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1.  The Role of Epidemiology in the Era of Molecular Epidemiology and Genomics: Summary of the 2013 AJE-sponsored Society of Epidemiologic Research Symposium 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;178(9):1350-1354.
On June 20, 2013, the American Journal of Epidemiology sponsored a symposium at the Society for Epidemiologic Research's 46th Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, entitled, “What Is the Role of Epidemiology in the Era of Molecular Biology and Genomics?” The future of epidemiology depends on innovation in generating interesting and important testable hypotheses that are relevant to population health. These new strategies will depend on new technology, both in measurement of agents and environment and in the fields of pathophysiology and outcomes, such as cellular epidemiology and molecular pathology. The populations to be studied, sample sizes, and study designs should be selected based on the hypotheses to be tested and include case-control, cohort, and clinical trials. Developing large mega cohorts without attention to specific hypotheses is inefficient, will fail to address many associations with high-quality data, and may well produce spurious results.
PMCID: PMC3988450  PMID: 24105654
immunology; pathology; study design
2.  CD8+ T-Cells Count in Acute Myocardial Infarction in HIV Disease in a Predominantly Male Cohort 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:246870.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus- (HIV-) infected persons have a higher risk for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) than HIV-uninfected persons. Earlier studies suggest that HIV viral load, CD4+ T-cell count, and antiretroviral therapy are associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Whether CD8+ T-cell count is associated with CVD risk is not clear. We investigated the association between CD8+ T-cell count and incident AMI in a cohort of 73,398 people (of which 97.3% were men) enrolled in the U.S. Veterans Aging Cohort Study-Virtual Cohort (VACS-VC). Compared to uninfected people, HIV-infected people with high baseline CD8+ T-cell counts (>1065 cells/mm3) had increased AMI risk (adjusted HR = 1.82, P < 0.001, 95% CI: 1.46 to 2.28). There was evidence that the effect of CD8+ T-cell tertiles on AMI risk differed by CD4+ T-cell level: compared to uninfected people, HIV-infected people with CD4+ T-cell counts ≥200 cells/mm3 had increased AMI risk with high CD8+ T-cell count, while those with CD4+ T-cell counts <200 cells/mm3 had increased AMI risk with low CD8+ T-cell count. CD8+ T-cell counts may add additional AMI risk stratification information beyond that provided by CD4+ T-cell counts alone.
PMCID: PMC4320893
3.  Relation of Plasma Total and High-Molecular-Weight Adiponectin to New-Onset Heart Failure in Adults ≥ 65 Years of Age (From the Cardiovascular Health Study) 
The American journal of cardiology  2013;113(2):328-334.
Adiponectin exhibits cardioprotective properties in experimental studies, but elevated levels have been linked to increased mortality in older adults and patients with chronic heart failure (HF). The adipokine’s association with new-onset HF remains less well defined. We investigated the associations of total and HMW adiponectin with incident HF (n=780) and, in a subset, echocardiographic parameters in a community-based cohort of adults 65 and older. Total and high molecular weight (HMW) adiponectin were measured in 3,228 subjects without prevalent HF or CVD. The relationships of total and HMW adiponectin with HF were nonlinear, with significant associations observed only above their medians (12.4 and 6.2 mg/L, respectively). After adjustment for potential confounders, the hazard ratios (HR) per standard deviation (SD) increment in total adiponectin were 0.93 (95% confidence interval [CI]=0.72–1.21) below the median and 1.25 (95% CI=1.14–1.38) above it. There was a suggestion of effect modification by body mass index (BMI), whereby the association appeared strongest among participants with lower BMIs. Consistent with the HF findings, higher adiponectin tended to be associated with left ventricular systolic dysfunction and left atrial enlargement. Results were similar for HMW adiponectin. In conclusion, total and HMW adiponectin showed comparable relationships with incident HF in this older cohort, with a threshold effect of increasing risk occurring at their median concentrations. High levels of adiponectin may mark or mediate age-related processes that lead to HF in older adults.
PMCID: PMC3968249  PMID: 24169012
Adiponectin; Aging; Heart Failure
4.  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
5.  Methylomics of gene expression in human monocytes 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(24):5065-5074.
DNA methylation is one of several epigenetic mechanisms that contribute to the regulation of gene expression; however, the extent to which methylation of CpG dinucleotides correlates with gene expression at the genome-wide level is still largely unknown. Using purified primary monocytes from subjects in a large community-based cohort (n = 1264), we characterized methylation (>485 000 CpG sites) and mRNA expression (>48K transcripts) and carried out genome-wide association analyses of 8370 expression phenotypes. We identified 11 203 potential cis-acting CpG loci whose degree of methylation was associated with gene expression (eMS) at a false discovery rate threshold of 0.001. Most of the associations were consistent in effect size and direction of effect across sex and three ethnicities. Contrary to expectation, these eMS were not predominately enriched in promoter regions, or CpG islands, but rather in the 3′ UTR, gene bodies, CpG shores or ‘offshore’ sites, and both positive and negative correlations between methylation and expression were observed across all locations. eMS were enriched for regions predicted to be regulatory by ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) data in multiple cell types, particularly enhancers. One of the strongest association signals detected (P < 2.2 × 10−308) was a methylation probe (cg17005068) in the promoter/enhancer region of the glutathione S-transferase theta 1 gene (GSTT1, encoding the detoxification enzyme) with GSTT1 mRNA expression. Our study provides a detailed description of the epigenetic architecture in human monocytes and its relationship to gene expression. These data may help prioritize interrogation of biologically relevant methylation loci and provide new insights into the epigenetic basis of human health and diseases.
