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1.  Comorbidities of COPD have a major impact on clinical outcomes, particularly in African Americans 
COPD patients have a great burden of comorbidity. However, it is not well established whether this is due to shared risk factors such as smoking, if they impact patients exercise capacity and quality of life, or whether there are racial disparities in their impact on COPD.
We analyzed data from 10,192 current and ex-smokers with (cases) and without COPD (controls) from the COPDGene® cohort to establish risk for COPD comorbidities adjusted for pertinent covariates. In adjusted models, we examined comorbidities prevalence and impact in African-Americans (AA) and Non-Hispanic Whites (NHW).
Comorbidities are more common in COPD compared to those with normal spirometry (controls), and the risk persists after adjustments for covariates including pack-years smoked. After adjustment for confounders, eight conditions were independently associated with worse exercise capacity, quality of life and dyspnea. There were racial disparities in the impact of comorbidities on exercise capacity, dyspnea and quality of life, presence of osteoarthritis and gastroesophageal reflux disease having a greater negative impact on all three outcomes in AAs than NHWs (p<0.05 for all interaction terms).
Individuals with COPD have a higher risk for comorbidities than controls, an important finding shown for the first time comprehensively after accounting for confounders. Individual comorbidities are associated with worse exercise capacity, quality of life, and dyspnea, in African-Americans compared to non-Hispanic Whites.
PMCID: PMC4329763
COPD; Comorbidities; Race
2.  Genome-Wide Study of Percent Emphysema on Computed Tomography in the General Population. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Lung/SNP Health Association Resource Study 
Rationale: Pulmonary emphysema overlaps partially with spirometrically defined chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is heritable, with moderately high familial clustering.
Objectives: To complete a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for the percentage of emphysema-like lung on computed tomography in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Lung/SNP Health Association Resource (SHARe) Study, a large, population-based cohort in the United States.
Methods: We determined percent emphysema and upper-lower lobe ratio in emphysema defined by lung regions less than −950 HU on cardiac scans. Genetic analyses were reported combined across four race/ethnic groups: non-Hispanic white (n = 2,587), African American (n = 2,510), Hispanic (n = 2,113), and Chinese (n = 704) and stratified by race and ethnicity.
Measurements and Main Results: Among 7,914 participants, we identified regions at genome-wide significance for percent emphysema in or near SNRPF (rs7957346; P = 2.2 × 10−8) and PPT2 (rs10947233; P = 3.2 × 10−8), both of which replicated in an additional 6,023 individuals of European ancestry. Both single-nucleotide polymorphisms were previously implicated as genes influencing lung function, and analyses including lung function revealed independent associations for percent emphysema. Among Hispanics, we identified a genetic locus for upper-lower lobe ratio near the α-mannosidase–related gene MAN2B1 (rs10411619; P = 1.1 × 10−9; minor allele frequency [MAF], 4.4%). Among Chinese, we identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with upper-lower lobe ratio near DHX15 (rs7698250; P = 1.8 × 10−10; MAF, 2.7%) and MGAT5B (rs7221059; P = 2.7 × 10−8; MAF, 2.6%), which acts on α-linked mannose. Among African Americans, a locus near a third α-mannosidase–related gene, MAN1C1 (rs12130495; P = 9.9 × 10−6; MAF, 13.3%) was associated with percent emphysema.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that some genes previously identified as influencing lung function are independently associated with emphysema rather than lung function, and that genes related to α-mannosidase may influence risk of emphysema.
PMCID: PMC3977717  PMID: 24383474
emphysema; computed tomography; multiethnic; cohort study; genetic association
3.  Fetal polymorphisms at the ABCB1-transporter gene locus are associated with susceptibility to non-syndromic oral cleft malformations 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2013;21(12):1436-1441.
ATP-binding cassette (ABC) proteins in the placenta regulate fetal exposure to xenobiotics. We hypothesized that functional polymorphisms in ABC genes influence risk for non-syndromic oral clefts (NSOC). Both family-based and case–control studies were undertaken to evaluate the association of nine potentially functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms within four ABC genes with risk of NSOC. Peripheral blood DNA from a total of 150 NSOC case-parent trios from Singapore and Taiwan were genotyped, as was cord blood DNA from 189 normal Chinese neonates used as controls. In trios, significant association was observed between the ABCB1 single-nucleotide polymorphisms and NSOC (P<0.05). Only ABCB1 rs1128503 retained significant association after Bonferroni correction (odds ratio (OR)=2.04; 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.42–2.98), while rs2032582 and rs1045642 showed nominal significance. Association with rs1128503 was replicated in a case–control analysis comparing NSOC probands with controls (OR=1.58; 95% CI=1.12–2.23). A comparison between the mothers of probands and controls showed no evidence of association, suggesting NSOC risk is determined by fetal and not maternal ABCB1 genotype. The two studies produced a combined OR of 1.79 (95% CI=1.38–2.30). The T-allele at rs1128503 was associated with higher risk. This study thus provides evidence that potentially functional polymorphisms in fetal ABCB1 modulate risk for NSOC, presumably through suboptimal exclusion of xenobiotics at the fetal–maternal interface.
PMCID: PMC3831066  PMID: 23443032
cleft palate; cleft lip; ATP-binding cassette transporters; single-nucleotide polymorphism; disease susceptibility; placenta
4.  Joint Testing of Genotypic and Gene-Environment Interaction Identified Novel Association for BMP4 with Non-Syndromic CL/P in an Asian Population Using Data from an International Cleft Consortium 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109038.
