We tested whether the heritability of heart rate variability (HRV) under stress is different from rest and its dependency on ethnicity or gender. HRV indexed by root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) and high-frequency (HF) power was measured at rest and during 3 stressors in 427 European and 308 African American twins. No ethnic or gender differences were found for any measures. There was a nonsignificant increase in heritability of RMSSD (from 0.48 to 0.58) and HF (from 0.50 to 0.58) under stress. Up to 81% and 60% of the heritabilities of RMSSD and HF under stress could be attributed to genes influencing rest levels. The heritabilities due to genes expressed under stress were 0.11 for RMSSD and 0.23 for HF. The findings suggest that, independent of ethnicity and gender, HRV regulation at rest and under stress is largely influenced by the same genes with a small but significant contribution of stress-specific genetic effects.
Heart rate variability; Stress; Ethnicity; Twin study
To determine to what extent the genetic influences on blood pressure (BP) measured in the office, under psychologically stressful conditions in the laboratory and during real life are different from each other. Office BP, BP during a video game challenge and a social stressor interview, and 24-h ambulatory BP were measured in 238 European American and 186 African American twins. BP values across the two tasks were averaged to represent stress levels. Genetic model fitting showed no ethnic or gender differences for any of the measures. The model fitting resulted in heritability estimates of 63, 75 and 71% for office, stress and 24-h systolic BP (SBP) and 59, 67 and 69% for diastolic BP (DBP), respectively. Up to 81% of the heritability of office SBP and 71% of office DBP were attributed to genes that also influenced stress BP. However, only 45% of the heritability of 24-h SBP and 49% of 24-h DBP were attributed to genes that also influence office BP. Similarly, about 39% of the heritability of 24-h SBP and 42% of 24-h DBP were attributed to genes that also influence stress BP. Substantial overlap exists between genes that influence BP measured in the office, under laboratory stress and during real life. However, significant genetic components specific to each BP measurement also exist. These findings suggest that partly different genes or sets of genes contribute to BP regulation in different conditions.
African American; ambulatory blood pressure; heritability; stress; twin
This study evaluates the tracking stability of office blood pressure (BP), ambulatory BP (ABP), BP variability (BPV) and nocturnal BP drops (dipping) from childhood to early adulthood, and their dependence on ethnicity, gender and family history (FH) of essential hypertension (EH). Generalized estimating equations (GEEs) were used to estimate tracking coefficients for 295 European Americans and 252 African Americans, with a maximum of 12 measurements over a 15-year period. Office BP and ABP had moderate-to-relatively high tracking coefficients (r= 0.30–0.59; P≤0.001). Twenty-four hour readings tracked better than office readings for diastolic BP (DBP; 0.57 vs. 0.46, P=1.72×10−6) and pulse pressure (PP) (0.59 vs. 0.51, P=2.70×10−4), and equally well for systolic BP (SBP; 0.55 vs. 0.54, P=0.805). Daytime readings tracked better than their night-time counterparts for SBP (0.50 vs. 0.37, P=7.62×10−13), DBP (0.49 vs. 0.30, P=7.98×10−32) and PP (0.55 vs. 0.50, P=0.0061). All BPV (r=0.08–0.28; P≤0.001) and dipping measures (r=0.07–0.12; odds ratio, 1.60–1.73; P≤0.001) had low tracking coefficients. Males had significantly higher tracking stability for office SBP, DBP and ambulatory PP than females (P<0.01). Subjects with a positive FH of EH had significantly higher tracking stability for daytime and night-time DBP and dipping indexed by continuous variables than those with a negative FH (P<0.001). No significant ethnic differences were observed. The high tracking stability of 24-h ABP highlights the importance of using ambulatory BP monitoring in both research and clinical settings.
ambulatory blood pressure; blood pressure variability; dipping; longitudinal study; tracking
To examine whether the genetic influences on blood pressure (BP) during night-time are different from those during daytime and the extent to which they depend on ethnicity or sex.
Ambulatory BP was measured in 240 European–American and 190 African–American twins (mean ± SD age, 17.2 ± 3.4). Individuals with night-time BP falls more than 10% of the daytime values were defined as dippers. A bivariate analysis of the daytime and the night-time BP levels, as well as a liability-threshold model of dippers vs. nondippers were used.
