved an experiment-wide level of significance.
Genetic determinants of ABI and PAD remain elusive. Follow-up of these preliminary findings may uncover important biology given the known gene-risk factor associations. New and more powerful approaches to PAD gene discovery are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3596171  PMID: 22361517
Ankle brachial index; Peripheral artery disease; Genetics; Candidate gene array; Meta-analysis; Ethnicity
15.  Associations Between Incident Ischemic Stroke Events and Stroke and Cardiovascular Disease-Related GWAS SNPs in the Population Architecture Using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) Study 
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified loci associated with ischemic stroke (IS) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in European-descent individuals, but their replication in different populations has been largely unexplored.
Methods and Results
Nine single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) selected from GWAS and meta-analyses of stroke and 86 SNPs previously associated with myocardial infarction and CVD risk factors including blood lipids (HDL, LDL, triglycerides), type 2 diabetes and body mass index were investigated for associations with incident IS in European Americans (EA) N=26,276; African Americans (AA) N=8970; and American Indians (AI) N= 3570 from the Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology Study. Ancestry-specific fixed effects meta-analysis with inverse variance weighting was used to combine study-specific log hazard ratios from Cox proportional hazards models. Two of 9 stroke SNPs (rs783396 and rs1804689) were associated with increased IS hazard in AA; none were significant in this large EA cohort. Of 73 CVD risk factor SNPs tested in EA, two (HDL and triglycerides SNPs) were associated with IS. In AA, SNPs associated with LDL, HDL and BMI were significantly associated with IS (3 of 86 SNPs tested). Out of 58 SNPs tested in AI, one LDL SNP was significantly associated with IS.
Our analyses showing lack of replication in spite of reasonable power for many stroke SNPs and differing results by ancestry highlight the need to follow-up on GWAS findings and conduct genetic association studies in diverse populations. We found modest IS associations with BMI and lipids SNPs, though these findings require confirmation.
PMCID: PMC3402178  PMID: 22403240
genetics of stroke; risk factors for stroke; genetics of cardiovascular disease; epidemiology
16.  Genome-wide association study of body height in African Americans: the Women's Health Initiative SNP Health Association Resource (SHARe) 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(3):711-720.
Height is a complex trait under strong genetic influence. To date, numerous genetic loci have been associated with height in individuals of European ancestry. However, few large-scale discovery genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of height in minority populations have been conducted and thus information about population-specific height regulation is limited. We conducted a GWA analysis of height in 8149 African-American (AA) women from the Women's Health Initiative. Genetic variants with P< 5 × 10−5 (n = 169) were followed up in a replication data set (n = 20 809) and meta-analyzed in a total of 28 958 AAs and African-descent individuals. Twelve single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) representing 7 independent loci were significantly associated with height at P < 5 × 10−8. We identified novel SNPs in 17q23 (TMEM100/PCTP) and Xp22.3 (ARSE) reflecting population-specific regulation of height in AAs and replicated five loci previously reported in European-descent populations [4p15/LCORL, 11q13/SERPINH1, 12q14/HMGA2, 17q23/MAP3K3 (mitogen-activated protein kinase3) and 18q21/DYM]. In addition, we performed an admixture mapping analysis of height which is both complementary and supportive to the GWA analysis and suggests potential associations between ancestry and height on chromosomes 4 (4q21), 15 (15q26) and 17 (17q23). Our findings provide insight into the genetic architecture of height and support the investigation of non-European-descent populations for identifying genetic factors associated with complex traits. Specifically, we identify new loci that may reflect population-specific regulation of height and report several known height loci that are important in determining height in African-descent populations.
PMCID: PMC3259012  PMID: 22021425
17.  Genetic association analysis highlights new loci that modulate hematological trait variation in Caucasians and African Americans 
Human genetics  2010;129(3):307-317.