Non-syndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (NSCL/P) is a common disorder with complex etiology. The Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4 gene (BMP4) has been considered a prime candidate gene with evidence accumulated from animal experimental studies, human linkage studies, as well as candidate gene association studies. The aim of the current study is to test for linkage and association between BMP4 and NSCL/P that could be missed in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) when genotypic (G) main effects alone were considered.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We performed the analysis considering G and interactions with multiple maternal environmental exposures using additive conditional logistic regression models in 895 Asian and 681 European complete NSCL/P trios. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that passed the quality control criteria among 122 genotyped and 25 imputed single nucleotide variants in and around the gene were used in analysis. Selected maternal environmental exposures during 3 months prior to and through the first trimester of pregnancy included any personal tobacco smoking, any environmental tobacco smoke in home, work place or any nearby places, any alcohol consumption and any use of multivitamin supplements. A novel significant association held for rs7156227 among Asian NSCL/P and non-syndromic cleft lip and palate (NSCLP) trios after Bonferroni correction which was not seen when G main effects alone were considered in either allelic or genotypic transmission disequilibrium tests. Odds ratios for carrying one copy of the minor allele without maternal exposure to any of the four environmental exposures were 0.58 (95%CI = 0.44, 0.75) and 0.54 (95%CI = 0.40, 0.73) for Asian NSCL/P and NSCLP trios, respectively. The Bonferroni P values corrected for the total number of 117 tested SNPs were 0.0051 (asymptotic P = 4.39*10−5) and 0.0065 (asymptotic P = 5.54*10−5), accordingly. In European trios, no significant association was seen for any SNPs after Bonferroni corrections for the total number of 120 tested SNPs.
Our findings add evidence from GWAS to support the role of BMP4 in susceptibility to NSCL/P originally identified in linkage and candidate gene association studies.
PMCID: PMC4193821  PMID: 25303326
5.  Epidemiology, genetics, and subtyping of preserved ratio impaired spirometry (PRISm) in COPDGene 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):89.
Preserved Ratio Impaired Spirometry (PRISm), defined as a reduced FEV1 in the setting of a preserved FEV1/FVC ratio, is highly prevalent and is associated with increased respiratory symptoms, systemic inflammation, and mortality. Studies investigating quantitative chest tomographic features, genetic associations, and subtypes in PRISm subjects have not been reported.
Data from current and former smokers enrolled in COPDGene (n = 10,192), an observational, cross-sectional study which recruited subjects aged 45–80 with ≥10 pack years of smoking, were analyzed. To identify epidemiological and radiographic predictors of PRISm, we performed univariate and multivariate analyses comparing PRISm subjects both to control subjects with normal spirometry and to subjects with COPD. To investigate common genetic predictors of PRISm, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS). To explore potential subgroups within PRISm, we performed unsupervised k-means clustering.
The prevalence of PRISm in COPDGene is 12.3%. Increased dyspnea, reduced 6-minute walk distance, increased percent emphysema and decreased total lung capacity, as well as increased segmental bronchial wall area percentage were significant predictors (p-value <0.05) of PRISm status when compared to control subjects in multivariate models. Although no common genetic variants were identified on GWAS testing, a significant association with Klinefelter’s syndrome (47XXY) was observed (p-value < 0.001). Subgroups identified through k-means clustering include a putative “COPD-subtype”, “Restrictive-subtype”, and a highly symptomatic “Metabolic-subtype”.
PRISm subjects are clinically and genetically heterogeneous. Future investigations into the pathophysiological mechanisms behind and potential treatment options for subgroups within PRISm are warranted.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT000608764.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-014-0089-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4256936  PMID: 25096860
Spirometry; Restriction; Lung diseases; Smoking
6.  Integrated genome-wide association, coexpression network, and expression single nucleotide polymorphism analysis identifies novel pathway in allergic rhinitis 
BMC Medical Genomics  2014;7:48.
Allergic rhinitis is a common disease whose genetic basis is incompletely explained. We report an integrated genomic analysis of allergic rhinitis.
We performed genome wide association studies (GWAS) of allergic rhinitis in 5633 ethnically diverse North American subjects. Next, we profiled gene expression in disease-relevant tissue (peripheral blood CD4+ lymphocytes) collected from subjects who had been genotyped. We then integrated the GWAS and gene expression data using expression single nucleotide (eSNP), coexpression network, and pathway approaches to identify the biologic relevance of our GWAS.
GWAS revealed ethnicity-specific findings, with 4 genome-wide significant loci among Latinos and 1 genome-wide significant locus in the GWAS meta-analysis across ethnic groups. To identify biologic context for these results, we constructed a coexpression network to define modules of genes with similar patterns of CD4+ gene expression (coexpression modules) that could serve as constructs of broader gene expression. 6 of the 22 GWAS loci with P-value ≤ 1x10−6 tagged one particular coexpression module (4.0-fold enrichment, P-value 0.0029), and this module also had the greatest enrichment (3.4-fold enrichment, P-value 2.6 × 10−24) for allergic rhinitis-associated eSNPs (genetic variants associated with both gene expression and allergic rhinitis). The integrated GWAS, coexpression network, and eSNP results therefore supported this coexpression module as an allergic rhinitis module. Pathway analysis revealed that the module was enriched for mitochondrial pathways (8.6-fold enrichment, P-value 4.5 × 10−72).
Our results highlight mitochondrial pathways as a target for further investigation of allergic rhinitis mechanism and treatment. Our integrated approach can be applied to provide biologic context for GWAS of other diseases.
PMCID: PMC4127082  PMID: 25085501
Genome-wide association study; Allergic rhinitis; Coexpression network; Expression single-nucleotide polymorphism; Coexpression module; Pathway; Mitochondria; Hay fever; Allergy
7.  Implications of the GOLD 2011 Disease Severity Classification in the COPDGene Cohort 
The 2011 Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of COPD (GOLD) consensus report uses symptoms, exacerbation history and FEV1% to define four categories: A, low symptoms/low risk; B, high symptoms/low risk; C, low symptoms/high risk; and D, high symptoms/high risk where risk refers to exacerbations, hospitalization and death. Our objective was to determine (1) the influence of symptom instrument on category membership and (2) prospective exacerbation risk by category.
