The relevance of lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] concentrations and low-molecular-weight (LMW) apo(a) phenotypes in peripheral arterial disease (PAD) has only been investigated by few studies. Therefore, we analysed this association in three independent cohorts and performed a Mendelian Randomization approach using instrumental variable regression.
Methods and results
Lp(a) concentrations, apo(a) phenotypes, and one SNP in the LPA gene (rs10455872) were measured in the CAVASIC study, including 241 male patients with intermittent claudication and 246 age- and diabetes-matched controls as well as in the two population-based studies KORA F3 (n = 3184) and KORA F4 (n = 3080). In KORA F3/F4, 109/80 persons suffered from intermittent claudication, 200/144 from PAD, and 128/103 showed an ankle–brachial index (ABI) <0.9. In CAVASIC, adjusted logistic regression analyses revealed significant associations between an increase of log-Lp(a) per one standard deviation (SD) (OR = 1.28, P = 0.02) as well as LMW apo(a) phenotypes and symptomatic PAD (OR = 1.65, P = 0.03). Linear regression models with continuous ABI showed a significant association in the combined analyses of KORA F3/F4: an increase in log-Lp(a) per one SD (β = −0.006, P = 0.005) and the presence of LMW apo(a) phenotypes (β = −0.011, P = 0.02) or the minor allele of rs10455872 (ß = −0.016, P = 0.03) were associated with a decrease in ABI in the fully adjusted linear and instrumental variable regression models.
Analyses in three independent populations showed significant associations of Lp(a) concentrations, LMW apo(a) phenotypes, and rs10455872 with PAD. This points to a causal relationship between Lp(a) and PAD since the genetically determined apo(a) phenotypes and SNP alleles are indeed associated with PAD.
Lp(a) concentrations; Apolipoprotein(a) phenotypes; Peripheral arterial disease; Ankle-brachial index; Mendelian randomization; Causality
Both genome-wide association studies and candidate gene studies have reported that the major determinant of plasma levels of the Lipoprotein (a) [Lp(a)] reside within the LPA locus on chromosome 6. We have used data from the Human CVD bead chip to explore the contribution of other candidate genes determining Lp(a) levels.
48,032 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the Illumina Human CVD bead chip were genotyped in 5,059 participants of the Whitehall II study (WHII) of randomly ascertained healthy men and women. SNPs showing association with Lp(a) levels of p< 10−4 outside the LPA locus were selected for replication in a total of an additional 9,463 participants of five European based studies (EAS, EPIC-Norfolk, NPHSII, PROCARDIS, and SAPHIR)
In Whitehall II, apart from the LPA locus (where p values for several SNPs were < 10−30) there was significant association at four loci GALNT2, FABP1, PPARGC1A and TNFRSFF11A. However, a meta-analysis of the six studies did not confirm any of these findings.
Results from this meta analysis of 14,522 participants revealed no candidate genes from the Human CVD bead chip outside the LPA locus to have an effect on Lp(a) levels. Further studies with genome-wide and denser SNP coverage are required to confirm or refute this finding.
Lipoprotein(a); LPA; Illumina Human CVD bead chip; genetic association
In conducting genome-wide association studies (GWAS), analytical approaches leveraging biological information may further understanding of the pathophysiology of clinical traits. To discover novel associations with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a measure of kidney function, we developed a strategy for integrating prior biological knowledge into the existing GWAS data for eGFR from the CKDGen Consortium. Our strategy focuses on single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) in genes that are connected by functional evidence, determined by literature mining and gene ontology (GO) hierarchies, to genes near previously validated eGFR associations. It then requires association thresholds consistent with multiple testing, and finally evaluates novel candidates by independent replication. Among the samples of European ancestry, we identified a genome-wide significant SNP in FBXL20 (P = 5.6 × 10−9) in meta-analysis of all available data, and additional SNPs at the INHBC, LRP2, PLEKHA1, SLC3A2 and SLC7A6 genes meeting multiple-testing corrected significance for replication and overall P-values of 4.5 × 10−4–2.2 × 10−7. Neither the novel PLEKHA1 nor FBXL20 associations, both further supported by association with eGFR among African Americans and with transcript abundance, would have been implicated by eGFR candidate gene approaches. LRP2, encoding the megalin receptor, was identified through connection with the previously known eGFR gene DAB2 and extends understanding of the megalin system in kidney function. These findings highlight integration of existing genome-wide association data with independent biological knowledge to uncover novel candidate eGFR associations, including candidates lacking known connections to kidney-specific pathways. The strategy may also be applicable to other clinical phenotypes, although more testing will be needed to assess its potential for discovery in general.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many risk loci for complex diseases, but effect sizes are typically small and information on the underlying biological processes is often lacking. Associations with metabolic traits as functional intermediates can overcome these problems and potentially inform individualized therapy. Here we report a comprehensive analysis of genotype-dependent metabolic phenotypes using a GWAS with non-targeted metabolomics. We identified 37 genetic loci associated with blood metabolite concentrations, of which 25 exhibit effect sizes that are unusually high for GWAS and account for 10-60% of metabolite levels per allele copy. Our associations provide new functional insights for many disease-related associations that have been reported in previous studies, including cardiovascular and kidney disorders, type 2 diabetes, cancer, gout, venous thromboembolism, and Crohn’s disease. Taken together our study advances our knowledge of the genetic basis of metabolic individuality in humans and generates many new hypotheses for biomedical and pharmaceutical research.
