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1.  Associations between pre-pregnancy obesity and asthma symptoms in adolescents 
Background
The high prevalence of children's asthma symptoms, worldwide, is unexplained. We examined the relation between maternal pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index (BMI), and asthma symptoms in adolescents.
Methods
Data from 6945 adolescents born within the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 were used. Prospective antenatal and birth outcome data, including maternal pre-pregnancy weight and BMI, and asthma symptoms in adolescent offspring at age 15–16 years, were employed. Logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the associations between relevant prenatal factors and asthma symptoms during adolescence.
Results
Current wheeze (within the past year) was reported by 10.6% of adolescents, and physician-diagnosed asthma by 6.0%. High maternal pre-pregnancy BMI was a significant predictor of wheeze in the adolescents (increase per kilogram per square metre unit; 2.7%, 95% CI 0.9 to 4.4 for ever wheeze; 3.5%, 95% CI 1.3 to 5.8 for current wheeze), and adjusting for potential confounders further increased the risk (2.8%, 95% CI 0.5 to 5.1; 4.7%, 95% CI 1.9 to 7.7, respectively). High maternal pre-pregnancy weight, in the top tertile, also significantly increased the odds of current wheeze in the adolescent by 20% (95% CI 4 to 39), and adjusting for potential confounders further increased the risk (OR=1.52, 95% CI 1.19 to 1.95). Results were similar for current asthma. Furthermore, these significant associations were observed only among adolescents without parental history of atopy but not among those with parental history of atopy.
Conclusions
The association demonstrated here between maternal pre-pregnancy overweight and obesity, and asthma symptoms in adolescents suggests that increase in asthma may be partly related to the rapid rise in obesity in recent years.
doi:10.1136/jech.2011.133777
PMCID: PMC3412048  PMID: 21844604
Asthma; wheeze; prevalence; adolescent; maternal pre-pregnancy weight; BMI; obesity
2.  Life-Course Analysis of a Fat Mass and Obesity-Associated (FTO) Gene Variant and Body Mass Index in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 Using Structural Equation Modeling 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2010;172(6):653-665.
The association between variation in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene and adulthood body mass index (BMI; weight (kg)/height (m)2) is well-replicated. More thorough analyses utilizing phenotypic data over the life course may deepen our understanding of the development of BMI and thus help in the prevention of obesity. The authors used a structural equation modeling approach to explore the network of variables associated with BMI from the prenatal period to age 31 years (1965–1997) in 4,435 subjects from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. The use of structural equation modeling permitted the easy inclusion of variables with missing values in the analyses without separate imputation steps, as well as differentiation between direct and indirect effects. There was an association between the FTO single nucleotide polymorphism rs9939609 and BMI at age 31 years that persisted after controlling for several relevant factors during the life course. The total effect of the FTO variant on adult BMI was mostly composed of the direct effect, but a notable part was also arising indirectly via its effects on earlier BMI development. In addition to well-established genetic determinants, many life-course factors such as physical activity, in spite of not showing mediation or interaction, had a strong independent effect on BMI.
doi:10.1093/aje/kwq178
PMCID: PMC2938267  PMID: 20702506
body mass index; molecular epidemiology; structural equation model
3.  Early growth and adult respiratory function in men and women followed from the fetal period to adulthood 
Thorax  2006;62(5):396-402.
Background
While some studies suggest that poor fetal growth rate, as indicated by lower birth weight, is associated with poor respiratory function in childhood, findings among adults remain inconsistent. A study was undertaken to determine the association between early growth and adult respiratory function.
Methods
A longitudinal birth cohort study was performed of 5390 men and women born full term and prospectively followed from the fetal period to adulthood. Weight at birth and infancy were recorded, and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) were assessed by standard spirometry at age 31 years.
Results
Adult FEV1 and FVC increased linearly with higher birth weight in both men and women with no apparent threshold. After adjustment for sex, adult height and other potential confounders operating through the life course, every 500 g higher birth weight was associated with a higher FEV1 of 53.1 ml (95% CI 38.4 to 67.7) and higher FVC of 52.5 ml (95% CI 35.5 to 69.4). These positive associations persisted across categories of smoking, physical activity and body mass index, with the lowest respiratory function noted among those with lower birth weight who were smokers, led a sedentary lifestyle or were overweight. Weight gain in infancy was also positively associated with adult lung function.
