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1.  Determinants of airflow obstruction in severe alpha‐1‐antitrypsin deficiency 
Thorax  2007;62(9):806-813.
Severe α1‐antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is an autosomal recessive genetic condition associated with an increased but variable risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study was undertaken to assess the impact of chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and sex on the development of COPD in individuals with severe AAT deficiency.
The AAT Genetic Modifier Study is a multicentre family‐based cohort study designed to study the genetic and epidemiological determinants of COPD in AAT deficiency. 378 individuals (age range 33–80 years), confirmed to be homozygous for the SERPINA1 Z mutation, were included in the analyses. The primary outcomes of interest were a quantitative outcome, forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) percentage predicted, and a qualitative outcome, severe airflow obstruction (FEV1 <50% predicted).
In multivariate analysis of the overall cohort, cigarette smoking, sex, asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia were risk factors for reduced FEV1 percentage predicted and severe airflow obstruction (p<0.01). Index cases had lower FEV1 values, higher smoking histories and more reports of adult asthma, pneumonia and asthma before age 16 than non‐index cases (p<0.01). Men had lower pre‐ and post‐bronchodilator FEV1 percentage predicted than women (p<0.0001); the lowest FEV1 values were observed in men reporting a history of childhood asthma (26.9%). This trend for more severe obstruction in men remained when index and non‐index groups were examined separately, with men representing the majority of non‐index individuals with airflow obstruction (71%). Chronic bronchitis (OR 3.8, CI 1.8 to 12.0) and a physician's report of asthma (OR 4.2, CI 1.4 to 13.1) were predictors of severe airflow obstruction in multivariate analysis of non‐index men but not women.
In individuals with severe AAT deficiency, sex, asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia are risk factors for severe COPD, in addition to cigarette smoking. These results suggest that, in subjects severely deficient in AAT, men, individuals with symptoms of chronic bronchitis and/or a past diagnosis of asthma or pneumonia may benefit from closer monitoring and potentially earlier treatment.
PMCID: PMC2117297  PMID: 17389752
2.  Genetic association analysis of COPD candidate genes with bronchodilator responsiveness 
Respiratory medicine  2008;103(4):552-557.
Airflow limitation in COPD patients is not fully reversible. However, there may be large variability in bronchodilator responsiveness (BDR) among COPD patients, and familial aggregation of BDR suggests a genetic component. Therefore we investigated the association between six candidate genes and BDR in subjects with severe COPD. A total of 389 subjects from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) were analyzed. Bronchodilator responsiveness to albuterol was expressed in three ways: absolute change in FEV1, change in FEV1 as a percent of baseline FEV1, and change in FEV1 as a percent of predicted FEV1. Genotyping was completed for 122 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in six candidate genes (EPHX1, SFTPB, TGFB1, SERPINE2, GSTP1, ADRB2). Associations between BDR phenotypes and SNP genotypes were tested using linear regression, adjusting for age, sex, pack-years of smoking, and height. Genes associated with BDR phenotypes in the NETT subjects were assessed for replication in 127 pedigrees from the Boston Early-Onset COPD (EOCOPD) Study. Three SNPs in EPHX1 (p = 0.009 – 0.04), three SNPs in SERPINE2 (p = 0.004 – 0.05) and two SNPs in ADRB2 (0.04 – 0.05) were significantly associated with BDR phenotypes in NETT subjects. BDR. One SNP in EPHX1 (rs1009668, p = 0.04) was significantly replicated in EOCOPD subjects. SNPs in SFTPB, TGFB1, and GSTP1 genes were not associated with BDR. In conclusion, a polymorphism of EPHX1 was associated with bronchodilator responsiveness phenotypes in subjects with severe COPD.
PMCID: PMC2745950  PMID: 19111454
bronchodilator responsiveness; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetics; association analysis
3.  Genome‐wide linkage analysis of pulmonary function in families of children with asthma in Costa Rica 
Thorax  2006;62(3):224-230.
Although asthma is highly prevalent among certain Hispanic subgroups, genetic determinants of asthma and asthma‐related traits have not been conclusively identified in Hispanic populations. A study was undertaken to identify genomic regions containing susceptibility loci for pulmonary function and bronchodilator responsiveness (BDR) in Costa Ricans.