Several studies have investigated associations between the -174G>C polymorphism (rs1800795) of the IL6-gene, but presented inconsistent results.
This joint analysis aimed to clarify whether IL6 -174G>C was associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) related quantitative phenotypes.
Individual-level data from all studies of the IL6-T2DM consortium on Caucasian subjects with available BMI were collected. As study-specific estimates did not show heterogeneity (P>0.1), they were combined by using the inverse-variance fixed-effect model.
The main analysis included 9440, 7398, 24,117, or 5659 nondiabetic and manifest T2DM subjects for fasting glucose, 2-hour glucose, BMI or circulating interleukin-6 levels, respectively. IL6 -174 C-allele carriers had significantly lower fasting glucose (−0.091mmol/L, P=0.014). There was no evidence for association between IL6 -174G>C and BMI or interleukin-6. In an additional analysis of 641 subjects known to develop T2DM later on, the IL6 -174 CC-genotype was associated with higher baseline interleukin-6 (+0.75pg/mL, P=0.004), which was consistent with higher interleukin-6 in the 966 manifest T2DM subjects (+0.50pg/mL, P=0.044).
Our data suggest association between IL6 -174G>C and quantitative glucose, and exploratory analysis indicated modulated interleukin-6 levels in pre-diabetic subjects, being in-line with this SNP’s previously reported T2DM association and a role of circulating interleukin-6 as intermediate phenotype.
blood glucose; body mass index; diabetes mellitus; type 2; epidemiology; molecular; genes; inflammation mediators; interleukin-6; intermediate phenotype; meta-analysis; polymorphism; single nucleotide
Comparative proteomics has recently identified afamin, the newest member of the albumin gene family, as a potential biomarker for ovarian cancer. The aim of this study was the analytical and clinical evaluation of a sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the determination of afamin in human plasma.
We evaluated precision, linearity, and detection limit of the assay, analyte stability and biological variability, determined reference values and quantified afamin concentrations in various diseases.
Within-run and total coefficients of variation were < 10%. The method was linear across the tested measurement range. Detection limit was 7 mg/L for the assay. The analyte was stable for 24 h at room temperature, for 48 h at 4 °C, and for at least one year at − 20 °C and − 80 °C. The reference change value for healthy individuals was 24%. Age- and sex-independent reference values in healthy blood donors were 45–99 mg/L (median 68 mg/L). In the clinical assay evaluation afamin plasma concentrations were modestly decreased in patients with heart failure. Patients with pneumonia or sepsis exhibited markedly decreased afamin plasma concentrations. However, patients with chronic renal disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease showed no difference in afamin plasma concentrations as compared to healthy individuals. Correlation analyses revealed an inverse association between afamin and inflammatory biomarkers.
The afamin assay meets quality specifications for laboratory medicine. The results of the clinical assay evaluation revealed novel insights with respect to afamin as a potential negative acute phase protein and should encourage further studies.
•The aim of this study was the analytical and clinical evaluation of a human afamin ELISA.•The afamin assay meets the needs of quality specifications of laboratory medicine.•Afamin exerts a good in vitro stability which is important of preanalytical issues.•The RCV was 24% and reference values in healthy blood donors were 45–99 mg/L.•We revealed novel insights with respect to afamin as a potential negative acute phase protein.
ELISA, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; CRP, C-reactive protein; PCT, procalcitonin; IL-6, interleukin-6; BNP, B-type natriuretic peptide; eGFR, estimated glomerular filtration rate; PBS, phosphate-buffered-saline; CLSI, Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute; RT, room temperature; CV, coefficient of variation; RCV, reference change value; HF, heart failure; COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Tumor marker; Diagnosis; C-reactive protein; Interleukin-6; Prognosis; Vitamin E
High serum uric acid levels are associated with gout, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Three genes (SLC2A9, ABCG2, and SLC17A3) were reported to be involved in the regulation of uric acid levels.
Design and Methods: SNPs rs2231142 (ABCG2) and rs1165205 (SLC17A3) were genotyped in three cohorts (n = 4492) and combined with previously genotyped SNPs within SLC2A9 (rs6855911, rs7442295, rs6449213, rs12510549).
Each copy of the minor allele decreased uric acid levels by 0.30–0.38 mg/dL for SLC2A9 (p values: 10−20–10−36) and increased levels by 0.34 mg/dL for ABCG2 (p = 1.1×10−16). SLC17A3 influenced uric acid levels only modestly. Together the SNPs showed graded associations with uric acid levels of 0.111 mg/dL per risk allele (p = 3.8×10−42). In addition, we observed a sex-specific interaction of age with the association of SLC2A9 SNPs with uric acid levels, where increasing age strengthened the association of SNPs in women and decreased the association in men.
