Upstream transcription factor 1 (USF1) allelic variants significantly influence future risk of cardiovascular disease and overall mortality in females. We investigated sex-specific effects of USF1 gene allelic variants on serum indices of lipoprotein metabolism, early markers of asymptomatic atherosclerosis and their changes during six years of follow-up. In addition, we investigated the cis-regulatory role of these USF1 variants in artery wall tissues in Caucasians. In the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, 1,608 participants (56% women, aged 31.9 ± 4.9) with lipids and cIMT data were included. For functional study, whole genome mRNA expression profiling was performed in 91 histologically classified atherosclerotic samples. In females, serum total, LDL cholesterol and apoB levels increased gradually according to USF1 rs2516839 genotypes TT < CT < CC and rs1556259 AA < AG < GG as well as according to USF1 H3 (GCCCGG) copy number 0 < 1 < 2. Furthermore, the carriers of minor alleles of rs2516839 (C) and rs1556259 (G) of USF1 gene had decreased USF1 expression in atherosclerotic plaques (P = 0.028 and 0.08, respectively) as compared to non-carriers. The genetic variation in USF1 influence USF1 transcript expression in advanced atherosclerosis and regulates levels and metabolism of circulating apoB and apoB-containing lipoprotein particles in sex-dependent manner, but is not a major determinant of early markers of atherosclerosis.
Background. Enhanced sympathetic activity at the ventricular
myocardium can destabilize repolarization, increasing the risk of death. Sympathetic
activity is known to cluster in low-frequency bursts; therefore, we hypothesized that
sympathetic activity induces periodic low-frequency changes of repolarization. We
developed a technique to assess the sympathetic effect on repolarization and
identified periodic components in the low-frequency spectral range (≤0.1 Hz),
which we termed periodic repolarization dynamics (PRD).
Methods. We investigated the physiological properties of PRD in
multiple experimental studies, including a swine model of steady-state ventilation
(n = 7) and human studies involving fixed atrial pacing
(n = 10), passive head-up tilt testing (n = 11),
low-intensity exercise testing (n = 11), and beta blockade
(n = 10). We tested the prognostic power of PRD in 908 survivors
of acute myocardial infarction (MI). Finally, we tested the predictive values of PRD
and T-wave alternans (TWA) in 2,965 patients undergoing clinically indicated exercise
Results. PRD was not related to underlying respiratory activity
(P < 0.001) or heart-rate variability (P =
0.002). Furthermore, PRD was enhanced by activation of the sympathetic nervous
system, and pharmacological blockade of sympathetic nervous system activity
suppressed PRD (P ≤ 0.005 for both). Increased PRD was the
strongest single risk predictor of 5-year total mortality (hazard ratio 4.75, 95% CI
2.94–7.66; P < 0.001) after acute MI. In patients
undergoing exercise testing, the predictive value of PRD was strong and complementary
to that of TWA.
Conclusion. We have described and identified low-frequency rhythmic
modulations of repolarization that are associated with sympathetic activity.
Increased PRD can be used as a predictor of mortality in survivors of acute MI and
patients undergoing exercise testing.
Trial registration. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00196274.
Funding. This study was funded by Angewandte Klinische Forschung,
University of Tübingen (252-1-0).
The aims were to evaluate the effect of pregnancy on carotid artery elasticity and determine the associations between maternal lipids, endothelial function and arterial elasticity during pregnancy.
We examined 99 pregnant and 99 matched non-pregnant control women as part of a population-based prospective cohort study. Carotid artery elasticity indexes; carotid artery distensibility (CAD), Young’s elastic modulus (YEM) and stiffness index (SI) as well as brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) were assessed using ultrasound; serum lipid levels were also determined.
SI was 57% and YEM 75% higher and CAD 36% lower in the third trimester group than the corresponding values in the first trimester group. Serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels were significantly higher in women at the end of the pregnancy than at the beginning of pregnancy (P < 0.001) and in controls (P < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, gestational age was the only independent correlate of arterial elasticity in pregnant women. In controls, age (P ≤ 0.001) and common carotid diameter (P = 0.001-0.029) were associated with SI, YEM and CAD.
The present study revealed that carotid artery elasticity declined towards the end of the pregnancy; this neither is straight correlating with maternal hyperlipidemia or the diameter of the carotid artery nor is it associated with changes in endothelial function.
Carotid artery; Elasticity; Pregnancy; Distensibility; Arterial stiffness; The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study
Branched-chain and aromatic amino acids are associated with the risk for future type 2 diabetes; however, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. We tested whether amino acids predict insulin resistance index in healthy young adults.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Circulating isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and six additional amino acids were quantified in 1,680 individuals from the population-based Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study (baseline age 32 ± 5 years; 54% women). Insulin resistance was estimated by homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) at baseline and 6-year follow-up. Amino acid associations with HOMA of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and glucose were assessed using regression models adjusted for established risk factors. We further examined whether amino acid profiling could augment risk assessment of insulin resistance (defined as 6-year HOMA-IR >90th percentile) in early adulthood.
Isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine, and tyrosine were associated with HOMA-IR at baseline and for men at 6-year follow-up, while for women only leucine, valine, and phenylalanine predicted 6-year HOMA-IR (P < 0.05). None of the other amino acids were prospectively associated with HOMA-IR. The sum of branched-chain and aromatic amino acid concentrations was associated with 6-year insulin resistance for men (odds ratio 2.09 [95% CI 1.38–3.17]; P = 0.0005); however, including the amino acid score in prediction models did not improve risk discrimination.
Branched-chain and aromatic amino acids are markers of the development of insulin resistance in young, normoglycemic adults, with most pronounced associations for men. These findings suggest that the association of branched-chain and aromatic amino acids with the risk for future diabetes is at least partly mediated through insulin resistance.
High resting heart rate (HR) is associated with increased cardiovascular risk in general populations, possibly due to elevated blood pressure (BP) or sympathetic over-activity. We studied the association of resting HR with cardiovascular function, and examined whether the hemodynamics remained similar during passive head-up tilt.
Hemodynamics were recorded using whole-body impedance cardiography and continuous radial pulse wave analysis in 522 subjects (age 20–72 years, 261 males) without medication influencing HR or BP, or diagnosed diabetes, coronary artery, renal, peripheral arterial, or cerebrovascular disease. Correlations were calculated, and results analysed according to resting HR tertiles.
Higher resting HR was associated with elevated systolic and diastolic BP, lower stroke volume but higher cardiac output and work, and lower systemic vascular resistance, both supine and upright (p < 0.05 for all). Subjects with higher HR also showed lower supine and upright aortic pulse pressure and augmentation index, and increased resting pulse wave velocity (p < 0.001). Upright stroke volume decreased less in subjects with highest resting HR (p < 0.05), and cardiac output decreased less in subjects with lowest resting HR (p < 0.009), but clear hemodynamic differences between the tertiles persisted both supine and upright.
Supine and upright hemodynamic profile associated with higher resting HR is characterized by higher cardiac output and lower systemic vascular resistance. Higher resting HR was associated with reduced central wave reflection, in spite of elevated BP and arterial stiffness. The increased cardiac workload, higher BP and arterial stiffness, may explain why higher HR is associated with less favourable prognosis in populations.
Arterial stiffness; Cardiac output; Heart rate; Head-up tilt; Systemic vascular resistance
Personality traits are basic dimensions of behavioural variation, and twin, family, and adoption studies show that around 30% of the between-individual variation is due to genetic variation. There is rapidly-growing interest in understanding the evolutionary basis of this genetic variation. Several evolutionary mechanisms could explain how genetic variation is maintained in traits, and each of these makes predictions in terms of the relative contribution of rare and common genetic variants to personality variation, the magnitude of nonadditive genetic influences, and whether personality is affected by inbreeding. Using genome-wide SNP data from >8,000 individuals, we estimated that little variation in the Cloninger personality dimensions (7.2% on average) is due to the combined effect of common, additive genetic variants across the genome, suggesting that most heritable variation in personality is due to rare variant effects and/or a combination of dominance and epistasis. Furthermore, higher levels of inbreeding were associated with less socially-desirable personality trait levels in three of the four personality dimensions. These findings are consistent with genetic variation in personality traits having been maintained by mutation-selection balance.
balancing selection; mutation-selection balance; antagonistic pleiotropy; correlational selection; neutral; trade-offs; personality; temperament; mutation; evolution; behavioural syndromes
The early repolarization pattern (ERP) is common and associated with risk of sudden cardiac death. ERP is heritable and mutations have been described in syndromatic cases.
To conduct a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify common genetic variants influencing ERP.
We ascertained ERP based on electrocardiograms in three large community-based cohorts from Europe and the US: the Framingham Heart Study, the Health 2000 Study, and the KORA F4 Study. We analyzed GWAS in participants with and without ERP by logistic regression assuming an additive genetic model and meta-analyzed individual cohort results. We then sought to strengthen support for findings that reached p≤1×10−5 in independent individuals by direct genotyping or in-silico analysis of genome-wide data. We meta-analyzed the results from both stages.
Of 7482 individuals in the discovery stage, 452 showed ERP (ERP positive: mean age 46.9±8.9 years, 30.3% women; ERP negative: 47.5±9.4 years, 54.2% women). After meta-analysis, eight single nucleotide polymorphisms reached p≤1×10−5: The most significant finding was intergenic rs11653989 (odds ratio 0.47; 95% confidence interval 0.36–0.61; p=6.9×10−9). The most biologically relevant finding was intronic to KCND3: rs17029069 (odds ratio 1.46; 95% confidence interval 1.25–1.69; p=8.5×10−7). In the replication step (7151 individuals), none of the eight variants replicated, and combined meta-analysis results failed to reach genome-wide significance.