Eight extended pedigrees were ascertained through schoolchildren with asthma in the Central Valley of Costa Rica. Short tandem repeat (STR) markers were genotyped throughout the genome at an average spacing of 8.2 cM. Multipoint variance component linkage analyses of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and FEV1/ forced vital capacity (FVC; both pre‐bronchodilator and post‐bronchodilator) and BDR were performed in these eight families (pre‐bronchodilator spirometry, n = 640; post‐bronchodilator spirometry and BDR, n = 624). Nine additional STR markers were genotyped on chromosome 7. Secondary analyses were repeated after stratification by cigarette smoking.
Among all subjects, the highest logarithm of the odds of linkage (LOD) score for FEV1 (post‐bronchodilator) was found on chromosome 7q34–35 (LOD = 2.45, including the additional markers). The highest LOD scores for FEV1/FVC (pre‐bronchodilator) and BDR were found on chromosomes 2q (LOD = 1.53) and 9p (LOD = 1.53), respectively. Among former and current smokers there was near‐significant evidence of linkage to FEV1/FVC (post‐bronchodilator) on chromosome 5p (LOD = 3.27) and suggestive evidence of linkage to FEV1 on chromosomes 3q (pre‐bronchodilator, LOD = 2.74) and 4q (post‐bronchodilator, LOD = 2.66).
In eight families of children with asthma in Costa Rica, there is suggestive evidence of linkage to FEV1 on chromosome 7q34–35. In these families, FEV1/FVC may be influenced by an interaction between cigarette smoking and a locus (loci) on chromosome 5p.
PMCID: PMC2117166  PMID: 17099076
4.  Exacerbations in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
The impact of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations on decline in FEV1 has been a controversial topic for decades. We will review some of the key studies in this area and discuss potential contributors to inconsistent results of these studies. Dissecting the heterogeneous COPD syndrome into meaningful subtypes and assessing the genetic and environmental influences on COPD-related phenotypes such as exacerbation frequency could clarify the impact of exacerbations on the natural history of COPD.
PMCID: PMC2647649  PMID: 18073387
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; exacerbations; natural history; heterogeneity; genetics
5.  Haplotype Thinking in Lung Disease 
To identify the genetic etiology of a disease of interest, disease-related characteristics (phenotypes) are often tested for association with genetic variants (genotypes). Although genetic association studies of single genetic variants have been widely performed, there has been increasing interest in studies of multiple adjacent genetic variants on one chromosome, known as a haplotype. In this review, we will provide background about the origin of haplotypes and why they can be useful in genetic studies; we will discuss approaches to determining haplotypes and performing haplotype-based genetic association studies; and we will compare single variant and haplotype-based approaches.
PMCID: PMC2647613  PMID: 17202285
single nucleotide polymorphism; haplotype; genetic association analysis; linkage disequilibrium
6.  Progress in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Genetics 
Familial aggregation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been demonstrated, suggesting that genetic factors likely influence the variable development of chronic airflow obstruction in response to smoking. A variety of approaches have been used to identify novel COPD susceptibility genes, including association studies, linkage analysis, and rare variant analysis. Future directions for COPD research include genomewide association studies and animal model genetic studies.
PMCID: PMC2658703  PMID: 16799082
association analysis; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetics; linkage analysis
7.  CHRNA3/5, IREB2, and ADCY2 Are Associated with Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in Poland 
We examined the association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) previously associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and/or lung function with COPD and COPD-related phenotypes in a novel cohort of patients with severe to very severe COPD. We examined 315 cases of COPD and 330 Caucasian control smokers from Poland. We included three SNPs previously associated with COPD: rs7671167 (FAM13A), rs13180 (IREB2), and rs8034191 (CHRNA 3/5), and four SNPs associated with lung function in a genome-wide association study of general population samples: rs2070600 (AGER), rs11134242 (ADCY2), rs4316710 (THSD4), and rs17096090 (INTS12). We tested for associations with severe COPD and COPD-related phenotypes, including lung function, smoking behavior, and body mass index. Subjects with COPD were older (average age 62 versus 58 years, P < 0.01), with more pack-years of smoking (45 versus 33 pack-years, P < 0.01). CHRNA3/5 (odds ratio [OR], 1.89; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5–2.4; P = 7.4 × 10−7), IREB2 (OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.5–0.9; P = 3.4 × 10−3), and ADCY2 (OR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.1–1.7; P = 0.01) demonstrated significant associations with COPD. FAM13A (OR, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.7–1.0; P = 0.11) approached statistical significance. FAM13A and ADCY2 also demonstrated a significant association with lung function. Thus, in severe to very severe COPD, we demonstrate a replication of association between two SNPs previously associated with COPD (CHRNA3/5 and IREB2), as well as an association with COPD of one locus initially associated with lung function (ADCY2).