Genetic variants within SLC2A9, ABCG2 and SLC17A3 show highly significant associations with uric acid levels, and for SNPs within SLC2A9 this association is strongly modified by age and sex.
Epidemiology; Genetics; Uric acid; Copy number variation; Sex-specific effect; Genetic risk score
Serum metabolite concentrations provide a direct readout of biological processes in the human body, and are associated with disorders such as cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Here we present a genome-wide association study with 163 metabolic traits using 1809 participants from the KORA population, followed up in the TwinsUK cohort with 422 participants. In eight out of nine replicated loci (FADS1, ELOVL2, ACADS, ACADM, ACADL, SPTLC3, ETFDH, SLC16A9) the genetic variant is located in or near enzyme or solute carrier coding genes, where the associating metabolic traits match the proteins’ function. Many of these loci are located in rate limiting steps of important enzymatic reactions. Use of metabolite concentration ratios as proxies for enzymatic reaction rates reduces the variance and yields robust statistical associations with p-values between 3×10−24 and 6.5×10−179. These loci explained 5.6% to 36.3% of the observed variance. For several loci, associations with clinically relevant parameters have previously been reported.
Two recent genome-wide association studies identified the liver-expressed transmembrane protein adiponutrin to be associated with liver-related phenotypes such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and liver function enzymes. These associations were not uniformly reported for various ethnicities. The aim of this study was to investigate a common nonsynonymous variant within adiponutrin (rs738409, exon 3) with parameters of liver function in three independent West-Eurasian study populations including a total of 4290 participants.
The study was performed in 1) the population-based Bruneck Study (n=783), 2) the SAPHIR Study from Austria based on a healthy working population (n=1705), and the Utah Obesity Case-Control Study including a group of 1019 severely obese individuals (average BMI 46.0 kg/m2) and 783 controls from the same geographical region of Utah. Liver enzymes measured were alanine-aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate-aminotransferase (AST) and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT).
Results and Discussion
We found a strong recessive association of this polymorphism with age- and gender-adjusted ALT and AST levels: being homozygous for the minor allele resulted in a highly significant increase of ALT levels of 3.53 U/L (p=1.86×10−9) and of AST levels of 2.07 U/L (p=9.58×10−6), respectively. The associations were consistently found in all three study populations. In conclusion, the highly significant associations of this transversion polymorphism within the adiponutrin gene with increased ALT and AST levels support a role for adiponutrin as a susceptibility gene for hepatic dysfunction.
PNPLA3; rs738409; genetic association; hepatic dysfunction
Several infrequent genetic polymorphisms in the SERPINA1 gene are known to substantially reduce concentration of alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood. Since low AAT serum levels fail to protect pulmonary tissue from enzymatic degradation, these polymorphisms also increase the risk for early onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The role of more common SERPINA1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in respiratory health remains poorly understood.
We present here an agnostic investigation of genetic determinants of circulating AAT levels in a general population sample by performing a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1392 individuals of the SAPALDIA cohort.
Five common SNPs, defined by showing minor allele frequencies (MAFs) >5%, reached genome-wide significance, all located in the SERPINA gene cluster at 14q32.13. The top-ranking genotyped SNP rs4905179 was associated with an estimated effect of β = −0.068 g/L per minor allele (P = 1.20*10−12). But denser SERPINA1 locus genotyping in 5569 participants with subsequent stepwise conditional analysis, as well as exon-sequencing in a subsample (N = 410), suggested that AAT serum level is causally determined at this locus by rare (MAF<1%) and low-frequent (MAF 1–5%) variants only, in particular by the well-documented protein inhibitor S and Z (PI S, PI Z) variants. Replication of the association of rs4905179 with AAT serum levels in the Copenhagen City Heart Study (N = 8273) was successful (P<0.0001), as was the replication of its synthetic nature (the effect disappeared after adjusting for PI S and Z, P = 0.57). Extending the analysis to lung function revealed a more complex situation. Only in individuals with severely compromised pulmonary health (N = 397), associations of common SNPs at this locus with lung function were driven by rarer PI S or Z variants. Overall, our meta-analysis of lung function in ever-smokers does not support a functional role of common SNPs in the SERPINA gene cluster in the general population.
Low levels of alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood are a well-established risk factor for accelerated loss in lung function and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. While a few infrequent genetic polymorphisms are known to influence the serum levels of this enzyme, the role of common genetic variants has not been examined so far. The present genome-wide scan for associated variants in approximately 1400 Swiss inhabitants revealed a chromosomal locus containing the functionally established variants of AAT deficiency and variants previously associated with lung function and emphysema. We used dense genotyping of this genetic region in more than 5500 individuals and subsequent conditional analyses to unravel which of these associated variants contribute independently to the phenotype's variability. All associations of common variants could be attributed to the rarer functionally established variants, a result which was then replicated in an independent population-based Danish cohort. Hence, this locus represents a textbook example of how a large part of a trait's heritability can be hidden in infrequent genetic polymorphisms. The attempt to transfer these results to lung function furthermore suggests that effects of common variants in this genetic region in ever-smokers may also be explained by rarer variants, but only in individuals with hampered pulmonary health.