PMCID: PMC3836482  PMID: 23900078
6.  CPAP versus Oxygen in Obstructive Sleep Apnea 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;370(24):2276-2285.
Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with hypertension, inflammation, and increased cardiovascular risk. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) reduces blood pressure, but adherence is often suboptimal, and the benefit beyond management of conventional risk factors is uncertain. Since intermittent hypoxemia may underlie cardiovascular sequelae of sleep apnea, we evaluated the effects of nocturnal supplemental oxygen and CPAP on markers of cardiovascular risk.
We conducted a randomized, controlled trial in which patients with cardiovascular disease or multiple cardiovascular risk factors were recruited from cardiology practices. Patients were screened for obstructive sleep apnea with the use of the Berlin questionnaire, and home sleep testing was used to establish the diagnosis. Participants with an apnea–hypopnea index of 15 to 50 events per hour were randomly assigned to receive education on sleep hygiene and healthy lifestyle alone (the control group) or, in addition to education, either CPAP or nocturnal supplemental oxygen. Cardiovascular risk was assessed at baseline and after 12 weeks of the study treatment. The primary outcome was 24-hour mean arterial pressure.
Of 318 patients who underwent randomization, 281 (88%) could be evaluated for ambulatory blood pressure at both baseline and follow-up. On average, the 24-hour mean arterial pressure at 12 weeks was lower in the group receiving CPAP than in the control group (−2.4 mm Hg; 95% confidence interval [CI], −4.7 to −0.1; P = 0.04) or the group receiving supplemental oxygen (−2.8 mm Hg; 95% CI, −5.1 to −0.5; P = 0.02). There was no significant difference in the 24-hour mean arterial pressure between the control group and the group receiving oxygen. A sensitivity analysis performed with the use of multiple imputation approaches to assess the effect of missing data did not change the results of the primary analysis.
In patients with cardiovascular disease or multiple cardiovascular risk factors, the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea with CPAP, but not nocturnal supplemental oxygen, resulted in a significant reduction in blood pressure. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others; HeartBEAT number, NCT01086800.)
PMCID: PMC4172401  PMID: 24918372
7.  Do Differences in Risk Factors Explain the Lower Rates of Coronary Heart Disease in Japanese Versus U.S. Women? 
Journal of Women's Health  2013;22(11):966-977.
Mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD) in women in Japan is one of the lowest in developed countries. In an attempt to shed some light on possible reasons of lower CHD in women in Japan compared with the United States, we extensively reviewed and analyzed existing national data and recent literature.
We searched recent epidemiological studies that reported incidence of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and examined risk factors for CHD in women in Japan. Then, we compared trends in risk factors between women currently aged 50–69 years in Japan and the United States, using national statistics and other available resources.
Recent epidemiological studies have clearly shown that AMI incidence in women in Japan is lower than that reported from other countries, and that lipids, blood pressure (BP), diabetes, smoking, and early menopause are independent risk factors. Comparing trends in risk factors between women in Japan and the United States, current levels of serum total cholesterol are higher in women in Japan and levels have been similar at least since 1990. Levels of BP have been higher in in Japan for the past 3 decades. Prevalence of type 2 diabetes has been similar in Japanese and white women currently aged 60–69 for the past 2 decades. In contrast, rates of cigarette smoking, although low in women in both countries, have been lower in women in Japan.
Differences in risk factors and their trends are unlikely to explain the difference in CHD rates in women in Japan and the United States. Determining the currently unknown factors responsible for low CHD mortality in women in Japan may lead to new strategy for CHD prevention.
PMCID: PMC3820126  PMID: 24073782
8.  Common FABP4 Genetic Variants and Plasma Levels of Fatty Acid Binding Protein 4 in Older Adults 
Lipids  2013;48(11):10.1007/s11745-013-3838-7.
We examined common variants in the fatty acid binding protein 4 gene (FABP4) and plasma levels of FABP4 in adults aged 65 and older from the Cardiovascular Health Study. We genotyped rs16909187, rs1054135, rs16909192, rs10808846, rs7018409, rs2290201, and rs6992708 and measured circulating FABP4 levels among 3190 European Americans and 660 African Americans. Among European Americans, the minor alleles of six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) were associated with lower FABP4 levels (all p ≤ 0.01). Among African Americans, the SNP with the lowest minor allele frequency was associated with lower FABP4 levels (p = 0.015). The C-A haplotype of rs16909192 and rs2290201 was associated with lower FABP4 levels in both European Americans (frequency = 16 %; p = 0.001) and African Americans (frequency = 8 %; p = 0.04). The haplotype combined a SNP in the first intron with one in the 3′untranslated region. However, the alleles associated with lower FABP4 levels were associated with higher fasting glucose in meta-analyses from the MAGIC consortium. These results demonstrate associations of common SNP and haplotypes in the FABP4 gene with lower plasma FABP4 but higher fasting glucose levels.