Red blood cell, white blood cell, and platelet measures, including their count, sub-type and volume, are important diagnostic and prognostic clinical parameters for several human diseases. To identify novel loci associated with hematological traits, and compare the architecture of these phenotypes between ethnic groups, the CARe Project genotyped 49,094 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that capture variation in ~2,100 candidate genes in DNA of 23,439 Caucasians and 7,112 African Americans from five population-based cohorts. We found strong novel associations between erythrocyte phenotypes and the glucose-6 phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) A-allele in African Americans (rs1050828, P < 2.0 × 10−13, T-allele associated with lower red blood cell count, hemoglobin, and hematocrit, and higher mean corpuscular volume), and between platelet count and a SNP at the tropomyosin-4 (TPM4) locus (rs8109288, P = 3.0 × 10−7 in Caucasians; P = 3.0 × 10−7 in African Americans, T-allele associated with lower platelet count). We strongly replicated many genetic associations to blood cell phenotypes previously established in Caucasians. A common variant of the α-globin (HBA2-HBA1) locus was associated with red blood cell traits in African Americans, but not in Caucasians (rs1211375, P < 7 × 10−8, A-allele associated with lower hemoglobin, mean corpuscular hemoglobin, and mean corpuscular volume). Our results show similarities but also differences in the genetic regulation of hematological traits in European- and African-derived populations, and highlight the role of natural selection in shaping these differences.
PMCID: PMC3442357  PMID: 21153663
18.  A gene-centric association scan for Coagulation Factor VII levels in European and African Americans: the Candidate Gene Association Resource (CARe) Consortium 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(17):3525-3534.
Polymorphisms in several distinct genomic regions, including the F7 gene, were recently associated with factor VII (FVII) levels in European Americans (EAs). The genetic determinants of FVII in African Americans (AAs) are unknown. We used a 50 000 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) gene-centric array having dense coverage of over 2 000 candidate genes for cardiovascular disease (CVD) pathways in a community-based sample of 16 324 EA and 3898 AA participants from the Candidate Gene Association Resource (CARe) consortium. Our aim was the discovery of new genomic loci and more detailed characterization of existing loci associated with FVII levels. In EAs, we identified three new loci associated with FVII, of which APOA5 on chromosome 11q23 and HNF4A on chromosome 20q12–13 were replicated in a sample of 4289 participants from the Whitehall II study. We confirmed four previously reported FVII-associated loci (GCKR, MS4A6A, F7 and PROCR) in CARe EA samples. In AAs, the F7 and PROCR regions were significantly associated with FVII. Several of the FVII-associated regions are known to be associated with lipids and other cardiovascular-related traits. At the F7 locus, there was evidence of at least five independently associated SNPs in EAs and three independent signals in AAs. Though the variance in FVII explained by the existing loci is substantial (20% in EA and 10% in AA), larger sample sizes and investigation of lower frequency variants may be required to identify additional FVII-associated loci in EAs and AAs and further clarify the relationship between FVII and other CVD risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3153310  PMID: 21676895
19.  Recent Findings in the Genetics of Blood Pressure and Hypertension Traits 
American journal of hypertension  2010;24(4):392-400.
We provide an overview of ongoing discovery efforts in the genetics of blood pressure (BP) and hypertension (HTN) traits. Two large genome-wide association meta-analyses of individuals of European descent were recently published, revealing ~13 new loci for BP traits. Only two of these loci harbor genes in a pathway known to affect BP (CYP17A1 and NPPA/NPPB). Functional variants in these loci are still unknown. Few genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of complex diseases have been published from non-European populations. The study of populations with different evolutionary history and linkage disequilibrium (LD) structure, such as individuals of African ancestry, may provide an opportunity to further narrow these regions to identify the causal gene(s). Several collaborative efforts toward discovery of low-frequency variants and copy number variation for BP traits are currently underway. As evidence for new loci for complex diseases accumulates the assessment of the epidemiologic architecture of these variants in populations assumes higher priority. The impact of public health–relevant contexts such as diet, physical activity, psychosocial factors, and aging has not been examined for most common variants associated with BP.
PMCID: PMC3110743  PMID: 20948529
blood pressure; genes; genome-wide association; hypertension
20.  A Meta-Analysis and Genome-Wide Association Study of Platelet Count and Mean Platelet Volume in African Americans 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(3):e1002491.