Homoarginine is an amino acid derivative mainly synthesized in the kidney. It is suggested to increase nitric oxide availability, enhance endothelial function and to protect against cardiovascular diseases. We aimed to investigate the relation between homoarginine, kidney function and progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
We measured plasma homoarginine concentrations in baseline samples of the Mild to Moderate Kidney Disease (MMKD) Study, a prospective cohort study of 227 patients with CKD in Europe. Homoarginine concentrations were available in 182 of the baseline samples and in 139 of the prospectively-followed patients. We correlated homoarginine concentrations to parameters of kidney function. The association between homoarginine and progression of CKD was assessed during a follow-up of up to seven years (median 4.45 years, interquartile range 2.54–5.19) using Cox regression analysis. Progression of CKD was defined as doubling of baseline serum creatinine and/or end-stage renal disease.
Study participants were at baseline on average 47±13 years old and 65% were male. Mean±standard deviation of homoarginine concentrations were 2.5±1.1 µmol/L and concentrations were incrementally lower at lower levels of GFR with mean concentrations of 2.90±1.02 µmol/L (GFR>90 ml/min), 2.64±1.06 µmol/L (GFR 60–90 ml/min), 2.52±1.24 µmol/L (GFR 30–60 ml/min) and 2.05±0.78 µmol/L (GFR<30 ml/min), respectively (p = 0.002). The age- and sex-adjusted risk to reach the renal endpoint was significantly higher by 62% with each decrease by one standard deviation (1.1 µmol/L) of homoarginine (HR 1.62, 95% CI 1.16–2.27, p = 0.005). This association was independent of proteinuria (HR 1.56, 95% CI 1.11–2.20, p = 0.01), and was slightly attenuated when adjusting for GFR (HR 1.40 (95% CI 0.98–1.98, p = 0.06).
Homoarginine concentrations are directly correlated with kidney function and are significantly associated with the progression of CKD. Low homoarginine concentrations might be an early indicator of kidney failure and a potential target for the prevention of disease progression which needs further investigations.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified determinants of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and lung function level, however none addressed decline in lung function.
We conducted the first GWAS on age-related decline in forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) and in its ratio to forced vital capacity (FVC) stratified a priori by asthma status.
Discovery cohorts included adults of European ancestry (1441 asthmatics, 2677 non-asthmatics; Epidemiological Study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA); Swiss Cohort Study on Air Pollution And Lung And Heart Disease In Adults (SAPALDIA); European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS)). The associations of FEV1 and FEV1/FVC decline with 2.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were estimated. Thirty loci were followed-up by in silico replication (1160 asthmatics, 10858 non-asthmatics: Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC); Framingham Heart Study (FHS); British 1958 Birth Cohort (B58C); Dutch asthma study).
Main signals identified differed between asthmatics and non-asthmatics. None of the SNPs reached genome-wide significance. The association between the height related gene DLEU7 and FEV1 decline suggested for non-asthmatics in the discovery phase was replicated (discovery P=4.8×10−6; replication P=0.03) and additional sensitivity analyses point to a relation to growth. The top ranking signal, TUSC3, associated with FEV1/FVC decline in asthmatics (P=5.3×10−8) did not replicate. SNPs previously associated with cross-sectional lung function were not prominently associated with decline.
Genetic heterogeneity of lung function may be extensive. Our results suggest that genetic determinants of longitudinal and cross-sectional lung function differ and vary by asthma status.
Asthma; cohort studies; genome-wide association; lung function decline; heterogeneity
Candidate gene association studies for peripheral artery disease (PAD), including subclinical disease assessed with the ankle-brachial index (ABI), have been limited by the modest number of genes examined. We conducted a two stage meta-analysis of ~50,000 SNPs across ~2100 candidate genes to identify genetic variants for ABI.
Methods and results
We studied subjects of European ancestry from 8 studies (n = 21,547, 55% women, mean age 44–73 years) and African American ancestry from 5 studies (n = 7267, 60% women, mean age 41–73 years) involved in the candidate gene association resource (CARe) consortium. In each ethnic group, additive genetic models were used (with each additional copy of the minor allele corresponding to the given beta) to test each SNP for association with continuous ABI (excluding ABI > 1.40) and PAD (defined as ABI < 0.90) using linear or logistic regression with adjustment for known PAD risk factors and population stratification. We then conducted a fixed-effects inverse-variance weighted meta-analyses considering a p < 2 × 10−6 to denote statistical significance.
