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1.  Nutrient and food intakes of middle-aged adults at low risk of cardiovascular disease: the international study of macro-/micronutrients and blood pressure (INTERMAP) 
European journal of nutrition  2011;51(8):917-926.
Individuals with favorable levels of readily measured cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors (low risk, LR) experience low long-term rates of CVD mortality and greater longevity. The purpose of the current study was to compare nutrient/food intakes of LR participants with participants not LR in the INTERMAP study.
Men and women (40–59 years) from 17 population samples in four countries (China, Japan, UK, US) provided four 24-h dietary recalls and two timed 24-h urine collections. LR was defined as meeting all of the following CVD risk criteria: systolic/diastolic blood pressure (BP) ≤120/≤80 mmHg; no drug treatment for high BP, hyperlipidemia, or CVD; non-smoking; BMI <25.0 kg/m2 (US, UK) or <23.0 kg/m2 (China, Japan); alcohol consumption <26.0 g/day (men)/<13.0 g/day (women); and no history of diabetes or CVD. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine associations of nutrient/food intakes with LR.
LR individuals reported higher intake of vegetable protein, fiber, magnesium, non-heme iron, potassium; lower energy intake; lower intake of cholesterol, saturated fatty acids, animal protein; and lower 24-h urinary sodium compared with individuals not LR. With regard to foods, LR individuals reported higher intake of fruits, vegetables, grains, pasta/rice, fish; lower intakes of meats, processed meats, high-fat dairy, and sugar-sweetened beverages than individuals not LR.
Lower energy intake and differential intake of multiple specific nutrients and foods are characteristic of individuals at low risk for developing CVD. Identification of dietary habits associated with LR is important for further development of public health efforts aimed at reduction/prevention of CVD.
PMCID: PMC3939781  PMID: 22057680
Cardiovascular disease; Diet; Foods; Low cardiovascular risk; Nutrients; Risk factors
2.  Re-sequencing Expands Our Understanding of the Phenotypic Impact of Variants at GWAS Loci 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(1):e1004147.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >500 common variants associated with quantitative metabolic traits, but in aggregate such variants explain at most 20–30% of the heritable component of population variation in these traits. To further investigate the impact of genotypic variation on metabolic traits, we conducted re-sequencing studies in >6,000 members of a Finnish population cohort (The Northern Finland Birth Cohort of 1966 [NFBC]) and a type 2 diabetes case-control sample (The Finland-United States Investigation of NIDDM Genetics [FUSION] study). By sequencing the coding sequence and 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions of 78 genes at 17 GWAS loci associated with one or more of six metabolic traits (serum levels of fasting HDL-C, LDL-C, total cholesterol, triglycerides, plasma glucose, and insulin), and conducting both single-variant and gene-level association tests, we obtained a more complete understanding of phenotype-genotype associations at eight of these loci. At all eight of these loci, the identification of new associations provides significant evidence for multiple genetic signals to one or more phenotypes, and at two loci, in the genes ABCA1 and CETP, we found significant gene-level evidence of association to non-synonymous variants with MAF<1%. Additionally, two potentially deleterious variants that demonstrated significant associations (rs138726309, a missense variant in G6PC2, and rs28933094, a missense variant in LIPC) were considerably more common in these Finnish samples than in European reference populations, supporting our prior hypothesis that deleterious variants could attain high frequencies in this isolated population, likely due to the effects of population bottlenecks. Our results highlight the value of large, well-phenotyped samples for rare-variant association analysis, and the challenge of evaluating the phenotypic impact of such variants.
Author Summary
Abnormal serum levels of various metabolites, including measures relevant to cholesterol, other fats, and sugars, are known to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Identification of the genes that play a role in generating such abnormalities could advance the development of new treatment and prevention strategies for these disorders. Investigations of common genetic variants carried out in large sets of research subjects have successfully pinpointed such genes within many regions of the human genome. However, these studies often have not led to the identification of the specific genetic variations affecting metabolic traits. To attempt to detect such causal variations, we sequenced genes in 17 genomic regions implicated in metabolic traits in >6,000 people from Finland. By conducting statistical analyses relating specific variations (individually and grouped by gene) to the measures for these metabolic traits observed in the study subjects, we added to our understanding of how genotypes affect these traits. Our findings support a long-held hypothesis that the unique history of the Finnish population provides important advantages for analyzing the relationship between genetic variations and biomedically important traits.
PMCID: PMC3907339  PMID: 24497850
3.  Genetic variants influencing circulating lipid levels and risk of coronary artery disease 
Genetic studies might provide new insights into the biological mechanisms underlying lipid metabolism and risk of CAD. We therefore conducted a genome-wide association study to identify novel genetic determinants of LDL-c, HDL-c and triglycerides.
Methods and results
We combined genome-wide association data from eight studies, comprising up to 17,723 participants with information on circulating lipid concentrations. We did independent replication studies in up to 37,774 participants from eight populations and also in a population of Indian Asian descent. We also assessed the association between SNPs at lipid loci and risk of CAD in up to 9,633 cases and 38,684 controls.
We identified four novel genetic loci that showed reproducible associations with lipids (P values 1.6 × 10−8 to 3.1 × 10−10). These include a potentially functional SNP in the SLC39A8 gene for HDL-c, a SNP near the MYLIP/GMPR and PPP1R3B genes for LDL-c and at the AFF1 gene for triglycerides. SNPs showing strong statistical association with one or more lipid traits at the CELSR2, APOB, APOE-C1-C4-C2 cluster, LPL, ZNF259-APOA5-A4-C3-A1 cluster and TRIB1 loci were also associated with CAD risk (P values 1.1 × 10−3 to 1.2 × 10−9).
We have identified four novel loci associated with circulating lipids. We also show that in addition to those that are largely associated with LDL-c, genetic loci mainly associated with circulating triglycerides and HDL-c are also associated with risk of CAD. These findings potentially provide new insights into the biological mechanisms underlying lipid metabolism and CAD risk.