PMCID: PMC3423462  PMID: 22461431
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetic association analysis; lung function; smoking; nicotine addiction
8.  IL10 Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated With Asthma Phenotypes in Children 
Genetic epidemiology  2004;26(2):155-165.
IL10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine that has been found to have lower production in macrophages and mononuclear cells from asthmatics. Since reduced IL10 levels may influence the severity of asthma phenotypes, we examined IL10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association with asthma severity and allergy phenotypes as quantitative traits. Utilizing DNA samples from 518 Caucasian asthmatic children from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) and their parents, we genotyped six IL10 SNPs: 3 in the promoter, 2 in introns, and one in the 3′ UTR. Using family-based association tests, each SNP was tested for association with asthma and allergy phenotypes individually. Population-based association analysis was performed with each SNP locus, the promoter haplotypes and the 6-loci haplotypes. The 3′ UTR SNP was significantly associated with FEV1 as a percent of predicted (FEV1PP) (P=0.0002) in both the family and population analyses. The promoter haplotype GCC was positively associated with IgE levels and FEV1PP (P=0.007 and 0.012, respectively). The promoter haplotype ATA was negatively associated with lnPC20 and FEV1PP (P=0.008 and 0.043, respectively). Polymorphisms in IL10 are associated with asthma phenotypes in this cohort. Further studies of variation in the IL10 gene may help elucidate the mechanism of asthma development in children.
PMCID: PMC3705717  PMID: 14748015
interleukin 10 (IL10); single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP); genetic association; family-based association test (FBAT); haplotype; promoter; 3′; untranslated region (3′UTR)
9.  Gene–environment interaction testing in family-based association studies with phenotypically ascertained samples: a causal inference approach 
Biostatistics (Oxford, England)  2011;13(3):468-481.
We propose a method for testing gene–environment (G × E) interactions on a complex trait in family-based studies in which a phenotypic ascertainment criterion has been imposed. This novel approach employs G-estimation, a semiparametric estimation technique from the causal inference literature, to avoid modeling of the association between the environmental exposure and the phenotype, to gain robustness against unmeasured confounding due to population substructure, and to acknowledge the ascertainment conditions. The proposed test allows for incomplete parental genotypes. It is compared by simulation studies to an analogous conditional likelihood–based approach and to the QBAT-I test, which also invokes the G-estimation principle but ignores ascertainment. We apply our approach to a study of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.
PMCID: PMC3372944  PMID: 22084302
Causal inference; COPD; Family-based association; G-estimation; Gene–environment interaction
We present an image pipeline for airway phenotype extraction suitable for large-scale genetic and epidemiological studies including genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). We use scale-space particles to densely sample intraparenchymal airway locations in a large cohort of high-resolution CT scans. The particle methodology is based on a constrained energy minimization problem that results in a set of candidate airway points situated in both physical space and scale. Those points are further clustered using connected components filtering to increase their specificity. Finally, we use the particle locations to perform airway wall detection using an edge detector based on the zero-crossing of the second order derivative. Given the airway wall locations, we compute three phenotypes for airway disease: wall thickening (Pi10,WA%) and luminal remodeling (P%). We validate the airway extraction technique and present results in 2,500 scans for the association of the extracted phenotypes with clinical outcomes that will be deployed as part of the COPDGene study GWAS analysis.
PMCID: PMC3670103  PMID: 23744052
Airway segmentation; Scale-space; phenotypes; COPD; CT
11.  Interstitial Lung Abnormalities and Reduced Exercise Capacity 
Rationale: The relationship between interstitial lung abnormalities (ILA) and exercise capacity has not been comprehensively evaluated.
Objectives: To assess the validity of the 6-minute walk test in subjects with ILA, and to examine the association between ILA and 6-minute walk distance (6MWD).
