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1.  Loci influencing blood pressure identified using a cardiovascular gene-centric array 
Ganesh, Santhi K. | Tragante, Vinicius | Guo, Wei | Guo, Yiran | Lanktree, Matthew B. | Smith, Erin N. | Johnson, Toby | Castillo, Berta Almoguera | Barnard, John | Baumert, Jens | Chang, Yen-Pei Christy | Elbers, Clara C. | Farrall, Martin | Fischer, Mary E. | Franceschini, Nora | Gaunt, Tom R. | Gho, Johannes M.I.H. | Gieger, Christian | Gong, Yan | Isaacs, Aaron | Kleber, Marcus E. | Leach, Irene Mateo | McDonough, Caitrin W. | Meijs, Matthijs F.L. | Mellander, Olle | Molony, Cliona M. | Nolte, Ilja M. | Padmanabhan, Sandosh | Price, Tom S. | Rajagopalan, Ramakrishnan | Shaffer, Jonathan | Shah, Sonia | Shen, Haiqing | Soranzo, Nicole | van der Most, Peter J. | Van Iperen, Erik P.A. | Van Setten, Jessica | Vonk, Judith M. | Zhang, Li | Beitelshees, Amber L. | Berenson, Gerald S. | Bhatt, Deepak L. | Boer, Jolanda M.A. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Burkley, Ben | Burt, Amber | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Chen, Wei | Cooper-DeHoff, Rhonda M. | Curtis, Sean P. | Dreisbach, Albert | Duggan, David | Ehret, Georg B. | Fabsitz, Richard R. | Fornage, Myriam | Fox, Ervin | Furlong, Clement E. | Gansevoort, Ron T. | Hofker, Marten H. | Hovingh, G. Kees | Kirkland, Susan A. | Kottke-Marchant, Kandice | Kutlar, Abdullah | LaCroix, Andrea Z. | Langaee, Taimour Y. | Li, Yun R. | Lin, Honghuang | Liu, Kiang | Maiwald, Steffi | Malik, Rainer | Murugesan, Gurunathan | Newton-Cheh, Christopher | O'Connell, Jeffery R. | Onland-Moret, N. Charlotte | Ouwehand, Willem H. | Palmas, Walter | Penninx, Brenda W. | Pepine, Carl J. | Pettinger, Mary | Polak, Joseph F. | Ramachandran, Vasan S. | Ranchalis, Jane | Redline, Susan | Ridker, Paul M. | Rose, Lynda M. | Scharnag, Hubert | Schork, Nicholas J. | Shimbo, Daichi | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Srinivasan, Sathanur R. | Stolk, Ronald P. | Taylor, Herman A. | Thorand, Barbara | Trip, Mieke D. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Verschuren, W. Monique | Wijmenga, Cisca | Winkelmann, Bernhard R. | Wyatt, Sharon | Young, J. Hunter | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Caulfield, Mark J. | Chasman, Daniel I. | Davidson, Karina W. | Doevendans, Pieter A. | FitzGerald, Garret A. | Gums, John G. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Hillege, Hans L. | Illig, Thomas | Jarvik, Gail P. | Johnson, Julie A. | Kastelein, John J.P. | Koenig, Wolfgang | März, Winfried | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Murray, Sarah S. | Oldehinkel, Albertine J. | Rader, Daniel J. | Reilly, Muredach P. | Reiner, Alex P. | Schadt, Eric E. | Silverstein, Roy L. | Snieder, Harold | Stanton, Alice V. | Uitterlinden, André G. | van der Harst, Pim | van der Schouw, Yvonne T. | Samani, Nilesh J. | Johnson, Andrew D. | Munroe, Patricia B. | de Bakker, Paul I.W. | Zhu, Xiaofeng | Levy, Daniel | Keating, Brendan J. | Asselbergs, Folkert W.
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(16):3394-3395.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt177
PMCID: PMC3888295
2.  Blood cis-eQTL Analysis Fails to Identify Novel Association Signals among Sub-Threshold Candidates from Genome-Wide Association Studies in Restless Legs Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98092.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common neurologic disorder characterized by nightly dysesthesias affecting the legs primarily during periods of rest and relieved by movement. RLS is a complex genetic disease and susceptibility factors in six genomic regions have been identified by means of genome-wide association studies (GWAS). For some complex genetic traits, expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) are enriched among trait-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). With the aim of identifying new genetic susceptibility factors for RLS, we assessed the 332 best-associated SNPs from the genome-wide phase of the to date largest RLS GWAS for cis-eQTL effects in peripheral blood from individuals of European descent. In 740 individuals belonging to the KORA general population cohort, 52 cis-eQTLs with pnominal<10−3 were identified, while in 976 individuals belonging to the SHIP-TREND general population study 53 cis-eQTLs with pnominal<10−3 were present. 23 of these cis-eQTLs overlapped between the two cohorts. Subsequently, the twelve of the 23 cis-eQTL SNPs, which were not located at an already published RLS-associated locus, were tested for association in 2449 RLS cases and 1462 controls. The top SNP, located in the DET1 gene, was nominally significant (p<0.05) but did not withstand correction for multiple testing (p = 0.42). Although a similar approach has been used successfully with regard to other complex diseases, we were unable to identify new genetic susceptibility factor for RLS by adding this novel level of functional assessment to RLS GWAS data.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098092
PMCID: PMC4038519  PMID: 24875634
3.  Metabolomics approach reveals effects of antihypertensives and lipid-lowering drugs on the human metabolism 
The mechanism of antihypertensive and lipid-lowering drugs on the human organism is still not fully understood. New insights on the drugs’ action can be provided by a metabolomics-driven approach, which offers a detailed view of the physiological state of an organism. Here, we report a metabolome-wide association study with 295 metabolites in human serum from 1,762 participants of the KORA F4 (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg) study population. Our intent was to find variations of metabolite concentrations related to the intake of various drug classes and—based on the associations found—to generate new hypotheses about on-target as well as off-target effects of these drugs. In total, we found 41 significant associations for the drug classes investigated: For beta-blockers (11 associations), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (four assoc.), diuretics (seven assoc.), statins (ten assoc.), and fibrates (nine assoc.) the top hits were pyroglutamine, phenylalanylphenylalanine, pseudouridine, 1-arachidonoylglycerophosphocholine, and 2-hydroxyisobutyrate, respectively. For beta-blockers we observed significant associations with metabolite concentrations that are indicative of drug side-effects, such as increased serotonin and decreased free fatty acid levels. Intake of ACE inhibitors and statins associated with metabolites that provide insight into the action of the drug itself on its target, such as an association of ACE inhibitors with des-Arg(9)-bradykinin and aspartylphenylalanine, a substrate and a product of the drug-inhibited ACE. The intake of statins which reduce blood cholesterol levels, resulted in changes in the concentration of metabolites of the biosynthesis as well as of the degradation of cholesterol. Fibrates showed the strongest association with 2-hydroxyisobutyrate which might be a breakdown product of fenofibrate and, thus, a possible marker for the degradation of this drug in the human organism. The analysis of diuretics showed a heterogeneous picture that is difficult to interpret. Taken together, our results provide a basis for a deeper functional understanding of the action and side-effects of antihypertensive and lipid-lowering drugs in the general population.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10654-014-9910-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10654-014-9910-7
PMCID: PMC4050296  PMID: 24816436
Beta-blockers; Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors; Diuretics; Statins; Fibrates; Metabolomics