PMCID: PMC3883501  PMID: 24043587
Fatty acid binding proteins; Metabolism; Genetics
9.  Increase in 2–Long Terminal Repeat Circles and Decrease in D-dimer After Raltegravir Intensification in Patients With Treated HIV Infection: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(9):1436-1442.
Background. The degree to which human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues to replicate during antiretroviral therapy (ART) is controversial. We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess whether raltegravir intensification reduces low-level viral replication, as defined by an increase in the level of 2–long terminal repeat (2-LTR) circles.
Methods. Thirty-one subjects with an ART-suppressed plasma HIV RNA level of <40 copies/mL and a CD4+ T-cell count of ≥350 cells/mm3 for ≥1 year were randomly assigned to receive raltegravir 400 mg twice daily or placebo for 24 weeks. 2-LTR circles were analyzed by droplet digital polymerase chain reaction at weeks 0, 1, 2, and 8.
Results. The median duration of ART suppression was 3.8 years. The raltegravir group had a significant increase in the level of 2-LTR circles, compared to the placebo group. The week 1 to 0 ratio was 8.8-fold higher (P = .0025) and the week 2 to 0 ratio was 5.7-fold higher (P = .023) in the raltegravir vs. placebo group. Intensification also led to a statistically significant decrease in the D-dimer level, compared to placebo (P = .045).
Conclusions. Raltegravir intensification resulted in a rapid increase in the level of 2-LTR circles in a proportion of subjects, indicating that low-level viral replication persists in some individuals even after long-term ART. Intensification also reduced the D-dimer level, a coagulation biomarker that is predictive of morbidity and mortality among patients receiving treatment for HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3789577  PMID: 23975885
HIV; raltegravir intensification; 2-LTR circles; ongoing viral replication; D-dimer
10.  T Helper Cell Polarization in Healthy People: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease 
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by T lymphocyte infiltration into the atherosclerotic plaque. Assessments of T cell subtypes have demonstrated a predominance of CD4+ T helper (Th) cells, implicated Th1 and Th17 immunity in both human and mouse atherogenesis, and provided some evidence suggesting protective roles of Th2 and T regulatory cells. Observations that certain inbred mouse strains have an inherent T helper bias suggests a genetic predisposition toward developing a particular T helper phenotype. This review summarizes our current understanding of mechanisms of antigen processing for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules, describes the different T helper cell subsets and their roles in atherosclerosis, and discusses mechanisms of genetic predisposition toward Th1/Th2 bias in mice. We also present data from our laboratory demonstrating inherent Th1/Th2 phenotypes in apparently healthy human volunteers that are stable over time, and discuss the potential implications for cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3806306  PMID: 23921946
Atherosclerosis; cardiovascular disease; CD4+ lymphocyte; T helper cell; immunology; inflammation; immunoglobulin
11.  A Multi-Ethnic Meta-Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Studies in Over 100,000 Subjects Identifies 23 Fibrinogen-Associated Loci but no Strong Evidence of a Causal Association between Circulating Fibrinogen and Cardiovascular Disease 
Sabater-Lleal, Maria | Huang, Jie | Chasman, Daniel | Naitza, Silvia | Dehghan, Abbas | Johnson, Andrew D | Teumer, Alexander | Reiner, Alex P | Folkersen, Lasse | Basu, Saonli | Rudnicka, Alicja R | Trompet, Stella | Mälarstig, Anders | Baumert, Jens | Bis, Joshua C. | Guo, Xiuqing | Hottenga, Jouke J | Shin, So-Youn | Lopez, Lorna M | Lahti, Jari | Tanaka, Toshiko | Yanek, Lisa R | Oudot-Mellakh, Tiphaine | Wilson, James F | Navarro, Pau | Huffman, Jennifer E | Zemunik, Tatijana | Redline, Susan | Mehra, Reena | Pulanic, Drazen | Rudan, Igor | Wright, Alan F | Kolcic, Ivana | Polasek, Ozren | Wild, Sarah H | Campbell, Harry | Curb, J David | Wallace, Robert | Liu, Simin | Eaton, Charles B. | Becker, Diane M. | Becker, Lewis C. | Bandinelli, Stefania | Räikkönen, Katri | Widen, Elisabeth | Palotie, Aarno | Fornage, Myriam | Green, David | Gross, Myron | Davies, Gail | Harris, Sarah E | Liewald, David C | Starr, John M | Williams, Frances M.K. | Grant, P.J. | Spector, Timothy D. | Strawbridge, Rona J | Silveira, Angela | Sennblad, Bengt | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Uitterlinden, Andre G | Franco, Oscar H | Hofman, Albert | van Dongen, Jenny | Willemsen, G | Boomsma, Dorret I | Yao, Jie | Jenny, Nancy Swords | Haritunians, Talin | McKnight, Barbara | Lumley, Thomas | Taylor, Kent D | Rotter, Jerome I | Psaty, Bruce M | Peters, Annette | Gieger, Christian | Illig, Thomas | Grotevendt, Anne | Homuth, Georg | Völzke, Henry | Kocher, Thomas | Goel, Anuj | Franzosi, Maria Grazia | Seedorf, Udo | Clarke, Robert | Steri, Maristella | Tarasov, Kirill V | Sanna, Serena | Schlessinger, David | Stott, David J | Sattar, Naveed | Buckley, Brendan M | Rumley, Ann | Lowe, Gordon D | McArdle, Wendy L | Chen, Ming-Huei | Tofler, Geoffrey H | Song, Jaejoon | Boerwinkle, Eric | Folsom, Aaron R. | Rose, Lynda M. | Franco-Cereceda, Anders | Teichert, Martina | Ikram, M Arfan | Mosley, Thomas H | Bevan, Steve | Dichgans, Martin | Rothwell, Peter M. | Sudlow, Cathie L M | Hopewell, Jemma C. | Chambers, John C. | Saleheen, Danish | Kooner, Jaspal S. | Danesh, John | Nelson, Christopher P | Erdmann, Jeanette | Reilly, Muredach P. | Kathiresan, Sekar | Schunkert, Heribert | Morange, Pierre-Emmanuel | Ferrucci, Luigi | Eriksson, Johan G | Jacobs, David | Deary, Ian J | Soranzo, Nicole | Witteman, Jacqueline CM | de Geus, Eco JC | Tracy, Russell P. | Hayward, Caroline | Koenig, Wolfgang | Cucca, Francesco | Jukema, J Wouter | Eriksson, Per | Seshadri, Sudha | Markus, Hugh S. | Watkins, Hugh | Samani, Nilesh J | Wallaschofski, Henri | Smith, Nicholas L. | Tregouet, David | Ridker, Paul M. | Tang, Weihong | Strachan, David P. | Hamsten, Anders | O’Donnell, Christopher J.
Circulation  2013;128(12):10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.002251.
Estimates of the heritability of plasma fibrinogen concentration, an established predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD), range from 34 to 50%. Genetic variants so far identified by genome-wide association (GWA) studies only explain a small proportion (< 2%) of its variation.
Methods and Results
We conducted a meta-analysis of 28 GWA studies, including more than 90,000 subjects of European ancestry, the first GWA meta-analysis of fibrinogen levels in 7 African Americans studies totaling 8,289 samples, and a GWA study in Hispanic-Americans totaling 1,366 samples. Evaluation for association of SNPs with clinical outcomes included a total of 40,695 cases and 85,582 controls for coronary artery disease (CAD), 4,752 cases and 24,030 controls for stroke, and 3,208 cases and 46,167 controls for venous thromboembolism (VTE). Overall, we identified 24 genome-wide significant (P<5×10−8) independent signals in 23 loci, including 15 novel associations, together accounting for 3.7% of plasma fibrinogen variation. Gene-set enrichment analysis highlighted key roles in fibrinogen regulation for the three structural fibrinogen genes and pathways related to inflammation, adipocytokines and thyrotrophin-releasing hormone signaling. Whereas lead SNPs in a few loci were significantly associated with CAD, the combined effect of all 24 fibrinogen-associated lead SNPs was not significant for CAD, stroke or VTE.
We identify 23 robustly associated fibrinogen loci, 15 of which are new. Clinical outcome analysis of these loci does not support a causal relationship between circulating levels of fibrinogen and CAD, stroke or VTE.
PMCID: PMC3842025  PMID: 23969696
Fibrinogen; cardiovascular disease; genome-wide association study
12.  Plasma Free Fatty Acids and Risk of Heart Failure: The Cardiovascular Health Study 
Circulation. Heart failure  2013;6(5):10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.113.000521.
Although plasma free fatty acid (FFA) concentrations have been associated with lipotoxicity, apoptosis, and risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease, it is unclear whether FFA levels are associated with heart failure (HF).
Methods and Results
To test the hypothesis that plasma concentration of FFA is positively associated with incident HF, we prospectively analyzed data on 4248 men and women free of HF at baseline and aged 65+ years from the Cardiovascular Health Study. FFA concentration was measured in duplicate by the Wako enzymatic method. Incident HF was validated by a centralized Events Committee. We used Cox proportional hazards to estimate the hazard ratio of HF per standard deviation (SD) of FFA. During a median follow up of 10.5 y, 1,286 new cases of HF occurred. In a multivariable model adjusting for clinic site, comorbidity, demographic, anthropometric, and lifestyle factors, each SD (0.2 mEq/L) higher plasma FFA was associated with 12% (95% CI: 6% to 19%) higher risk of HF. Controlling for time-varying diabetes and coronary heart disease did not change the results [HR per SD: 1.16 (95% CI: 1.09–1.23)].