Bivariate model fitting showed no ethnic or sex differences for any of the measures, with heritabilities of 0.70 and 0.68 for SBP and 0.70 and 0.64 for DBP at daytime and at night-time. The genetic influences on daytime and night-time were not significantly different for SBP or DBP. The bivariate analysis also indicated that about 56 and 33% of the heritabilities of night-time SBP and DBP could be attributed to genes that also influenced daytime levels. The specific heritabilities due to genetic effects only influencing night-time values were 0.30 for SBP and 0.43 for DBP. The heritabilities of systolic and diastolic dipping were 0.59 and 0.81, respectively.
Independent of ethnicity and sex, an overlap exists between genes that influence daytime and night-time BP, as well as a significant genetic component that is specific to the night-time BP. These findings suggest that different genes or sets of genes contribute to BP regulation at daytime and night-time.
ambulatory blood pressure monitoring; blacks; dipping; heritability; twin study
High blood pressure variability is increasingly used as a predictor of target-organ damage and cardiovascular events. However, little is known about blood pressure variability changes with age and its possible sociodemographic, anthropometric, and genetic moderators.
Twenty-four-hour ambulatory blood pressure was measured up to 12 times over a 15-year period in 344 European Americans and 297 African–Americans with an average age of 14 years at the initial visit. Blood pressure variability was indexed by the weighted 24-h standard deviation of ambulatory blood pressure recordings.
Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure variability increased with age and ambulatory blood pressure mean values. Men had higher levels of blood pressure variability (P<0.001) and showed steeper linear increase rates with age than women. African–Americans showed higher values of blood pressure variability (P<0.05) than European Americans. Body mass index and waist circumference were also associated with higher blood pressure variability levels (P< 0.001). Individuals with higher father’s education level showed lower blood pressure variability. In the full model which included all the above factors, ethnic difference in systolic blood pressure variability was no longer significant.
The results of the present study suggest that men and African–Americans have higher blood pressure variability than women and European Americans. Apart from these ethnicity and sex effects, blood pressure variability increases with increases in age (especially in men), ambulatory blood pressure mean values and adiposity as well as decreased socioeconomic status
blood pressure variability; ethnicity; longitudinal study; sex; youth
To examine the heritability of arterial stiffness measured as pulse wave velocity (PWV) and its dependence on ethnicity, gender and blood pressure (BP).
As part of the Georgia Cardiovascular Twin Study, we measured aortoradial (radial) and aorto-dorsalis-pedis (foot) PWV in 702 twins (41% black, 49% male) aged 12 – 30 years (mean: 17.7 ± 3.3) including monozygotic and dizygotic pairs of same- as well as opposite-gender. Ethnicity and gender effects on genetic and environmental contributions to PWV were estimated by genetic model fitting.
Diastolic BP was the most important hemodynamic predictor. Best fitting models showed no ethnicity or gender differences in estimates of genetic and environmental influence and indicated substantial heritabilities of 0.43 (95% CI: 0.30–0.54) and 0.53 (95% CI: 0.42–0.62) for radial and foot PWV, respectively. Over a quarter of these heritabilities (0.19 for radial PWV, 0.14 for foot PWV) were due to genes in common with DBP as based on multivariate models.
Individual differences in arterial stiffness of youth and young adults are substantially heritable and more than 25% of this heritability is explained by genes that also influence DBP. Heritability estimates do not show any differences between blacks and whites or males and females.
Arterial Stiffness; Heritability; Twins; ethnicity
In type 1 diabetes, diabetes-associated autoantibodies, including islet cell antibodies (ICAs), reflect adaptive immunity, while increased serum Nε-carboxymethyl-lysine (CML), an advanced glycation end product, is associated with proinflammation. We assessed whether serum CML and autoantibodies predicted type 1 diabetes and to what extent they were determined by genetic or environmental factors. Of 7,287 unselected schoolchildren screened, 115 were ICA+ and were tested for baseline CML and diabetes autoantibodies and followed (for median 7 years), whereas a random selection (n = 2,102) had CML tested. CML and diabetes autoantibodies were determined in a classic twin study of twin pairs discordant for type 1 diabetes (32 monozygotic, 32 dizygotic pairs). CML was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, autoantibodies were determined by radioimmunoprecipitation, ICA was determined by indirect immunofluorescence, and HLA class II genotyping was determined by sequence-specific oligonucleotides. CML was increased in ICA+ and prediabetic schoolchildren and in diabetic and nondiabetic twins (all P < 0.001). Elevated levels of CML in ICA+ children were a persistent, independent predictor of diabetes progression, in addition to autoantibodies and HLA risk. In twins model fitting, familial environment explained 75% of CML variance, and nonshared environment explained all autoantibody variance. Serum CML, a glycotoxin, emerged as an environmentally determined diabetes risk factor, in addition to autoimmunity and HLA genetic risk, and a potential therapeutic target.