PMCID: PMC3891568  PMID: 20864672
lipids; lipoproteins; genetics; epidemiology
4.  Global, regional and national sodium intakes in 1990 and 2010: a systematic analysis of 24 h urinary sodium excretion and dietary surveys worldwide 
Powles, John | Fahimi, Saman | Micha, Renata | Khatibzadeh, Shahab | Shi, Peilin | Ezzati, Majid | Engell, Rebecca E | Lim, Stephen S | Danaei, Goodarz | Mozaffarian, Dariush | Mozaffarian, Dariush | Ezzati, Majid | Fahimi, Saman | Khatibzadeh, Shahab | Micha, Renata | Powles, John | Shi, Peilin | Byers, Tim E | Giovannucci, Edward | Smith-Warner, Stephanie | Elmadfa, Ibrahim | Kalantarian, Shadi | Rao, Mayuree | Wirojratana, Pattra | Lim, Stephen S | Andrews, Kathryn G | Engell, Rebecca E | Elliott, Paul | Brown, Ian | Britton, John | Fogarty, Andrew | Land, Mary Anne | Lewis, Sarah | McKeever, Tricia | Neal, Bruce | Ocké, Marga C | Webster, Jacqui | Abbott, Pamela A | Abdollahi, Morteza | Gilardon, Enrique O Abeyá | Ahsan, Habibul | Al Nsour, Mohannad Abed Alfattah | Al-Hooti, Suad N | Arambepola, Carukshi | Barennes, Hubert | Barquera, Simon | Baylin, Ana | Becker, Wulf | Bjerregaard, Peter | Science, Medical | Bourne, Lesley T | Calleja, Neville | Capanzana, Mario V | Castetbon, Katia | Chang, Hsing-Yi | Chen, Yu | Cowan, Melanie J | De Henauw, Stefaan | Elmadfa, Ibrahim | Barbieri, Heléne Enghardt | Farzadfar, Farshad | Fernando, Dulitha N | Filipovic Hadziomeragic, Aida | Fisberg, Regina M | Forsyth, Simon | Garriguet, Didier | Gaspoz, Jean-Michel | Gauci, Dorothy | Ginnela, Brahmam NV | Guessous, Idris | Gulliford, Martin C | Hadden, Wilbur | Haerpfer, Christian | Hoffman, Daniel J | Houshiar-rad, Anahita | Huybrechts, Inge | Hwalla, Nahla C | Ibrahim, Hajah Masni | Inoue, Manami | Jackson, Maria D | Johansson, Lars | Keinan-Boker, Lital | Kim, Cho-il | Koksal, Eda | Lee, Hae-Jeung | Li, Yanping | Indrawaty Lipoeto, Nur | Ma, Guansheng | Matsumura, Yasuhiro | McGarvey, Stephen T. | Fen, Chan Mei | Mensink, Gert BM | Monge-Rojas, Rafael A | Musaiger, Abdulrahman Obaid. | Nagalla, Balakrishna | Naska, Androniki | Ocke, Marga C | Oltarzewski, Maciej | Orfanos, Philippos | Ovaskainen, Marja-Leena | Pan, Wen-Harn | Panagiotakos, Demosthenes B | Pekcan, Gulden Ayla | Petrova, Stefka | Piaseu, Noppawan | Pitsavos, Christos | Posada, Luz Gladys. | Riley, Leanne M | Sánchez-Romero, Luz Maria | Selamat, Rusidah BT | Sichieri, Rosely | Simmala, Chansimaly | Steingrimsdottir, Laufey | Swan, Gillian | Sygnowska, Elz˙bieta Halina. | Szponar, Lucjan | Tapanainen, Heli | Templeton, Robert | Thanopoulou, Anastasia | Thorgeirsdóttir, Holmfridur | Thorsdottir, Inga | Trichopoulou, Antonia | Tsugane, Shoichiro | Turrini, Aida | Vaask, Sirje | Veerman, J Lennert | Verena, Nowak | Waskiewicz, Anna | Zaghloul, Sahar | Zajkás, Gábor
BMJ Open  2013;3(12):e003733.
To estimate global, regional (21 regions) and national (187 countries) sodium intakes in adults in 1990 and 2010.
Bayesian hierarchical modelling using all identifiable primary sources.
Data sources and eligibility
We searched and obtained published and unpublished data from 142 surveys of 24 h urinary sodium and 103 of dietary sodium conducted between 1980 and 2010 across 66 countries. Dietary estimates were converted to urine equivalents based on 79 pairs of dual measurements.
Modelling methods
Bayesian hierarchical modelling used survey data and their characteristics to estimate mean sodium intake, by sex, 5 years age group and associated uncertainty for persons aged 20+ in 187 countries in 1990 and 2010. Country-level covariates were national income/person and composition of food supplies.
Main outcome measures
Mean sodium intake (g/day) as estimable by 24 h urine collections, without adjustment for non-urinary losses.
In 2010, global mean sodium intake was 3.95 g/day (95% uncertainty interval: 3.89 to 4.01). This was nearly twice the WHO recommended limit of 2 g/day and equivalent to 10.06 (9.88–10.21) g/day of salt. Intake in men was ∼10% higher than in women; differences by age were small. Intakes were highest in East Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe (mean >4.2 g/day) and in Central Europe and Middle East/North Africa (3.9–4.2 g/day). Regional mean intakes in North America, Western Europe and Australia/New Zealand ranged from 3.4 to 3.8 g/day. Intakes were lower (<3.3 g/day), but more uncertain, in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Between 1990 and 2010, modest, but uncertain, increases in sodium intakes were identified.
Sodium intakes exceed the recommended levels in almost all countries with small differences by age and sex. Virtually all populations would benefit from sodium reduction, supported by enhanced surveillance.
PMCID: PMC3884590  PMID: 24366578
Nutrition & Dietetics; Epidemiology; Hypertension < Cardiology; Preventive Medicine
5.  Diet composition and activity level of at risk and metabolically healthy obese American adults 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2013;21(3):10.1002/oby.20257.
Obesity often clusters with other major cardiovascular disease risk factors, yet a subset of the obese appears to be protected from these risks. Two obesity phenotypes are described, 1) “metabolically healthy” obese, broadly defined as body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m2 and favorable levels of blood pressure, lipids, and glucose; and 2) “at risk” obese, BMI ≥ 30 with unfavorable levels of these risk factors. More than 30% of obese American adults are metabolically healthy. Diet and activity determinants of obesity phenotypes are unclear. We hypothesized that metabolically healthy obese have more favorable behavioral factors, including less adverse diet composition and higher activity levels than at risk obese in the multi-ethnic group of 775 obese American adults ages 40–59 years from the International Population Study on Macro/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP) cohort. In gender stratified analyses, mean values for diet composition and activity behavior variables, adjusted for age, race, and education, were compared between metabolically healthy and at risk obese. Nearly 1 in 5 (149/775, or 19%) of obese American INTERMAP participants were classified as metabolically healthy obese. Diet composition and most activity behaviors were similar between obesity phenotypes, although metabolically healthy obese women reported higher sleep duration than at risk obese women. These results do not support hypotheses that diet composition and/or physical activity account for the absence of cardiometabolic abnormalities in metabolically healthy obese.
PMCID: PMC3416914  PMID: 23592673
6.  Quantitative UPLC-MS/MS analysis of the gut microbial co-metabolites phenylacetylglutamine, 4-cresyl sulphate and hippurate in human urine: INTERMAP Study 
The role of the gut microbiome in human health, and non-invasive measurement of gut dysbiosis are of increasing clinical interest. New high-throughput methods are required for the rapid measurement of gut microbial metabolites and to establish reference ranges in human populations. We used ultra-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) -- positive and negative electrospray ionization modes, multiple reaction monitoring transitions -- to simultaneously measure three urinary metabolites (phenylacetylglutamine, 4-cresyl sulphate and hippurate) that are potential biomarkers of gut function, among multi-ethnic US men and women aged 40–59 from the INTERMAP epidemiologic study (n = 2000, two timed 24-hr urine collections/person). Metabolite concentrations were quantified via stable isotope labeled internal standards. The assay was linear in the ranges 1ng/mL (lower limit of quantification) to 1000ng/mL (phenylacetylglutamine and 4-cresyl sulfate) and 3ng/mL to 3000ng/mL (hippurate). These quantitative data provide new urinary reference ranges for population-based human samples: mean (standard deviation) 24-hr urinary excretion for phenylacetylglutamine was: 1283.0 (751.7) μmol/24-hr (men), 1145.9 (635.5) μmol/24-hr (women); for 4-cresyl sulphate, 1002.5 (737.1) μmol/24-hr (men), 1031.8 (687.9) μmol/24-hr (women); for hippurate, 6284.6 (4008.1) μmol/24-hr (men), 4793.0 (3293.3) μmol/24-hr (women). Metabolic profiling by UPLC-MS/MS in a large sample of free-living individuals has provided new data on urinary reference ranges for three urinary microbial co-metabolites, and demonstrates the applicability of this approach to epidemiological investigations.