Methods: Spearman correlation coefficients were used to assess the strength of the relationships between 6MWD and relevant measures of dyspnea, health-related quality of life, and pulmonary function in a cohort of 2,416 people who smoke from the COPDGene study. Unadjusted and adjusted linear and logistic regression models were used to assess the strength of the association between ILA and 6MWD.
Measurements and Main Results: In all subjects, and in those with ILA, 6MWD in COPDGene was associated with relevant clinical and physiologic measures. The mean 6MWD in COPDGene subjects with ILA was 386 m (SD, 128 m), and 82% and 19% of subjects with ILA had 6MWDs less than or equal to 500 and 250 m, respectively. ILA was associated with a reduced 6MWD in univariate (−30 m; 95% confidence interval, −50 to −10; P = 0.004) and multivariate models (−19 m; 95% confidence interval, −33 to −5; P = 0.008). Compared with subjects without ILA, subjects with ILA had an 80% and 77% increase in their odds to have a walk distance limited to less than or equal to 500 and 250 m, respectively. Although these findings were dependent on ILA subtype, they were not limited to those with COPD.
Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that ILA is associated with measurable decrements in the 6MWD of people who smoke.
Clinical trial registered with (NCT 00608764).
PMCID: PMC3326424  PMID: 22268134
six-minute walk distance; emphysema; interstitial lung disease; subclinical; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
12.  Developing New Drug Treatments in the Era of Network Medicine 
PMCID: PMC3545395  PMID: 23212105
network medicine; systems pharmacology; complex diseases; pharmacogenetics
13.  Network Medicine Approaches to the Genetics of Complex Diseases 
Discovery medicine  2012;14(75):143-152.
Complex diseases are caused by perturbations of biological networks. Genetic analysis approaches focused on individual genetic determinants are unlikely to characterize the network architecture of complex diseases comprehensively. Network medicine, which applies systems biology and network science to complex molecular networks underlying human disease, focuses on identifying the interacting genes and proteins which lead to disease pathogenesis. The long biological path between a genetic risk variant and development of a complex disease involves a range of biochemical intermediates, including coding and non-coding RNA, proteins, and metabolites. Transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and other –omics technologies have the potential to provide insights into complex disease pathogenesis, especially if they are applied within a network biology framework. Most previous efforts to relate genetics to –omics data have focused on a single –omics platform; the next generation of complex disease genetics studies will require integration of multiple types of –omics data sets in a network context. Network medicine may also provide insight into complex disease heterogeneity, serve as the basis for new disease classifications that reflect underlying disease pathogenesis, and guide rational therapeutic and preventive strategies.
PMCID: PMC3545396  PMID: 22935211
14.  The Association of Genome-Wide Significant Spirometric Loci with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Susceptibility 
Two recent metaanalyses of genome-wide association studies conducted by the CHARGE and SpiroMeta consortia identified novel loci yielding evidence of association at or near genome-wide significance (GWS) with FEV1 and FEV1/FVC. We hypothesized that a subset of these markers would also be associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility. Thirty-two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in or near 17 genes in 11 previously identified GWS spirometric genomic regions were tested for association with COPD status in four COPD case-control study samples (NETT/NAS, the Norway case-control study, ECLIPSE, and the first 1,000 subjects in COPDGene; total sample size, 3,456 cases and 1,906 controls). In addition to testing the 32 spirometric GWS SNPs, we tested a dense panel of imputed HapMap2 SNP markers from the 17 genes located near the 32 GWS SNPs and in a set of 21 well studied COPD candidate genes. Of the previously identified GWS spirometric genomic regions, three loci harbored SNPs associated with COPD susceptibility at a 5% false discovery rate: the 4q24 locus including FLJ20184/INTS12/GSTCD/NPNT, the 6p21 locus including AGER and PPT2, and the 5q33 locus including ADAM19. In conclusion, markers previously associated at or near GWS with spirometric measures were tested for association with COPD status in data from four COPD case-control studies, and three loci showed evidence of association with COPD susceptibility at a 5% false discovery rate.
PMCID: PMC3262664  PMID: 21659657
15.  Combining Disease Models to Test for Gene-Environment Interaction in Nuclear Families 
Biometrics  2011;67(4):1260-1270.