In the European ancestry discovery meta-analyses, rs2171209 in SYTL3 (β = −0.007, p = 6.02 × 10−7) and rs290481 in TCF7L2 (β = −0.008, p = 7.01 × 10−7) were significantly associated with ABI. None of the SNP associations for PAD were significant, though a SNP in CYP2B6 (p = 4.99 × 10−5) was among the strongest associations. These 3 genes are linked to key PAD risk factors (lipoprotein(a), type 2 diabetes, and smoking behavior, respectively). We sought replication in 6 population-based and 3 clinical samples (n = 15,440) for rs290481 and rs2171209. However, in the replication stage (rs2171209, p = 0.75; rs290481, p = 0.19) and in the combined discovery and replication analysis the SNP–ABI associations were no longer significant (rs2171209, p = 1.14 × 10−3; rs290481, p = 8.88 × 10−5). In African Americans, none of the SNP associations for ABI or PAD achieved an experiment-wide level of significance.
Genetic determinants of ABI and PAD remain elusive. Follow-up of these preliminary findings may uncover important biology given the known gene-risk factor associations. New and more powerful approaches to PAD gene discovery are warranted.
Ankle brachial index; Peripheral artery disease; Genetics; Candidate gene array; Meta-analysis; Ethnicity
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) play a prominent role in modern genetics. Current genotyping technologies such as Sequenom iPLEX, ABI TaqMan and KBioscience KASPar made the genotyping of huge SNP sets in large populations straightforward and allow the generation of hundreds of thousands of genotypes even in medium sized labs. While data generation is straightforward, the subsequent data conversion, storage and quality control steps are time-consuming, error-prone and require extensive bioinformatic support. In order to ease this tedious process, we developed SNPflow. SNPflow is a lightweight, intuitive and easily deployable application, which processes genotype data from Sequenom MassARRAY (iPLEX) and ABI 7900HT (TaqMan, KASPar) systems and is extendible to other genotyping methods as well. SNPflow automatically converts the raw output files to ready-to-use genotype lists, calculates all standard quality control values such as call rate, expected and real amount of replicates, minor allele frequency, absolute number of discordant replicates, discordance rate and the p-value of the HWE test, checks the plausibility of the observed genotype frequencies by comparing them to HapMap/1000-Genomes, provides a module for the processing of SNPs, which allow sex determination for DNA quality control purposes and, finally, stores all data in a relational database. SNPflow runs on all common operating systems and comes as both stand-alone version and multi-user version for laboratory-wide use. The software, a user manual, screenshots and a screencast illustrating the main features are available at http://genepi-snpflow.i-med.ac.at.
Genetic determinants of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) remain largely unknown. To identify genetic variants associated with the ankle-brachial index (ABI), a noninvasive measure of PAD, we conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association study data from 21 population-based cohorts.
Methods and Results
Continuous ABI and PAD (ABI≤0.9) phenotypes adjusted for age and sex were examined. Each study conducted genotyping and imputed data to the ~2.5 million SNPs in HapMap. Linear and logistic regression models were used to test each SNP for association with ABI and PAD using additive genetic models. Study-specific data were combined using fixed-effects inverse variance weighted meta-analyses. There were a total of 41,692 participants of European ancestry (~60% women, mean ABI 1.02 to 1.19), including 3,409 participants with PAD and with GWAS data available. In the discovery meta-analysis, rs10757269 on chromosome 9 near CDKN2B had the strongest association with ABI (β= −0.006, p=2.46x10−8). We sought replication of the 6 strongest SNP associations in 5 population-based studies and 3 clinical samples (n=16,717). The association for rs10757269 strengthened in the combined discovery and replication analysis (p=2.65x10−9). No other SNP associations for ABI or PAD achieved genome-wide significance. However, two previously reported candidate genes for PAD and one SNP associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) were associated with ABI : DAB21P (rs13290547, p=3.6x10−5); CYBA (rs3794624, p=6.3x10−5); and rs1122608 (LDLR, p=0.0026).
GWAS in more than 40,000 individuals identified one genome-wide significant association on chromosome 9p21 with ABI. Two candidate genes for PAD and 1 SNP for CAD are associated with ABI.
cohort study; genetic association; genome-wide association study; meta-analysis; peripheral vascular disease
The late endosomal LAMTOR complex serves as a convergence point for both the RAF/MEK/ERK and the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathways. Interestingly, both of these signalling cascades play a significant role in the aetiology of breast cancer. Our aim was to address the possible role of genetic polymorphisms in LAMTOR2 and LAMTOR3 as genetic risk factors for breast cancer.
We sequenced the exons and exon–intron boundaries of LAMTOR2 (p14) and LAMTOR3 (MP1) in 50 prospectively collected pairs of cancerous tissue and blood samples from breast cancer patients and compared their genetic variability. We found one single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in LAMTOR2 (rs7541) and two SNPs in LAMTOR3 (rs2298735 and rs148972953) in both tumour and blood samples, but no somatic mutations in cancerous tissues. In addition, we genotyped all three SNPs in 296 samples from the Risk Prediction of Breast Cancer Metastasis Study and found evidence of a genetic association between rs148972953 and oestrogen (ER) and progesterone receptor negative status (PR) (ER: OR = 3.60 (1.15–11.28); PR: OR = 4.27 (1.43–12.72)). However, when we additionally genotyped rs148972953 in the MARIE study including 2,715 breast cancer cases and 5,216 controls, we observed neither a difference in genotype frequencies between patients and controls nor was the SNP associated with ER or PR. Finally, all three SNPs were equally frequent in breast cancer samples and female participants (n = 640) of the population-based SAPHIR Study.