4,484 COPD subjects from COPDGene were analyzed. All subjects had smoking history ≥ 10 pack-years and FEV1/FVC<0·7. Categories were defined using the modified Medical Research Council Dyspnea [mMRC] (0–1 versus ≥ 2) and the Saint George’s Respiratory Questionnaire [SGRQ] (≥25 versus <25 as a surrogate for the COPD Assessment Test ≥ 10 versus <10) in addition to COPD exacerbations in the prior year (<2 versus ≥ 2), and FEV1% predicted (≥50 versus <50).
Category assignment using mMRC versus SGRQ were similar but not identical. Using the mMRC, category assignments were 34% A, 21% B, 8% C and 38% D and for SGRQ were 29% A, 25% B, 5% C and 41% D (kappa=0·77). Significant heterogeneity in exacerbation rates (exacerbations/person-year) were seen particularly within the D group, depending on the risk factor that determined category assignment (lung function (0·89), prior exacerbation history (1·34) or both (1·86), p<0·001.
The GOLD classification emphasizes the importance of symptoms and exacerbation risk in assessing COPD severity. The choice of symptom measure influences category assignment. The relative number of subjects with low symptoms and high risk for exacerbations (category C) is low. Differences in exacerbation rates for subjects in the highest risk category D were seen depending on whether risk was based on lung function, exacerbation history or both.
PMCID: PMC4105297  PMID: 24321803
8.  African Ancestry is a Risk Factor for Asthma and High Total IgE Levels in African Admixed Populations 
Genetic epidemiology  2013;37(4):393-401.
Characterization of genetic admixture of populations in the Americas and the Caribbean is of interest for anthropological, epidemiological, and historical reasons. Asthma has a higher prevalence and is more severe in populations with a high African component. Association of African ancestry with asthma has been demonstrated. We estimated admixture proportions of samples from six trihybrid populations of African descent and determined the relationship between African ancestry and asthma and total serum IgE levels (tIgE). We genotyped 237 ancestry informative markers in asthmatics and nonasthmatic controls from Barbados (190/277), Jamaica (177/529), Brazil (40/220), Colombia (508/625), African Americans from New York (207/171), and African Americans from Baltimore/Washington, D.C. (625/757). We estimated individual ancestries and evaluated genetic stratification using Structure and principal component analysis. Association of African ancestry and asthma and tIgE was evaluated by regression analysis. Mean SD African ancestry ranged from 0.76 ± 0.10 among Barbadians to 0.33 ± 0.13 in Colombians. The European component varied from 0.14 ± 0.05 among Jamaicans and Barbadians to 0.26 ± 0.08 among Colombians. African ancestry was associated with risk for asthma in Colombians (odds ratio (OR) = 4.5, P = 0.001) Brazilians (OR = 136.5, P = 0.003), and African Americans of New York (OR: 4.7; P = 0.040). African ancestry was also associated with higher tIgE levels among Colombians (β = 1.3, P = 0.04), Barbadians (β = 3.8, P = 0.03), and Brazilians (β = 1.6, P = 0.03). Our findings indicate that African ancestry can account for, at least in part, the association between asthma and its associated trait, tIgE levels.
PMCID: PMC4051322  PMID: 23554133
African; asthma; ancestry
9.  Gene expression analysis uncovers novel Hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP) effects in human bronchial epithelial cells 
Genomics  2013;101(5):263-272.
Hedgehog Interacting Protein (HHIP) was implicated in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by genome-wide association studies (GWAS). However, it remains unclear how HHIP contributes to COPD pathogenesis. To identify genes regulated by HHIP, we performed gene expression microarray analysis in a human bronchial epithelial cell line (Beas-2B) stably infected with HHIP shRNAs. HHIP silencing led to differential expression of 296 genes; enrichment for variants nominally associated with COPD was found. Eighteen of the differentially expressed genes were validated by real-time PCR in Beas-2B cells. Seven of 11 validated genes tested in human COPD and control lung tissues demonstrated significant gene expression differences. Functional annotation indicated enrichment for extracellular matrix and cell growth genes. Network modeling demonstrated that the extracellular matrix and cell proliferation genes influenced by HHIP tended to be interconnected. Thus, we identified potential HHIP targets in human bronchial epithelial cells that may contribute to COPD pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3659826  PMID: 23459001
Hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP); Gene expression profiling; COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); extracellular matrix (ECM); network modeling
10.  Susceptibility to Chronic Mucus Hypersecretion, a Genome Wide Association Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e91621.
Chronic mucus hypersecretion (CMH) is associated with an increased frequency of respiratory infections, excess lung function decline, and increased hospitalisation and mortality rates in the general population. It is associated with smoking, but it is unknown why only a minority of smokers develops CMH. A plausible explanation for this phenomenon is a predisposing genetic constitution. Therefore, we performed a genome wide association (GWA) study of CMH in Caucasian populations.
GWA analysis was performed in the NELSON-study using the Illumina 610 array, followed by replication and meta-analysis in 11 additional cohorts. In total 2,704 subjects with, and 7,624 subjects without CMH were included, all current or former heavy smokers (≥20 pack-years). Additional studies were performed to test the functional relevance of the most significant single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP).
A strong association with CMH, consistent across all cohorts, was observed with rs6577641 (p = 4.25×10−6, OR = 1.17), located in intron 9 of the special AT-rich sequence-binding protein 1 locus (SATB1) on chromosome 3. The risk allele (G) was associated with higher mRNA expression of SATB1 (4.3×10−9) in lung tissue. Presence of CMH was associated with increased SATB1 mRNA expression in bronchial biopsies from COPD patients. SATB1 expression was induced during differentiation of primary human bronchial epithelial cells in culture.