Several genetic variants associated with platelet count and mean platelet volume (MPV) were recently reported in people of European ancestry. In this meta-analysis of 7 genome-wide association studies (GWAS) enrolling African Americans, our aim was to identify novel genetic variants associated with platelet count and MPV. For all cohorts, GWAS analysis was performed using additive models after adjusting for age, sex, and population stratification. For both platelet phenotypes, meta-analyses were conducted using inverse-variance weighted fixed-effect models. Platelet aggregation assays in whole blood were performed in the participants of the GeneSTAR cohort. Genetic variants in ten independent regions were associated with platelet count (N = 16,388) with p<5×10−8 of which 5 have not been associated with platelet count in previous GWAS. The novel genetic variants associated with platelet count were in the following regions (the most significant SNP, closest gene, and p-value): 6p22 (rs12526480, LRRC16A, p = 9.1×10−9), 7q11 (rs13236689, CD36, p = 2.8×10−9), 10q21 (rs7896518, JMJD1C, p = 2.3×10−12), 11q13 (rs477895, BAD, p = 4.9×10−8), and 20q13 (rs151361, SLMO2, p = 9.4×10−9). Three of these loci (10q21, 11q13, and 20q13) were replicated in European Americans (N = 14,909) and one (11q13) in Hispanic Americans (N = 3,462). For MPV (N = 4,531), genetic variants in 3 regions were significant at p<5×10−8, two of which were also associated with platelet count. Previously reported regions that were also significant in this study were 6p21, 6q23, 7q22, 12q24, and 19p13 for platelet count and 7q22, 17q11, and 19p13 for MPV. The most significant SNP in 1 region was also associated with ADP-induced maximal platelet aggregation in whole blood (12q24). Thus through a meta-analysis of GWAS enrolling African Americans, we have identified 5 novel regions associated with platelet count of which 3 were replicated in other ethnic groups. In addition, we also found one region associated with platelet aggregation that may play a potential role in atherothrombosis.
Author Summary
The majority of the variation in platelet count and mean platelet volume between individuals is heritable. We performed genome-wide association studies in more than 16,000 African American participants from seven population-based cohorts to identify genetic variants that correlate with variation in platelet count and mean platelet volume. We observed statistically significant evidence (p-value<5×10−8) that 10 genomic regions were associated with platelet count and 3 were associated with mean platelet volume. Of the regions that were significantly associated, we found 5 novel regions that were not reported previously in other populations. Three of these 5 regions were also associated with platelet count in European Americans and Hispanic Americans. All these regions contain genes that are either known to have or potentially may have a role in determining platelet count and/or mean platelet volume. We further found that one of these regions was also associated with agonist-induced platelet aggregation. Further studies will determine the exact role played by these genomic regions in platelet biology. The knowledge generated by this and other studies will not only help us better understand platelet biology but can also lead us to the discovery of new anti-platelet drugs.
PMCID: PMC3299192  PMID: 22423221
21.  Racial Differences in Tuberculosis Infection in United States Communities: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study 
Previously reported associations between race/ethnicity and tuberculosis infection have lacked sufficient adjustment for socioeconomic factors. We analyzed race/ethnicity and self-reported tuberculosis infection data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, a well-characterized cohort of 5115 black and white participants, and found that after adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical factors, black participants were more likely to report tuberculosis infection and/or disease (odds ratio, 2.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.5–2.9).
PMCID: PMC3137794  PMID: 21765079
22.  Genome-Wide Association Study of White Blood Cell Count in 16,388 African Americans: the Continental Origins and Genetic Epidemiology Network (COGENT) 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(6):e1002108.