Besides differential methylation, DNA methylation variation has recently been proposed and demonstrated to be a potential contributing factor to cancer risk. Here we aim to examine whether differential variability in methylation is also an important feature of obesity, a typical non-malignant common complex disease. We analyzed genome-wide methylation profiles of over 470,000 CpGs in peripheral blood samples from 48 obese and 48 lean African-American youth aged 14–20 y old. A substantial number of differentially variable CpG sites (DVCs), using statistics based on variances, as well as a substantial number of differentially methylated CpG sites (DMCs), using statistics based on means, were identified. Similar to the findings in cancers, DVCs generally exhibited an outlier structure and were more variable in cases than in controls. By randomly splitting the current sample into a discovery and validation set, we observed that both the DVCs and DMCs identified from the first set could independently predict obesity status in the second set. Furthermore, both the genes harboring DMCs and the genes harboring DVCs showed significant enrichment of genes identified by genome-wide association studies on obesity and related diseases, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers, supporting their roles in the etiology and pathogenesis of obesity. We generalized the recent finding on methylation variability in cancer research to obesity and demonstrated that differential variability is also an important feature of obesity-related methylation changes. Future studies on the epigenetics of obesity will benefit from both statistics based on means and statistics based on variances.
African-Americans; epigenome-wide association study (EWAS); genome-wide association study (GWAS); methylation variation; obesity
There is emerging evidence from animal studies suggesting a key role for methylation in the pathogenesis of essential hypertension. However, to date, very few studies have investigated the role of methylation in the development of human hypertension, and none has taken a genome-wide approach. Based on the recent studies that highlight the involvement of inflammation in the development of hypertension, we hypothesize that changes in DNA methylation of leukocytes are involved in the pathogenesis of hypertension.
Method & Results
We conducted a genome-wide methylation analysis on 8 hypertensive cases and 8 normotensive age-matched controls aged 14–23 years and performed validation of the most significant CpG sites in 2 genes in an independent sample of 36 hypertensive cases and 60 normotensive controls aged 14–30 years. Validation of the CpG sites in the SULF1 gene was further conducted in a second replication sample of 36 hypertensive cases and 34 controls aged 15.8–40 years. A CpG site in the SULF1 gene showed higher methylation levels in cases than in healthy controls in the genome-wide step (p = 6.2×10−5), which was confirmed in the validation step (p = 0.011) for subjects ≤30 years old but was not significant for subjects of all ages combined (p = 0.095).
The identification of a difference in a blood leukocyte DNA methylation site between hypertensive cases and normotensive controls suggests that changes in DNA methylation may play an important role in the pathogenesis of hypertension. The age dependency of the effect further suggests complexity of epigenetic regulation in this age-related disease.
The genomic region at 9p21 chromosome near the CDKN2A/CDKN2B genes is associated with type 2 diabetes(T2D) and cardiovascular disease(CVD). The effect of the 9p21 locus on long-term mortality in patients with T2D has yet to be determined.
We examined three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on 9p21, consistently and independently associated with T2D (rs10811661) or CVD (rs10757278, rs2383206), in relation to the risk of total and cardiovascular mortality in diabetic patients. We also aimed to replicate the previously observed interaction between rs2383206 and glycemic control on mortality.
Genotypes for three SNPs were determined in 914 individuals from a prospective cohort of T2D patients of Dutch origin. Associations with mortality were assessed using Cox proportional hazard analyses.
After a median follow-up of 9.5 years, 358 out of 914 patients had died. The hazard ratio (HR) for total mortality among individuals homozygous for the T2D-risk allele of rs10811661 compared to non-homozygous individuals was 0.74(95%CI 0.59-0.93). For the carriers of both CVD-risk alleles of rs10757278, the HR for total mortality was 1.31(95%CI 1.01-1.70). We found a significant interaction between rs2383206 and HbA1c on mortality, which was higher among patients with two CVD-risk alleles in the two lowest HbA1c tertiles (HR 1.68(95%CI 1.08-2.63); HR 1.48(95%CI 1.01-2.18).
In conclusion, common variants on 9p21 were associated with mortality in patients with T2D in a Dutch population. The T2D SNP was inversely associated with mortality, while the CVD SNP increased the risk for mortality. We confirmed a possible, although different, synergistic relationship between HbA1c and rs2383206 on total mortality.