Our findings, that SNP rs6577641 is associated with CMH in multiple cohorts and is a cis-eQTL for SATB1, together with our additional observation that SATB1 expression increases during epithelial differentiation provide suggestive evidence that SATB1 is a gene that affects CMH.
PMCID: PMC3979657  PMID: 24714607
11.  Dissecting direct and indirect genetic effects on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility 
Human genetics  2013;132(4):431-441.
Cigarette smoking is the major environmental risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Genome-wide association studies have provided compelling associations for three loci with COPD. In this study, we aimed to estimate direct, i.e., independent from smoking, and indirect effects of those loci on COPD development using mediation analysis. We included a total of 3,424 COPD cases and 1,872 unaffected controls with data on two smoking-related phenotypes: lifetime average smoking intensity and cumulative exposure to tobacco smoke (pack years). Our analysis revealed that effects of two linked variants (rs1051730 and rs8034191) in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development are significantly, yet not entirely, mediated by the smoking-related phenotypes. Approximately 30 % of the total effect of variants in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development was mediated by pack years. Simultaneous analysis of modestly (r2 = 0.21) linked markers in CHRNA3 and IREB2 revealed that an even larger (~42 %) proportion of the total effect of the CHRNA3 locus on COPD was mediated by pack years after adjustment for an IREB2 single nucleotide polymorphism. This study confirms the existence of direct effects of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3, IREB2, FAM13A and HHIP loci on COPD development. While the association of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 locus with COPD is significantly mediated by smoking-related phenotypes, IREB2 appears to affect COPD independently of smoking.
PMCID: PMC3600068  PMID: 23299987
12.  X- linked markers in DMD associated with oral clefts 
As part of an international consortium, case-parent trios were collected for a genome wide association study of isolated, non-syndromic oral clefts, including cleft lip (CL), cleft palate (CP) and cleft lip and palate (CLP). Non-syndromic oral clefts have a complex and heterogeneous etiology. Risk is influenced by genes, environmental factors, and differs markedly by gender. Family based association tests (FBAT) were used on 14,486 SNPs spanning the X chromosome, stratified by type of cleft and racial group. Significant results even after multiple comparisons correction were obtained for the Duchene’s muscular dystrophy (DMD) gene, the largest single gene in the human genome, among CL/P trios (both CL and CLP combined). When stratified into groups of European and Asian ancestry, stronger signals were obtained for Asians. Although conventional sliding window haplotype analysis showed no increase in significance, analysis selected combinations of the 25 most significant SNPs in DMD identified four SNPs together that attained genome-wide significance among Asian CL/P trios, raising the possibility of interaction between distant SNPs within DMD.
PMCID: PMC3600648  PMID: 23489894
oral clefts; case-parent trios; X-linked; family-based association; DMD
13.  Distinct Loci in the CHRNA5/CHRNA3/CHRNB4 Gene Cluster Are Associated With Onset of Regular Smoking 
Stephens, Sarah H. | Hartz, Sarah M. | Hoft, Nicole R. | Saccone, Nancy L. | Corley, Robin C. | Hewitt, John K. | Hopfer, Christian J. | Breslau, Naomi | Coon, Hilary | Chen, Xiangning | Ducci, Francesca | Dueker, Nicole | Franceschini, Nora | Frank, Josef | Han, Younghun | Hansel, Nadia N. | Jiang, Chenhui | Korhonen, Tellervo | Lind, Penelope A. | Liu, Jason | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Michel, Martha | Shaffer, John R. | Short, Susan E. | Sun, Juzhong | Teumer, Alexander | Thompson, John R. | Vogelzangs, Nicole | Vink, Jacqueline M. | Wenzlaff, Angela | Wheeler, William | Yang, Bao-Zhu | Aggen, Steven H. | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Baumeister, Sebastian E. | Beaty, Terri H. | Benjamin, Daniel J. | Bergen, Andrew W. | Broms, Ulla | Cesarini, David | Chatterjee, Nilanjan | Chen, Jingchun | Cheng, Yu-Ching | Cichon, Sven | Couper, David | Cucca, Francesco | Dick, Danielle | Foroud, Tatiana | Furberg, Helena | Giegling, Ina | Gillespie, Nathan A. | Gu, Fangyi | Hall, Alistair S. | Hällfors, Jenni | Han, Shizhong | Hartmann, Annette M. | Heikkilä, Kauko | Hickie, Ian B. | Hottenga, Jouke Jan | Jousilahti, Pekka | Kaakinen, Marika | Kähönen, Mika | Koellinger, Philipp D. | Kittner, Stephen | Konte, Bettina | Landi, Maria-Teresa | Laatikainen, Tiina | Leppert, Mark | Levy, Steven M. | Mathias, Rasika A. | McNeil, Daniel W. | Medland, Sarah E. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Murray, Tanda | Nauck, Matthias | North, Kari E. | Paré, Peter D. | Pergadia, Michele | Ruczinski, Ingo | Salomaa, Veikko | Viikari, Jorma | Willemsen, Gonneke | Barnes, Kathleen C. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Caporaso, Neil | Edenberg, Howard J. | Francks, Clyde | Gelernter, Joel | Grabe, Hans Jörgen | Hops, Hyman | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Johannesson, Magnus | Kendler, Kenneth S. | Lehtimäki, Terho | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Marazita, Mary L. | Marchini, Jonathan | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Nöthen, Markus M. | Penninx, Brenda W. | Raitakari, Olli | Rietschel, Marcella | Rujescu, Dan | Samani, Nilesh J. | Schwartz, Ann G. | Shete, Sanjay | Spitz, Margaret | Swan, Gary E. | Völzke, Henry | Veijola, Juha | Wei, Qingyi | Amos, Chris | Cannon, Dale S. | Grucza, Richard | Hatsukami, Dorothy | Heath, Andrew | Johnson, Eric O. | Kaprio, Jaakko | Madden, Pamela | Martin, Nicholas G. | Stevens, Victoria L. | Weiss, Robert B. | Kraft, Peter | Bierut, Laura J. | Ehringer, Marissa A.