PMCID: PMC3740387  PMID: 23946767
7.  Comparative Assessment of Particulate Air Pollution Exposure from Municipal Solid Waste Incinerator Emissions 
Background. Research to date on health effects associated with incineration has found limited evidence of health risks, but many previous studies have been constrained by poor exposure assessment. This paper provides a comparative assessment of atmospheric dispersion modelling and distance from source (a commonly used proxy for exposure) as exposure assessment methods for pollutants released from incinerators. Methods. Distance from source and the atmospheric dispersion model ADMS-Urban were used to characterise ambient exposures to particulates from two municipal solid waste incinerators (MSWIs) in the UK. Additionally an exploration of the sensitivity of the dispersion model simulations to input parameters was performed. Results. The model output indicated extremely low ground level concentrations of PM10, with maximum concentrations of <0.01 μg/m3. Proximity and modelled PM10 concentrations for both MSWIs at postcode level were highly correlated when using continuous measures (Spearman correlation coefficients ~ 0.7) but showed poor agreement for categorical measures (deciles or quintiles, Cohen's kappa coefficients ≤ 0.5). Conclusion. To provide the most appropriate estimate of ambient exposure from MSWIs, it is essential that incinerator characteristics, magnitude of emissions, and surrounding meteorological and topographical conditions are considered. Reducing exposure misclassification is particularly important in environmental epidemiology to aid detection of low-level risks.
PMCID: PMC3725787  PMID: 23935644
8.  OTU Deubiquitinases Reveal Mechanisms of Linkage Specificity and Enable Ubiquitin Chain Restriction Analysis 
Cell  2013;154(1):169-184.
Sixteen ovarian tumor (OTU) family deubiquitinases (DUBs) exist in humans, and most members regulate cell-signaling cascades. Several OTU DUBs were reported to be ubiquitin (Ub) chain linkage specific, but comprehensive analyses are missing, and the underlying mechanisms of linkage specificity are unclear. Using Ub chains of all eight linkage types, we reveal that most human OTU enzymes are linkage specific, preferring one, two, or a defined subset of linkage types, including unstudied atypical Ub chains. Biochemical analysis and five crystal structures of OTU DUBs with or without Ub substrates reveal four mechanisms of linkage specificity. Additional Ub-binding domains, the ubiquitinated sequence in the substrate, and defined S1’ and S2 Ub-binding sites on the OTU domain enable OTU DUBs to distinguish linkage types. We introduce Ub chain restriction analysis, in which OTU DUBs are used as restriction enzymes to reveal linkage type and the relative abundance of Ub chains on substrates.
Graphical Abstract
•The 16 human OTU DUBs cleave distinct sets of ubiquitin chain types•Five crystal structures of three human OTU DUBs reveal uncharacterized Ub-binding sites•We reveal four distinct mechanisms of linkage specificity in OTU DUBs•OTU DUBs can be used to identify the linkage types on a ubiquitinated substrate
OTU deubiquitinases use four distinct mechanisms of linkage specificity to hydrolyze ubiquitin, and, due to their specificity, OTU DUBs can be used in ubiquitin chain restriction analysis to characterize the chain types on ubiquitinated proteins.
PMCID: PMC3705208  PMID: 23827681
9.  The Role of Adiposity in Cardiometabolic Traits: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis 
Fall, Tove | Hägg, Sara | Mägi, Reedik | Ploner, Alexander | Fischer, Krista | Horikoshi, Momoko | Sarin, Antti-Pekka | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Ladenvall, Claes | Kals, Mart | Kuningas, Maris | Draisma, Harmen H. M. | Ried, Janina S. | van Zuydam, Natalie R. | Huikari, Ville | Mangino, Massimo | Sonestedt, Emily | Benyamin, Beben | Nelson, Christopher P. | Rivera, Natalia V. | Kristiansson, Kati | Shen, Huei-yi | Havulinna, Aki S. | Dehghan, Abbas | Donnelly, Louise A. | Kaakinen, Marika | Nuotio, Marja-Liisa | Robertson, Neil | de Bruijn, Renée F. A. G. | Ikram, M. Arfan | Amin, Najaf | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Braund, Peter S. | Doney, Alexander S. F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Esko, Tõnu | Franco, Oscar H. | Gretarsdottir, Solveig | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Heikkilä, Kauko | Herzig, Karl-Heinz | Holm, Hilma | Hottenga, Jouke Jan | Hyppönen, Elina | Illig, Thomas | Isaacs, Aaron | Isomaa, Bo | Karssen, Lennart C. | Kettunen, Johannes | Koenig, Wolfgang | Kuulasmaa, Kari | Laatikainen, Tiina | Laitinen, Jaana | Lindgren, Cecilia | Lyssenko, Valeriya | Läärä, Esa | Rayner, Nigel W. | Männistö, Satu | Pouta, Anneli | Rathmann, Wolfgang | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Ruokonen, Aimo | Savolainen, Markku J. | Sijbrands, Eric J. G. | Small, Kerrin S. | Smit, Jan H. | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Taanila, Anja | Tobin, Martin D. | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Willems, Sara M. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Witteman, Jacqueline | Perola, Markus | Evans, Alun | Ferrières, Jean | Virtamo, Jarmo | Kee, Frank | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Arveiler, Dominique | Amouyel, Philippe | Ferrario, Marco M. | Brambilla, Paolo | Hall, Alistair S. | Heath, Andrew C. | Madden, Pamela A. F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Whitfield, John B. | Jula, Antti | Knekt, Paul | Oostra, Ben | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Penninx, Brenda W. J. H. | Davey Smith, George | Kaprio, Jaakko | Samani, Nilesh J. | Gieger, Christian | Peters, Annette | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Boomsma, Dorret I. | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Tuomi, TiinaMaija | Power, Chris | Hammond, Christopher J. | Spector, Tim D. | Lind, Lars | Orho-Melander, Marju | Palmer, Colin Neil Alexander | Morris, Andrew D. | Groop, Leif | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Salomaa, Veikko | Vartiainen, Erkki | Hofman, Albert | Ripatti, Samuli | Metspalu, Andres | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Stefansson, Kari | Pedersen, Nancy L. | McCarthy, Mark I. | Ingelsson, Erik | Prokopenko, Inga | Minelli, Cosetta
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001474.
In this study, Prokopenko and colleagues provide novel evidence for causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure and increased liver enzymes using a Mendelian randomization study design.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
The association between adiposity and cardiometabolic traits is well known from epidemiological studies. Whilst the causal relationship is clear for some of these traits, for others it is not. We aimed to determine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits using the Mendelian randomization approach.