In a GWAS, we were not able to reliably identify genetic variants predisposing to ERP, presumably due to insufficient statistical power and phenotype heterogeneity. The reported heritability of ERP warrants continued investigation in larger well-phenotyped populations.
Early repolarization; Sudden cardiac death; Arrhythmia; GWAS; Meta-analysis; Electrocardiogram
Our aim was to study the associations of childhood lifestyle factors (the frequency of consumption of vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, butter use on bread, and physical activity) with the metabolic syndrome (MetS) in adulthood.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
The study cohort consisted of 2,128 individuals, 3–18 years of age at the baseline, with a follow-up time of 27 years. We used the average of lifestyle factor measurements taken in 1980, 1983, and 1986 in the analyses. Childhood dietary factors and physical activity were assessed by self-reported questionnaires, and a harmonized definition of MetS was used as the adult outcome.
Childhood vegetable consumption frequency was inversely associated with adult MetS (odds ratio [OR] 0.86 [95% CI 0.77–0.97], P = 0.02) in a multivariable analysis adjusted with age, sex, childhood metabolic risk factors (lipids, systolic blood pressure, insulin, BMI, and C-reactive protein), family history of type 2 diabetes and hypertension, and socioeconomic status. The association remained even after adjustment for adulthood vegetable consumption. Associations with the other childhood lifestyle factors were not found. Of the individual components of MetS, decreased frequency of childhood vegetable consumption predicted high blood pressure (0.88 [0.80–0.98], P = 0.01) and a high triglyceride value (0.88 [0.79–0.99], P = 0.03) after adjustment for the above-mentioned risk factors.
Childhood vegetable consumption frequency is inversely associated with MetS in adulthood. Our findings suggest that a higher intake of vegetables in childhood may have a protective effect on MetS in adulthood.
Refractive error is the most common eye disorder worldwide, and a prominent cause of blindness. Myopia affects over 30% of Western populations, and up to 80% of Asians. The CREAM consortium conducted genome-wide meta-analyses including 37,382 individuals from 27 studies of European ancestry, and 8,376 from 5 Asian cohorts. We identified 16 new loci for refractive error in subjects of European ancestry, of which 8 were shared with Asians. Combined analysis revealed 8 additional loci. The new loci include genes with functions in neurotransmission (GRIA4), ion channels (KCNQ5), retinoic acid metabolism (RDH5), extracellular matrix remodeling (LAMA2, BMP2), and eye development (SIX6, PRSS56). We also confirmed previously reported associations with GJD2 and RASGRF1. Risk score analysis using associated SNPs showed a tenfold increased risk of myopia for subjects with the highest genetic load. Our results, accumulated across independent multi-ethnic studies, considerably advance understanding of mechanisms involved in refractive error and myopia.
Metabolite predictors of deteriorating glucose tolerance may elucidate the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. We investigated associations of circulating metabolites from high-throughput profiling with fasting and postload glycemia cross-sectionally and prospectively on the population level.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Oral glucose tolerance was assessed in two Finnish, population-based studies consisting of 1,873 individuals (mean age 52 years, 58% women) and reexamined after 6.5 years for 618 individuals in one of the cohorts. Metabolites were quantified by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy from fasting serum samples. Associations were studied by linear regression models adjusted for established risk factors.
Nineteen circulating metabolites, including amino acids, gluconeogenic substrates, and fatty acid measures, were cross-sectionally associated with fasting and/or postload glucose (P < 0.001). Among these metabolic intermediates, branched-chain amino acids, phenylalanine, and α1-acid glycoprotein were predictors of both fasting and 2-h glucose at 6.5-year follow-up (P < 0.05), whereas alanine, lactate, pyruvate, and tyrosine were uniquely associated with 6.5-year postload glucose (P = 0.003–0.04). None of the fatty acid measures were prospectively associated with glycemia. Changes in fatty acid concentrations were associated with changes in fasting and postload glycemia during follow-up; however, changes in branched-chain amino acids did not follow glucose dynamics, and gluconeogenic substrates only paralleled changes in fasting glucose.
Alterations in branched-chain and aromatic amino acid metabolism precede hyperglycemia in the general population. Further, alanine, lactate, and pyruvate were predictive of postchallenge glucose exclusively. These gluconeogenic precursors are potential markers of long-term impaired insulin sensitivity that may relate to attenuated glucose tolerance later in life.