Genetic epidemiology  2013;37(8):846-859.
Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) genes (CHRNA5/CHRNA3/CHRNB4) have been reproducibly associated with nicotine dependence, smoking behaviors, and lung cancer risk. Of the few reports that have focused on early smoking behaviors, association results have been mixed. This meta-analysis examines early smoking phenotypes and SNPs in the gene cluster to determine: (1) whether the most robust association signal in this region (rs16969968) for other smoking behaviors is also associated with early behaviors, and/or (2) if additional statistically independent signals are important in early smoking. We focused on two phenotypes: age of tobacco initiation (AOI) and age of first regular tobacco use (AOS). This study included 56,034 subjects (41 groups) spanning nine countries and evaluated five SNPs including rs1948, rs16969968, rs578776, rs588765, and rs684513. Each dataset was analyzed using a centrally generated script. Meta-analyses were conducted from summary statistics. AOS yielded significant associations with SNPs rs578776 (beta = 0.02, P = 0.004), rs1948 (beta = 0.023, P = 0.018), and rs684513 (beta = 0.032, P = 0.017), indicating protective effects. There were no significant associations for the AOI phenotype. Importantly, rs16969968, the most replicated signal in this region for nicotine dependence, cigarettes per day, and cotinine levels, was not associated with AOI (P = 0.59) or AOS (P = 0.92). These results provide important insight into the complexity of smoking behavior phenotypes, and suggest that association signals in the CHRNA5/A3/B4 gene cluster affecting early smoking behaviors may be different from those affecting the mature nicotine dependence phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3947535  PMID: 24186853
CHRNA5; CHRNA3; CHRNB4; meta-analysis; nicotine; smoke
14.  A genome-wide study of de novo deletions identifies a candidate locus for non-syndromic isolated cleft lip/palate risk 
BMC Genetics  2014;15:24.
Copy number variants (CNVs) may play an important part in the development of common birth defects such as oral clefts, and individual patients with multiple birth defects (including clefts) have been shown to carry small and large chromosomal deletions. In this paper we investigate de novo deletions defined as DNA segments missing in an oral cleft proband but present in both unaffected parents. We compare de novo deletion frequencies in children of European ancestry with an isolated, non-syndromic oral cleft to frequencies in children of European ancestry from randomly sampled trios.
We identified a genome-wide significant 62 kilo base (kb) non-coding region on chromosome 7p14.1 where de novo deletions occur more frequently among oral cleft cases than controls. We also observed wider de novo deletions among cleft lip and palate (CLP) cases than seen among cleft palate (CP) and cleft lip (CL) cases.
This study presents a region where de novo deletions appear to be involved in the etiology of oral clefts, although the underlying biological mechanisms are still unknown. Larger de novo deletions are more likely to interfere with normal craniofacial development and may result in more severe clefts. Study protocol and sample DNA source can severely affect estimates of de novo deletion frequencies. Follow-up studies are needed to further validate these findings and to potentially identify additional structural variants underlying oral clefts.
PMCID: PMC3929298  PMID: 24528994
Oral clefts; DNA copy numbers; de novo deletions; Case-parent trios
15.  Evidence of Gene−Environment Interaction for Two Genes on Chromosome 4 and Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Controlling the Risk of Nonsyndromic Cleft Palate 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88088.
Nonsyndromic cleft palate (CP) is one of the most common human birth defects and both genetic and environmental risk factors contribute to its etiology. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using 550 CP case-parent trios ascertained in an international consortium. Stratified analysis among trios with different ancestries was performed to test for GxE interactions with common maternal exposures using conditional logistic regression models. While no single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) achieved genome-wide significance when considered alone, markers in SLC2A9 and the neighboring WDR1 on chromosome 4p16.1 gave suggestive evidence of gene-environment interaction with environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) among 259 Asian trios when the models included a term for GxE interaction. Multiple SNPs in these two genes were associated with increased risk of nonsyndromic CP if the mother was exposed to ETS during the peri-conceptual period (3 months prior to conception through the first trimester). When maternal ETS was considered, fifteen of 135 SNPs mapping to SLC2A9 and 9 of 59 SNPs in WDR1 gave P values approaching genome-wide significance (10−6
PMCID: PMC3916361  PMID: 24516586
Isolated, non-syndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (iCL±P) is a common human congenital malformation with a complex and heterogeneous etiology. Genes coding for fibroblast growth factors and their receptors (FGF/FGFR genes) are excellent candidate genes.
We tested single nucleotide polymorphic (SNP) markers in 10 FGF/FGFR genes (including FGFBP1, FGF2, FGF10, FGF18, FGFR1, FGFR2, FGF19, FGF4, FGF3, and FGF9) for genotypic effects, interactions with one another, and with common maternal environmental exposures in 221 Asian and 76 Maryland case-parent trios ascertained through a child with iCL±P.
Both FGFR1 and FGF19 yielded evidence of linkage and association in the transmission disequilibrium test, confirming previous evidence. Haplotypes of three SNPs in FGFR1 were nominally significant among Asian trios. Estimated ORs for individual SNPs and haplotypes of multiple markers in FGF19 ranged between1.31-1.87. We also found suggestive evidence of maternal genotypic effects for markers in FGF2 and FGF10 among Asian trios. Tests for gene-environment (GxE) interaction between markers in FGFR2 and maternal smoking or multivitamin supplementation yielded significant evidence of GxE interaction separately. Tests of gene-gene (GxG) interaction using Cordell's method yielded significant evidence between SNPs in FGF9 and FGF18, which was confirmed in an independent sample of trios from an international consortium.