The identified polymorphisms in LAMTOR2 and LAMTOR3 do not seem to play a relevant role in breast cancer. Our work does not exclude a role of other not yet identified SNPs or that the here annotated polymorphism may in fact play a relevant role in other diseases. Our results underscore the importance of replication in association studies.
Neuro-immune alterations in the peripheral and central nervous system play a role in the pathophysiology of chronic pain, and non-coding RNAs – and microRNAs (miRNAs) in particular – regulate both immune and neuronal processes. Specifically, miRNAs control macromolecular complexes in neurons, glia and immune cells and regulate signals used for neuro-immune communication in the pain pathway. Therefore, miRNAs may be hypothesized as critically important master switches modulating chronic pain. In particular, understanding the concerted function of miRNA in the regulation of nociception and endogenous analgesia and defining the importance of miRNAs in the circuitries and cognitive, emotional and behavioral components involved in pain is expected to shed new light on the enigmatic pathophysiology of neuropathic pain, migraine and complex regional pain syndrome. Specific miRNAs may evolve as new druggable molecular targets for pain prevention and relief. Furthermore, predisposing miRNA expression patterns and inter-individual variations and polymorphisms in miRNAs and/or their binding sites may serve as biomarkers for pain and help to predict individual risks for certain types of pain and responsiveness to analgesic drugs. miRNA-based diagnostics are expected to develop into hands-on tools that allow better patient stratification, improved mechanism-based treatment, and targeted prevention strategies for high risk individuals.
chronic pain; biomarker; polymorphism; miRNA-based diagnostics; miRNA expression patterns; miRNA polymorphisms; antagomir; miRNA-based analgesic
Adiponectin serum concentrations are an important biomarker in cardiovascular epidemiology with heritability etimates of 30–70%. However, known genetic variants in the adiponectin gene locus (ADIPOQ) account for only 2%–8% of its variance. As transcription factors are thought to play an under-acknowledged role in carrying functional variants, we hypothesized that genetic polymorphisms in genes coding for the main transcription factors for the ADIPOQ promoter influence adiponectin levels. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at these genes were selected based on the haplotype block structure and previously published evidence to be associated with adiponectin levels. We performed association analyses of the 24 selected SNPs at forkhead box O1 (FOXO1), sterol-regulatory-element-binding transcription factor 1 (SREBF1), sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG) and transcription factor activating enhancer binding protein 2 beta (TFAP2B) gene loci with adiponectin levels in three different European cohorts: SAPHIR (n = 1742), KORA F3 (n = 1636) and CoLaus (n = 5355). In each study population, the association of SNPs with adiponectin levels on log-scale was tested using linear regression adjusted for age, sex and body mass index, applying both an additive and a recessive genetic model. A pooled effect size was obtained by meta-analysis assuming a fixed effects model. We applied a significance threshold of 0.0033 accounting for the multiple testing situation. A significant association was only found for variants within SREBF1 applying an additive genetic model (smallest p-value for rs1889018 on log(adiponectin) = 0.002, β on original scale = −0.217 µg/ml), explaining ∼0.4% of variation of adiponectin levels. Recessive genetic models or haplotype analyses of the FOXO1, SREBF1, SIRT1, TFAPB2B genes or sex-stratified analyses did not reveal additional information on the regulation of adiponectin levels. The role of genetic variations at the SREBF1 gene in regulating adiponectin needs further investigation by functional studies.
Severe alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a strong risk factor for COPD. But the impact of gene variants resulting in mild or intermediate AAT deficiency on the longitudinal course of respiratory health remains controversial. There is indication from experimental studies that pro-inflammatory agents like cigarette smoke can interact with these variants and thus increase the risk of adverse respiratory health effects. Therefore, we tested the effect of the presence of a protease inhibitor (Pi) S or Z allele (PiMS and PiMZ) on the change in lung function in different inflammation-exposed subgroups of a large, population-based cohort study.
Methodology and Principal Findings
The SAPALDIA population includes over 4600 subjects from whom SERPINA1 genotypes for S and Z alleles, spirometry and respiratory symptoms at baseline and after 11 years follow-up, as well as proxies for inflammatory conditions, such as detailed smoking history, obesity and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), were available. All analyses were performed by applying multivariate regression models. There was no overall unfavourable effect of PiMS or PiMZ genotype on lung function change. We found indication that PiZ heterozygosity interacted with inflammatory stimuli leading to an accelerated decline in measures in use as indices for assessing mild airway obstruction. Obese individuals with genotype PiMM had an average annual decline in the forced mid expiratory flow (ΔFEF25-75%) of 58.4 ml whereas in obese individuals with PiMZ it amounted to 92.2 ml (p = 0.03). Corresponding numbers for persistent smokers differed even more strongly (66.8 ml (PiMM) vs. 108.2 ml (PiMZ), p = 0.005). Equivalent, but less strong associations were observed for the change in the FEV1/FVC ratio.