Metabolite associations with insulin resistance were studied in 7,098 young Finns (age 31 ± 3 years; 52% women) to elucidate underlying metabolic pathways. Insulin resistance was assessed by the homeostasis model (HOMA-IR) and circulating metabolites quantified by high-throughput nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in two population-based cohorts. Associations were analyzed using regression models adjusted for age, waist, and standard lipids. Branched-chain and aromatic amino acids, gluconeogenesis intermediates, ketone bodies, and fatty acid composition and saturation were associated with HOMA-IR (P < 0.0005 for 20 metabolite measures). Leu, Ile, Val, and Tyr displayed sex- and obesity-dependent interactions, with associations being significant for women only if they were abdominally obese. Origins of fasting metabolite levels were studied with dietary and physical activity data. Here, protein energy intake was associated with Val, Phe, Tyr, and Gln but not insulin resistance index. We further tested if 12 genetic variants regulating the metabolites also contributed to insulin resistance. The genetic determinants of metabolite levels were not associated with HOMA-IR, with the exception of a variant in GCKR associated with 12 metabolites, including amino acids (P < 0.0005). Nonetheless, metabolic signatures extending beyond obesity and lipid abnormalities reflected the degree of insulin resistance evidenced in young, normoglycemic adults with sex-specific fingerprints.
Economic variables such as income, education, and occupation are known to affect mortality and morbidity, such as cardiovascular disease, and have also been shown to be partly heritable. However, very little is known about which genes influence economic variables, although these genes may have both a direct and an indirect effect on health. We report results from the first large-scale collaboration that studies the molecular genetic architecture of an economic variable–entrepreneurship–that was operationalized using self-employment, a widely-available proxy. Our results suggest that common SNPs when considered jointly explain about half of the narrow-sense heritability of self-employment estimated in twin data (σg2/σP2 = 25%, h2 = 55%). However, a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies across sixteen studies comprising 50,627 participants did not identify genome-wide significant SNPs. 58 SNPs with p<10−5 were tested in a replication sample (n = 3,271), but none replicated. Furthermore, a gene-based test shows that none of the genes that were previously suggested in the literature to influence entrepreneurship reveal significant associations. Finally, SNP-based genetic scores that use results from the meta-analysis capture less than 0.2% of the variance in self-employment in an independent sample (p≥0.039). Our results are consistent with a highly polygenic molecular genetic architecture of self-employment, with many genetic variants of small effect. Although self-employment is a multi-faceted, heavily environmentally influenced, and biologically distal trait, our results are similar to those for other genetically complex and biologically more proximate outcomes, such as height, intelligence, personality, and several diseases.
Nuclear magnetic resonance assays allow for measurement of a wide range of metabolic phenotypes. We report here the results of a GWAS on 8,330 Finnish individuals genotyped and imputed at 7.7 million SNPs for a range of 216 serum metabolic phenotypes assessed by NMR of serum samples. We identified significant associations (P < 2.31 × 10−10) at 31 loci, including 11 for which there have not been previous reports of associations to a metabolic trait or disorder. Analyses of Finnish twin pairs suggested that the metabolic measures reported here show higher heritability than comparable conventional metabolic phenotypes. In accordance with our expectations, SNPs at the 31 loci associated with individual metabolites account for a greater proportion of the genetic component of trait variance (up to 40%) than is typically observed for conventional serum metabolic phenotypes. The identification of such associations may provide substantial insight into cardiometabolic disorders.
Most previous genetic epidemiology studies within the field of osteoporosis have focused on the genetics of the complex trait areal bone mineral density (aBMD), not being able to differentiate genetic determinants of cortical volumetric BMD (vBMD), trabecular vBMD, and bone microstructural traits. The objective of this study was to separately identify genetic determinants of these bone traits as analysed by peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). Separate GWA meta-analyses for cortical and trabecular vBMDs were performed. The cortical vBMD GWA meta-analysis (n = 5,878) followed by replication (n = 1,052) identified genetic variants in four separate loci reaching genome-wide significance (RANKL, rs1021188, p = 3.6×10−14; LOC285735, rs271170, p = 2.7×10−12; OPG, rs7839059, p = 1.2×10−10; and ESR1/C6orf97, rs6909279, p = 1.1×10−9). The trabecular vBMD GWA meta-analysis (n = 2,500) followed by replication (n = 1,022) identified one locus reaching genome-wide significance (FMN2/GREM2, rs9287237, p = 1.9×10−9). High-resolution pQCT analyses, giving information about bone microstructure, were available in a subset of the GOOD cohort (n = 729). rs1021188 was significantly associated with cortical porosity while rs9287237 was significantly associated with trabecular bone fraction. The genetic variant in the FMN2/GREM2 locus was associated with fracture risk in the MrOS Sweden cohort (HR per extra T allele 0.75, 95% confidence interval 0.60–0.93) and GREM2 expression in human osteoblasts. In conclusion, five genetic loci associated with trabecular or cortical vBMD were identified. Two of these (FMN2/GREM2 and LOC285735) are novel bone-related loci, while the other three have previously been reported to be associated with aBMD. The genetic variants associated with cortical and trabecular bone parameters differed, underscoring the complexity of the genetics of bone parameters. We propose that a genetic variant in the RANKL locus influences cortical vBMD, at least partly, via effects on cortical porosity, and that a genetic variant in the FMN2/GREM2 locus influences GREM2 expression in osteoblasts and thereby trabecular number and thickness as well as fracture risk.