Our results suggest several genes in the FGF/FGFR family may influence risk to iCL±P through distinct biological mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3387510  PMID: 22074045
FGF/FGFR; oral clefts; maternal effects; gene-environment interaction; gene-gene interaction
Human genetics  2012;132(1):79-90.
Accelerated lung function decline is a key COPD phenotype; however its genetic control remains largely unknown.
We performed a genome-wide association study using the Illumina Human660W-Quad v.1_A BeadChip. Generalized estimation equations were used to assess genetic contributions to lung function decline over a 5-year period in 4,048 European-American Lung Health Study participants with largely mild COPD. Genotype imputation was performed using reference HapMap II data. To validate regions meeting genome-wide significance, replication of top SNPs was attempted in independent cohorts. Three genes (TMEM26, ANK3 and FOXA1) within the regions of interest were selected for tissue expression studies using immunohistochemistry.
Measurements and Main Results
Two intergenic SNPs (rs10761570, rs7911302) on chromosome 10 and one SNP on chromosome 14 (rs177852) met genome-wide significance after Bonferroni. Further support for the chromosome 10 region was obtained by imputation, the most significantly associated imputed SNPs (rs10761571, rs7896712) being flanked by observed markers rs10761570 and rs7911302. Results were not replicated in four general population cohorts or a smaller cohort of subjects with moderate to severe COPD; however, we show novel expression of genes near regions of significantly associated SNPS, including TMEM26 and FOXA1 in airway epithelium and lung parenchyma, and ANK3 in alveolar macrophages. Levels of expression were associated with lung function and COPD status.
We identified two novel regions associated with lung function decline in mild COPD. Genes within these regions were expressed in relevant lung cells and their expression related to airflow limitation suggesting they may represent novel candidate genes for COPD susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3536920  PMID: 22986903
COPD; lung function decline; GWAS; genome wide association; genes; polymorphisms
Rationale: A genome-wide association study (GWAS) for circulating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) biomarkers could identify genetic determinants of biomarker levels and COPD susceptibility.
Objectives: To identify genetic variants of circulating protein biomarkers and novel genetic determinants of COPD.
Methods: GWAS was performed for two pneumoproteins, Clara cell secretory protein (CC16) and surfactant protein D (SP-D), and five systemic inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, IL-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α) in 1,951 subjects with COPD. For genome-wide significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (P < 1 × 10−8), association with COPD susceptibility was tested in 2,939 cases with COPD and 1,380 smoking control subjects. The association of candidate SNPs with mRNA expression in induced sputum was also elucidated.
Measurements and Main Results: Genome-wide significant susceptibility loci affecting biomarker levels were found only for the two pneumoproteins. Two discrete loci affecting CC16, one region near the CC16 coding gene (SCGB1A1) on chromosome 11 and another locus approximately 25 Mb away from SCGB1A1, were identified, whereas multiple SNPs on chromosomes 6 and 16, in addition to SNPs near SFTPD, had genome-wide significant associations with SP-D levels. Several SNPs affecting circulating CC16 levels were significantly associated with sputum mRNA expression of SCGB1A1 (P = 0.009–0.03). Several SNPs highly associated with CC16 or SP-D levels were nominally associated with COPD in a collaborative GWAS (P = 0.001–0.049), although these COPD associations were not replicated in two additional cohorts.
Conclusions: Distant genetic loci and biomarker-coding genes affect circulating levels of COPD-related pneumoproteins. A subset of these protein quantitative trait loci may influence their gene expression in the lung and/or COPD susceptibility.
Clinical trial registered with (NCT 00292552).
PMCID: PMC3622441  PMID: 23144326
biomarker; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genome-wide association study
Genetic epidemiology  2010;34(6):10.1002/gepi.20512.
Admixture is a potential source of confounding in genetic association studies, so it becomes important to detect and estimate admixture in a sample of unrelated individuals. Populations of African descent in the US and the Caribbean share similar historical backgrounds but the distributions of African admixture may differ. We selected 416 ancestry informative markers (AIMs) to estimate and compare admixture proportions using STRUCTURE in 906 unrelated African Americans (AAs) and 294 Barbadians (ACs) from a study of asthma. This analysis showed AAs on average were 72.5% African, 19.6% European and 8% Asian, while ACs were 77.4% African, 15.9% European, and 6.7% Asian which were significantly different. A principal components analysis based on these AIMs yielded one primary eigenvector that explained 54.04% of the variation and captured a gradient from West African to European admixture. This principal component was highly correlated with African vs. European ancestry as estimated by STRUCTURE (r2 = 0.992, r2 = 0.912, respectively). To investigate other African contributions to African American and Barbadian admixture, we performed PCA on ~14,000 (14k) genome-wide SNPs in AAs, ACs, Yorubans, Luhya and Maasai African groups, and estimated genetic distances (FST). We found AAs and ACs were closest genetically (FST = 0.008), and both were closer to the Yorubans than the other East African populations. In our sample of individuals of African descent, ~400 well-defined AIMs were just as good for detecting substructure as ~14,000 random SNPs drawn from a genome-wide panel of markers.
PMCID: PMC3837693  PMID: 20717976
admixture; African Americans; African Caribbeans; African ancestry; genetic distance
Due to the pleiotropic effects of nitric oxide (NO) within the lungs, it is likely that NO is a significant factor in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The aim of this study was to test for association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in three NO synthase (NOS) genes and lung function, as well as to examine gene expression and protein levels in relation to the genetic variation.
One SNP in each NOS gene (neuronal NOS (NOS1), inducible NOS (NOS2), and endothelial NOS (NOS3)) was genotyped in the Lung Health Study (LHS) and correlated with lung function. One SNP (rs1800779) was also analyzed for association with COPD and lung function in four COPD case–control populations. Lung tissue expression of NOS3 mRNA and protein was tested in individuals of known genotype for rs1800779. Immunohistochemistry of lung tissue was used to localize NOS3 expression.