A single measure of plasma FFA obtained later in life is associated with a higher risk of HF in older adults. Additional studies are needed to explore biologic mechanisms by which FFA may influence the risk of HF and determine whether FFA could serve as a novel pharmacological target for HF prevention.
PMCID: PMC3884584  PMID: 23926204
heart failure; epidemiology; nutrition; free fatty acids
13.  Racial Differences in the Association of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentration With Coronary Heart Disease Events 
Low circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) have been consistently associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in white populations. This association has not been rigorously evaluated in other races or ethnicities, in which the distributions of 25(OH)D concentration and possibly other aspects of 25(OH)D metabolism differ.
To examine the association of serum 25(OH)D concentration with risk of CHD in a multiethnic population.
We studied 6436 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), recruited from July 2000 through September 2002, who were free of known cardiovascular disease at baseline. We measured baseline serum 25(OH)D concentrations using a mass spectrometry assay calibrated to established standards. We tested associations of 25(OH)D with adjudicated CHD events assessed through May 2012.
Primary outcome measure was time to first adjudicated CHD event, defined as myocardial infarction, angina, cardiac arrest, or CHD death.
During a median follow-up of 8.5 years, 361 participants had an incident CHD event (7.38 events per 1000 person-years). Associations of 25(OH)D with CHD differed by race/ethnicity (P for interaction < .05). After adjustment, lower 25(OH)D concentration was associated with a greater risk of incident CHD among participants who were white (n = 167 events; hazard ratio [HR], 1.26 [95%CI, 1.06–1.49] for each 10-ng/mL decrement in 25(OH)D) or Chinese (HR, 1.67 [95%CI, 1.07–2.61]; n = 27). In contrast, 25(OH)D was not associated with risk of CHD in participants who were black (HR, 0.93 [95%CI, 0.73–1.20]; n = 94) or Hispanic (HR, 1.01 [95%CI, 0.77–1.33]; n = 73).
Lower serum 25(OH)D concentration was associated with an increased risk of incident CHD events among participants who were white or Chinese but not black or Hispanic. Results evaluating 25(OH)D in ethnically homogeneous populations may not be broadly generalizable to other racial or ethnic groups.
PMCID: PMC4150653  PMID: 23839752
14.  Transforming Growth Factor Beta-1 and Incidence of Heart Failure in Older Adults: The Cardiovascular Health Study 
Cytokine  2012;60(2):341-345.
Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-B1) is a highly pleiotropic cytokine whose functions include a central role in the induction of fibrosis.
To investigate the hypothesis that elevated plasma levels of TGF-B1 are positively associated with incident heart failure (HF).
Participants and Methods
The hypotheses were tested using a two-phase case-control study design, ancillary to the Cardiovascular Health Study – a longitudinal, population-based cohort study. Cases were defined as having an incident HF event after their 1992-93 exam and controls were free of HF at follow-up. TGF-B1 was measured using plasma collected in 1992-93 and data from 89 cases and 128 controls were used for analysis. The association between TGF-B1 and risk of HF was evaluated using the weighted likelihood method, and odds ratios (OR) for risk of HF were calculated for TGF-B1 as a continuous linear variable and across quartiles of TGF-B1.
The OR for HF was 1.88 (95% confidence intervals [CI] 1.26 to 2.81) for each nanogram increase in TGF-B1, and the OR for the highest quartile (compared to the lowest) of TGF-B1 was 5.79 (95% CI 1.65 – 20.34), after adjustment for age, sex, C-reactive protein, platelet count and digoxin use. Further adjustment with other covariates did not change the results.
Higher levels of plasma TGF-B1 were associated with an increased risk of incident heart failure among older adults. However, further study is needed in larger samples to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC4143419  PMID: 22878343
transforming growth factor-beta; heart failure; fibrosis; growth factors; cardiac remodeling
15.  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
16.  A Low‐Frequency Variant in MAPK14 Provides Mechanistic Evidence of a Link With Myeloperoxidase: A Prognostic Cardiovascular Risk Marker 
Genetics can be used to predict drug effects and generate hypotheses around alternative indications. To support Losmapimod, a p38 mitogen‐activated protein kinase inhibitor in development for acute coronary syndrome, we characterized gene variation in MAPK11/14 genes by exome sequencing and follow‐up genotyping or imputation in participants well‐phenotyped for cardiovascular and metabolic traits.