Osteoporosis is a common highly heritable skeletal disease characterized by reduced bone mineral density (BMD) and deteriorated bone microstructure, resulting in an increased risk of fracture. Most previous genetic epidemiology studies have focused on the genetics of the complex trait BMD, not being able to separate genetic determinants of the trabecular and cortical bone compartments and bone microstructure. The trabecular and cortical BMDs can be analysed separately by computed tomography. Therefore, we performed separate genome-wide association studies for trabecular and cortical BMDs, demonstrating that the genetic determinants of cortical and trabecular BMDs differ. Genetic variants in the RANKL, LOC285735, OPG, and ESR1 loci were associated with cortical BMD, while a genetic variant in the FMN2/GREM2 locus was associated with trabecular BMD. Two of these are novel bone-related loci. Follow-up analyses of bone microstructure demonstrated that a genetic variant in the RANKL locus is associated with cortical porosity and that the FMN2/GREM2 locus is associated with trabecular number and thickness. We propose that a genetic variant in the RANKL locus influences cortical BMD via effects on cortical porosity, and that a genetic variant in the FMN2/GREM2 locus influences trabecular BMD and fracture risk via effects on both trabecular number and thickness.
Clinical relevance of a genetic predisposition to elevated blood pressure was quantified during the transition from childhood to adulthood in a population-based Finnish cohort (N=2,357). Blood pressure was measured at baseline in 1980 (age 3–18 years) and in follow-ups in 1983, 1986, 2001 and 2007. Thirteen single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with blood pressure were genotyped and three genetic risk scores associated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure and their combination were derived for all participants. Effects of the genetic risk score were 0.47 mmHg for systolic and 0.53 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure (both p<0.01). The combination genetic risk score was associated with diastolic blood pressure from age 9 onwards (β=0.68 mmHg, p=0.015). Replications in 1194 participants of the Bogalusa Heart Study showed essentially similar results. The participants in the highest quintile of the combination genetic risk score had a 1.82-fold risk of hypertension in adulthood (p<0.0001) compared with the lowest quintile, independent of a family history of premature hypertension. These findings show that genetic variants are associated with preclinical blood pressure traits in childhood, individuals with several susceptibility alleles have on average a 0.5 mmHg higher blood pressure and this trajectory continues from childhood to adulthood.
Epidemiological study; Genetic risk score; Blood Pressure; Cardiovascular disease
Recent healthcare policies have influenced the manner in which patient data is handled in research projects, and the regulations concerning protected health information have become significantly tighter. Thus, new procedures are needed to facilitate research while protecting the confidentiality of patient data and ensuring the integrity of clinical work in the expanding environment of electronic files and databases. We have addressed this problem in a university hospital setting by developing the Tampere Research Archival System (TARAS), an extensive data warehouse for research purposes. This dynamic system includes numerous integrated and pseudonymized imaging studies and clinical data. In a pilot study on asthma patients, we tested and improved the functionality of the data archival system. TARAS is feasible to use in retrieving, analyzing, and processing both image and non-image data. In this paper, we present a detailed workflow of the implementation process of the data warehouse, paying special attention to administrative, ethical, practical, and data security concerns. The establishment of TARAS will enhance and accelerate research practice at Tampere University Hospital, while also improving the safety of patient information as well as the prospects for national and international research collaboration. We hope that much can be learned from our experience of planning, designing, and implementing a research data warehouse combining imaging studies and medical records in a university hospital.
PACS; Research PACS; Hospital information systems; Research Archival System; TARAS; Medical research; Large scale; Pseudonymization
Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have identified several susceptibility loci for metabolic syndrome (MetS) component traits, but have had variable success in identifying susceptibility loci to the syndrome as an entity. We conducted a GWA study on MetS and its component traits in four Finnish cohorts consisting of 2637 MetS cases and 7927 controls, both free of diabetes, and followed the top loci in an independent sample with transcriptome and NMR-based metabonomics data. Furthermore, we tested for loci associated with multiple MetS component traits using factor analysis and built a genetic risk score for MetS.
Methods and Results
A previously known lipid locus, APOA1/C3/A4/A5 gene cluster region (SNP rs964184), was associated with MetS in all four study samples (P=7.23×10−9 in meta-analysis). The association was further supported by serum metabolite analysis, where rs964184 associated with various VLDL, TG, and HDL metabolites (P=0.024-1.88×10−5). Twenty-two previously identified susceptibility loci for individual MetS component traits were replicated in our GWA and factor analysis. Most of these associated with lipid phenotypes and none with two or more uncorrelated MetS components. A genetic risk score, calculated as the number of alleles in loci associated with individual MetS traits, was strongly associated with MetS status.