Methods and Findings
We used the adiposity-associated variant rs9939609 at the FTO locus as an instrumental variable (IV) for body mass index (BMI) in a Mendelian randomization design. Thirty-six population-based studies of individuals of European descent contributed to the analyses.
Age- and sex-adjusted regression models were fitted to test for association between (i) rs9939609 and BMI (n = 198,502), (ii) rs9939609 and 24 traits, and (iii) BMI and 24 traits. The causal effect of BMI on the outcome measures was quantified by IV estimators. The estimators were compared to the BMI–trait associations derived from the same individuals. In the IV analysis, we demonstrated novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and incident heart failure (hazard ratio, 1.19 per BMI-unit increase; 95% CI, 1.03–1.39) and replicated earlier reports of a causal association with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, and hypertension (odds ratio for IV estimator, 1.1–1.4; all p<0.05). For quantitative traits, our results provide novel evidence for a causal effect of adiposity on the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase and confirm previous reports of a causal effect of adiposity on systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting insulin, 2-h post-load glucose from the oral glucose tolerance test, C-reactive protein, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (all p<0.05). The estimated causal effects were in agreement with traditional observational measures in all instances except for type 2 diabetes, where the causal estimate was larger than the observational estimate (p = 0.001).
We provide novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure as well as between adiposity and increased liver enzymes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—disease that affects the heart and/or the blood vessels—is a major cause of illness and death worldwide. In the US, for example, coronary heart disease—a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's blood vessels by fatty deposits slows the blood supply to the heart and may eventually cause a heart attack—is the leading cause of death, and stroke—a CVD in which the brain's blood supply is interrupted—is the fourth leading cause of death. Globally, both the incidence of CVD (the number of new cases in a population every year) and its prevalence (the proportion of the population with CVD) are increasing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This increasing burden of CVD is occurring in parallel with a global increase in the incidence and prevalence of obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat (adiposity)—and of metabolic diseases—conditions such as diabetes in which metabolism (the processes that the body uses to make energy from food) is disrupted, with resulting high blood sugar and damage to the blood vessels.
Why Was This Study Done?
Epidemiological studies—investigations that record the patterns and causes of disease in populations—have reported an association between adiposity (indicated by an increased body mass index [BMI], which is calculated by dividing body weight in kilograms by height in meters squared) and cardiometabolic traits such as coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure (a condition in which the heart is incapable of pumping sufficient amounts of blood around the body), diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and high blood cholesterol (dyslipidemia). However, observational studies cannot prove that adiposity causes any particular cardiometabolic trait because overweight individuals may share other characteristics (confounding factors) that are the real causes of both obesity and the cardiometabolic disease. Moreover, it is possible that having CVD or a metabolic disease causes obesity (reverse causation). For example, individuals with heart failure cannot do much exercise, so heart failure may cause obesity rather than vice versa. Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. It is known that a genetic variant (rs9939609) within the genome region that encodes the fat-mass- and obesity-associated gene (FTO) is associated with increased BMI. Thus, an investigation of the associations between rs9939609 and cardiometabolic traits can indicate whether obesity is causally related to these traits.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the association between rs9939609 (the “instrumental variable,” or IV) and BMI, between rs9939609 and 24 cardiometabolic traits, and between BMI and the same traits using genetic and health data collected in 36 population-based studies of nearly 200,000 individuals of European descent. They then quantified the strength of the causal association between BMI and the cardiometabolic traits by calculating “IV estimators.” Higher BMI showed a causal relationship with heart failure, metabolic syndrome (a combination of medical disorders that increases the risk of developing CVD), type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, increased blood levels of liver enzymes (an indicator of liver damage; some metabolic disorders involve liver damage), and several other cardiometabolic traits. All the IV estimators were similar to the BMI–cardiovascular trait associations (observational estimates) derived from the same individuals, with the exception of diabetes, where the causal estimate was higher than the observational estimate, probably because the observational estimate is based on a single BMI measurement, whereas the causal estimate considers lifetime changes in BMI.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Like all Mendelian randomization studies, the reliability of the causal associations reported here depends on several assumptions made by the researchers. Nevertheless, these findings provide support for many previously suspected and biologically plausible causal relationships, such as that between adiposity and hypertension. They also provide new insights into the causal effect of obesity on liver enzyme levels and on heart failure. In the latter case, these findings suggest that a one-unit increase in BMI might increase the incidence of heart failure by 17%. In the US, this corresponds to 113,000 additional cases of heart failure for every unit increase in BMI at the population level. Although additional studies are needed to confirm and extend these findings, these results suggest that global efforts to reduce the burden of obesity will likely also reduce the occurrence of CVD and metabolic disorders.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The American Heart Association provides information on all aspects of cardiovascular disease and tips on keeping the heart healthy, including weight management (in several languages); its website includes personal stories about stroke and heart attacks
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on heart disease, stroke, and all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about cardiovascular disease and obesity, including a personal story about losing weight
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about the global obesity epidemic
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on heart disease, on vascular disease, on obesity, and on metabolic disorders (in English and Spanish)
The International Association for the Study of Obesity provides maps and information about obesity worldwide
The International Diabetes Federation has a web page that describes types, complications, and risk factors of diabetes
PMCID: PMC3692470  PMID: 23824655
10.  OTULIN Antagonizes LUBAC Signaling by Specifically Hydrolyzing Met1-Linked Polyubiquitin 
Cell  2013;153(6):1312-1326.
The linear ubiquitin (Ub) chain assembly complex (LUBAC) is an E3 ligase that specifically assembles Met1-linked (also known as linear) Ub chains that regulate nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) signaling. Deubiquitinases (DUBs) are key regulators of Ub signaling, but a dedicated DUB for Met1 linkages has not been identified. Here, we reveal a previously unannotated human DUB, OTULIN (also known as FAM105B), which is exquisitely specific for Met1 linkages. Crystal structures of the OTULIN catalytic domain in complex with diubiquitin reveal Met1-specific Ub-binding sites and a mechanism of substrate-assisted catalysis in which the proximal Ub activates the catalytic triad of the protease. Mutation of Ub Glu16 inhibits OTULIN activity by reducing kcat 240-fold. OTULIN overexpression or knockdown affects NF-κB responses to LUBAC, TNFα, and poly(I:C) and sensitizes cells to TNFα-induced cell death. We show that OTULIN binds LUBAC and that overexpression of OTULIN prevents TNFα-induced NEMO association with ubiquitinated RIPK1. Our data suggest that OTULIN regulates Met1-polyUb signaling.
Graphical Abstract
•FAM105B/OTULIN is a deubiquitinase exclusively hydrolyzing Met1-linked polyUb•The structure of an OTULIN-diUb complex reveals substrate-assisted catalysis•OTULIN binds LUBAC and regulates the abundance of Met1-linked chains in cells•OTULIN opposes LUBAC function in cytokine signaling
OTULIN is the DUB that counteracts the recently identified linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC) signaling pathway and acts as a regulator of cytokine responses.