For the NOS3 rs1800779 SNP, the baseline forced expiratory volume in one second in the LHS was significantly higher in the combined AG + GG genotypic groups compared with the AA genotypic group. Gene expression and protein levels in lung tissue were significantly lower in subjects with the AG + GG genotypes than in AA subjects. NOS3 protein was expressed in the airway epithelium and subjects with the AA genotype demonstrated higher NOS3 expression compared with AG and GG individuals. However, we were not able to replicate the associations with COPD or lung function in the other COPD study groups.
Variants in the NOS genes were not associated with lung function or COPD status. However, the G allele of rs1800779 resulted in a decrease of NOS3 gene expression and protein levels and this has implications for the numerous disease states that have been associated with this polymorphism.
PMCID: PMC3827989  PMID: 24192154
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Nitric oxide synthase; Polymorphism; Gene expression
Nonsyndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (NSCL/P) is a common birth defect with complex etiology reflecting the action of multiple genetic and/or environmental factors. Genome wide association studies have successfully identified five novel loci associated with NSCL/P including a locus on 1p22.1 near the ABCA4 gene. Since neither expression analysis nor mutation screening support a role for ABCA4 in NSCL/P, we investigated the adjacent gene ARHGAP29.
Mutation screening for ARHGAP29 protein coding exons was conducted in 180 individuals with NSCL/P and controls from the US and the Philippines. Nine exons with variants in ARHGAP29 were then screened in an independent set of 872 cases and 802 controls. Arhgap29 expression was evaluated using in situ hybridization in murine embryos.
Sequencing of ARHGAP29 revealed eight potentially deleterious variants in cases including a frameshift and a nonsense variant. Arhgap29 showed craniofacial expression and was reduced in a mouse deficient for Irf6, a gene previously shown to have a critical role in craniofacial development.
The combination of genome wide association, rare coding sequence variants, craniofacial specific expression and interactions with IRF6 support a role for ARHGAP29 in NSCL/P and as the etiologic gene at the 1p22 GWAS locus for NSCL/P. This work suggests a novel pathway in which the IRF6 gene regulatory network interacts with the Rho pathway via ARHGAP29.
PMCID: PMC3501616  PMID: 23008150
ARHGAP29; cleft lip and palate; candidate gene; complex traits; Rho signaling
Nature genetics  2012;44(9):968-971.
We have conducted the first meta-analyses for nonsyndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (NSCL/P) using data from the two largest genome-wide association studies published to date. We confirmed associations with all previously identified loci and identified six additional susceptibility regions (1p36, 2p21, 3p11.1, 8q21.3, 13q31.1 and 15q22). Analysis of phenotypic variability identified the first specific genetic risk factor for NSCLP (nonsyndromic cleft lip plus palate) (rs8001641; PNSCLP = 6.51 × 10−11; homozygote relative risk = 2.41, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.84–3.16).
PMCID: PMC3598617  PMID: 22863734
Hartz, Sarah M. | Short, Susan E. | Saccone, Nancy L. | Culverhouse, Robert | Chen, LiShiun | Schwantes-An, Tae-Hwi | Coon, Hilary | Han, Younghun | Stephens, Sarah H. | Sun, Juzhong | Chen, Xiangning | Ducci, Francesca | Dueker, Nicole | Franceschini, Nora | Frank, Josef | Geller, Frank | Guđbjartsson, Daniel | Hansel, Nadia N. | Jiang, Chenhui | Keskitalo-Vuokko, Kaisu | Liu, Zhen | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Michel, Martha | Rawal, Rajesh | Hum, Sc | Rosenberger, Albert | Scheet, Paul | Shaffer, John R. | Teumer, Alexander | Thompson, John R. | Vink, Jacqueline M. | Vogelzangs, Nicole | Wenzlaff, Angela S. | Wheeler, William | Xiao, Xiangjun | Yang, Bao-Zhu | Aggen, Steven H. | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Baumeister, Sebastian E. | Beaty, Terri | Bennett, Siiri | Bergen, Andrew W. | Boyd, Heather A. | Broms, Ulla | Campbell, Harry | Chatterjee, Nilanjan | Chen, Jingchun | Cheng, Yu-Ching | Cichon, Sven | Couper, David | Cucca, Francesco | Dick, Danielle M. | Foroud, Tatiana | Furberg, Helena | Giegling, Ina | Gu, Fangyi | Hall, Alistair S. | Hällfors, Jenni | Han, Shizhong | Hartmann, Annette M. | Hayward, Caroline | Heikkilä, Kauko | Lic, Phil | Hewitt, John K. | Hottenga, Jouke Jan | Jensen, Majken K. | Jousilahti, Pekka | Kaakinen, Marika | Kittner, Steven J. | Konte, Bettina | Korhonen, Tellervo | Landi, Maria-Teresa | Laatikainen, Tiina | Leppert, Mark | Levy, Steven M. | Mathias, Rasika A. | McNeil, Daniel W. | Medland, Sarah E. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Muley, Thomas | Murray, Tanda | Nauck, Matthias | North, Kari | Pergadia, Michele | Polasek, Ozren | Ramos, Erin M. | Ripatti, Samuli | Risch, Angela | Ruczinski, Ingo | Rudan, Igor | Salomaa, Veikko | Schlessinger, David | Styrkársdóttir, Unnur | Terracciano, Antonio | Uda, Manuela | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wu, Xifeng | Abecasis, Goncalo | Barnes, Kathleen | Bickeböller, Heike | Boerwinkle, Eric | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Caporaso, Neil | Duan, Jubao | Edenberg, Howard J. | Francks, Clyde | Gejman, Pablo V. | Gelernter, Joel | Grabe, Hans Jörgen | Hops, Hyman | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Viikari, Jorma | Kähönen, Mika | Kendler, Kenneth S. | Lehtimäki, Terho | Levinson, Douglas F. | Marazita, Mary L. | Marchini, Jonathan | Melbye, Mads | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Murray, Jeffrey C. | Nöthen, Markus M. | Penninx, Brenda W. | Raitakari, Olli | Rietschel, Marcella | Rujescu, Dan | Samani, Nilesh J. | Sanders, Alan R. | Schwartz, Ann G. | Shete, Sanjay | Shi, Jianxin | Spitz, Margaret | Stefansson, Kari | Swan, Gary E. | Thorgeirsson, Thorgeir | Völzke, Henry | Wei, Qingyi | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Amos, Christopher I. | Breslau, Naomi | Cannon, Dale S. | Ehringer, Marissa | Grucza, Richard | Hatsukami, Dorothy | Heath, Andrew | Johnson, Eric O. | Kaprio, Jaakko | Madden, Pamela | Martin, Nicholas G. | Stevens, Victoria L. | Stitzel, Jerry A. | Weiss, Robert B. | Kraft, Peter | Bierut, Laura J.