Total white blood cell (WBC) and neutrophil counts are lower among individuals of African descent due to the common African-derived “null” variant of the Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC) gene. Additional common genetic polymorphisms were recently associated with total WBC and WBC sub-type levels in European and Japanese populations. No additional loci that account for WBC variability have been identified in African Americans. In order to address this, we performed a large genome-wide association study (GWAS) of total WBC and cell subtype counts in 16,388 African-American participants from 7 population-based cohorts available in the Continental Origins and Genetic Epidemiology Network. In addition to the DARC locus on chromosome 1q23, we identified two other regions (chromosomes 4q13 and 16q22) associated with WBC in African Americans (P<2.5×10−8). The lead SNP (rs9131) on chromosome 4q13 is located in the CXCL2 gene, which encodes a chemotactic cytokine for polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Independent evidence of the novel CXCL2 association with WBC was present in 3,551 Hispanic Americans, 14,767 Japanese, and 19,509 European Americans. The index SNP (rs12149261) on chromosome 16q22 associated with WBC count is located in a large inter-chromosomal segmental duplication encompassing part of the hydrocephalus inducing homolog (HYDIN) gene. We demonstrate that the chromosome 16q22 association finding is most likely due to a genotyping artifact as a consequence of sequence similarity between duplicated regions on chromosomes 16q22 and 1q21. Among the WBC loci recently identified in European or Japanese populations, replication was observed in our African-American meta-analysis for rs445 of CDK6 on chromosome 7q21 and rs4065321 of PSMD3-CSF3 region on chromosome 17q21. In summary, the CXCL2, CDK6, and PSMD3-CSF3 regions are associated with WBC count in African American and other populations. We also demonstrate that large inter-chromosomal duplications can result in false positive associations in GWAS.
Author Summary
Although recent genome-wide association studies have identified common genetic variants associated with total white blood cell (WBC) and WBC sub-type counts in European and Japanese ancestry populations, whether these or other loci account for differences in WBC count among African Americans is unknown. By examining >16,000 African Americans, we show that, in addition to the previously identified Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC) locus on chromosome 1, another variant, rs9131, and other nearby variants on human chromosome 4 are associated with total WBC count in African Americans. The variants span the CXCL2 gene, which encodes an inflammatory mediator involved in WBC production and migration. We show that the association is not restricted to African Americans but is also present in independent samples of European Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Japanese. This finding is potentially important because WBC mediate or have altered counts in a variety of acute and chronic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3128101  PMID: 21738479
23.  Association of Coagulation and Inflammation Related Genes and Factor VIIc Levels with Stroke: The Cardiovascular Health Study 
Thrombosis and inflammation are critical in stroke etiology, but associations of coagulation and inflammation gene variants with stroke, and particularly factor VII levels are inconclusive.
To test the associations between 736 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) between tagging haplotype patterns of 130 coagulation and inflammation genes, and stroke events in the 5,888 participants ≥ 65 of the observational Cardiovascular Health Study cohort.
/Methods: With 16 years of follow-up, age and sex-adjusted Cox models were used to estimate associations of SNPs and factor VIIc levels with future stroke.
815 strokes occurred in 5,255 genotyped participants without baseline stroke (748 ischemic strokes, 586 among whites). Among whites, 6 SNPs were associated with stroke with a nominal p <0.01: rs6046 and rs3093261 (F7 gene); rs4918851 and rs3781387 (HABP2 gene); rs3138055 (NFKB1A) and rs4648004 (NFKB1). Two of these SNPs were associated with factor VIIc levels (units = percent activity): rs6046 (β = −18.5, p = 2.38 × 10−83) and rs3093261 (β = 2.99, p = 3.93 × 10−6). Adjusting for age, sex, race, and cardiovascular risk factors, the association of factor VIIc quintiles (Q) with stroke were (HR: 95% CI): Q1 (reference); Q2 (1.4; 1.1, 1.9); Q3 (1.1; 0.8, 1.5); Q4 (1.5; 1.1, 2.0); Q5 (1.6; 1.2, 2.2). Associations between SNPs and stroke were independent of factor VIIc levels.
Variation in factor VII-related genes and factor VIIc levels were associated with risk of incident ischemic stroke in this elderly cohort, suggesting a potential causal role for factor VII in stroke etiology.