Type 2 Diabetes; CVD; Mortality; 9p21; Genetics; SNP
In recent genetic association studies, common variants including rs12917707 in the UMOD locus have shown strong evidence of association with eGFR, prevalent and incident chronic kidney disease and uromodulin urinary concentration in general population cohorts. The association of rs12917707 with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in a recent case-control study was only nominally significant.
To investigate whether rs12917707 associates with ESRD, graft failure (GF) and urinary uromodulin levels in an independent cohort, we genotyped 1142 ESRD patients receiving a renal transplantation and 1184 kidney donors as controls. After transplantation, 1066 renal transplant recipients were followed up for GF. Urinary uromodulin concentration was measured at median [IQR] 4.2 [2.2-6.1] yrs after kidney transplantation.
The rs12917707 minor allele showed association with lower risk of ESRD (OR 0.89 [0.76-1.03], p = 0.04) consistent in effect size and direction with the previous report (Böger et al, PLoS Genet 2011). Meta-analysis of these findings showed significant association of rs12917707 with ESRD (OR 0.91 [0.85-98], p = 0.008). In contrast, rs12917707 was not associated with incidence of GF. Urinary uromodulin concentration was lower in recipients-carriers of the donor rs12917707 minor allele as compared to non-carriers, again consistent with previous observations in general population cohorts.
Our study thus corroborates earlier evidence and independently confirms the association between UMOD and ESRD.
UMOD; Uromodulin; Polymorphisms; SNP; End-stage renal disease; Kidney transplantation
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a complex disorder. As genome-wide association studies identified cubilin gene CUBN as a locus for albuminuria, and urinary protein loss is a risk factor for progressive CKD, we tested the hypothesis that common genetic variants in CUBN are associated with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and proteinuria. First, a total of 1142 patients with ESRD, admitted for renal transplantation, and 1186 donors were genotyped for SNPs rs7918972 and rs1801239 (case-control study). The rs7918972 minor allele frequency (MAF) was higher in ESRD patients comparing to kidney donors, implicating an increased risk for ESRD (OR 1.39, p = 0.0004) in native kidneys. Second, after transplantation recipients were followed for 5.8 [3.8–9.2] years (longitudinal study) documenting ESRD in transplanted kidneys – graft failure (GF). During post-transplant follow-up 92 (9.6%) cases of death-censored GF occurred. Donor rs7918972 MAF, representing genotype of the transplanted kidney, was 16.3% in GF vs 10.7% in cases with functioning graft. Consistently, a multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that donor rs7918972 is a predictor of GF, although statistical significance was not reached (HR 1.53, p = 0.055). There was no association of recipient rs7918972 with GF. Rs1801239 was not associated with ESRD or GF. In line with an association with the outcome, donor rs7918972 was associated with elevated proteinuria levels cross-sectionally at 1 year after transplantation. Thus, we identified CUBN rs7918972 as a novel risk variant for renal function loss in two independent settings: ESRD in native kidneys and GF in transplanted kidneys.
To examine the relations of race, sex, adiposity, adipokines and physical activity to telomere length in adolescents.
Leukocyte telomere length (T/S ratio) was assessed cross-sectionally in 667 adolescents (aged 14–18 years, 48% blacks, 51% girls) using a quantitative PCR method. Generalized Estimating Equations analyses were performed.
Black adolescents had longer telomeres than white adolescents (age and sex adjusted T/S ratio ± SE: 1.32 ± 0.01 vs. 1.27 ± 0.01, p=0.014) and girls had longer telomeres than boys (age and race adjusted T/S ratio ± SE: 1.31 ± 0.01 vs. 1.27 ± 0.01, p=0.007). None of the adiposity or adipokine measures explained a significant proportion of the variance in telomere length. Vigorous physical activity was positively associated with telomere length (adjusted R2=0.019, p=0.009) and accounted for 1.9% of the total variance only in girls.
This study, conducted in a biracial adolescent cohort, demonstrated that: (1) race and sex differences in telomere length have already emerged during adolescence; (2) adiposity and adipokines are not associated with telomere length at this age; and (3) the anti-aging effect of vigorous physical activity may begin in youth especially in girls.