Methods and Results
Investigation of genetic variation in MAPK11 and MAPK14 genes using additive genetic models in linear or logistic regression with cardiovascular, metabolic, and biomarker phenotypes highlighted an association of RS2859144 in MAPK14 with myeloperoxidase in a dyslipidemic population (Genetic Epidemiology of Metabolic Syndrome Study), P=2.3×10−6). This variant (or proxy) was consistently associated with myeloperoxidase in the Framingham Heart Study and Cardiovascular Health Study studies (replication meta‐P=0.003), leading to a meta‐P value of 9.96×10−7 in the 3 dyslipidemic groups. The variant or its proxy was then profiled in additional population‐based cohorts (up to a total of 58 930 subjects) including Cohorte Lausannoise, Ely, Fenland, European Prospective Investigation of Cancer, London Life Sciences Prospective Population Study, and the Genetics of Obesity Associations study obesity case–control for up to 40 cardiovascular and metabolic traits. Overall analysis identified the same single nucleotide polymorphisms to be nominally associated consistently with glomerular filtration rate (P=0.002) and risk of obesity (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2, P=0.004).
As myeloperoxidase is a prognostic marker of coronary events, the MAPK14 variant may provide a mechanistic link between p38 map kinase and these events, providing information consistent with current indication of Losmapimod for acute coronary syndrome. If replicated, the association with glomerular filtration rate, along with previous biological findings, also provides support for kidney diseases as alternative indications.
PMCID: PMC4310399  PMID: 25164947
acute coronary syndrome; drug target gene; exome sequencing; myeloperoxidase; rare variation
17.  Prospective Association Between Inflammatory Markers and Progression of Coronary Artery Calcification in Adults With and Without Type 1 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(7):1967-1973.
The role of inflammation in the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in type 1 diabetes is unclear. We examined the association of inflammation and progression of coronary artery calcification (CAC)—a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis—in adults with and without type 1 diabetes.
A nested case-control study was performed within the prospective cohort of the Coronary Artery Calcification in Type 1 Diabetes (CACTI) study. Participants underwent two CAC measurements ∼2.5 years apart. Case subjects (n = 204) were those with significant progression of CAC. Control subjects (n = 258) were frequency-matched to case subjects on diabetes status, sex, age, and baseline CAC status. Inflammatory marker assessments were performed on stored blood samples from baseline. A principal components analysis (PCA) was performed and a composite score derived from that analysis. The composite score was constructed by assigning a value of 1 for each PCA component where at least one of the markers exceeded the 75th percentile (range 0–4). Conditional logistic regression was used for the matching strategy.
The first two components of the PCA were modestly (odds ratio 1.38 [95% CI 1.08–1.77] and 1.27 [1.02–1.59], respectively) associated with CAC progression after adjustment for other risk factors. The composite score was more strongly associated with CAC progression for those with elevated markers in three or four of the principal components compared with those with none.
Measures of inflammation were associated with progression of CAC in a population of adults with and without type 1 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3687315  PMID: 23340891
18.  Circulating Levels of Tissue Factor Microparticle Procoagulant Activity are Reduced with Antiretroviral Therapy and are Associated with Persistent Inflammation and Coagulation Activation among HIV Positive Patients 
Activation of coagulation pathways may contribute to risk for non-AIDS related conditions among HIV positive patients. We measured tissue factor-dependent procoagulant activity on circulating microparticles (MP-TF) in the plasma of 163 HIV positive participants, both untreated and treated, with viral suppression. MP-TF activity was 39% lower among treated versus untreated participants (p<0.001), which persisted in adjusted models (−36%; p=0.03). Among treated participants, MP-TF activity correlated modestly with D-dimer (r=0.24; p=0.01), vWF (r=0.36; p<0.001), and IL-6 (r=0.20; p=0.04) levels. Future research should focus on mechanisms driving residual functional TF activity and whether these alterations have clinical consequences for non-AIDS defining complications.
PMCID: PMC3683107  PMID: 23507662
19.  A genome-wide association study for venous thromboembolism: the extended Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium 
Genetic epidemiology  2013;37(5):512-521.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a common, heritable disease resulting in high rates of hospitalization and mortality. Yet few associations between VTE and genetic variants, all in the coagulation pathway, have been established. To identify additional genetic determinants of VTE, we conducted a 2-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS) among individuals of European ancestry in the extended CHARGE VTE consortium. The discovery GWAS comprised 1,618 incident VTE cases out of 44,499 participants from six community-based studies. Genotypes for genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were imputed to ~2.5 million SNPs in HapMap and association with VTE assessed using study-design appropriate regression methods. Meta-analysis of these results identified two known loci, in F5 and ABO. Top 1,047 tag SNPs (p≤0.0016) from the discovery GWAS were tested for association in an additional 3,231 cases and 3,536 controls from three case-control studies. In the combined data from these two stages, additional genome-wide significant associations were observed on 4q35 at F11 (top SNP rs4253399, intronic to F11) and on 4q28 at FGG (rs6536024, 9.7 kb from FGG) (p<5.0×10−13 for both). The associations at the FGG locus were not completely explained by previously reported variants. Loci at or near SUSD1 and OTUD7A showed borderline yet novel associations (p<5.0×10-6) and constitute new candidate genes. In conclusion, this large GWAS replicated key genetic associations in F5 and ABO, and confirmed the importance of F11 and FGG loci for VTE. Future studies are warranted to better characterize the associations with F11 and FGG and to replicate the new candidate associations.