4.  Mitochondrial DNA Variants in Obesity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e94882.
Heritability estimates for body mass index (BMI) variation are high. For mothers and their offspring higher BMI correlations have been described than for fathers. Variation(s) in the exclusively maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) might contribute to this parental effect. Thirty-two to 40 mtDNA single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were available from genome-wide association study SNP arrays (Affymetrix 6.0). For discovery, we analyzed association in a case-control (CC) sample of 1,158 extremely obese children and adolescents and 435 lean adult controls. For independent confirmation, 7,014 population-based adults were analyzed as CC sample of n = 1,697 obese cases (BMI≥30 kg/m2) and n = 2,373 normal weight and lean controls (BMI<25 kg/m2). SNPs were analyzed as single SNPs and haplogroups determined by HaploGrep. Fisher's two-sided exact test was used for association testing. Moreover, the D-loop was re-sequenced (Sanger) in 192 extremely obese children and adolescents and 192 lean adult controls. Association testing of detected variants was performed using Fisher's two-sided exact test. For discovery, nominal association with obesity was found for the frequent allele G of m.8994G/A (rs28358887, p = 0.002) located in ATP6. Haplogroup W was nominally overrepresented in the controls (p = 0.039). These findings could not be confirmed independently. For two of the 252 identified D-loop variants nominal association was detected (m.16292C/T, p = 0.007, m.16189T/C, p = 0.048). Only eight controls carried the m.16292T allele, five of whom belonged to haplogroup W that was initially enriched among these controls. m.16189T/C might create an uninterrupted poly-C tract located near a regulatory element involved in replication of mtDNA. Though follow-up of some D-loop variants still is conceivable, our hypothesis of a contribution of variation in the exclusively maternally inherited mtDNA to the observed larger correlations for BMI between mothers and their offspring could not be substantiated by the findings of the present study.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094882
PMCID: PMC4008486  PMID: 24788344
5.  JC Polyomavirus Infection Is Strongly Controlled by Human Leucocyte Antigen Class II Variants 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(4):e1004084.
JC polyomavirus (JCV) carriers with a compromised immune system, such as in HIV, or subjects on immune-modulating therapies, such as anti VLA-4 therapy may develop progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) which is a lytic infection of oligodendrocytes in the brain. Serum antibodies to JCV mark infection occur only in 50–60% of infected individuals, and high JCV-antibody titers seem to increase the risk of developing PML. We here investigated the role of human leukocyte antigen (HLA), instrumental in immune defense in JCV antibody response. Anti-JCV antibody status, as a surrogate for JCV infection, were compared to HLA class I and II alleles in 1621 Scandinavian persons with MS and 1064 population-based Swedish controls and associations were replicated in 718 German persons with MS. HLA-alleles were determined by SNP imputation, sequence specific (SSP) kits and a reverse PCR sequence-specific oligonucleotide (PCR-SSO) method. An initial GWAS screen displayed a strong HLA class II region signal. The HLA-DRB1*15 haplotype was strongly negatively associated to JCV sero-status in Scandinavian MS cases (OR = 0.42, p = 7×10−15) and controls (OR = 0.53, p = 2×10−5). In contrast, the DQB1*06:03 haplotype was positively associated with JCV sero-status, in Scandinavian MS cases (OR = 1.63, p = 0.006), and controls (OR = 2.69, p = 1×10−5). The German dataset confirmed these findings (OR = 0.54, p = 1×10−4 and OR = 1.58, p = 0.03 respectively for these haplotypes). HLA class II restricted immune responses, and hence CD4+ T cell immunity is pivotal for JCV infection control. Alleles within the HLA-DR1*15 haplotype are associated with a protective effect on JCV infection. Alleles within the DQB1*06:03 haplotype show an opposite association. These associations between JC virus antibody response and human leucocyte antigens supports the notion that CD4+ T cells are crucial in the immune defence to JCV and lays the ground for risk stratification for PML and development of therapy and prevention.
Author Summary
JC virus infection can lead to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in individuals with a compromised immune system, such as during HIV infections or when treated with immunosuppressive or immunomodulating therapies. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy is a rare but potentially fatal disease characterized by progressive damage of the brain white matter at multiple locations. It is therefore of importance to understand the host genetic control of response to JC virus in order to identify patients that can be treated with immunomodulating therapies, common treatments for autoimmune diseases, without increased risk for progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. This may also lead to development of preventative or curative anti-JC virus therapies. We here identify genetic variants being associated with JC virus antibody development; a negative association with the human leucocyte antigen DRB1*15-DQA1*01:02-DQB1*06:02 haplotype and a positive association with the DRB1*13-DQA1*01:03-DQB1*06:03 haplotype among controls and patients with multiple sclerosis from Scandinavia. We confirmed the associations in patients with multiple sclerosis from Germany. These associations between JC virus antibody response and human leucocyte antigens imply that CD4+ T cells are crucial in the immune defence and lay the ground for development of therapy and prevention.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004084
PMCID: PMC3999271  PMID: 24763718
6.  Mapping the Genetic Architecture of Gene Regulation in Whole Blood 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93844.
Background
We aimed to assess whether whole blood expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) with effects in cis and trans are robust and can be used to identify regulatory pathways affecting disease susceptibility.
Materials and Methods
We performed whole-genome eQTL analyses in 890 participants of the KORA F4 study and in two independent replication samples (SHIP-TREND, N = 976 and EGCUT, N = 842) using linear regression models and Bonferroni correction.
Results
In the KORA F4 study, 4,116 cis-eQTLs (defined as SNP-probe pairs where the SNP is located within a 500 kb window around the transcription unit) and 94 trans-eQTLs reached genome-wide significance and overall 91% (92% of cis-, 84% of trans-eQTLs) were confirmed in at least one of the two replication studies. Different study designs including distinct laboratory reagents (PAXgene™ vs. Tempus™ tubes) did not affect reproducibility (separate overall replication overlap: 78% and 82%). Immune response pathways were enriched in cis- and trans-eQTLs and significant cis-eQTLs were partly coexistent in other tissues (cross-tissue similarity 40–70%). Furthermore, four chromosomal regions displayed simultaneous impact on multiple gene expression levels in trans, and 746 eQTL-SNPs have been previously reported to have clinical relevance. We demonstrated cross-associations between eQTL-SNPs, gene expression levels in trans, and clinical phenotypes as well as a link between eQTLs and human metabolic traits via modification of gene regulation in cis.