It is useful to have robust gene-environment interaction tests that can utilize a variety of family structures in an efficient way. This paper focuses on tests for gene-environment interaction in the presence of main genetic and environmental effects. The objective is to develop powerful tests that can combine trio data with parental genotypes and discordant sibships when parents genotypes are missing. We first make a modest improvement on a method for discordant sibs (discordant on phenotype), but the approach does not allow one to use families when all offspring are affected, e.g. trios. We then make a modest improvement on a Mendelian transmission-based approach that is inefficient when discordant sibs are available, but can be applied to any nuclear family. Finally, we propose a hybrid approach that utilizes the most efficient method for a specific family type, then combines over families. We utilize this hybrid approach to analyze a chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder dataset to test for gene-environment interaction in the Serpine2 gene with smoking. The methods are freely available in the R package fbati.
PMCID: PMC3120904  PMID: 21401569
Gene-Environment Interaction; Family-Based Association Tests; Candidate Gene Analysis; Binary Trait; COPD; Serpine2
16.  ‘Location, Location, Location’: a spatial approach for rare variant analysis and an application to a study on non-syndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(23):3027-3033.
Motivation: For the analysis of rare variants in sequence data, numerous approaches have been suggested. Fixed and flexible threshold approaches collapse the rare variant information of a genomic region into a test statistic with reduced dimensionality. Alternatively, the rare variant information can be combined in statistical frameworks that are based on suitable regression models, machine learning, etc. Although the existing approaches provide powerful tests that can incorporate information on allele frequencies and prior biological knowledge, differences in the spatial clustering of rare variants between cases and controls cannot be incorporated. Based on the assumption that deleterious variants and protective variants cluster or occur in different parts of the genomic region of interest, we propose a testing strategy for rare variants that builds on spatial cluster methodology and that guides the identification of the biological relevant segments of the region. Our approach does not require any assumption about the directions of the genetic effects.
Results: In simulation studies, we assess the power of the clustering approach and compare it with existing methodology. Our simulation results suggest that the clustering approach for rare variants is well powered, even in situations that are ideal for standard methods. The efficiency of our spatial clustering approach is not affected by the presence of rare variants that have opposite effect size directions. An application to a sequencing study for non-syndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (NSCL/P) demonstrates its practical relevance. The proposed testing strategy is applied to a genomic region on chromosome 15q13.3 that was implicated in NSCL/P etiology in a previous genome-wide association study, and its results are compared with standard approaches.
Availability: Source code and documentation for the implementation in R will be provided online. Currently, the R-implementation only supports genotype data. We currently are working on an extension for VCF files.
PMCID: PMC3516147  PMID: 23044548
17.  Genome-wide association study of smoking behaviors in COPD patients 
Thorax  2011;66(10):894-902.
Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for COPD and COPD severity. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified numerous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) and a Dopamine Beta-Hydroxylase (DBH) locus associated with smoking cessation in multiple populations.
To identify SNPs associated with lifetime average and current CPD, age at smoking initiation, and smoking cessation in COPD subjects.
GWAS were conducted in 4 independent cohorts encompassing 3,441 ever-smoking COPD subjects (GOLD stage II or higher). Untyped SNPs were imputed using HapMap (phase II) panel. Results from all cohorts were meta-analyzed.
Several SNPs near the HLA region on chromosome 6p21 and in an intergenic region on chromosome 2q21 showed associations with age at smoking initiation, both with the lowest p=2×10−7. No SNPs were associated with lifetime average CPD, current CPD or smoking cessation with p<10−6. Nominally significant associations with candidate SNPs within alpha-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors 3/5 (CHRNA3/CHRNA5; e.g. p=0.00011 for SNP rs1051730) and Cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6; e.g. p=2.78×10−5 for a nonsynonymous SNP rs1801272) regions were observed for lifetime average CPD, however only CYP2A6 showed evidence of significant association with current CPD. A candidate SNP (rs3025343) in the DBH was significantly (p=0.015) associated with smoking cessation.
We identified two candidate regions associated with age at smoking initiation in COPD subjects. Associations of CHRNA3/CHRNA5 and CYP2A6 loci with CPD and DBH with smoking cessation are also likely of importance in the smoking behaviors of COPD patients.
PMCID: PMC3302576  PMID: 21685187
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Genome Wide Association study (GWAS); smoking behaviors; Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP)
18.  Early-Onset Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Is Associated with Female Sex, Maternal Factors, and African American Race in the COPDGene Study 
Rationale: The characterization of young adults who develop late-onset diseases may augment the detection of novel genes and promote new pathogenic insights.