PMCID: PMC3690481  PMID: 23746843
11.  Rare Genomic Structural Variants in Complex Disease: Lessons from the Replication of Associations with Obesity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58048.
The limited ability of common variants to account for the genetic contribution to complex disease has prompted searches for rare variants of large effect, to partly explain the ‘missing heritability’. Analyses of genome-wide genotyping data have identified genomic structural variants (GSVs) as a source of such rare causal variants. Recent studies have reported multiple GSV loci associated with risk of obesity. We attempted to replicate these associations by similar analysis of two familial-obesity case-control cohorts and a population cohort, and detected GSVs at 11 out of 18 loci, at frequencies similar to those previously reported. Based on their reported frequencies and effect sizes (OR≥25), we had sufficient statistical power to detect the large majority (80%) of genuine associations at these loci. However, only one obesity association was replicated. Deletion of a 220 kb region on chromosome 16p11.2 has a carrier population frequency of 2×10−4 (95% confidence interval [9.6×10−5–3.1×10−4]); accounts overall for 0.5% [0.19%–0.82%] of severe childhood obesity cases (P = 3.8×10−10; odds ratio = 25.0 [9.9–60.6]); and results in a mean body mass index (BMI) increase of 5.8 kg.m−2 [1.8–10.3] in adults from the general population. We also attempted replication using BMI as a quantitative trait in our population cohort; associations with BMI at or near nominal significance were detected at two further loci near KIF2B and within FOXP2, but these did not survive correction for multiple testing. These findings emphasise several issues of importance when conducting rare GSV association, including the need for careful cohort selection and replication strategy, accurate GSV identification, and appropriate correction for multiple testing and/or control of false discovery rate. Moreover, they highlight the potential difficulty in replicating rare CNV associations across different populations. Nevertheless, we show that such studies are potentially valuable for the identification of variants making an appreciable contribution to complex disease.
PMCID: PMC3595275  PMID: 23554873
12.  A Comparison of Self-Reported Analgesic Use and Detection of Urinary Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen Metabolites by Means of Metabonomics 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;175(4):348-358.
Information on dietary supplements, medications, and other xenobiotics in epidemiologic surveys is usually obtained from questionnaires and is subject to recall and reporting biases. The authors used metabolite data obtained from hydrogen-1 (or proton) nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) analysis of human urine specimens from the International Study of Macro-/Micro-Nutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP Study) to validate self-reported analgesic use. Metabolic profiling of two 24-hour urine specimens per individual was carried out for 4,630 participants aged 40–59 years from 17 population samples in Japan, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States (data collection, 1996–1999). 1H NMR-detected acetaminophen and ibuprofen use was low (∼4%) among East Asian population samples and higher (>16%) in Western population samples. In a comparison of self-reported acetaminophen and ibuprofen use with 1H NMR-detected acetaminophen and ibuprofen metabolites among 496 participants from Chicago, Illinois, and Belfast, Northern Ireland, the overall rate of concordance was 81%–84%; the rate of underreporting was 15%–17%; and the rate of underdetection was approximately 1%. Comparison of self-reported unspecified analgesic use with 1H NMR-detected acetaminophen and ibuprofen metabolites among 2,660 Western INTERMAP participants revealed similar levels of concordance and underreporting. Screening for urinary metabolites of acetaminophen and ibuprofen improved the accuracy of exposure information. This approach has the potential to reduce recall bias and other biases in epidemiologic studies for a range of substances, including pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, and foods.
PMCID: PMC3271812  PMID: 22223708
analgesics, non-narcotic; anti-inflammatory agents, non-steroidal; epidemiologic studies; metabolomics; pharmacoepidemiology; questionnaires; reproducibility of results
13.  RIAM and Vinculin Binding to Talin Are Mutually Exclusive and Regulate Adhesion Assembly and Turnover* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(12):8238-8249.
Background: Talin mediates RIAM-dependent integrin activation and binds vinculin, which stabilizes adhesions.
Results: Structural and biochemical data show that vinculin inhibits RIAM binding to the compact N-terminal region of the talin rod, a region essential for focal adhesion assembly.
Conclusion: Talin·RIAM complexes activate integrins at the leading edge, whereas talin·vinculin promotes adhesion maturation.
Significance: Talin changes partners in response to force-induced conformational change.
Talin activates integrins, couples them to F-actin, and recruits vinculin to focal adhesions (FAs). Here, we report the structural characterization of the talin rod: 13 helical bundles (R1–R13) organized into a compact cluster of four-helix bundles (R2–R4) within a linear chain of five-helix bundles. Nine of the bundles contain vinculin-binding sites (VBS); R2R3 are atypical, with each containing two VBS. Talin R2R3 also binds synergistically to RIAM, a Rap1 effector involved in integrin activation. Biochemical and structural data show that vinculin and RIAM binding to R2R3 is mutually exclusive. Moreover, vinculin binding requires domain unfolding, whereas RIAM binds the folded R2R3 double domain. In cells, RIAM is enriched in nascent adhesions at the leading edge whereas vinculin is enriched in FAs. We propose a model in which RIAM binding to R2R3 initially recruits talin to membranes where it activates integrins. As talin engages F-actin, force exerted on R2R3 disrupts RIAM binding and exposes the VBS, which recruit vinculin to stabilize the complex.
PMCID: PMC3605642  PMID: 23389036
Adhesion; Cell Biology; Integrins; Nuclear Magnetic Resonance; Structural Biology; RIAM; Focal Adhesions; Talin; Vinculin
14.  Heterozygous Mutations Causing Partial Prohormone Convertase 1 Deficiency Contribute to Human Obesity 
Diabetes  2012;61(2):383-390.
Null mutations in the PCSK1 gene, encoding the proprotein convertase 1/3 (PC1/3), cause recessive monogenic early onset obesity. Frequent coding variants that modestly impair PC1/3 function mildly increase the risk for common obesity. The aim of this study was to determine the contribution of rare functional PCSK1 mutations to obesity. PCSK1 exons were sequenced in 845 nonconsanguineous extremely obese Europeans. Eight novel nonsynonymous PCSK1 mutations were identified, all heterozygous. Seven mutations had a deleterious effect on either the maturation or the enzymatic activity of PC1/3 in cell lines. Of interest, five of these novel mutations, one of the previously described frequent variants (N221D), and the mutation found in an obese mouse model (N222D), affect residues at or near the structural calcium binding site Ca-1. The prevalence of the newly identified mutations was assessed in 6,233 obese and 6,274 lean European adults and children, which showed that carriers of any of these mutations causing partial PCSK1 deficiency had an 8.7-fold higher risk to be obese than wild-type carriers. These results provide the first evidence of an increased risk of obesity in heterozygous carriers of mutations in the PCSK1 gene. Furthermore, mutations causing partial PCSK1 deficiency are present in 0.83% of extreme obesity phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3266396  PMID: 22210313
15.  A Platform for the Remote Conduct of Gene-Environment Interaction Studies 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54331.
Gene-environment interaction studies offer the prospect of robust causal inference through both gene identification and instrumental variable approaches. As such they are a major and much needed development. However, conducting these studies using traditional methods, which require direct participant contact, is resource intensive. The ability to conduct gene-environment interaction studies remotely would reduce costs and increase capacity.