Our findings suggest that genes from lipid metabolism pathways have the key role in the genetic background of MetS. We found little evidence for pleiotropy linking dyslipidemia and obesity to the other MetS component traits such as hypertension and glucose intolerance.
metabolic syndrome; risk factors; genome-wide association study; meta-analysis; lipids
Asthma has substantial morbidity and mortality and a strong genetic component, but identification of genetic risk factors is limited by availability of suitable studies.
To test if population-based cohorts with self-reported physician-diagnosed asthma and genome-wide association (GWA) data could be used to validate known associations with asthma and identify novel associations.
The APCAT (Analysis in Population-based Cohorts of Asthma Traits) consortium consists of 1,716 individuals with asthma and 16,888 healthy controls from six European-descent population-based cohorts. We examined associations in APCAT of thirteen variants previously reported as genome-wide significant (P<5x10−8) and three variants reported as suggestive (P<5×10−7). We also searched for novel associations in APCAT (Stage 1) and followed-up the most promising variants in 4,035 asthmatics and 11,251 healthy controls (Stage 2). Finally, we conducted the first genome-wide screen for interactions with smoking or hay fever.
We observed association in the same direction for all thirteen previously reported variants and nominally replicated ten of them. One variant that was previously suggestive, rs11071559 in RORA, now reaches genome-wide significance when combined with our data (P = 2.4×10−9). We also identified two genome-wide significant associations: rs13408661 near IL1RL1/IL18R1 (PStage1+Stage2 = 1.1x10−9), which is correlated with a variant recently shown to be associated with asthma (rs3771180), and rs9268516 in the HLA region (PStage1+Stage2 = 1.1x10−8), which appears to be independent of previously reported associations in this locus. Finally, we found no strong evidence for gene-environment interactions with smoking or hay fever status.
Population-based cohorts with simple asthma phenotypes represent a valuable and largely untapped resource for genetic studies of asthma.
Objective: If the body fails to acclimatize at high altitude, acute mountain sickness (AMS) may result. For the early detection of AMS, changes in cardiac autonomic function measured by heart rate variability (HRV) may be more sensitive than clinical symptoms alone. The purpose of this study was to ascertain if the changes in HRV during ascent are related to AMS. Methods: We followed Lake Louise Score (LLS), arterial oxygen saturation at rest (R-SpO2) and exercise (Ex-SpO2) and HRV parameters daily in 36 different healthy climbers ascending from 2400 m to 6300 m altitudes during five different expeditions. Results: After an ascent to 2400 m, root mean square successive differences, high-frequency power (HF2 min) of HRV were 17–51% and Ex-SpO2 was 3% lower in those climbers who suffered from AMS at 3000 to 4300 m than in those only developing AMS later (≥5000 m) or not at all (all p < 0.01). At the altitude of 2400 m RMSSD2 min ≤ 30 ms and Ex-SpO2 ≤ 91% both had 92% sensitivity for AMS if ascent continued without extra acclimatization days. Conclusions: Changes in supine HRV parameters at 2400 m were related to AMS at 3000–4300 m Thus, analyses of HRV could offer potential markers for identifying the climbers at risk for AMS.
extreme altitude; altitude illness; heart rate variation; mountaineering
Association testing of multiple correlated phenotypes offers better power than univariate analysis of single traits. We analyzed 6,600 individuals from two population-based cohorts with both genome-wide SNP data and serum metabolomic profiles. From the observed correlation structure of 130 metabolites measured by nuclear magnetic resonance, we identified 11 metabolic networks and performed a multivariate genome-wide association analysis. We identified 34 genomic loci at genome-wide significance, of which 7 are novel. In comparison to univariate tests, multivariate association analysis identified nearly twice as many significant associations in total. Multi-tissue gene expression studies identified variants in our top loci, SERPINA1 and AQP9, as eQTLs and showed that SERPINA1 and AQP9 expression in human blood was associated with metabolites from their corresponding metabolic networks. Finally, liver expression of AQP9 was associated with atherosclerotic lesion area in mice, and in human arterial tissue both SERPINA1 and AQP9 were shown to be upregulated (6.3-fold and 4.6-fold, respectively) in atherosclerotic plaques. Our study illustrates the power of multi-phenotype GWAS and highlights candidate genes for atherosclerosis.
In this study, we aim to identify novel genetic variants for metabolism, characterize their effects on nearby genes, and show that the nearby genes are associated with metabolism and atherosclerosis. To discover new genetic variants, we use an alternative approach to traditional genome-wide association studies: we leverage the information in phenotype covariance to increase our statistical power. We identify variants at seven novel loci and then show that our top signals drive expression of nearby genes AQP9 and SERPINA1 in multiple tissues. We demonstrate that AQP9 and SERPINA1 gene expression, in turn, is associated with metabolite levels. Finally, we show that the genes are associated with atherosclerosis using mouse atherosclerotic lesion size (AQP9) as well as tissue from healthy human arteries and atherosclerotic plaques (AQP9 and SERPINA1). This study illustrates that multivariate analysis of correlated metabolites can boost power for gene discovery substantially. Further functional work will need to be performed to elucidate the biological role of SERPINA1 and AQP9 in atherosclerosis.