Methods: We analyzed data from 2,500 individuals of African and European ancestry in the COPDGene Study. Subjects with severe, early-onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (n = 70, age < 55 yr, FEV1 < 50% predicted) were compared with older subjects with COPD (n = 306, age > 64 yr, FEV1 < 50% predicted).
Measurements and Main Results: Subjects with severe, early-onset COPD were predominantly females (66%), P = 0.0004. Proportionally, early-onset COPD was seen in 42% (25 of 59) of African Americans versus 14% (45 of 317) of non-Hispanic whites, P < 0.0001. Other risk factors included current smoking (56 vs. 17%, P < 0.0001) and self-report of asthma (39 vs. 25%, P = 0.008). Maternal smoking (70 vs. 44%, P = 0.0001) and maternal COPD (23 vs. 12%, P = 0.03) were reported more commonly in subjects with early-onset COPD. Multivariable regression analysis found association with African American race, odds ratio (OR), 7.5 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.3–24; P = 0.0007); maternal COPD, OR, 4.7 (95% CI, 1.3–17; P = 0.02); female sex, OR, 3.1 (95% CI, 1.1–8.7; P = 0.03); and each pack-year of smoking, OR, 0.98 (95% CI, 0.96–1.0; P = 0.03).
Conclusions: These observations support the hypothesis that severe, early-onset COPD is prevalent in females and is influenced by maternal factors. Future genetic studies should evaluate (1) gene-by-sex interactions to address sex-specific genetic contributions and (2) gene-by-race interactions.
PMCID: PMC3175544  PMID: 21562134
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; female; African Americans
19.  Clinical and Radiographic Correlates of Hypoxemia and Oxygen Therapy in the COPDGene Study 
Respiratory medicine  2011;105(8):1211-1221.
Severe hypoxemia is a major complication of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Long term oxygen therapy is beneficial in hypoxemic COPD patients. However, the clinical and radiographic predictors of hypoxemia and the use of oxygen therapy are not well described. This study aimed to find the correlates of resting hypoxemia and the pattern of oxygen use in moderate to severe COPD patients.
Subjects with GOLD stage II or higher COPD from the first 2500 COPDGene subjects were included in this analysis. All subjects were current or ex-smokers between ages 45 and 80. Severe resting hypoxemia was defined as room air oxygen saturation (SpO2) ≤ 88%. Use of supplemental oxygen therapy was determined by questionnaire.
Eighty-two of 1060 COPD subjects (7.7%) had severe resting hypoxemia. Twenty-one of the 82 (25.6%) were not using continuous supplemental oxygen. Female sex, higher BMI, lower FEV1, and enrollment in Denver were independent risk factors for hypoxemia; emphysema severity on quantitative chest CT scan did not predict hypoxemia. 132 of 971(13.6%) subjects without severe resting hypoxemia were using continuous supplemental oxygen. In non-hypoxemic oxygen users, Denver recruitment, higher BMI, lower FEV1, and more severe dyspnea were associated with the use of continuous oxygen.
A large number of COPD patients without severe hypoxemia were using supplemental oxygen therapy and the pattern of oxygen use was affected by factors other than resting SpO2 and emphysema severity. Longitudinal data will be required to reveal the effects of oxygen therapy in this subgroup.
PMCID: PMC3116986  PMID: 21396809
Hypoxemia; long-term oxygen therapy; COPD; emphysema
20.  Pulmonary Function and Emphysema in Williams-Beuren Syndrome 
Williams-Beuren Syndrome (WBS) is caused by a submicroscopic deletion on chromosome 7q11.23 that encompasses the entire elastin (ELN) gene. Elastin, a key component of elastic fibers within the lung, is progressively destroyed in emphysema. Defects in the elastin gene have been associated with increased susceptibility towards developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema in both humans and mice. We postulate that hemizygosity at the elastin gene locus may increase susceptibility towards the development of COPD and emphysema in subjects with WBS. We describe an adult subject with WBS who was a lifelong non-smoker and was found to have moderate emphysema. We also examined the pulmonary function of a separate cohort of adolescents and young adults with WBS. Although no significant spirometric abnormalities were identified, a significant proportion of subjects reported respiratory symptoms. Thus while significant obstructive disease does not appear to be common in relatively young adults with WBS, subclinical emphysema and lung disease may exist which possibly could worsen with advancing age. Further investigation may elucidate the pathogenesis of non-smoking related emphysema.