Conclusions
Our data suggest that whole blood is a robust tissue for eQTL analysis and may be used both for biomarker studies and to enhance our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying gene-disease associations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093844
PMCID: PMC3989189  PMID: 24740359
7.  Loci influencing blood pressure identified using a cardiovascular gene-centric array 
Ganesh, Santhi K. | Tragante, Vinicius | Guo, Wei | Guo, Yiran | Lanktree, Matthew B. | Smith, Erin N. | Johnson, Toby | Castillo, Berta Almoguera | Barnard, John | Baumert, Jens | Chang, Yen-Pei Christy | Elbers, Clara C. | Farrall, Martin | Fischer, Mary E. | Franceschini, Nora | Gaunt, Tom R. | Gho, Johannes M.I.H. | Gieger, Christian | Gong, Yan | Isaacs, Aaron | Kleber, Marcus E. | Leach, Irene Mateo | McDonough, Caitrin W. | Meijs, Matthijs F.L. | Mellander, Olle | Molony, Cliona M. | Nolte, Ilja M. | Padmanabhan, Sandosh | Price, Tom S. | Rajagopalan, Ramakrishnan | Shaffer, Jonathan | Shah, Sonia | Shen, Haiqing | Soranzo, Nicole | van der Most, Peter J. | Van Iperen, Erik P.A. | Van Setten, Jessic A. | Vonk, Judith M. | Zhang, Li | Beitelshees, Amber L. | Berenson, Gerald S. | Bhatt, Deepak L. | Boer, Jolanda M.A. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Burkley, Ben | Burt, Amber | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Chen, Wei | Cooper-DeHoff, Rhonda M. | Curtis, Sean P. | Dreisbach, Albert | Duggan, David | Ehret, Georg B. | Fabsitz, Richard R. | Fornage, Myriam | Fox, Ervin | Furlong, Clement E. | Gansevoort, Ron T. | Hofker, Marten H. | Hovingh, G. Kees | Kirkland, Susan A. | Kottke-Marchant, Kandice | Kutlar, Abdullah | LaCroix, Andrea Z. | Langaee, Taimour Y. | Li, Yun R. | Lin, Honghuang | Liu, Kiang | Maiwald, Steffi | Malik, Rainer | Murugesan, Gurunathan | Newton-Cheh, Christopher | O'Connell, Jeffery R. | Onland-Moret, N. Charlotte | Ouwehand, Willem H. | Palmas, Walter | Penninx, Brenda W. | Pepine, Carl J. | Pettinger, Mary | Polak, Joseph F. | Ramachandran, Vasan S. | Ranchalis, Jane | Redline, Susan | Ridker, Paul M. | Rose, Lynda M. | Scharnag, Hubert | Schork, Nicholas J. | Shimbo, Daichi | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Srinivasan, Sathanur R. | Stolk, Ronald P. | Taylor, Herman A. | Thorand, Barbara | Trip, Mieke D. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Verschuren, W. Monique | Wijmenga, Cisca | Winkelmann, Bernhard R. | Wyatt, Sharon | Young, J. Hunter | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Caulfield, Mark J. | Chasman, Daniel I. | Davidson, Karina W. | Doevendans, Pieter A. | FitzGerald, Garret A. | Gums, John G. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Hillege, Hans L. | Illig, Thomas | Jarvik, Gail P. | Johnson, Julie A. | Kastelein, John J.P. | Koenig, Wolfgang | März, Winfried | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Murray, Sarah S. | Oldehinkel, Albertine J. | Rader, Daniel J. | Reilly, Muredach P. | Reiner, Alex P. | Schadt, Eric E. | Silverstein, Roy L. | Snieder, Harold | Stanton, Alice V. | Uitterlinden, André G. | van der Harst, Pim | van der Schouw, Yvonne T. | Samani, Nilesh J. | Johnson, Andrew D. | Munroe, Patricia B. | de Bakker, Paul I.W. | Zhu, Xiaofeng | Levy, Daniel | Keating, Brendan J. | Asselbergs, Folkert W.
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(8):1663-1678.
Blood pressure (BP) is a heritable determinant of risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). To investigate genetic associations with systolic BP (SBP), diastolic BP (DBP), mean arterial pressure (MAP) and pulse pressure (PP), we genotyped ∼50 000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that capture variation in ∼2100 candidate genes for cardiovascular phenotypes in 61 619 individuals of European ancestry from cohort studies in the USA and Europe. We identified novel associations between rs347591 and SBP (chromosome 3p25.3, in an intron of HRH1) and between rs2169137 and DBP (chromosome1q32.1 in an intron of MDM4) and between rs2014408 and SBP (chromosome 11p15 in an intron of SOX6), previously reported to be associated with MAP. We also confirmed 10 previously known loci associated with SBP, DBP, MAP or PP (ADRB1, ATP2B1, SH2B3/ATXN2, CSK, CYP17A1, FURIN, HFE, LSP1, MTHFR, SOX6) at array-wide significance (P < 2.4 × 10−6). We then replicated these associations in an independent set of 65 886 individuals of European ancestry. The findings from expression QTL (eQTL) analysis showed associations of SNPs in the MDM4 region with MDM4 expression. We did not find any evidence of association of the two novel SNPs in MDM4 and HRH1 with sequelae of high BP including coronary artery disease (CAD), left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) or stroke. In summary, we identified two novel loci associated with BP and confirmed multiple previously reported associations. Our findings extend our understanding of genes involved in BP regulation, some of which may eventually provide new targets for therapeutic intervention.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds555
PMCID: PMC3657476  PMID: 23303523
8.  Dilution of candidates: the case of iron-related genes in restless legs syndrome 
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common multifactorial disease. Some genetic risk factors have been identified. RLS susceptibility also has been related to iron. We therefore asked whether known iron-related genes are candidates for association with RLS and, vice versa, whether known RLS-associated loci influence iron parameters in serum. RLS/control samples (n=954/1814 in the discovery step, 735/736 in replication 1, and 736/735 in replication 2) were tested for association with SNPs located within 4 Mb intervals surrounding each gene from a list of 111 iron-related genes using a discovery threshold of P=5 × 10−4. Two population cohorts (KORA F3 and F4 with together n=3447) were tested for association of six known RLS loci with iron, ferritin, transferrin, transferrin-saturation, and soluble transferrin receptor. Results were negative. None of the candidate SNPs at the iron-related gene loci was confirmed significantly. An intronic SNP, rs2576036, of KATNAL2 at 18q21.1 was significant in the first (P=0.00085) but not in the second replication step (joint nominal P-value=0.044). Especially, rs1800652 (C282Y) in the HFE gene did not associate with RLS. Moreover, SNPs at the known RLS loci did not significantly affect serum iron parameters in the KORA cohorts. In conclusion, the correlation between RLS and iron parameters in serum may be weaker than assumed. Moreover, in a general power analysis, we show that genetic effects are diluted if they are transmitted via an intermediate trait to an end-phenotype. Sample size formulas are provided for small effect sizes.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.193
PMCID: PMC3598324  PMID: 22929029
restless legs syndrome; iron parameters; MEIS1 haplotype; power calculation; linear regression; logistic regression
9.  Interrogating causal pathways linking genetic variants, small molecule metabolites, and circulating lipids 
Genome Medicine  2014;6(3):25.
Background
Emerging technologies based on mass spectrometry or nuclear magnetic resonance enable the monitoring of hundreds of small metabolites from tissues or body fluids. Profiling of metabolites can help elucidate causal pathways linking established genetic variants to known disease risk factors such as blood lipid traits.
Methods
We applied statistical methodology to dissect causal relationships between single nucleotide polymorphisms, metabolite concentrations, and serum lipid traits, focusing on 95 genetic loci reproducibly associated with the four main serum lipids (total-, low-density lipoprotein-, and high-density lipoprotein- cholesterol and triglycerides). The dataset used included 2,973 individuals from two independent population-based cohorts with data for 151 small molecule metabolites and four main serum lipids. Three statistical approaches, namely conditional analysis, Mendelian randomization, and structural equation modeling, were compared to investigate causal relationship at sets of a single nucleotide polymorphism, a metabolite, and a lipid trait associated with one another.