To develop a platform for the remote conduct of gene-environment interaction studies.
A random sample of 15,000 men and women aged 50+ years and living in Cardiff, South Wales, of whom 6,012 were estimated to have internet connectivity, were mailed inviting them to visit a web-site to join a study of successful ageing. Online consent was obtained for questionnaire completion, cognitive testing, re-contact, record linkage and genotyping. Cognitive testing was conducted using the Cardiff Cognitive Battery. Bio-sampling was randomised to blood spot, buccal cell or no request.
A heterogeneous sample of 663 (4.5% of mailed sample and 11% of internet connected sample) men and women (47% female) aged 50–87 years (median = 61 yrs) from diverse backgrounds (representing the full range of deprivation scores) was recruited. Bio-samples were donated by 70% of those agreeing to do so. Self report questionnaires and cognitive tests showed comparable distributions to those collected using face-to-face methods. Record linkage was achieved for 99.9% of participants.
This study has demonstrated that remote methods are suitable for the conduct of gene-environment interaction studies. Up-scaling these methods provides the opportunity to increase capacity for large-scale gene-environment interaction studies.
PMCID: PMC3548886  PMID: 23349852
16.  Trends and inequalities in cardiovascular disease mortality across 7932 English electoral wards, 1982–2006: Bayesian spatial analysis 
Background Cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality has more than halved in England since the 1980s, but there are few data on small-area trends. We estimated CVD mortality by ward in 5-year intervals between 1982 and 2006, and examined trends in relation to starting mortality, region and community deprivation.
Methods We analysed CVD death rates using a Bayesian spatial technique for all 7932 English electoral wards in consecutive 5-year intervals between 1982 and 2006, separately for men and women aged 30–64 years and ≥65 years.
Results Age-standardized CVD mortality declined in the majority of wards, but increased in 186 wards for women aged ≥65 years. The decline was larger where starting mortality had been higher. When grouped by deprivation quintile, absolute inequality between most- and least-deprived wards narrowed over time in those aged 30–64 years, but increased in older adults; relative inequalities worsened in all four age–sex groups. Wards with high CVD mortality in 2002–06 fell into two groups: those in and around large metropolitan cities in northern England that started with high mortality in 1982–86 and could not ‘catch up’, despite impressive declines, and those that started with average or low mortality in the 1980s but ‘fell behind’ because of small mortality reductions.
Conclusions Improving population health and reducing health inequalities should be treated as related policy and measurement goals. Ongoing analysis of mortality by small area is essential to monitor local effects on health and health inequalities of the public health and healthcare systems.
PMCID: PMC3535748  PMID: 23129720
Cardiovascular diseases; epidemiology; population health; small-area analysis; Bayesian spatial analysis; health inequality
17.  Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of wild-type and of an active-site mutant of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase from Campylobacter jejuni  
The cloning, expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of wild-type and of an active-site mutant of C. jejuni glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase is reported.
The genome of the enteric pathogen Campylobacter jejuni encodes a single glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase that can utilize either NADP+ or NAD+ as coenzymes for the oxidative phosphorylation of glyceraldehyde-3-­phosphate to 1,3-diphosphoglycerate. Here, the cloning, expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of both the wild type and an active-site mutant of the enzyme are presented. Preliminary X-ray analysis revealed that in both cases the crystals diffracted to beyond 1.9 Å resolution. The space group is shown to be I4122, with unit-cell parameters a = 90.75, b = 90.75, c = 225.48 Å, α = 90.46, β = 90.46, γ = 222.79°; each asymmetric unit contains only one subunit of the tetrameric enzyme.
PMCID: PMC3079976  PMID: 21206028
glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase; Campylobacter jejuni
18.  Genome-Wide Joint Meta-Analysis of SNP and SNP-by-Smoking Interaction Identifies Novel Loci for Pulmonary Function 
Hancock, Dana B. | Artigas, María Soler | Gharib, Sina A. | Henry, Amanda | Manichaikul, Ani | Ramasamy, Adaikalavan | Loth, Daan W. | Imboden, Medea | Koch, Beate | McArdle, Wendy L. | Smith, Albert V. | Smolonska, Joanna | Sood, Akshay | Tang, Wenbo | Wilk, Jemma B. | Zhai, Guangju | Zhao, Jing Hua | Aschard, Hugues | Burkart, Kristin M. | Curjuric, Ivan | Eijgelsheim, Mark | Elliott, Paul | Gu, Xiangjun | Harris, Tamara B. | Janson, Christer | Homuth, Georg | Hysi, Pirro G. | Liu, Jason Z. | Loehr, Laura R. | Lohman, Kurt | Loos, Ruth J. F. | Manning, Alisa K. | Marciante, Kristin D. | Obeidat, Ma'en | Postma, Dirkje S. | Aldrich, Melinda C. | Brusselle, Guy G. | Chen, Ting-hsu | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Franceschini, Nora | Heinrich, Joachim | Rotter, Jerome I. | Wijmenga, Cisca | Williams, O. Dale | Bentley, Amy R. | Hofman, Albert | Laurie, Cathy C. | Lumley, Thomas | Morrison, Alanna C. | Joubert, Bonnie R. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Couper, David J. | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Liu, Yongmei | Wjst, Matthias | Wain, Louise V. | Vonk, Judith M. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Rochat, Thierry | Rich, Stephen S. | Psaty, Bruce M. | O'Connor, George T. | North, Kari E. | Mirel, Daniel B. | Meibohm, Bernd | Launer, Lenore J. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hammond, Christopher J. | Gläser, Sven | Marchini, Jonathan | Kraft, Peter | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Völzke, Henry | Stricker, Bruno H. C. | Spector, Timothy D. | Probst-Hensch, Nicole M. | Jarvis, Deborah | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Heckbert, Susan R. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Boezen, H. Marike | Barr, R. Graham | Cassano, Patricia A. | Strachan, David P. | Fornage, Myriam | Hall, Ian P. | Dupuis, Josée | Tobin, Martin D. | London, Stephanie J. | Gibson, Greg
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(12):e1003098.
Genome-wide association studies have identified numerous genetic loci for spirometic measures of pulmonary function, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and its ratio to forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC). Given that cigarette smoking adversely affects pulmonary function, we conducted genome-wide joint meta-analyses (JMA) of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and SNP-by-smoking (ever-smoking or pack-years) associations on FEV1 and FEV1/FVC across 19 studies (total N = 50,047). We identified three novel loci not previously associated with pulmonary function. SNPs in or near DNER (smallest PJMA = 5.00×10−11), HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DQA2 (smallest PJMA = 4.35×10−9), and KCNJ2 and SOX9 (smallest PJMA = 1.28×10−8) were associated with FEV1/FVC or FEV1 in meta-analysis models including SNP main effects, smoking main effects, and SNP-by-smoking (ever-smoking or pack-years) interaction. The HLA region has been widely implicated for autoimmune and lung phenotypes, unlike the other novel loci, which have not been widely implicated. We evaluated DNER, KCNJ2, and SOX9 and found them to be expressed in human lung tissue. DNER and SOX9 further showed evidence of differential expression in human airway epithelium in smokers compared to non-smokers. Our findings demonstrated that joint testing of SNP and SNP-by-environment interaction identified novel loci associated with complex traits that are missed when considering only the genetic main effects.