We suggest that, in addition to the well established impact of the rare PiZZ genotype, one Z allele may be sufficient to accelerate lung function decline in population subgroups characterized by elevated levels of low grade inflammation.
The MapReduce framework enables a scalable processing and analyzing of large datasets by distributing the computational load on connected computer nodes, referred to as a cluster. In Bioinformatics, MapReduce has already been adopted to various case scenarios such as mapping next generation sequencing data to a reference genome, finding SNPs from short read data or matching strings in genotype files. Nevertheless, tasks like installing and maintaining MapReduce on a cluster system, importing data into its distributed file system or executing MapReduce programs require advanced knowledge in computer science and could thus prevent scientists from usage of currently available and useful software solutions.
Here we present Cloudgene, a freely available platform to improve the usability of MapReduce programs in Bioinformatics by providing a graphical user interface for the execution, the import and export of data and the reproducibility of workflows on in-house (private clouds) and rented clusters (public clouds). The aim of Cloudgene is to build a standardized graphical execution environment for currently available and future MapReduce programs, which can all be integrated by using its plug-in interface. Since Cloudgene can be executed on private clusters, sensitive datasets can be kept in house at all time and data transfer times are therefore minimized.
Our results show that MapReduce programs can be integrated into Cloudgene with little effort and without adding any computational overhead to existing programs. This platform gives developers the opportunity to focus on the actual implementation task and provides scientists a platform with the aim to hide the complexity of MapReduce. In addition to MapReduce programs, Cloudgene can also be used to launch predefined systems (e.g. Cloud BioLinux, RStudio) in public clouds. Currently, five different bioinformatic programs using MapReduce and two systems are integrated and have been successfully deployed. Cloudgene is freely available at
Oxidative stress related genes modify the effects of ambient air pollution or tobacco smoking on lung function decline. The impact of interactions might be substantial, but previous studies mostly focused on main effects of single genes.
We studied the interaction of both exposures with a broad set of oxidative-stress related candidate genes and pathways on lung function decline and contrasted interactions between exposures.
For 12679 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), change in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), FEV1 over forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC), and mean forced expiratory flow between 25 and 75% of the FVC (FEF25-75) was regressed on interval exposure to particulate matter <10 µm in diameter (PM10) or packyears smoked (a), additive SNP effects (b), and interaction terms between (a) and (b) in 669 adults with GWAS data. Interaction p-values for 152 genes and 14 pathways were calculated by the adaptive rank truncation product (ARTP) method, and compared between exposures. Interaction effect sizes were contrasted for the strongest SNPs of nominally significant genes (pinteraction<0.05). Replication was attempted for SNPs with MAF>10% in 3320 SAPALDIA participants without GWAS.
On the SNP-level, rs2035268 in gene SNCA accelerated FEV1/FVC decline by 3.8% (pinteraction = 2.5×10−6), and rs12190800 in PARK2 attenuated FEV1 decline by 95.1 ml pinteraction = 9.7×10−8) over 11 years, while interacting with PM10. Genes and pathways nominally interacting with PM10 and packyears exposure differed substantially. Gene CRISP2 presented a significant interaction with PM10 (pinteraction = 3.0×10−4) on FEV1/FVC decline. Pathway interactions were weak. Replications for the strongest SNPs in PARK2 and CRISP2 were not successful.
Consistent with a stratified response to increasing oxidative stress, different genes and pathways potentially mediate PM10 and tobacco smoke effects on lung function decline. Ignoring environmental exposures would miss these patterns, but achieving sufficient sample size and comparability across study samples is challenging.
Pulmonary function measures reflect respiratory health and predict mortality, and are used in the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We tested genome-wide association with the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and the ratio of FEV1 to forced vital capacity (FVC) in 48,201 individuals of European ancestry, with follow-up of top associations in up to an additional 46,411 individuals. We identified new regions showing association (combined P<5×10−8) with pulmonary function, in or near MFAP2, TGFB2, HDAC4, RARB, MECOM (EVI1), SPATA9, ARMC2, NCR3, ZKSCAN3, CDC123, C10orf11, LRP1, CCDC38, MMP15, CFDP1, and KCNE2. Identification of these 16 new loci may provide insight into the molecular mechanisms regulating pulmonary function and into molecular targets for future therapy to alleviate reduced lung function.
Iron-refractory iron deficiency anaemia (IRIDA) is a rare disorder which was linked to mutations in two genes (SLC11A2 and TMPRSS6). Common polymorphisms within these genes were associated with serum iron levels. We identified a family of Serbian origin with asymptomatic non-consanguineous parents with three of four children presenting with IRIDA not responding to oral but to intravenous iron supplementation. After excluding all known causes responsible for iron deficiency anaemia we searched for mutations in SLC11A2 and TMPRSS6 that could explain the severe anaemia in these children.