Results
A subset of three lipid-associated loci (FADS1, GCKR, and LPA) have a statistically significant association with at least one main lipid and one metabolite concentration in our data, defining a total of 38 cross-associated sets of a single nucleotide polymorphism, a metabolite and a lipid trait. Structural equation modeling provided sufficient discrimination to indicate that the association of a single nucleotide polymorphism with a lipid trait was mediated through a metabolite at 15 of the 38 sets, and involving variants at the FADS1 and GCKR loci.
Conclusions
These data provide a framework for evaluating the causal role of components of the metabolome (or other intermediate factors) in mediating the association between established genetic variants and diseases or traits.
doi:10.1186/gm542
PMCID: PMC4062056  PMID: 24678845
10.  Identification of Novel Genetic Loci Associated with Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies and Clinical Thyroid Disease 
Medici, Marco | Porcu, Eleonora | Pistis, Giorgio | Teumer, Alexander | Brown, Suzanne J. | Jensen, Richard A. | Rawal, Rajesh | Roef, Greet L. | Plantinga, Theo S. | Vermeulen, Sita H. | Lahti, Jari | Simmonds, Matthew J. | Husemoen, Lise Lotte N. | Freathy, Rachel M. | Shields, Beverley M. | Pietzner, Diana | Nagy, Rebecca | Broer, Linda | Chaker, Layal | Korevaar, Tim I. M. | Plia, Maria Grazia | Sala, Cinzia | Völker, Uwe | Richards, J. Brent | Sweep, Fred C. | Gieger, Christian | Corre, Tanguy | Kajantie, Eero | Thuesen, Betina | Taes, Youri E. | Visser, W. Edward | Hattersley, Andrew T. | Kratzsch, Jürgen | Hamilton, Alexander | Li, Wei | Homuth, Georg | Lobina, Monia | Mariotti, Stefano | Soranzo, Nicole | Cocca, Massimiliano | Nauck, Matthias | Spielhagen, Christin | Ross, Alec | Arnold, Alice | van de Bunt, Martijn | Liyanarachchi, Sandya | Heier, Margit | Grabe, Hans Jörgen | Masciullo, Corrado | Galesloot, Tessel E. | Lim, Ee M. | Reischl, Eva | Leedman, Peter J. | Lai, Sandra | Delitala, Alessandro | Bremner, Alexandra P. | Philips, David I. W. | Beilby, John P. | Mulas, Antonella | Vocale, Matteo | Abecasis, Goncalo | Forsen, Tom | James, Alan | Widen, Elisabeth | Hui, Jennie | Prokisch, Holger | Rietzschel, Ernst E. | Palotie, Aarno | Feddema, Peter | Fletcher, Stephen J. | Schramm, Katharina | Rotter, Jerome I. | Kluttig, Alexander | Radke, Dörte | Traglia, Michela | Surdulescu, Gabriela L. | He, Huiling | Franklyn, Jayne A. | Tiller, Daniel | Vaidya, Bijay | de Meyer, Tim | Jørgensen, Torben | Eriksson, Johan G. | O'Leary, Peter C. | Wichmann, Eric | Hermus, Ad R. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Ittermann, Till | Hofman, Albert | Bosi, Emanuele | Schlessinger, David | Wallaschofski, Henri | Pirastu, Nicola | Aulchenko, Yurii S. | de la Chapelle, Albert | Netea-Maier, Romana T. | Gough, Stephen C. L. | Meyer zu Schwabedissen, Henriette | Frayling, Timothy M. | Kaufman, Jean-Marc | Linneberg, Allan | Räikkönen, Katri | Smit, Johannes W. A. | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Uitterlinden, André G. | Walsh, John P. | Meisinger, Christa | den Heijer, Martin | Visser, Theo J. | Spector, Timothy D. | Wilson, Scott G. | Völzke, Henry | Cappola, Anne | Toniolo, Daniela | Sanna, Serena | Naitza, Silvia | Peeters, Robin P. | Cotsapas, Chris
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(2):e1004123.
Autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD) are common, affecting 2-5% of the general population. Individuals with positive thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAbs) have an increased risk of autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's thyroiditis), as well as autoimmune hyperthyroidism (Graves' disease). As the possible causative genes of TPOAbs and AITD remain largely unknown, we performed GWAS meta-analyses in 18,297 individuals for TPOAb-positivity (1769 TPOAb-positives and 16,528 TPOAb-negatives) and in 12,353 individuals for TPOAb serum levels, with replication in 8,990 individuals. Significant associations (P<5×10−8) were detected at TPO-rs11675434, ATXN2-rs653178, and BACH2-rs10944479 for TPOAb-positivity, and at TPO-rs11675434, MAGI3-rs1230666, and KALRN-rs2010099 for TPOAb levels. Individual and combined effects (genetic risk scores) of these variants on (subclinical) hypo- and hyperthyroidism, goiter and thyroid cancer were studied. Individuals with a high genetic risk score had, besides an increased risk of TPOAb-positivity (OR: 2.18, 95% CI 1.68–2.81, P = 8.1×10−8), a higher risk of increased thyroid-stimulating hormone levels (OR: 1.51, 95% CI 1.26–1.82, P = 2.9×10−6), as well as a decreased risk of goiter (OR: 0.77, 95% CI 0.66–0.89, P = 6.5×10−4). The MAGI3 and BACH2 variants were associated with an increased risk of hyperthyroidism, which was replicated in an independent cohort of patients with Graves' disease (OR: 1.37, 95% CI 1.22–1.54, P = 1.2×10−7 and OR: 1.25, 95% CI 1.12–1.39, P = 6.2×10−5). The MAGI3 variant was also associated with an increased risk of hypothyroidism (OR: 1.57, 95% CI 1.18–2.10, P = 1.9×10−3). This first GWAS meta-analysis for TPOAbs identified five newly associated loci, three of which were also associated with clinical thyroid disease. With these markers we identified a large subgroup in the general population with a substantially increased risk of TPOAbs. The results provide insight into why individuals with thyroid autoimmunity do or do not eventually develop thyroid disease, and these markers may therefore predict which TPOAb-positives are particularly at risk of developing clinical thyroid dysfunction.
Author Summary
Individuals with thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAbs) have an increased risk of autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD), which are common in the general population and associated with increased cardiovascular, metabolic and psychiatric morbidity and mortality. As the causative genes of TPOAbs and AITD remain largely unknown, we performed a genome-wide scan for TPOAbs in 18,297 individuals, with replication in 8,990 individuals. Significant associations were detected with variants at TPO, ATXN2, BACH2, MAGI3, and KALRN. Individuals carrying multiple risk variants also had a higher risk of increased thyroid-stimulating hormone levels (including subclinical and overt hypothyroidism), and a decreased risk of goiter. The MAGI3 and BACH2 variants were associated with an increased risk of hyperthyroidism, and the MAGI3 variant was also associated with an increased risk of hypothyroidism. This first genome-wide scan for TPOAbs identified five newly associated loci, three of which were also associated with clinical thyroid disease. With these markers we identified a large subgroup in the general population with a substantially increased risk of TPOAbs. These results provide insight into why individuals with thyroid autoimmunity do or do not eventually develop thyroid disease, and these markers may therefore predict which individuals are particularly at risk of developing clinical thyroid dysfunction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004123
PMCID: PMC3937134  PMID: 24586183
11.  Genetic Variants in the Immunoglobulin Heavy Chain Locus are Associated with the IgG Index in Multiple Sclerosis 
Annals of neurology  2012;73(1):86-94.