Author Summary
Measures of pulmonary function provide important clinical tools for evaluating lung disease and its progression. Genome-wide association studies have identified numerous genetic risk factors for pulmonary function but have not considered interaction with cigarette smoking, which has consistently been shown to adversely impact pulmonary function. In over 50,000 study participants of European descent, we applied a recently developed joint meta-analysis method to simultaneously test associations of gene and gene-by-smoking interactions in relation to two major clinical measures of pulmonary function. Using this joint method to incorporate genetic main effects plus gene-by-smoking interaction, we identified three novel gene regions not previously related to pulmonary function: (1) DNER, (2) HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DQA2, and (3) KCNJ2 and SOX9. Expression analyses in human lung tissue from ours or prior studies indicate that these regions contain genes that are plausibly involved in pulmonary function. This work highlights the utility of employing novel methods for incorporating environmental interaction in genome-wide association studies to identify novel genetic regions.
PMCID: PMC3527213  PMID: 23284291
19.  Variants in MTNR1B influence fasting glucose levels 
Prokopenko, Inga | Langenberg, Claudia | Florez, Jose C | Saxena, Richa | Soranzo, Nicole | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Loos, Ruth J F | Manning, Alisa K | Jackson, Anne U | Aulchenko, Yurii | Potter, Simon C | Erdos, Michael R | Sanna, Serena | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Wheeler, Eleanor | Kaakinen, Marika | Lyssenko, Valeriya | Chen, Wei-Min | Ahmadi, Kourosh | Beckmann, Jacques S | Bergman, Richard N | Bochud, Murielle | Bonnycastle, Lori L | Buchanan, Thomas A | Cao, Antonio | Cervino, Alessandra | Coin, Lachlan | Collins, Francis S | Crisponi, Laura | de Geus, Eco J C | Dehghan, Abbas | Deloukas, Panos | Doney, Alex S F | Elliott, Paul | Freimer, Nelson | Gateva, Vesela | Herder, Christian | Hofman, Albert | Hughes, Thomas E | Hunt, Sarah | Illig, Thomas | Inouye, Michael | Isomaa, Bo | Johnson, Toby | Kong, Augustine | Krestyaninova, Maria | Kuusisto, Johanna | Laakso, Markku | Lim, Noha | Lindblad, Ulf | Lindgren, Cecilia M | McCann, Owen T | Mohlke, Karen L | Morris, Andrew D | Naitza, Silvia | Orrù, Marco | Palmer, Colin N A | Pouta, Anneli | Randall, Joshua | Rathmann, Wolfgang | Saramies, Jouko | Scheet, Paul | Scott, Laura J | Scuteri, Angelo | Sharp, Stephen | Sijbrands, Eric | Smit, Jan H | Song, Kijoung | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Stringham, Heather M | Tuomi, Tiinamaija | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uitterlinden, André G | Voight, Benjamin F | Waterworth, Dawn | Wichmann, H-Erich | Willemsen, Gonneke | Witteman, Jacqueline C M | Yuan, Xin | Zhao, Jing Hua | Zeggini, Eleftheria | Schlessinger, David | Sandhu, Manjinder | Boomsma, Dorret I | Uda, Manuela | Spector, Tim D | Penninx, Brenda WJH | Altshuler, David | Vollenweider, Peter | Jarvelin, Marjo Riitta | Lakatta, Edward | Waeber, Gerard | Fox, Caroline S | Peltonen, Leena | Groop, Leif C | Mooser, Vincent | Cupples, L Adrienne | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Boehnke, Michael | Barroso, Inês | Van Duijn, Cornelia | Dupuis, Josée | Watanabe, Richard M | Stefansson, Kari | McCarthy, Mark I | Wareham, Nicholas J | Meigs, James B | Abecasis, Gonçalo R
Nature genetics  2008;41(1):77-81.
To identify previously unknown genetic loci associated with fasting glucose concentrations, we examined the leading association signals in ten genome-wide association scans involving a total of 36,610 individuals of European descent. Variants in the gene encoding melatonin receptor 1B (MTNR1B) were consistently associated with fasting glucose across all ten studies. The strongest signal was observed at rs10830963, where each G allele (frequency 0.30 in HapMap CEU) was associated with an increase of 0.07 (95% CI = 0.06-0.08) mmol/l in fasting glucose levels (P = 3.2 = × 10−50) and reduced beta-cell function as measured by homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-B, P = 1.1 × 10−15). The same allele was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (odds ratio = 1.09 (1.05-1.12), per G allele P = 3.3 × 10−7) in a meta-analysis of 13 case-control studies totaling 18,236 cases and 64,453 controls. Our analyses also confirm previous associations of fasting glucose with variants at the G6PC2 (rs560887, P = 1.1 × 10−57) and GCK (rs4607517, P = 1.0 × 10−25) loci.
PMCID: PMC2682768  PMID: 19060907
20.  Estimation of Newborn Risk for Child or Adolescent Obesity: Lessons from Longitudinal Birth Cohorts 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49919.
Prevention of obesity should start as early as possible after birth. We aimed to build clinically useful equations estimating the risk of later obesity in newborns, as a first step towards focused early prevention against the global obesity epidemic.
We analyzed the lifetime Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 (NFBC1986) (N = 4,032) to draw predictive equations for childhood and adolescent obesity from traditional risk factors (parental BMI, birth weight, maternal gestational weight gain, behaviour and social indicators), and a genetic score built from 39 BMI/obesity-associated polymorphisms. We performed validation analyses in a retrospective cohort of 1,503 Italian children and in a prospective cohort of 1,032 U.S. children.
In the NFBC1986, the cumulative accuracy of traditional risk factors predicting childhood obesity, adolescent obesity, and childhood obesity persistent into adolescence was good: AUROC = 0·78[0·74–0.82], 0·75[0·71–0·79] and 0·85[0·80–0·90] respectively (all p<0·001). Adding the genetic score produced discrimination improvements ≤1%. The NFBC1986 equation for childhood obesity remained acceptably accurate when applied to the Italian and the U.S. cohort (AUROC = 0·70[0·63–0·77] and 0·73[0·67–0·80] respectively) and the two additional equations for childhood obesity newly drawn from the Italian and the U.S. datasets showed good accuracy in respective cohorts (AUROC = 0·74[0·69–0·79] and 0·79[0·73–0·84]) (all p<0·001). The three equations for childhood obesity were converted into simple Excel risk calculators for potential clinical use.
This study provides the first example of handy tools for predicting childhood obesity in newborns by means of easily recorded information, while it shows that currently known genetic variants have very little usefulness for such prediction.
PMCID: PMC3509134  PMID: 23209618
21.  Glucocorticoid receptor (NR3C1) gene polymorphisms and onset of alcohol abuse in adolescents 
Addiction biology  2010;16(3):510-513.