PMCID: PMC3990406  PMID: 23650146
venous thrombosis; genetics; genome-wide association; genetic epidemiology
20.  T‐Helper Type 1 Bias in Healthy People Is Associated With Cytomegalovirus Serology and Atherosclerosis: The Multi‐Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Although T‐helper type 1 (Th1) cells are considered important in atherosclerosis, the relationships between Th1 and Th2 cells and atherosclerosis have not been examined in population‐based studies.
Methods and Results
We measured Th cells as a percentage of lymphocytes by flow cytometry using CD4 staining (%CD4) in 917 participants of the Multi‐Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. We also measured interferon gamma–positive and interleukin‐4‐positive CD4+ cells, representing Th1 and Th2 subpopulations (%Th1 and %Th2), respectively. We found that %CD4 was 1.5% lower per 10 years of age (P<0.0001). Whites had higher %CD4 and lower %Th1 and %Th2 values than other race/ethnic groups. Body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure were associated with %CD4, but no traditional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors were associated with %Th1 or %Th2. In multivariable models, the major independent variable associated with %Th1 was cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody titer, with minor contributions from age, sex, seasonality, and interleukin‐6. In models with coronary artery calcification level as the outcome, significant independent variables included age, sex, smoking status, and %Th1 (β=0.25; P≤0.01). Both %Th1 and %Th2 were associated with common carotid intimal media thickness (β=0.02 and −0.02, respectively; both P<0.05), as were age, sex, race/ethnicity, blood pressure, and BMI.
Th1 bias is associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in a multiethnic population. The main Th1 correlate was CMV infectious burden. These findings are consistent with a role of Th1 cells in atherosclerosis and suggest the importance of prospective studies of T‐helper cell biasing in CVD.
PMCID: PMC3698770  PMID: 23688675
atherosclerosis; epidemiology; immunology; inflammation; T‐helper cell
21.  Treatment-related changes in serum lipids and inflammation: clinical relevance remains unclear. Analyses from the Women's Interagency HIV Study 
AIDS (London, England)  2013;27(9):1516-1519.
Among 127 HIV-infected women, the magnitude of HDLc increases after HAART initiation predicted the magnitude of concurrent decreases in inflammation biomarkers. After HAART initiation, changes in LDLc and inflammation were unrelated. In the same population, predicted risk of coronary heart disease based upon levels of standard clinical risk factors was similar before and after HAART treatment. Thus, it remains unknown whether short-term treatment-related changes in standard risk factors may appreciably change risk of CVD.
PMCID: PMC3909663  PMID: 23435295
lipids; HAART; HIV infection; inflammation
22.  Pentraxin-3 and the right ventricle: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis–Right Ventricle Study 
Pulmonary Circulation  2014;4(2):250-259.
Pentraxin-3 (PTX3) is a protein mediator of innate immunity that is elevated in the setting of left heart disease and pulmonary arterial hypertension. The relationship between PTX3 and right ventricular (RV) structure and function is not known. We included men and women with magnetic resonance imaging assessment of RV structure and function and measurement of PTX3 from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a study of individuals free of clinical cardiovascular disease. Multivariable linear regression estimated associations between PTX3 protein levels and RV measures after adjusting for demographic characteristics, anthropometrics, smoking status, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and corresponding left ventricular (LV) parameters. Instrumental variable analysis exploiting Mendelian randomization was attempted using two-stage least squares regression. The study sample included 1,779 participants with available PTX3 levels, RV measures, and all covariables. Mean PTX3 level was 2.1 ng/mL. Higher PTX3 was independently associated with greater RV mass and larger RV end-diastolic volume with and without adjustment for the corresponding LV parameters or C-reactive protein (all P < .05). There was no association between PTX3 and RV ejection fraction or stroke volume. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms were not associated with PTX3 protein levels or RV measures after accounting for race. Instrumental variable analysis could not be reliably performed. Higher PTX3 protein levels were associated with greater RV mass and larger RV end-diastolic volume. These associations were independent of common cardiovascular risk factors and LV morphologic changes. Inflammation is associated with differences in the pulmonary circulation-RV axis in adults without clinical cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC4070771  PMID: 25006444
pulmonary hypertension; heart failure; inflammation; right ventricle; Mendelian randomization
23.  Fetuin-A, Type 2 Diabetes, and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Older Adults 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(5):1222-1228.
Fetuin-A, a hepatic secretory protein that simultaneously inhibits arterial calcification and insulin action, is associated with type 2 diabetes, but its association with cardiovascular disease (CVD) is uncertain. Preliminary studies suggest that the association of fetuin-A with CVD might differ among individuals with or without type 2 diabetes.
This was a prospective study of 3,810 community-living individuals older than 65 years (511 with type 2 diabetes) and free of CVD in 1992 when fetuin-A levels were measured. Participants were followed-up for incident CVD through June 2008.