Objective
Intrathecal synthesis of immunoglobulin gamma (IgG) synthesis is frequently observed in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Whereas the extent of intrathecal IgG synthesis varies largely between patients, it remains rather constant in the individual patient over time. The aim of this study was to identify common genetic variants associated with the IgG index as a marker of intrathecal IgG synthesis in MS.
Methods
We performed a genome-wide association study of the IgG index in a discovery series of 229 patients. For confirmation we performed a replication in 2 independent series comprising 256 and 153 patients, respectively. The impact of associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on MS susceptibility was analyzed in an additional 1,854 cases and 5,175 controls.
Results
Significant association between the IgG index and 5 SNPs was detected in the discovery and confirmed in both replication series reaching combined p values of p = 6.5 × 10−11 to p = 7.5 × 10−16. All identified SNPs are clustered around the immunoglobulin heavy chain (IGHC) locus on chromosome 14q32.33 and are in linkage disequilibrium (r2 range, 0.71–0.95). The best associated SNP is located in an intronic region of the immunoglobulin gamma3 heavy chain gene. Additional sequencing identified the GM21* haplotype to be associated with a high IgG index. Further evaluation of the IGHC SNPs revealed no association with susceptibility to MS in our data set.
Interpretation
The extent of intrathecal IgG in MS is influenced by the IGHC locus. No association with susceptibility to MS was found. Therefore GM haplotypes might affect intrathecal IgG synthesis independently of the underlying disease
doi:10.1002/ana.23749
PMCID: PMC3661208  PMID: 23225573
12.  Impact of common regulatory single-nucleotide variants on gene expression profiles in whole blood 
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have uncovered susceptibility loci for a large number of complex traits. Functional interpretation of candidate genes identified by GWAS and confident assignment of the causal variant still remains a major challenge. Expression quantitative trait (eQTL) mapping has facilitated identification of risk loci for quantitative traits and might allow prioritization of GWAS candidate genes. One major challenge of eQTL studies is the need for larger sample numbers and replication. The aim of this study was to evaluate the robustness and reproducibility of whole-blood eQTLs in humans and test their value in the identification of putative functional variants involved in the etiology of complex traits. In the current study, we performed comphrehensive eQTL mapping from whole blood. The discovery sample included 322 Caucasians from a general population sample (KORA F3). We identified 363 cis and 8 trans eQTLs after stringent Bonferroni correction for multiple testing. Of these, 98.6% and 50% of cis and trans eQTLs, respectively, could be replicated in two independent populations (KORA F4 (n=740) and SHIP-TREND (n=653)). Furthermore, we identified evidence of regulatory variation for SNPs previously reported to be associated with disease loci (n=59) or quantitative trait loci (n=20), indicating a possible functional mechanism for these eSNPs. Our data demonstrate that eQTLs in whole blood are highly robust and reproducible across studies and highlight the relevance of whole-blood eQTL mapping in prioritization of GWAS candidate genes in humans.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.106
PMCID: PMC3522194  PMID: 22692066
gene expression; eQTL; GWAS; whole blood
13.  Niemann-Pick C Disease Gene Mutations and Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disorders 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82879.
Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) disease is a rare autosomal-recessively inherited lysosomal storage disorder caused by mutations in NPC1 (95%) or NPC2. Given the highly variable phenotype, diagnosis is challenging and particularly late-onset forms with predominantly neuropsychiatric presentations are likely underdiagnosed. Pathophysiologically, genetic alterations compromising the endosomal/lysosomal system are linked with age-related neurodegenerative disorders. We sought to examine a possible association of rare sequence variants in NPC1 and NPC2 with Parkinson's disease (PD), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and to genetically determine the proportion of potentially misdiagnosed NPC patients in these neurodegenerative conditions. By means of high-resolution melting, we screened the coding regions of NPC1 and NPC2 for rare genetic variation in a homogenous German sample of patients clinically diagnosed with PD (n = 563), FTLD (n = 133) and PSP (n = 94), and 846 population-based controls. The frequencies of rare sequence variants in NPC1/2 did not differ significantly between patients and controls. Disease-associated NPC1/2 mutations were found in six PD patients (1.1%) and seven control subjects (0.8%), but not in FTLD or PSP. All rare variation was detected in the heterozygous state and no compound heterozygotes were observed. Our data do not support the hypothesis that rare NPC1/2 variants confer susceptibility for PD, FTLD, or PSP in the German population. Misdiagnosed NPC patients were not present in our samples. However, further assessment of NPC disease genes in age-related neurodegeneration is warranted.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082879
PMCID: PMC3875432  PMID: 24386122
14.  DNA mismatch repair gene MSH6 implicated in determining age at natural menopause 
Perry, John R.B. | Hsu, Yi-Hsiang | Chasman, Daniel I. | Johnson, Andrew D. | Elks, Cathy | Albrecht, Eva | Andrulis, Irene L. | Beesley, Jonathan | Berenson, Gerald S. | Bergmann, Sven | Bojesen, Stig E. | Bolla, Manjeet K. | Brown, Judith | Buring, Julie E. | Campbell, Harry | Chang-Claude, Jenny | Chenevix-Trench, Georgia | Corre, Tanguy | Couch, Fergus J. | Cox, Angela | Czene, Kamila | D'adamo, Adamo Pio | Davies, Gail | Deary, Ian J. | Dennis, Joe | Easton, Douglas F. | Engelhardt, Ellen G. | Eriksson, Johan G. | Esko, Tõnu | Fasching, Peter A. | Figueroa, Jonine D. | Flyger, Henrik | Fraser, Abigail | Garcia-Closas, Montse | Gasparini, Paolo | Gieger, Christian | Giles, Graham | Guenel, Pascal | Hägg, Sara | Hall, Per | Hayward, Caroline | Hopper, John | Ingelsson, Erik | Kardia, Sharon L.R. | Kasiman, Katherine | Knight, Julia A. | Lahti, Jari | Lawlor, Debbie A. | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Margolin, Sara | Marsh, Julie A. | Metspalu, Andres | Olson, Janet E. | Pennell, Craig E. | Polasek, Ozren | Rahman, Iffat | Ridker, Paul M. | Robino, Antonietta | Rudan, Igor | Rudolph, Anja | Salumets, Andres | Schmidt, Marjanka K. | Schoemaker, Minouk J. | Smith, Erin N. | Smith, Jennifer A. | Southey, Melissa | Stöckl, Doris | Swerdlow, Anthony J. | Thompson, Deborah J. | Truong, Therese | Ulivi, Sheila | Waldenberger, Melanie | Wang, Qin | Wild, Sarah | Wilson, James F | Wright, Alan F. | Zgaga, Lina | Ong, Ken K. | Murabito, Joanne M. | Karasik, David | Murray, Anna
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;23(9):2490-2497.