PMCID: PMC3030667  PMID: 21114618
Stroke; Genetic Epidemiology; factor VII; hemostasis; inflammation; cardiovascular disease risk
24.  Genome-Wide Association Study of Coronary Heart Disease and Its Risk Factors in 8,090 African Americans: The NHLBI CARe Project 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(2):e1001300.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of mortality in African Americans. To identify common genetic polymorphisms associated with CHD and its risk factors (LDL- and HDL-cholesterol (LDL-C and HDL-C), hypertension, smoking, and type-2 diabetes) in individuals of African ancestry, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 8,090 African Americans from five population-based cohorts. We replicated 17 loci previously associated with CHD or its risk factors in Caucasians. For five of these regions (CHD: CDKN2A/CDKN2B; HDL-C: FADS1-3, PLTP, LPL, and ABCA1), we could leverage the distinct linkage disequilibrium (LD) patterns in African Americans to identify DNA polymorphisms more strongly associated with the phenotypes than the previously reported index SNPs found in Caucasian populations. We also developed a new approach for association testing in admixed populations that uses allelic and local ancestry variation. Using this method, we discovered several loci that would have been missed using the basic allelic and global ancestry information only. Our conclusions suggest that no major loci uniquely explain the high prevalence of CHD in African Americans. Our project has developed resources and methods that address both admixture- and SNP-association to maximize power for genetic discovery in even larger African-American consortia.
Author Summary
To date, most large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) carried out to identify risk factors for complex human diseases and traits have focused on population of European ancestry. It is currently unknown whether the same loci associated with complex diseases and traits in Caucasians will replicate in population of African ancestry. Here, we conducted a large GWAS to identify common DNA polymorphisms associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and its risk factors (type-2 diabetes, hypertension, smoking status, and LDL- and HDL-cholesterol) in 8,090 African Americans as part of the NHLBI Candidate gene Association Resource (CARe) Project. We replicated 17 associations previously reported in Caucasians, suggesting that the same loci carry common DNA sequence variants associated with CHD and its risk factors in Caucasians and African Americans. At five of these 17 loci, we used the different patterns of linkage disequilibrium between populations of European and African ancestry to identify DNA sequence variants more strongly associated with phenotypes than the index SNPs found in Caucasians, suggesting smaller genomic intervals to search for causal alleles. We also used the CARe data to develop new statistical methods to perform association studies in admixed populations. The CARe Project data represent an extraordinary resource to expand our understanding of the genetics of complex diseases and traits in non-European-derived populations.
PMCID: PMC3037413  PMID: 21347282
The American journal of medicine  2009;122(10):947-954.
The immune and blood coagulation systems have been implicated in the pathophysiology of the geriatric syndrome of frailty, but limited prospective data examining the relationship of clotting/inflammation biomarkers to risk of incident frailty exists.
This prospective analysis was derived from a nested case-control study within the Women's Health Initiative. Among women 65-79 years free of frailty at enrollment, we randomly selected 900 incident cases from those developing frailty within 3 years; 900 non-frail controls were individually matched on age, ethnicity, and blood collection date. Biomarkers assessed for risk of incident frailty included fibrinogen, factor VIII, D-dimer, C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-6, and tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA).
When examined by quartiles in multivariable adjusted models, higher D-dimer and t-PA levels were each associated with increased risk of frailty (p trend=0.04). Relative to the lowest quartile, the odds ratios for frailty compared to the upper quartile were 1.52 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.05-2.22] for t-PA and 1.57 (95% CI, 1.11-2.22) for D-dimer. For women having high t-PA and high D-dimer compared to women having lower levels of both biomarkers, the odds of frailty was 2.20 (1.29-3.75). There was little evidence for association between coagulation factor VIII, fibrinogen, CRP, or IL-6 levels and incident frailty.
This prospective analysis supports the role of markers of fibrin turnover and fibrinolysis as independent predictors of incident frailty in post-menopausal women.
PMCID: PMC2754604  PMID: 19682668
frailty; D-dimer; tissue plasminogen activator; Women's Health Initiative

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