Mean age was 75 years, and 61% were women; 1,456 participants had an incident CVD event (248 among individuals with type 2 diabetes). The association of fetuin-A with CVD was modified by type 2 diabetes (P interaction = 0.02). Higher fetuin-A was associated with lower CVD risk among persons without type 2 diabetes [hazard ratio per SD 0.1 g/L higher fetuin-A, 0.93 (95% CI, 0.88–0.99)], whereas a trend in the opposite direction was observed among individuals with type 2 diabetes, although it was not statistically significant [1.07 (0.93–1.22)]. Among individuals without type 2 diabetes, similar effect modification was observed by obesity and insulin resistance. Consistently, higher fetuin-A was associated with lower CVD risk only in the subgroups without obesity or with HOMA-IR below the median [0.91 (0.85–0.97) and 0.87 (0.79–0.95), respectively].
The association of fetuin-A with risk of CVD differs among elderly individuals with and without insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3631840  PMID: 23250801
24.  Fatty acid-binding protein 4 and incident heart failure: the Cardiovascular Health Study 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;15(4):394-399.
To examine the association of plasma fatty acid-binding protein 4 (FABP4) with incident heart failure.
Methods and results
In a prospective study of 4179 participants from the Cardiovascular Health Study, we measured plasma FABP4 on blood specimens collected between 1992 and 1993. Incident heart failure was adjudicated by an endpoint committee and we used a Cox proportional hazards model to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) of heart failure. The average age at baseline was 75 years. During a median follow-up of 10.7 years, 1182 cases of incident heart failure occurred. We observed a positive association between FABP4 and heart failure in the minimally adjusted models [HR 1.32, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.25–1.38 per 1 SD higher FABP4] that was attenuated upon adjustment for potential confounders, mostly kidney function and body mass index (corresponding HR 1.09, 95% CI 1.01–1.17). In a subsample of heart failure cases with available data on LV systolic function, FABP4 was not associated with heart failure with or without preserved LV systolic function. Exclusion of people with unintentional weight loss and self-reported fair/poor health status did not alter the conclusion.
An elevated plasma concentration of FABP4 was associated with a modestly higher risk of heart failure in older adults in the USA after adjustment for confounding factors.
PMCID: PMC3707430  PMID: 23223158
Epidemiology; Adiposity; Heart failure; Fatty acid-binding protein 4
25.  Effect of Phosphodiesterase-5 Inhibition on Exercise Capacity and Clinical Status in Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction: A Randomized Clinical Trial 
JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association  2013;309(12):10.1001/jama.2013.2024.
Studies in experimental and human heart failure suggest that phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors may enhance cardiovascular function, and thus, exercise capacity in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
To determine the effect of the phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitor, sildenafil, in comparison to placebo on exercise capacity and clinical status in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
Design, setting, and patients
Multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel design, randomized clinical trial of 216 stable outpatients with heart failure, ejection fraction ≥ 50%, elevated N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide or elevated invasively-measured filling pressures, and reduced exercise capacity. Participants were randomized from October 2008 through February 2012 at 26 centers in the United States and Canada.
Sildenafil (n=113) or placebo (n=103) administered orally at 20 mg three times daily for 12 weeks followed by 60 mg three times daily for 12 weeks.
Main outcome measures
Primary endpoint was change in peak oxygen consumption after 24 weeks of therapy. Secondary endpoints included change in six-minute walk distance and a three tier hierarchical composite clinical status score where patients were ranked (range 1-N) based on time to death, time to cardiovascular or cardiorenal hospitalization and change in quality of life for participants alive without cardiovascular or cardiorenal hospitalization at 24 weeks.
Median age was 69 years and 48% of patients were female. At baseline, median peak oxygen consumption (11.7 ml/kg/min) and six-minute walk distance (308 meters) were reduced and median E/e′ (16), left atrial volume index (44 ml/m2) and pulmonary artery systolic pressure (41 mmHg) were consistent with chronically-elevated left ventricular filling pressures. At 24 weeks, median (interquartile range) changes in peak oxygen consumption (ml/kg/min) in patients who received placebo [−0.20 (−0.70, 1.00)] or sildenafil [−0.20 (−1.20, 1.10); p=0.90] were not significantly different. The mean clinical status rank score (higher value indicates better status; expected value with no treatment effect = 95) was not significantly different (p=0.85) at 24 weeks in patients who received placebo (95.8) or sildenafil (94.2). Changes in six-minute walk distance (meters) at 24 weeks in patients who received placebo [15.0 (−26.0, 45.0)] or sildenafil [5.0 (−37.0, 55.0); p=0.92] were also not significantly different. Adverse events occurred in 78 (76%) of patients who received placebo and 90 (80%) of patients who received sildenafil. Serious adverse events occurred in 16 (16%) of patients who received placebo and 25 (22%) of patients who received sildenafil.
Chronic phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitor therapy with sildenafil for 24 weeks did not alter exercise capacity or clinical status compared to placebo in patients with heart failure and preserved ejection fraction.
Trial registration number, NCT00763867
PMCID: PMC3835156  PMID: 23478662

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