The length of female reproductive lifespan is associated with multiple adverse outcomes, including breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and infertility. The biological processes that govern the timing of the beginning and end of reproductive life are not well understood. Genetic variants are known to contribute to ∼50% of the variation in both age at menarche and menopause, but to date the known genes explain <15% of the genetic component. We have used genome-wide association in a bivariate meta-analysis of both traits to identify genes involved in determining reproductive lifespan. We observed significant genetic correlation between the two traits using genome-wide complex trait analysis. However, we found no robust statistical evidence for individual variants with an effect on both traits. A novel association with age at menopause was detected for a variant rs1800932 in the mismatch repair gene MSH6 (P = 1.9 × 10−9), which was also associated with altered expression levels of MSH6 mRNA in multiple tissues. This study contributes to the growing evidence that DNA repair processes play a key role in ovarian ageing and could be an important therapeutic target for infertility.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt620
PMCID: PMC3976329  PMID: 24357391
15.  Automated workflow-based exploitation of pathway databases provides new insights into genetic associations of metabolite profiles 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:865.
Background
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that associate with clinical phenotypes, but these SNPs usually explain just a small part of the heritability and have relatively modest effect sizes. In contrast, SNPs that associate with metabolite levels generally explain a higher percentage of the genetic variation and demonstrate larger effect sizes. Still, the discovery of SNPs associated with metabolite levels is challenging since testing all metabolites measured in typical metabolomics studies with all SNPs comes with a severe multiple testing penalty. We have developed an automated workflow approach that utilizes prior knowledge of biochemical pathways present in databases like KEGG and BioCyc to generate a smaller SNP set relevant to the metabolite. This paper explores the opportunities and challenges in the analysis of GWAS of metabolomic phenotypes and provides novel insights into the genetic basis of metabolic variation through the re-analysis of published GWAS datasets.
Results
Re-analysis of the published GWAS dataset from Illig et al. (Nature Genetics, 2010) using a pathway-based workflow (http://www.myexperiment.org/packs/319.html), confirmed previously identified hits and identified a new locus of human metabolic individuality, associating Aldehyde dehydrogenase family1 L1 (ALDH1L1) with serine/glycine ratios in blood. Replication in an independent GWAS dataset of phospholipids (Demirkan et al., PLoS Genetics, 2012) identified two novel loci supported by additional literature evidence: GPAM (Glycerol-3 phosphate acyltransferase) and CBS (Cystathionine beta-synthase). In addition, the workflow approach provided novel insight into the affected pathways and relevance of some of these gene-metabolite pairs in disease development and progression.
Conclusions
We demonstrate the utility of automated exploitation of background knowledge present in pathway databases for the analysis of GWAS datasets of metabolomic phenotypes. We report novel loci and potential biochemical mechanisms that contribute to our understanding of the genetic basis of metabolic variation and its relationship to disease development and progression.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-865
PMCID: PMC3879060  PMID: 24320595
Genome-wide association; Metabolite; Genotype-phenotype prioritization; Bioinformatics; Pathway databases
16.  Human metabolic individuality in biomedical and pharmaceutical research 
Nature  2011;477(7362):10.1038/nature10354.
SUMMARY
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many risk loci for complex diseases, but effect sizes are typically small and information on the underlying biological processes is often lacking. Associations with metabolic traits as functional intermediates can overcome these problems and potentially inform individualized therapy. Here we report a comprehensive analysis of genotype-dependent metabolic phenotypes using a GWAS with non-targeted metabolomics. We identified 37 genetic loci associated with blood metabolite concentrations, of which 25 exhibit effect sizes that are unusually high for GWAS and account for 10-60% of metabolite levels per allele copy. Our associations provide new functional insights for many disease-related associations that have been reported in previous studies, including cardiovascular and kidney disorders, type 2 diabetes, cancer, gout, venous thromboembolism, and Crohn’s disease. Taken together our study advances our knowledge of the genetic basis of metabolic individuality in humans and generates many new hypotheses for biomedical and pharmaceutical research.
doi:10.1038/nature10354
PMCID: PMC3832838  PMID: 21886157
17.  Rare variants in LRRK1 and Parkinson's disease 
Neurogenetics  2013;15:49-57.
Approximately 20 % of individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD) report a positive family history. Yet, a large portion of causal and disease-modifying variants is still unknown. We used exome sequencing in two affected individuals from a family with late-onset PD to identify 15 potentially causal variants. Segregation analysis and frequency assessment in 862 PD cases and 1,014 ethnically matched controls highlighted variants in EEF1D and LRRK1 as the best candidates. Mutation screening of the coding regions of these genes in 862 cases and 1,014 controls revealed several novel non-synonymous variants in both genes in cases and controls. An in silico multi-model bioinformatics analysis was used to prioritize identified variants in LRRK1 for functional follow-up. However, protein expression, subcellular localization, and cell viability were not affected by the identified variants. Although it has yet to be proven conclusively that variants in LRRK1 are indeed causative of PD, our data strengthen a possible role for LRRK1 in addition to LRRK2 in the genetic underpinnings of PD but, at the same time, highlight the difficulties encountered in the study of rare variants identified by next-generation sequencing in diseases with autosomal dominant or complex patterns of inheritance.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10048-013-0383-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10048-013-0383-8
PMCID: PMC3968516  PMID: 24241507
Parkinson's disease; LRRK1; EEF1D; Exome sequencing
18.  Rare Variants in PLXNA4 and Parkinson’s Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79145.
Approximately 20% of individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) report a positive family history. Yet, a large portion of causal and disease-modifying variants is still unknown. We used exome sequencing in two affected individuals from a family with late-onset familial PD followed by frequency assessment in 975 PD cases and 1014 ethnically-matched controls and linkage analysis to identify potentially causal variants. Based on the predicted penetrance and the frequencies, a variant in PLXNA4 proved to be the best candidate and PLXNA4 was screened for additional variants in 862 PD cases and 940 controls, revealing an excess of rare non-synonymous coding variants in PLXNA4 in individuals with PD. Although we cannot conclude that the variant in PLXNA4 is indeed the causative variant, these findings are interesting in the light of a surfacing role of axonal guidance mechanisms in neurodegenerative disorders but, at the same time, highlight the difficulties encountered in the study of rare variants identified by next-generation sequencing in diseases with autosomal dominant or complex patterns of inheritance.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079145
PMCID: PMC3823607  PMID: 24244438
19.  Tmem79/Matt is the matted mouse gene and is a predisposing gene for atopic dermatitis in human subjects 
Background
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a major inflammatory condition of the skin caused by inherited skin barrier deficiency, with mutations in the filaggrin gene predisposing to development of AD. Support for barrier deficiency initiating AD came from flaky tail mice, which have a frameshift mutation in Flg and also carry an unknown gene, matted, causing a matted hair phenotype.
Objective
We sought to identify the matted mutant gene in mice and further define whether mutations in the human gene were associated with AD.
Methods
A mouse genetics approach was used to separate the matted and Flg mutations to produce congenic single-mutant strains for genetic and immunologic analysis. Next-generation sequencing was used to identify the matted gene. Five independently recruited AD case collections were analyzed to define associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the human gene and AD.
Results
The matted phenotype in flaky tail mice is due to a mutation in the Tmem79/Matt gene, with no expression of the encoded protein mattrin in the skin of mutant mice. Mattft mice spontaneously have dermatitis and atopy caused by a defective skin barrier, with mutant mice having systemic sensitization after cutaneous challenge with house dust mite allergens. Meta-analysis of 4,245 AD cases and 10,558 population-matched control subjects showed that a missense SNP, rs6694514, in the human MATT gene has a small but significant association with AD.