The male-to-female sex ratio at birth is constant across world populations with an average of 1.06 (106 male to 100 female live births) for populations of European descent. The sex ratio is considered to be affected by numerous biological and environmental factors and to have a heritable component. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of common allele modest effects at autosomal and chromosome X variants that could explain the observed sex ratio at birth. We conducted a large-scale genome-wide association scan (GWAS) meta-analysis across 51 studies, comprising overall 114 863 individuals (61 094 women and 53 769 men) of European ancestry and 2 623 828 common (minor allele frequency >0.05) single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Allele frequencies were compared between men and women for directly-typed and imputed variants within each study. Forward-time simulations for unlinked, neutral, autosomal, common loci were performed under the demographic model for European populations with a fixed sex ratio and a random mating scheme to assess the probability of detecting significant allele frequency differences. We do not detect any genome-wide significant (P < 5 × 10−8) common SNP differences between men and women in this well-powered meta-analysis. The simulated data provided results entirely consistent with these findings. This large-scale investigation across ∼115 000 individuals shows no detectable contribution from common genetic variants to the observed skew in the sex ratio. The absence of sex-specific differences is useful in guiding genetic association study design, for example when using mixed controls for sex-biased traits.
Stature is a classical and highly heritable complex trait, with 80%–90% of variation explained by genetic factors. In recent years, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have successfully identified many common additive variants influencing human height; however, little attention has been given to the potential role of recessive genetic effects. Here, we investigated genome-wide recessive effects by an analysis of inbreeding depression on adult height in over 35,000 people from 21 different population samples. We found a highly significant inverse association between height and genome-wide homozygosity, equivalent to a height reduction of up to 3 cm in the offspring of first cousins compared with the offspring of unrelated individuals, an effect which remained after controlling for the effects of socio-economic status, an important confounder (χ2 = 83.89, df = 1; p = 5.2×10−20). There was, however, a high degree of heterogeneity among populations: whereas the direction of the effect was consistent across most population samples, the effect size differed significantly among populations. It is likely that this reflects true biological heterogeneity: whether or not an effect can be observed will depend on both the variance in homozygosity in the population and the chance inheritance of individual recessive genotypes. These results predict that multiple, rare, recessive variants influence human height. Although this exploratory work focuses on height alone, the methodology developed is generally applicable to heritable quantitative traits (QT), paving the way for an investigation into inbreeding effects, and therefore genetic architecture, on a range of QT of biomedical importance.
Studies investigating the extent to which genetics influences human characteristics such as height have concentrated mainly on common variants of genes, where having one or two copies of a given variant influences the trait or risk of disease. This study explores whether a different type of genetic variant might also be important. We investigate the role of recessive genetic variants, where two identical copies of a variant are required to have an effect. By measuring genome-wide homozygosity—the phenomenon of inheriting two identical copies at a given point of the genome—in 35,000 individuals from 21 European populations, and by comparing this to individual height, we found that the more homozygous the genome, the shorter the individual. The offspring of first cousins (who have increased homozygosity) were predicted to be up to 3 cm shorter on average than the offspring of unrelated parents. Height is influenced by the combined effect of many recessive variants dispersed across the genome. This may also be true for other human characteristics and diseases, opening up a new way to understand how genetic variation influences our health.