PMCID: PMC3397670  PMID: 20186780
Elastin; emphysema; pulmonary function tests; Williams Syndrome
21.  Clinical and Radiographic Predictors of GOLD–Unclassified Smokers in the COPDGene Study 
Rationale: A significant proportion of smokers have lung function impairment characterized by a reduced FEV1 with a preserved FEV1/FVC ratio. These smokers are a poorly characterized group due to their systematic exclusion from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) studies.
Objectives: To characterize the clinical, functional, and radiographic features of Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD)-Unclassified (FEV1/FVC ≥ 0.7 and FEV1 < 80% predicted) and lower limits of normal (LLN)-unclassified (FEV1/FVC ≥ LLN and FEV1 < LLN) subjects compared to smokers with normal lung function and subjects with COPD.
Methods: Data from the first 2,500 subjects enrolled in the COPDGene study were analyzed. All subjects had 10 or more pack-years of smoking and were between the ages of 45 and 80 years. Multivariate regression models were constructed to determine the clinical and radiological variables associated with GOLD-Unclassified (GOLD-U) and LLN-Unclassified status. Separate multivariate regressions were performed in the subgroups of subjects with complete radiologic measurement variables available.
Measurements and Main Results: GOLD-U smokers account for 9% of smokers in COPDGene and have increased body mass index (BMI), a disproportionately reduced total lung capacity, and a higher proportion of nonwhite subjects and subjects with diabetes. GOLD-U subjects exhibit increased airway wall thickness compared to smoking control subjects and decreased gas trapping and bronchodilator responsiveness compared to subjects with COPD. When LLN criteria were used to define the “unclassified” group, African American subjects were no longer overrepresented. Both GOLD-U and LLN-Unclassified subjects demonstrated a wide range of lung function impairment, BMI, and percentage of total lung emphysema.
Conclusions: Subjects with reduced FEV1 and a preserved FEV1/FVC ratio are a heterogeneous group with significant symptoms and functional limitation who likely have a variety of underlying etiologies beyond increased BMI.
Clinical trial registered with (NCT000608764).
PMCID: PMC3172890  PMID: 21493737
lung diseases, classification; lung diseases, diagnosis; lung diseases, epidemiology
22.  SOX5 Is a Candidate Gene for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Susceptibility and Is Necessary for Lung Development 
Rationale: Chromosome 12p has been linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study (BEOCOPD), but a susceptibility gene in that region has not been identified.
Objectives: We used high-density single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mapping to implicate a COPD susceptibility gene and an animal model to determine the potential role of SOX5 in lung development and COPD.
Methods: On chromosome 12p, we genotyped 1,387 SNPs in 386 COPD cases from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial and 424 control smokers from the Normative Aging Study. SNPs with significant associations were then tested in the BEOCOPD study and the International COPD Genetics Network. Based on the human results, we assessed histology and gene expression in the lungs of Sox5−/− mice.
Measurements and Main Results: In the case-control analysis, 27 SNPs were significant at P ≤ 0.01. The most significant SNP in the BEOCOPD replication was rs11046966 (National Emphysema Treatment Trial–Normative Aging Study P = 6.0 × 10−4, BEOCOPD P = 1.5 × 10−5, combined P = 1.7 × 10−7), located 3′ to the gene SOX5. Association with rs11046966 was not replicated in the International COPD Genetics Network. Sox5−/− mice showed abnormal lung development, with a delay in maturation before the saccular stage, as early as E16.5. Lung pathology in Sox5−/− lungs was associated with a decrease in fibronectin expression, an extracellular matrix component critical for branching morphogenesis.
Conclusions: Genetic variation in the transcription factor SOX5 is associated with COPD susceptibility. A mouse model suggests that the effect may be due, in part, to its effects on lung development and/or repair processes.
PMCID: PMC3137139  PMID: 21330457
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; knockout mice; lung development; single nucleotide polymorphism
23.  Serum PARC/CCL-18 Concentrations and Health Outcomes in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: There are no accepted blood-based biomarkers in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Pulmonary and activation-regulated chemokine (PARC/CCL-18) is a lung-predominant inflammatory protein that is found in serum.
Objectives: To determine whether PARC/CCL-18 levels are elevated and modifiable in COPD and to determine their relationship to clinical end points of hospitalization and mortality.