Telomere length; race; sex; adiposity; adipokines; physical activity; adolescents
It is known that genetic variants can affect gene expression, but it is not yet completely clear through what mechanisms genetic variation mediate this expression. We therefore compared the cis-effect of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on gene expression between blood samples from 1,240 human subjects and four primary non-blood tissues (liver, subcutaneous, and visceral adipose tissue and skeletal muscle) from 85 subjects. We characterized four different mechanisms for 2,072 probes that show tissue-dependent genetic regulation between blood and non-blood tissues: on average 33.2% only showed cis-regulation in non-blood tissues; 14.5% of the eQTL probes were regulated by different, independent SNPs depending on the tissue of investigation. 47.9% showed a different effect size although they were regulated by the same SNPs. Surprisingly, we observed that 4.4% were regulated by the same SNP but with opposite allelic direction. We show here that SNPs that are located in transcriptional regulatory elements are enriched for tissue-dependent regulation, including SNPs at 3′ and 5′ untranslated regions (P = 1.84×10−5 and 4.7×10−4, respectively) and SNPs that are synonymous-coding (P = 9.9×10−4). SNPs that are associated with complex traits more often exert a tissue-dependent effect on gene expression (P = 2.6×10−10). Our study yields new insights into the genetic basis of tissue-dependent expression and suggests that complex trait associated genetic variants have even more complex regulatory effects than previously anticipated.
Gene expression can be affected by genetic variation, e.g. single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). These are called expression-affecting SNPs or eSNPs. Gene expression levels are known to vary across different tissues in the same individual, despite the fact that genetic variation is the same in these tissues. We explored the different mechanisms by which genetic variants can mediate tissue-dependent gene expression. We observed that the genetic variants that associated with complex traits are more likely to affect gene expression in a tissue-dependent manner. Our results suggest that complex traits are even more complex than we had anticipated, and they underline the great importance of using expression data from tissues relevant to the disease being studied in order to further the understanding of the biology underlying the disease association.
Genetic linkage and association methods have long been the most important tools for gene identification in humans. These approaches can either be hypothesis-based (i.e., candidate-gene studies) or hypothesis-free (i.e., genome-wide studies). The first part of this review offers an overview of the latest successes in gene finding for blood pressure (BP) and essential hypertension using these DNA sequence–based discovery techniques. We further emphasize the importance of post–genome-wide association study (post-GWAS) analysis, which aims to prioritize genetic variants for functional follow-up. Whole-genome next-generation sequencing will eventually be necessary to provide a more comprehensive picture of all DNA variants affecting BP and hypertension. The second part of this review discusses promising novel approaches that move beyond the DNA sequence and aim to discover BP genes that are differentially regulated by epigenetic mechanisms, including microRNAs, histone modification, and methylation.
Linkage analysis; Association analysis; Genome-wide association study; GWAS; Post-GWAS analysis; Next-generation sequencing; Epigenetics; microRNAs; Histone modification; Methylation; Hypertension; Blood pressure
The corrected QT (QTc) interval is a complex quantitative trait, believed to be influenced by several genetic and environmental factors. It is a strong prognostic indicator of cardiovascular mortality in patients with and without cardiac disease. More than 700 mutations have been described in 12 genes (LQT1-LQT12) involved in congenital long QT syndrome. However, the heritability (genetic contribution) of QTc interval in the general population cannot be adequately explained by these long QT syndrome genes. In order to further investigate the genetic architecture underlying QTc interval in the general population, genome-wide association studies, in which up to one million single nucleotide polymorphisms are assayed in thousands of individuals, are now being employed and have already led to the discovery of variants in seven novel loci and five loci that are known to cause congenital long or short QT syndrome. Here we show that a combined risk score using 11 of these loci explains about 10% of the heritability of QTc. Additional discovery of both common and rare variants will yield further etiological insight and accelerate clinical applications.