Conclusion
In mice mutations in Matt cause a defective skin barrier and spontaneous dermatitis and atopy. A common SNP in MATT has an association with AD in human subjects.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.08.046
PMCID: PMC3834151  PMID: 24084074
Allergy; association; atopic dermatitis; atopy; eczema; filaggrin; flaky tail; Matt; mattrin; mouse; mutation; Tmem79; AD, Atopic dermatitis; DM, Double mutant; FLG, Filaggrin; HDM, House dust mite; hpf, High-power field; MAPEG, Membrane-associated proteins in eicosanoid and glutathione metabolism; OR, Odds ratio; SNP, Single nucleotide polymorphism; TEWL, Transepidermal water loss; WT, Wild-type
20.  Joint Analysis of Individual Participants’ Data from 17 Studies on the Association of the IL6 Variant -174G>C with Circulating Glucose Levels, Interleukin-6 Levels, and Body-Mass Index 
Annals of medicine  2009;41(2):128-138.
Background
Several studies have investigated associations between the -174G>C polymorphism (rs1800795) of the IL6-gene, but presented inconsistent results.
Aims
This joint analysis aimed to clarify whether IL6 -174G>C was associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) related quantitative phenotypes.
Methods
Individual-level data from all studies of the IL6-T2DM consortium on Caucasian subjects with available BMI were collected. As study-specific estimates did not show heterogeneity (P>0.1), they were combined by using the inverse-variance fixed-effect model.
Results
The main analysis included 9440, 7398, 24,117, or 5659 nondiabetic and manifest T2DM subjects for fasting glucose, 2-hour glucose, BMI or circulating interleukin-6 levels, respectively. IL6 -174 C-allele carriers had significantly lower fasting glucose (−0.091mmol/L, P=0.014). There was no evidence for association between IL6 -174G>C and BMI or interleukin-6. In an additional analysis of 641 subjects known to develop T2DM later on, the IL6 -174 CC-genotype was associated with higher baseline interleukin-6 (+0.75pg/mL, P=0.004), which was consistent with higher interleukin-6 in the 966 manifest T2DM subjects (+0.50pg/mL, P=0.044).
Conclusions
Our data suggest association between IL6 -174G>C and quantitative glucose, and exploratory analysis indicated modulated interleukin-6 levels in pre-diabetic subjects, being in-line with this SNP’s previously reported T2DM association and a role of circulating interleukin-6 as intermediate phenotype.
doi:10.1080/07853890802337037
PMCID: PMC3801210  PMID: 18752089
blood glucose; body mass index; diabetes mellitus; type 2; epidemiology; molecular; genes; inflammation mediators; interleukin-6; intermediate phenotype; meta-analysis; polymorphism; single nucleotide
21.  A genomewide perspective of genetic variation in human metabolism 
Nature genetics  2009;42(2):137-141.
Serum metabolite concentrations provide a direct readout of biological processes in the human body, and are associated with disorders such as cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Here we present a genome-wide association study with 163 metabolic traits using 1809 participants from the KORA population, followed up in the TwinsUK cohort with 422 participants. In eight out of nine replicated loci (FADS1, ELOVL2, ACADS, ACADM, ACADL, SPTLC3, ETFDH, SLC16A9) the genetic variant is located in or near enzyme or solute carrier coding genes, where the associating metabolic traits match the proteins’ function. Many of these loci are located in rate limiting steps of important enzymatic reactions. Use of metabolite concentration ratios as proxies for enzymatic reaction rates reduces the variance and yields robust statistical associations with p-values between 3×10−24 and 6.5×10−179. These loci explained 5.6% to 36.3% of the observed variance. For several loci, associations with clinically relevant parameters have previously been reported.
doi:10.1038/ng.507
PMCID: PMC3773904  PMID: 20037589
22.  Epigenetics meets metabolomics: an epigenome-wide association study with blood serum metabolic traits 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;23(2):534-545.
Previously, we reported strong influences of genetic variants on metabolic phenotypes, some of them with clinical relevance. Here, we hypothesize that DNA methylation may have an important and potentially independent effect on human metabolism. To test this hypothesis, we conducted what is to the best of our knowledge the first epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) between DNA methylation and metabolic traits (metabotypes) in human blood. We assess 649 blood metabolic traits from 1814 participants of the Kooperative Gesundheitsforschung in der Region Augsburg (KORA) population study for association with methylation of 457 004 CpG sites, determined on the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip platform. Using the EWAS approach, we identified two types of methylome–metabotype associations. One type is driven by an underlying genetic effect; the other type is independent of genetic variation and potentially driven by common environmental and life-style-dependent factors. We report eight CpG loci at genome-wide significance that have a genetic variant as confounder (P = 3.9 × 10−20 to 2.0 × 10−108, r2 = 0.036 to 0.221). Seven loci display CpG site-specific associations to metabotypes, but do not exhibit any underlying genetic signals (P = 9.2 × 10−14 to 2.7 × 10−27, r2 = 0.008 to 0.107). We further identify several groups of CpG loci that associate with a same metabotype, such as 4-vinylphenol sulfate and 4-androsten-3-beta,17-beta-diol disulfate. In these cases, the association between CpG-methylation and metabotype is likely the result of a common external environmental factor, including smoking. Our study shows that analysis of EWAS with large numbers of metabolic traits in large population cohorts are, in principle, feasible. Taken together, our data suggest that DNA methylation plays an important role in regulating human metabolism.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt430
PMCID: PMC3869358  PMID: 24014485
23.  GWAS of 126,559 Individuals Identifies Genetic Variants Associated with Educational Attainment 
Rietveld, Cornelius A. | Medland, Sarah E. | Derringer, Jaime | Yang, Jian | Esko, Tõnu | Martin, Nicolas W. | Westra, Harm-Jan | Shakhbazov, Konstantin | Abdellaoui, Abdel | Agrawal, Arpana | Albrecht, Eva | Alizadeh, Behrooz Z. | Amin, Najaf | Barnard, John | Baumeister, Sebastian E. | Benke, Kelly S. | Bielak, Lawrence F. | Boatman, Jeffrey A. | Boyle, Patricia A. | Davies, Gail | de Leeuw, Christiaan | Eklund, Niina | Evans, Daniel S. | Ferhmann, Rudolf | Fischer, Krista | Gieger, Christian | Gjessing, Håkon K. | Hägg, Sara | Harris, Jennifer R. | Hayward, Caroline | Holzapfel, Christina | Ibrahim-Verbaas, Carla A. | Ingelsson, Erik | Jacobsson, Bo | Joshi, Peter K. | Jugessur, Astanand | Kaakinen, Marika | Kanoni, Stavroula | Karjalainen, Juha | Kolcic, Ivana | Kristiansson, Kati | Kutalik, Zoltán | Lahti, Jari | Lee, Sang H. | Lin, Peng | Lind, Penelope A. | Liu, Yongmei | Lohman, Kurt | Loitfelder, Marisa | McMahon, George | Vidal, Pedro Marques | Meirelles, Osorio | Milani, Lili | Myhre, Ronny | Nuotio, Marja-Liisa | Oldmeadow, Christopher J. | Petrovic, Katja E. | Peyrot, Wouter J. | Polašek, Ozren | Quaye, Lydia | Reinmaa, Eva | Rice, John P. | Rizzi, Thais S. | Schmidt, Helena | Schmidt, Reinhold | Smith, Albert V. | Smith, Jennifer A. | Tanaka, Toshiko | Terracciano, Antonio | van der Loos, Matthijs J.H.M. | Vitart, Veronique | Völzke, Henry | Wellmann, Jürgen | Yu, Lei | Zhao, Wei | Allik, Jüri | Attia, John R. | Bandinelli, Stefania | Bastardot, François | Beauchamp, Jonathan | Bennett, David A. | Berger, Klaus | Bierut, Laura J. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Bültmann, Ute | Campbell, Harry | Chabris, Christopher F. | Cherkas, Lynn | Chung, Mina K. | Cucca, Francesco | de Andrade, Mariza | De Jager, Philip L. | De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel | Deary, Ian J. | Dedoussis, George V. | Deloukas, Panos | Dimitriou, Maria | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Elderson, Martin F. | Eriksson, Johan G. | Evans, David M. | Faul, Jessica D. | Ferrucci, Luigi | Garcia, Melissa E. | Grönberg, Henrik | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hall, Per | Harris, Juliette M. | Harris, Tamara B. | Hastie, Nicholas D. | Heath, Andrew C. | Hernandez, Dena G. | Hoffmann, Wolfgang | Hofman, Adriaan | Holle, Rolf | Holliday, Elizabeth G. | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Iacono, William G. | Illig, Thomas | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Kähönen, Mika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kirkpatrick, Robert M. | Kowgier, Matthew | Latvala, Antti | Launer, Lenore J. | Lawlor, Debbie A. | Lehtimäki, Terho | Li, Jingmei | Lichtenstein, Paul | Lichtner, Peter | Liewald, David C. | Madden, Pamela A. | Magnusson, Patrik K. E. | Mäkinen, Tomi E. | Masala, Marco | McGue, Matt | Metspalu, Andres | Mielck, Andreas | Miller, Michael B. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Mukherjee, Sutapa | Nyholt, Dale R. | Oostra, Ben A. | Palmer, Lyle J. | Palotie, Aarno | Penninx, Brenda | Perola, Markus | Peyser, Patricia A. | Preisig, Martin | Räikkönen, Katri | Raitakari, Olli T. | Realo, Anu | Ring, Susan M. | Ripatti, Samuli | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Rustichini, Aldo | Salomaa, Veikko | Sarin, Antti-Pekka | Schlessinger, David | Scott, Rodney J. | Snieder, Harold | Pourcain, Beate St | Starr, John M. | Sul, Jae Hoon | Surakka, Ida | Svento, Rauli | Teumer, Alexander | Tiemeier, Henning | Rooij, Frank JAan | Van Wagoner, David R. | Vartiainen, Erkki | Viikari, Jorma | Vollenweider, Peter | Vonk, Judith M. | Waeber, Gérard | Weir, David R. | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Widen, Elisabeth | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wilson, James F. | Wright, Alan F. | Conley, Dalton | Davey-Smith, George | Franke, Lude | Groenen, Patrick J. F. | Hofman, Albert | Johannesson, Magnus | Kardia, Sharon L.R. | Krueger, Robert F. | Laibson, David | Martin, Nicholas G. | Meyer, Michelle N. | Posthuma, Danielle | Thurik, A. Roy | Timpson, Nicholas J. | Uitterlinden, André G. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Visscher, Peter M. | Benjamin, Daniel J. | Cesarini, David | Koellinger, Philipp D.
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;340(6139):1467-1471.
A genome-wide association study of educational attainment was conducted in a discovery sample of 101,069 individuals and a replication sample of 25,490. Three independent SNPs are genome-wide significant (rs9320913, rs11584700, rs4851266), and all three replicate. Estimated effects sizes are small (R2 ≈ 0.02%), approximately 1 month of schooling per allele. A linear polygenic score from all measured SNPs accounts for ≈ 2% of the variance in both educational attainment and cognitive function. Genes in the region of the loci have previously been associated with health, cognitive, and central nervous system phenotypes, and bioinformatics analyses suggest the involvement of the anterior caudate nucleus. These findings provide promising candidate SNPs for follow-up work, and our effect size estimates can anchor power analyses in social-science genetics.
doi:10.1126/science.1235488
PMCID: PMC3751588  PMID: 23722424
24.  Metabolite profiling reveals new insights into the regulation of serum urate in humans 
Metabolomics  2013;10:141-151.
Serum urate, the final breakdown product of purine metabolism, is causally involved in the pathogenesis of gout, and implicated in cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Serum urate levels highly differ between men and women; however the underlying biological processes in its regulation are still not completely understood and are assumed to result from a complex interplay between genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. In order to describe the metabolic vicinity of serum urate, we analyzed 355 metabolites in 1,764 individuals of the population-based KORA F4 study and constructed a metabolite network around serum urate using Gaussian Graphical Modeling in a hypothesis-free approach. We subsequently investigated the effect of sex and urate lowering medication on all 38 metabolites assigned to the network. Within the resulting network three main clusters could be detected around urate, including the well-known pathway of purine metabolism, as well as several dipeptides, a group of essential amino acids, and a group of steroids. Of the 38 assigned metabolites, 25 showed strong differences between sexes. Association with uricostatic medication intake was not only confined to purine metabolism but seen for seven metabolites within the network. Our findings highlight pathways that are important in the regulation of serum urate and suggest that dipeptides, amino acids, and steroid hormones are playing a role in its regulation. The findings might have an impact on the development of specific targets in the treatment and prevention of hyperuricemia.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11306-013-0565-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s11306-013-0565-2
PMCID: PMC3890072  PMID: 24482632
Gaussian Graphical Modeling; Metabolite network; Pathway reconstruction; Allopurinol; Uric acid; Purine metabolism
25.  Associations between thyroid hormones and serum metabolite profiles in an euthyroid population 
Metabolomics  2013;10:152-164.
The aim was to characterise associations between circulating thyroid hormones—free thyroxine (FT4) and thyrotropin (TSH)—and the metabolite profiles in serum samples from participants of the German population-based KORA F4 study. Analyses were based on the metabolite profile of 1463 euthyroid subjects. In serum samples, obtained after overnight fasting (≥8), 151 different metabolites were quantified in a targeted approach including amino acids, acylcarnitines (ACs), and phosphatidylcholines (PCs). Associations between metabolites and thyroid hormone concentrations were analysed using adjusted linear regression models. To draw conclusions on thyroid hormone related pathways, intra-class metabolite ratios were additionally explored. We discovered 154 significant associations (Bonferroni p < 1.75 × 10−04) between FT4 and various metabolites and metabolite ratios belonging to AC and PC groups. Significant associations with TSH were lacking. High FT4 levels were associated with increased concentrations of many ACs and various sums of ACs of different chain length, and the ratio of C2 by C0. The inverse associations observed between FT4 and many serum PCs reflected the general decrease in PC concentrations. Similar results were found in subgroup analyses, e.g., in weight-stable subjects or in obese subjects. Further, results were independent of different parameters for liver or kidney function, or inflammation, which supports the notion of an independent FT4 effect. In fasting euthyroid adults, higher serum FT4 levels are associated with increased serum AC concentrations and an increased ratio of C2 by C0 which is indicative of an overall enhanced fatty acyl mitochondrial transport and β-oxidation of fatty acids.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11306-013-0563-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s11306-013-0563-4
PMCID: PMC4042025  PMID: 24955082
Targeted metabolomics; Serum metabolites; Free thyroxine; Thyrotropin; Thyroid hormones; Epidemiology

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