Methods: PARC/CCL-18 was measured in serum samples from individuals who participated in the ECLIPSE (Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints) and LHS (Lung Health Study) studies and a prednisolone intervention study.
Measurements and Main Results: Serum PARC/CCL-18 levels were higher in subjects with COPD than in smokers or lifetime nonsmokers without COPD (105 vs. 81 vs. 80 ng/ml, respectively; P < 0.0001). Elevated PARC/CCL-18 levels were associated with increased risk of cardiovascular hospitalization or mortality in the LHS cohort and with total mortality in the ECLIPSE cohort.
Conclusions: Serum PARC/CCL-18 levels are elevated in COPD and track clinical outcomes. PARC/CCL-18, a lung-predominant chemokine, could be a useful blood biomarker in COPD.
Clinical trial registered with (NCT 00292552).
PMCID: PMC3114051  PMID: 21216880
biomarker; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; PARC/CCL-18; chemokine
24.  Clinical Predictors of Frequent Exacerbations in Subjects with Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
Respiratory medicine  2010;105(4):588-594.
Acute exacerbations are a significant source of morbidity and mortality associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Among patients with COPD, some patients suffer an inordinate number of exacerbations while others remain relatively protected. We undertook a study to determine the clinical factors associated with "frequent exacerbator" status within a population of subjects with severe COPD.
Case-control cohort recruited from two Boston-area practices. All subjects had GOLD stage 3 or 4 (FEV1 ≤50% predicted) COPD. "Frequent exacerbators" (n=192) had an average of ≥2 moderate-to-severe exacerbations per year while "non-exacerbators" (n=153) had no exacerbations in the preceding 12 months. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to determine the significant clinical predictors of "frequent exacerbator" status.
Physician-diagnosed asthma was a significant predictor of frequent exacerbations. Within a subset of our cohort, the modified Medical Research Council dyspnea score and FEF25–75 % predicted were also significant clinical predictors of frequent exacerbator status (p<0.05). Differences in exacerbation frequency were not found to be due to increased current tobacco use or decreased rates of maintenance medication use.
Within our severe COPD cohort, a history of physician-diagnosed asthma was found to be a significant clinical predictor of frequent exacerbations. Although traditional risk factors such as decreased FEV1% predicted were not significantly associated with frequent exacerbator status, lower mid-expiratory flow rates, as assessed by FEF 25–75 % predicted, were significantly associated with frequent exacerbations in a subset of our cohort.
PMCID: PMC3046312  PMID: 21145719
25.  Polymorphisms in Surfactant Protein–D Are Associated with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by alveolar destruction and abnormal inflammatory responses to noxious stimuli. Surfactant protein–D (SFTPD) is immunomodulatory and essential to host defense. We hypothesized that polymorphisms in SFTPD could influence the susceptibility to COPD. We genotyped six single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in surfactant protein D in 389 patients with COPD in the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) and 472 smoking control subjects from the Normative Aging Study (NAS). Case-control association analysis was performed using Cochran–Armitage trend tests and multivariate logistic regression. The replication of significant associations was attempted in the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE) Study, and the Bergen Cohort. We also correlated SFTPD genotypes with serum concentrations of surfactant protein–D (SP-D) in the ECLIPSE Study. In the NETT–NAS case-control analysis, four SFTPD SNPs were associated with susceptibility to COPD: rs2245121 (P = 0.01), rs911887 (P = 0.006), rs6413520 (P = 0.004), and rs721917 (P = 0.006). In the family-based analysis of the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, rs911887 was associated with prebronchodilator and postbronchodilator FEV1 (P = 0.003 and P = 0.02, respectively). An intronic SNP in SFTPD, rs7078012, was associated with COPD in the ECLIPSE Study and the Bergen Cohort. Multiple SFTPD SNPs were associated with serum SP-D concentrations in the ECLIPSE Study. We demonstrated an association of polymorphisms in SFTPD with COPD in multiple populations. We demonstrated a correlation between SFTPD SNPs and SP-D protein concentrations. The SNPs associated with COPD and SP-D concentrations differed, suggesting distinct genetic influences on susceptibility to COPD and SP-D concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3095932  PMID: 20448057
COPD; surfactant protein–D; single-nucleotide polymorphisms; genetics

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