Recent genome-wide association (GWA) studies identified several common variants for obesity: rs9939609 in FTO, rs7566605 near INSIG2 and both rs17782313 and rs17700633 near the MC4R gene. This study aimed to assess the influence of these polymorphisms on development of adiposity in European– (EA) and African–American (AA) youth in two ongoing longitudinal studies including 986 and 606 participants with age ranges of 10–25.8 and 4.0–23.9 years, respectively. Individual growth curve modeling was conducted separately in the two studies. We tested the effect of the SNPs on levels and increase with age (i.e., slope) of weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and skinfolds from childhood to adulthood, and potential moderation by ethnicity or gender. Beta coefficients computed in the two studies were pooled using meta-analysis. Rs9939609 was associated with logtransformed levels of BMI (β = 0.021, P = 0.01), weight (β = 0.019, P = 0.04) and waist circumference (β = 0.012, P = 0.04). Rs17782313 was associated with triceps (β = 0.05, P = 0.02). Significant interactions of rs17700633 with gender were observed on subscapular-, suprailiac- and sum of skinfolds, with significant associations limited to males (P < 0.05). No significant interactions with ethnicity were found. Only one effect on the slope was observed, rs17700633 showed a significant interaction with age on triceps (β = 0.004, P = 0.04). In two longitudinal studies of EA and AA youth, we replicated the effect of FTO and common variants near MC4R on general and central adiposity. These variants did not affect the increase with age of adiposity from childhood to adulthood with one exception. Common variants for obesity identified in GWA studies have detectable but modest effects on growth curves for adiposity in EA and AA youth.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10654-011-9583-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Adiposity; Genetic; Growth curve model
Antipsychotic affinity for the histamine H1 receptor and the muscarinic M3 receptor have been associated with the side effects weight gain, and development of diabetes, respectively.
We investigated polymorphisms of the histamine H1 (HRH1) and muscarinic acetylcholine receptor M3 (CHRM3) receptor genes for an association with body mass index (BMI) and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c).
We included 430 Caucasian patients with a non-affective psychotic disorder using antipsychotics for at least 3 months. Primary endpoints of the study were cross-sectionally measured BMI and HbA1c; secondary endpoints were obesity and hyperglycaemia. Two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the HRH1 gene, rs346074 and rs346070, and one SNP in the CHRM3 gene, rs3738435, were genotyped. Our primary hypothesis in this study was an interaction between genotype on BMI and antipsychotic affinity for the H1 and M3 receptor.
A significant association of interaction between haplotype rs346074–rs346070 and BMI (p value 0.025) and obesity (p value 0.005) in patients using high-H1 affinity antipsychotics versus patients using low-H1 affinity antipsychotics was found. There was no association of CHRM3 gene variant rs3738435 with BMI, and we observed no association with HbA1c or hyperglycaemia in any of the variants.
This study, for the first time, demonstrates a significant association between HRH1 variants and BMI in patients with a psychotic disorder using antipsychotics. In future, genotyping of HRH1 variants may help predicting weight gain in patients using antipsychotics.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00213-011-2211-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Antipsychotics; BMI; HbA1c; Schizophrenia; Polymorphism; Histamine; Muscarine; Pharmacogenetics; Weight gain; Hyperglycaemia
Despite evidence linking obesity to impaired immune function, little is known about the specific mechanisms. Because of emerging evidence that immune responses are epigenetically regulated, we hypothesized that DNA methylation changes are involved in obesity induced immune dysfunction and aimed to identify these changes.
We conducted a genome wide methylation analysis on seven obese cases and seven lean controls aged 14 to 18 years from extreme ends of the obesity distribution and performed further validation of six CpG sites from six genes in 46 obese cases and 46 lean controls aged 14 to 30 years.
In comparison with the lean controls, we observed one CpG site in the UBASH3A gene showing higher methylation levels and one CpG site in the TRIM3 gene showing lower methylation levels in the obese cases in both the genome wide step (P = 5 × 10-6 and P = 2 × 10-5 for the UBASH3A and the TRIM3 gene respectively) and the validation step (P = 0.008 and P = 0.001 for the UBASH3A and the TRIM3 gene respectively).
Our results provide evidence that obesity is associated with methylation changes in blood leukocyte DNA. Further studies are warranted to determine the causal direction of this relationship as well as whether such methylation changes can lead to immune dysfunction.
See commentary: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/8/88/abstract
Reduced heart rate variability (HRV) and increased C-reactive protein (CRP) levels are both predictors of coronary artery disease (CAD), and are correlated with each other. We examined whether these two phenotypes share a common genetic substrate and investigated the relations of the CRP gene polymorphisms with both CRP levels and HRV indices. We examined 236 male twins free of symptomatic CAD, with mean age (±SD) of 54 years (±2.9). Plasma CRP levels were measured and frequency domain measures of HRV were assessed using a 24-hour ECG recording, including ultra-low, very-low, low and high frequency power (ULF, VLF, LF, and HF). Three SNPs in the CRP gene were genotyped. Generalized estimating equations were used to examine the association between CRP and HRV, as well as the genotype-phenotype association. Bivariate structural equation modeling was performed to estimate the genetic and environmental correlations between CRP and HRV, and the explanatory effect of CRP gene polymorphisms on the CRP-HRV association. Both CRP (h2=0.76) and HRV indices (h2=0.56–0.64) showed high heritability. Higher CRP levels were significantly associated with lower HRV. A robust genetic correlation was found between CRP and ULF (rG=−0.3, P=0.001). One CRP SNP (rs1205) was significantly associated with both CRP (P=0.003) and ULF (P=0.005) and explained 11% of the genetic covariance between them. In conclusion, reduced HRV is significantly correlated with increased CRP plasma levels and this correlation is due, in large part, to common genetic influences. A polymorphism in the CRP gene contributes to both CRP levels and HRV.