Archives of general psychiatry  2012;69(8):854-860.
Recent studies have shown an association between cigarettes per day (CPD) and a nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphism in CHRNA5, rs16969968.
To determine whether the association between rs16969968 and smoking is modified by age at onset of regular smoking.
Data Sources
Primary data.
Study Selection
Available genetic studies containing measures of CPD and the genotype of rs16969968 or its proxy.
Data Extraction
Uniform statistical analysis scripts were run locally. Starting with 94 050 ever-smokers from 43 studies, we extracted the heavy smokers (CPD >20) and light smokers (CPD ≤10) with age-at-onset information, reducing the sample size to 33 348. Each study was stratified into early-onset smokers (age at onset ≤16 years) and late-onset smokers (age at onset >16 years), and a logistic regression of heavy vs light smoking with the rs16969968 genotype was computed for each stratum. Meta-analysis was performed within each age-at-onset stratum.
Data Synthesis
Individuals with 1 risk allele at rs16969968 who were early-onset smokers were significantly more likely to be heavy smokers in adulthood (odds ratio [OR]=1.45; 95% CI, 1.36–1.55; n=13 843) than were carriers of the risk allele who were late-onset smokers (OR = 1.27; 95% CI, 1.21–1.33, n = 19 505) (P = .01).
These results highlight an increased genetic vulnerability to smoking in early-onset smokers.
PMCID: PMC3482121  PMID: 22868939
The New England journal of medicine  2012;367(10):913-921.
Exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are associated with accelerated loss of lung function and death. Identification of patients at risk for these events, particularly those requiring hospitalization, is of major importance. Severe pulmonary hypertension is an important complication of advanced COPD and predicts acute exacerbations, though pulmonary vascular abnormalities also occur early in the course of the disease. We hypothesized that a computed tomographic (CT) metric of pulmonary vascular disease (pulmonary artery enlargement, as determined by a ratio of the diameter of the pulmonary artery to the diameter of the aorta [PA:A ratio] of >1) would be associated with severe COPD exacerbations.
We conducted a multicenter, observational trial that enrolled current and former smokers with COPD. We determined the association between a PA:A ratio of more than 1 and a history at enrollment of severe exacerbations requiring hospitalization and then examined the usefulness of the ratio as a predictor of these events in a longitudinal follow-up of this cohort, as well as in an external validation cohort. We used logistic-regression and zero-inflated negative binomial regression analyses and adjusted for known risk factors for exacerbation.
Multivariate logistic-regression analysis showed a significant association between a PA:A ratio of more than 1 and a history of severe exacerbations at the time of enrollment in the trial (odds ratio, 4.78; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.43 to 6.65; P<0.001). A PA:A ratio of more than 1 was also independently associated with an increased risk of future severe exacerbations in both the trial cohort (odds ratio, 3.44; 95% CI, 2.78 to 4.25; P<0.001) and the external validation cohort (odds ratio, 2.80; 95% CI, 2.11 to 3.71; P<0.001). In both cohorts, among all the variables analyzed, a PA:A ratio of more than 1 had the strongest association with severe exacerbations.
Pulmonary artery enlargement (a PA:A ratio of >1), as detected by CT, was associated with severe exacerbations of COPD. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; numbers, NCT00608764 and NCT00292552.)
PMCID: PMC3690810  PMID: 22938715
Genetic epidemiology  2012;36(4):392-399.
In a recent genome wide association study (GWAS) from an international consortium, evidence of linkage and association in chr8q24 was much stronger among non-syndromic cleft lip/palate (CL/P) case-parent trios of European ancestry than among trios of Asian ancestry. We examined marker information content and haplotype diversity across 13 recruitment sites (from Europe, USA and Asia) separately, and conducted principal components analysis (PCA) on parents. As expected, PCA revealed large genetic distances between Europeans and Asians, and a north-south cline from Korea to Singapore in Asia, with Filipino parents forming a somewhat distinct Southeast Asian cluster. Hierarchical clustering of SNP heterozygosity revealed two major clades consistent with PCA results. All genotyped SNPs giving p<10−6 in the allelic TDT showed higher heterozygosity in Europeans than Asians. On average, European ancestry parents had higher haplotype diversity than Asians. Imputing additional variants across chr8q24 increased the strength of statistical evidence among Europeans and also revealed a significant signal among Asians (although it did not reach genome-wide significance). Tests for SNP-population interaction were negative, indicating the lack of strong signal for 8q24 in families of Asian ancestry was not due to any distinct genetic effect, but could simply reflect low power due to lower allele frequencies in Asians.
PMCID: PMC3615645  PMID: 22508319
cleft lip with/without cleft palate; 8q24; genome wide association; imputation

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