We sequenced the exons and exon–intron boundaries of SLC11A2 and TMPRSS6 in all six family members. Thereby, we found seven known and fairly common SNPs, but no new mutation. We then genotyped these seven SNPs in the population-based SAPHIR study (n = 1,726) and performed genetic association analysis on iron and ferritin levels. Only two SNPs, which were top-hits from recent GWAS on iron and ferritin, exhibited an effect on iron and ferritin levels in SAPHIR. Six SAPHIR participants carrying the same TMPRSS6 genotypes and haplotype-pairs as one anaemic son showed lower ferritin and iron levels than the average. One individual exhibiting the joint SLC11A2/TMPRSS6 profile of the anaemic son had iron and ferritin levels lying below the 5th percentile of the population's iron and ferritin level distribution. We then checked the genotype constellations in the Nijmegen Biomedical Study (n = 1,832), but the profile of the anaemic son did not occur in this population.
We cannot exclude a gene-gene interaction between SLC11A2 and TMPRSS6, but we can also not confirm it. As in this case candidate gene sequencing did not reveal causative rare mutations, the samples will be subjected to whole exome sequencing.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an important public health problem with a genetic component. We performed genome-wide association studies in up to 130,600 European ancestry participants overall, and stratified for key CKD risk factors. We uncovered 6 new loci in association with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), the primary clinical measure of CKD, in or near MPPED2, DDX1, SLC47A1, CDK12, CASP9, and INO80. Morpholino knockdown of mpped2 and casp9 in zebrafish embryos revealed podocyte and tubular abnormalities with altered dextran clearance, suggesting a role for these genes in renal function. By providing new insights into genes that regulate renal function, these results could further our understanding of the pathogenesis of CKD.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an important public health problem with a hereditary component. We performed a new genome-wide association study in up to 130,600 European ancestry individuals to identify genes that may influence kidney function, specifically genes that may influence kidney function differently depending on sex, age, hypertension, and diabetes status of individuals. We uncovered 6 new loci associated with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), the primary measure of renal function, in or near MPPED2, DDX1, SLC47A1, CDK12, CASP9, and INO80. CDK12 effect was stronger in younger and absent in older individuals. MPPED2, DDX1, SLC47A1, and CDK12 loci were associated with eGFR in African ancestry samples as well, highlighting the cross-ethnicity validity of our findings. Using the zebrafish model, we performed morpholino knockdown of mpped2 and casp9 in zebrafish embryos and revealed podocyte and tubular abnormalities with altered dextran clearance, suggesting a role for these genes in renal function. These results further our understanding of the pathogenesis of CKD and provide insights into potential novel mechanisms of disease.
Circulating levels of adiponectin, a hormone produced predominantly by adipocytes, are highly heritable and are inversely associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) and other metabolic traits. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in 39,883 individuals of European ancestry to identify genes associated with metabolic disease. We identified 8 novel loci associated with adiponectin levels and confirmed 2 previously reported loci (P = 4.5×10−8–1.2×10−43). Using a novel method to combine data across ethnicities (N = 4,232 African Americans, N = 1,776 Asians, and N = 29,347 Europeans), we identified two additional novel loci. Expression analyses of 436 human adipocyte samples revealed that mRNA levels of 18 genes at candidate regions were associated with adiponectin concentrations after accounting for multiple testing (p<3×10−4). We next developed a multi-SNP genotypic risk score to test the association of adiponectin decreasing risk alleles on metabolic traits and diseases using consortia-level meta-analytic data. This risk score was associated with increased risk of T2D (p = 4.3×10−3, n = 22,044), increased triglycerides (p = 2.6×10−14, n = 93,440), increased waist-to-hip ratio (p = 1.8×10−5, n = 77,167), increased glucose two hours post oral glucose tolerance testing (p = 4.4×10−3, n = 15,234), increased fasting insulin (p = 0.015, n = 48,238), but with lower in HDL-cholesterol concentrations (p = 4.5×10−13, n = 96,748) and decreased BMI (p = 1.4×10−4, n = 121,335). These findings identify novel genetic determinants of adiponectin levels, which, taken together, influence risk of T2D and markers of insulin resistance.
Serum adiponectin levels are highly heritable and are inversely correlated with the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), coronary artery disease, stroke, and several metabolic traits. To identify common genetic variants associated with adiponectin levels and risk of T2D and metabolic traits, we conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of 45,891 multi-ethnic individuals. In addition to confirming that variants at the ADIPOQ and CDH13 loci influence adiponectin levels, our analyses revealed that 10 new loci also affecting circulating adiponectin levels. We demonstrated that expression levels of several genes in these candidate regions are associated with serum adiponectin levels. Using a powerful novel method to assess the contribution of the identified variants with other traits using summary-level results from large-scale GWAS consortia, we provide evidence that the risk alleles for adiponectin are associated with deleterious changes in T2D risk and metabolic syndrome traits (triglycerides, HDL, post-prandial glucose, insulin, and waist-to-hip ratio), demonstrating that the identified loci, taken together, impact upon metabolic disease.