C-reactive protein; heart rate variability; common genes; genetic polymorphisms
We explored the relationship of genetic variants of the serotonin transporter gene SLC6A4, a key regulator of the serotonergic neurotransmission, with both depressive symptoms and plasma Interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels.
Methods and Results
We genotyped 20 polymorphisms in 360 male twins (mean age: 54) from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. Current depressive symptoms were measured with the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). IL-6 was assessed using a commercially available ELISA kit. Genotype associations were analyzed using generalized estimating equations. To study how SLC6A4 genetic vulnerability influences the relationship between depressive symptoms and IL-6, bivariate models were constructed using structural equation modeling. Of the 20 polymorphisms examined, the effective number of independent tests was 6 and the threshold of significance after Bonferroni correction was 0.008. There were 6 SNPs significantly associated with BDI (P≤0.008), including rs8071667, rs2020936, rs25528, rs6354, rs11080122 and rs8076005, and 1 SNP borderline associated (rs12150214, P=0.017). Of these 7 SNPs, 3 were also significantly associated with IL-6 (P<0.008), including rs25528, rs6354 and rs8076005, and the other 4 were borderline associated (P=0.009~0.025). The subjects with one copy of the minor allele of these 7 SNPs had higher BDI scores and IL-6 levels. Further bivariate modeling revealed that approximately 10% of the correlation between BDI and IL-6 could be explained by the SLC6A4 gene.
Genetic vulnerability involving the SLC6A4 gene is significantly associated with both increased depressive symptoms and elevated IL-6 plasma levels. Common pathophysiological processes may link depression and inflammation, and implicate the serotonin pathway in neural-immune interactions.
atherosclerosis; epidemiology; genetics; inflammation; depression
Hypertension is a heritable and major contributor to the global burden of disease. The sum of rare and common genetic variants robustly identified so far explain only 1%–2% of the population variation in BP and hypertension. This suggests the existence of more undiscovered common variants. We conducted a genome-wide association study in 1,621 hypertensive cases and 1,699 controls and follow-up validation analyses in 19,845 cases and 16,541 controls using an extreme case-control design. We identified a locus on chromosome 16 in the 5′ region of Uromodulin (UMOD; rs13333226, combined P value of 3.6×10−11). The minor G allele is associated with a lower risk of hypertension (OR [95%CI]: 0.87 [0.84–0.91]), reduced urinary uromodulin excretion, better renal function; and each copy of the G allele is associated with a 7.7% reduction in risk of CVD events after adjusting for age, sex, BMI, and smoking status (H.R. = 0.923, 95% CI 0.860–0.991; p = 0.027). In a subset of 13,446 individuals with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) measurements, we show that rs13333226 is independently associated with hypertension (unadjusted for eGFR: 0.89 [0.83–0.96], p = 0.004; after eGFR adjustment: 0.89 [0.83–0.96], p = 0.003). In clinical functional studies, we also consistently show the minor G allele is associated with lower urinary uromodulin excretion. The exclusive expression of uromodulin in the thick portion of the ascending limb of Henle suggests a putative role of this variant in hypertension through an effect on sodium homeostasis. The newly discovered UMOD locus for hypertension has the potential to give new insights into the role of uromodulin in BP regulation and to identify novel drugable targets for reducing cardiovascular risk.
Hypertension is the leading contributor to global mortality with a global prevalence of 26.4% in 2000, projected to increase to 29.2% by 2025. While 50%–60% of population variation in blood pressure can be attributable to additive genetic factors, all the genetic variants robustly identified so far explain only 1%–2% of the population variance indicating the presence of additional undiscovered risk variants. Using an extreme case-control strategy, we have discovered a SNP in the promoter region of the uromodulin gene (UMOD) to be associated with hypertension (minor allele protective against hypertension). We then validated this association using large-scale population and case-control studies, where similar extreme criteria for selection of cases and controls have been used (21,466 cases and 18,240 controls). As the locus was related to uromodulin, a protein exclusively expressed in the kidneys, we show that the association is independent of renal dysfunction. We also show preliminary evidence that the SNP allele which is protective against hypertension is also protective against cardiovascular events in 26,654 Swedish subjects followed-up for 12 years. The newly discovered UMOD locus for hypertension has the potential to give unique insights into the role of uromodulin in BP regulation and to identify novel drugable targets.