We aimed to identify genetic variants associated with cortical bone thickness (CBT) and bone mineral density (BMD) by performing two separate genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analyses for CBT in 3 cohorts comprising 5,878 European subjects and for BMD in 5 cohorts comprising 5,672 individuals. We then assessed selected single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for osteoporotic fracture in 2,023 cases and 3,740 controls. Association with CBT and forearm BMD was tested for ∼2.5 million SNPs in each cohort separately, and results were meta-analyzed using fixed effect meta-analysis. We identified a missense SNP (Thr>Ile; rs2707466) located in the WNT16 gene (7q31), associated with CBT (effect size of −0.11 standard deviations [SD] per C allele, P = 6.2×10−9). This SNP, as well as another nonsynonymous SNP rs2908004 (Gly>Arg), also had genome-wide significant association with forearm BMD (−0.14 SD per C allele, P = 2.3×10−12, and −0.16 SD per G allele, P = 1.2×10−15, respectively). Four genome-wide significant SNPs arising from BMD meta-analysis were tested for association with forearm fracture. SNP rs7776725 in FAM3C, a gene adjacent to WNT16, was associated with a genome-wide significant increased risk of forearm fracture (OR = 1.33, P = 7.3×10−9), with genome-wide suggestive signals from the two missense variants in WNT16 (rs2908004: OR = 1.22, P = 4.9×10−6 and rs2707466: OR = 1.22, P = 7.2×10−6). We next generated a homozygous mouse with targeted disruption of Wnt16. Female Wnt16−/− mice had 27% (P<0.001) thinner cortical bones at the femur midshaft, and bone strength measures were reduced between 43%–61% (6.5×10−13
Bone traits are highly dependent on genetic factors. To date, numerous genetic loci for bone mineral density (BMD) and only one locus for osteoporotic fracture have been previously identified to be genome-wide significant. Cortical bone has been reported to be an important determinant of bone strength; so far, no genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been performed for cortical bone thickness (CBT) of the tibial and radial diaphysis or BMD at forearm, a skeletal site rich in cortical bone. Therefore, we performed two separated meta-analyses of GWAS for cortical thickness of the tibia in 3 independent cohorts of 5,878 men and women, and for forearm BMD in 5 cohorts of 5,672 individuals. We identified the 7q31 locus, which contains WNT16, to be associated with CBT and BMD. Four SNPs from this locus were then tested in 2,023 osteoporotic fracture cases and 3,740 controls. One of these SNPs was genome-wide significant, and two were genome-wide suggestive, for forearm fracture. Generating a mouse with targeted disruption of Wnt16, we also demonstrated that mice lacking this protein had substantially thinner bone cortices and reduced bone strength than their wild-type littermates. These findings highlight WNT16 as a clinically relevant member of the Wnt signaling pathway and increase our understanding of the etiology of osteoporosis-related phenotypes and fracture.
The clinical utility of identifying pediatric metabolic syndrome (MetS) is controversial. This study sought to determine the status of pediatric MetS as a risk factor for adult subclinical atherosclerosis (carotid intima-media thickness, cIMT) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and compare and contrast this prediction with its individual components.
Methods and Results
Using data from the population-based, prospective, observational Bogalusa Heart and Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns studies, we examined the utility of four categorical definitions of youth MetS and their components in predicting adult high cIMT, and T2DM among 1781 participants aged 9–18 years at baseline (1984–88) who were then examined 14–27 years later (2001–2007) when aged 24–41 years. Youth with MetS were at 2–3 times the risk of having high cIMT, and T2DM as adults compared with those free of MetS at youth. Risk estimates using high body mass index (BMI) were similar to that of MetS phenotypes in predicting adult outcomes. Comparisons of area under the receiver operating characteristic curve and net reclassification suggested that prediction of adult MetS, high cIMT, and T2DM in adulthood using youth MetS was either equivalent or inferior to classification based on high BMI or overweight and obesity.
Youth with MetS are at increased risk of meaningful adult outcomes, however, the simplicity of screening for high BMI or overweight and obesity in the pediatric setting offers a simpler, equally accurate alternative to identifying youth at risk of developing adult MetS, high cIMT, or T2DM.
pediatrics; metabolic syndrome; diabetes; carotid atherosclerosis; obesity
The role of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) single nucleotide polymorphisms has mostly been studied in relation to advanced atherosclerosis, but little is known how they contribute to preclinical disease. In the present study we analyzed whether COX-2 gene variants associate independently with the early subclinical markers of atherosclerosis, carotid intima-media thickness and carotid artery distensibility in a population of young healthy Caucasian adults.
SNPs for association analysis were collected from the COX-2 gene and 5 kb up- and downstream of it. There were 19 SNPs available for analysis, four genotyped and fifteen imputed. Genotype data was available for 2442 individuals participating in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. Genotype imputation was performed using MACH 1.0 and HapMap II CEU (release 22) samples as reference. Association analysis was performed using linear regression with an additive model. PLINK was used for true genotyped SNPs and ProbABEL for imputed genotype dosages. False discovery rate was used to take into account multiple testing bias.
Two of the COX-2 variants (rs689470, rs689462) associated with distensibility (p = 0.005) under the linear regression additive model. After adjustment with gender, age, body mass index and smoking status, association between these SNPs and distensibility remained significant (p = 0.031). Subjects carrying the minor alleles had higher value of carotid artery distensibility compared to the major allele homozygotes. However, after correcting p-values for multiple testing bias using false discovery rate, association was lost. Another COX-2 variant rs4648261 associated with mean carotid intima-media thickness (p = 0.046) and maximal carotid intima-media thickness (p = 0.048) in the linear regression model. Subjects carrying the minor allele of rs4648261 had lower values of mean and maximal carotid intima-media thickness compared to subjects homozygote for major allele. After adjustments the associations were lost with both mean and maximal carotid intima-media thickness. Thus, no statistically significant associations of the studied COX-2 variants with carotid artery distensibility or carotid intima-media thickness were found.
Our results suggest that in a Finnish population, there are no significant associations between COX-2 variants and early atherosclerotic changes in young adulthood.
Results 1-25 (38)
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