Onset of alcohol use at an early age increases the risk for later alcohol dependence. We investigated the role of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene (NR3C1) in onset of alcohol use and abuse in 14-year-old adolescents (n = 4534). Several NR3C1 polymorphisms were associated with onset of alcohol drinking or drunkenness at this age. Strongest associations were observed in females, with one marker (rs244465) remaining significant after correction for multiple testing (Padj = 0.0067; odds ratio = 1.7, for drunkenness). Our data provide the first evidence that GR modulates initiation of alcohol abuse and reveal a polymorphism that might contribute to susceptibility to addiction.
PMCID: PMC3428936  PMID: 20731635
Addiction; adolescent; alcohol; glucocorticoid receptor; NR3C1; polymorphism
22.  Relation of Urinary Calcium and Magnesium Excretion to Blood Pressure 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2011;174(1):44-51.
Data indicate an inverse association between dietary calcium and magnesium intakes and blood pressure (BP); however, much less is known about associations between urinary calcium and magnesium excretion and BP in general populations. The authors assessed the relation of BP to 24-hour excretion of calcium and magnesium in 2 cross-sectional studies. The International Study of Macro- and Micro-Nutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP) comprised 4,679 persons aged 40–59 years from 17 population samples in China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and the International Cooperative Study on Salt, Other Factors, and Blood Pressure (INTERSALT) comprised 10,067 persons aged 20–59 years from 52 samples around the world. Timed 24-hour urine collections, BP measurements, and nutrient data from four 24-hour dietary recalls (INTERMAP) were collected. In multiple linear regression analyses, urinary calcium excretion was directly associated with BP. After adjustment for multiple confounders (including weight, height, alcohol intake, calcium intake, urinary sodium level, and urinary potassium intake), systolic BP was 1.9 mm Hg higher per each 4.1 mmol per 24 hours (2 standard deviations) of higher urinary calcium excretion (associations were smaller for diastolic BP) in INTERMAP. Qualitatively similar associations were observed in INTERSALT analyses. Associations between magnesium excretion and BP were small and nonsignificant for most of the models examined. The present data suggest that altered calcium homoeostasis, as exhibited by increased calcium excretion, is associated with higher BP levels.
PMCID: PMC3159430  PMID: 21624957
blood pressure; calcium; magnesium
23.  MultiPhen: Joint Model of Multiple Phenotypes Can Increase Discovery in GWAS 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e34861.
The genome-wide association study (GWAS) approach has discovered hundreds of genetic variants associated with diseases and quantitative traits. However, despite clinical overlap and statistical correlation between many phenotypes, GWAS are generally performed one-phenotype-at-a-time. Here we compare the performance of modelling multiple phenotypes jointly with that of the standard univariate approach. We introduce a new method and software, MultiPhen, that models multiple phenotypes simultaneously in a fast and interpretable way. By performing ordinal regression, MultiPhen tests the linear combination of phenotypes most associated with the genotypes at each SNP, and thus potentially captures effects hidden to single phenotype GWAS. We demonstrate via simulation that this approach provides a dramatic increase in power in many scenarios. There is a boost in power for variants that affect multiple phenotypes and for those that affect only one phenotype. While other multivariate methods have similar power gains, we describe several benefits of MultiPhen over these. In particular, we demonstrate that other multivariate methods that assume the genotypes are normally distributed, such as canonical correlation analysis (CCA) and MANOVA, can have highly inflated type-1 error rates when testing case-control or non-normal continuous phenotypes, while MultiPhen produces no such inflation. To test the performance of MultiPhen on real data we applied it to lipid traits in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC1966). In these data MultiPhen discovers 21% more independent SNPs with known associations than the standard univariate GWAS approach, while applying MultiPhen in addition to the standard approach provides 37% increased discovery. The most associated linear combinations of the lipids estimated by MultiPhen at the leading SNPs accurately reflect the Friedewald Formula, suggesting that MultiPhen could be used to refine the definition of existing phenotypes or uncover novel heritable phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3342314  PMID: 22567092
24.  Asymmetric Mode of Ca2+-S100A4 Interaction with Nonmuscle Myosin IIA Generates Nanomolar Affinity Required for Filament Remodeling 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2012;20(4-2):654-666.
Filament assembly of nonmuscle myosin IIA (NMIIA) is selectively regulated by the small Ca2+-binding protein, S100A4, which causes enhanced cell migration and metastasis in certain cancers. Our NMR structure shows that an S100A4 dimer binds to a single myosin heavy chain in an asymmetrical configuration. NMIIA in the complex forms a continuous helix that stretches across the surface of S100A4 and engages the Ca2+-dependent binding sites of each subunit in the dimer. Synergy between these sites leads to a very tight association (KD ∼1 nM) that is unique in the S100 family. Single-residue mutations that remove this synergy weaken binding and ameliorate the effects of S100A4 on NMIIA filament assembly and cell spreading in A431 human epithelial carcinoma cells. We propose a model for NMIIA filament disassembly by S100A4 in which initial binding to the unstructured NMIIA tail initiates unzipping of the coiled coil and disruption of filament packing.
Graphical Abstract
► S100A4 dimer binds single-myosin IIA molecule in an asymmetrical mode ► Synergy between Ca-dependent sites in S100A4 leads to high-affinity interaction ► Electron microscopy shows that two S100A4 dimers bind to the myosin coiled coil ► S100A4 has direct effect on formation of stress fibers and cell migration
PMCID: PMC3343272  PMID: 22483112
Hypertension  2011;57(4):695-701.
The obesity epidemic has focused attention on relationships of sugars and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) to cardiovascular risk factors. Here we report cross-sectional associations of SSB, diet beverages, sugars with blood pressure (BP) for UK and USA participants of the International Study of Macro/Micro-nutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP). Data collected includes four 24-h dietary recalls, two 24-h urine collections, eight BP readings, questionnaire data for 2,696 people ages 40-59 from 10 USA/UK population samples. Associations of SSB, diet beverages, and sugars (fructose, glucose, sucrose) with BP were assessed by multiple linear regression. Sugar-sweetened beverage intake related directly to BP, P-values 0.005 to <0.001 (systolic BP), 0.14 to <0.001 (diastolic BP). Sugar-sweetened beverage intake higher by 1 serving/day (355 ml/24-h) was associated with systolic/diastolic BP differences of +1.6/+0.8 mm Hg (both P <0.001); +1.1/+0.4 mm Hg (P <0.001/<0.05) with adjustment for weight, height. Diet beverage intake was inversely associated with BP, P 0.41 to 0.003. Fructose- and glucose-BP associations were direct, with significant sugar-sodium interactions: for individuals with above-median 24-h urinary sodium excretion, fructose intake higher by 2 SD (5.6 %kcal) was associated with systolic/diastolic BP differences of +3.4/+2.2 mm Hg (both P <0.001); 2.5/1.7 mm Hg (both P 0.002) with adjustment for weight, height. Observed independent, direct associations of SSB intake and BP are consistent with recent trial data. These findings, plus adverse nutrient intakes among SSB consumers, and greater sugar-BP differences for persons with higher sodium excretion, lend support to recommendations that intake of SSB, sugars, and salt be substantially reduced.
PMCID: PMC3086758  PMID: 21357284
Sugar-sweetened beverages; sodium; nutrition; blood pressure; epidemiology; population study

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