Few longitudinal studies have examined ethnic and sex differences, predictors and tracking stabilities of heart rate variability (HRV) at rest and in response to stress in youths and young adults.
Two evaluations were performed approximately 1.5 years apart on 399 youths and young adults (189 European Americans [EAs] and 210 African Americans [AAs]; 190 males and 209 females). HRV was measured at rest and during a video game challenge.
AAs showed significantly higher resting root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) of normal R-R intervals and high-frequency (HF) power than EAs (Ps< 0.01). Females displayed larger decrease of RMSSD and HF during video game challenge than males (Ps< 0.05). These ethnic and sex differences were consistent across 1.5 years. No significant sex difference of resting HRV or ethnic difference of HRV response to stress was observed. In addition to age, ethnicity or sex, baseline resting HRV or HRV response to stress are predictors of the corresponding variables 1.5 years later (Ps< 0.01). Furthermore, weight gain indexed by either body mass index or waist circumference predicts declined resting HRV levels during follow up (Ps < 0.05). Tracking stabilities were high (>0.5) for resting HRV, but relatively low (<0.3) for HRV in response to stress.
AAs show higher resting HRV than EAs, and females display greater HRV response to stress than males; and these ethnic and sex differences are consistent across 1.5 years. Resting HRV declines with weight gain.
heart rate variability; longitudinal study; sex; ethnicity
African Americans (AA) not only have higher blood pressure levels, but also an increased risk of low weight at birth, compared to European Americans (EA). In light of fetal programming theories it has been suggested that ethnic differences in blood pressure originate in utero. However, most previous studies in bi-ethnic samples have not found a significant inverse association between birth weight and blood pressure in AAs.
In 562 EA and 465 AA adolescent twins of the Georgia Cardiovascular Twin Study we investigated the potential ethnic difference in blood pressure - birth weight association, with the ability to control for potential confounding by familial factors.
Blood pressure levels were significantly higher in AAs compared to EAs, independent of birth weight (p<0.01). After adjustment for parental factors and BMI, the difference in systolic blood pressure per kg birth weight was -1.1 mm Hg (95% confidence interval -2.7, 0.48, p=0.17) in EAs and -2.5 mm Hg (95% CI -4.7, -0.40, p=0.02) in AAs. A significant ethnic interaction was revealed in paired analysis where the inverse association remained in AAs, but not in EAs. Associations with diastolic blood pressure were generally weaker and non significant.
We could show that low birth weight was associated with an elevated systolic blood pressure in AAs, independent of familial factors. The results also suggest that the association between birth weight and blood pressure may be more pronounced in AAs in adolescence.
Birth Weight; Blood Pressure; Fetal Programming; Ethnicity; Twins
Depression and reduced heart rate variability (HRV) are predictors of coronary artery disease (CAD), and highly correlated with each other. However, little is known to what extend this correlation can be explained by common genetic components. We examined 198 middle-aged male twins (121 monozygotic and 77 dizygotic) from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. Current depressive symptoms were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory-II and HRV was assessed on 24-hour electrocardiographic Holter recordings. Five frequency domain variables were used, including ultra low frequency (ULF), very low frequency (VLF), low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF) and total power (TPow). Structural equation modeling was used to estimate shared genetic effects for depressive symptoms and the HRV frequency domains. Both depressive symptoms (h2=.5) and all measurements of HRV showed high heritability (h2=.43–.63). A significant inverse correlation was found between depressive symptoms and all HRV indices except LF and HF, with the highest coefficient (r) for TPow (r = −.24, P = .01) and ULF (r = −.24, P = .01). Bivariate genetic modeling revealed significant genetic correlations between depressive symptoms and TPow (rA = −.21, P = .04), as well as ULF (rA = −.23, P = .02). Of the total covariance between depressive symptoms and these two HRV indices, over 80% was due to the same genetic factors. In conclusion, depressive symptoms are associated with decreased HRV and this association is due, in large part, to a shared genetic effect. These results suggest that a common neurobiological dysfunction links depression and autonomic dysregulation.
depressive symptoms; heart rate variability; twin study; common genes