Conclusion
Birth weight is continuously and independently associated with adult respiratory function. It is plausible that poor growth in early life may restrict normal lung growth and development, which could have long‐term consequences on lung function later in life.
doi:10.1136/thx.2006.066241
PMCID: PMC2117170  PMID: 17105780
4.  Metabolic Signatures of Adiposity in Young Adults: Mendelian Randomization Analysis and Effects of Weight Change 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(12):e1001765.
In this study, Wurtz and colleagues investigated to what extent elevated body mass index (BMI) within the normal weight range has causal influences on the detailed systemic metabolite profile in early adulthood using Mendelian randomization analysis.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Increased adiposity is linked with higher risk for cardiometabolic diseases. We aimed to determine to what extent elevated body mass index (BMI) within the normal weight range has causal effects on the detailed systemic metabolite profile in early adulthood.
Methods and Findings
We used Mendelian randomization to estimate causal effects of BMI on 82 metabolic measures in 12,664 adolescents and young adults from four population-based cohorts in Finland (mean age 26 y, range 16–39 y; 51% women; mean ± standard deviation BMI 24±4 kg/m2). Circulating metabolites were quantified by high-throughput nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomics and biochemical assays. In cross-sectional analyses, elevated BMI was adversely associated with cardiometabolic risk markers throughout the systemic metabolite profile, including lipoprotein subclasses, fatty acid composition, amino acids, inflammatory markers, and various hormones (p<0.0005 for 68 measures). Metabolite associations with BMI were generally stronger for men than for women (median 136%, interquartile range 125%–183%). A gene score for predisposition to elevated BMI, composed of 32 established genetic correlates, was used as the instrument to assess causality. Causal effects of elevated BMI closely matched observational estimates (correspondence 87%±3%; R2 = 0.89), suggesting causative influences of adiposity on the levels of numerous metabolites (p<0.0005 for 24 measures), including lipoprotein lipid subclasses and particle size, branched-chain and aromatic amino acids, and inflammation-related glycoprotein acetyls. Causal analyses of certain metabolites and potential sex differences warrant stronger statistical power. Metabolite changes associated with change in BMI during 6 y of follow-up were examined for 1,488 individuals. Change in BMI was accompanied by widespread metabolite changes, which had an association pattern similar to that of the cross-sectional observations, yet with greater metabolic effects (correspondence 160%±2%; R2 = 0.92).
Conclusions
Mendelian randomization indicates causal adverse effects of increased adiposity with multiple cardiometabolic risk markers across the metabolite profile in adolescents and young adults within the non-obese weight range. Consistent with the causal influences of adiposity, weight changes were paralleled by extensive metabolic changes, suggesting a broadly modifiable systemic metabolite profile in early adulthood.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Adiposity—having excessive body fat—is a growing global threat to public health. Body mass index (BMI, calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) is a coarse indicator of excess body weight, but the measure is useful in large population studies. Compared to people with a lean body weight (a BMI of 18.5–24.9 kg/m2), individuals with higher BMI have an elevated risk of developing life-shortening cardiometabolic diseases—cardiovascular diseases that affect the heart and/or the blood vessels (for example, heart failure and stroke) and metabolic diseases that affect the cellular chemical reactions that sustain life (for example, diabetes). People become unhealthily fat by consuming food and drink that contains more energy (calories) than they need for their daily activities. So adiposity can be prevented and reversed by eating less and exercising more.
Why Was This Study Done?
Epidemiological studies, which record the patterns of risk factors and disease in populations, suggest that the illness and death associated with excess body weight is partly attributable to abnormalities in how individuals with high adiposity metabolize carbohydrates and fats, leading to higher blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Further, adiposity is also associated with many other deviations in the metabolic profile than these commonly measured risk factors. However, epidemiological studies cannot prove that adiposity causes specific changes in a person's systemic (overall) metabolic profile because individuals with high BMI may share other characteristics (confounding factors) that are the actual causes of both adiposity and metabolic abnormalities. Moreover, having a change in some aspect of metabolism could also lead to adiposity, rather than vice versa (reverse causation). Importantly, if there is a causal effect of adiposity on cardiometabolic risk factor levels, it might be possible to prevent the progression towards cardiometabolic diseases by weight loss. Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether increased BMI within the normal and overweight range is causally influencing the metabolic risk factors from many biological pathways during early adulthood. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. Several gene variants are known to lead to modestly increased BMI. Thus, an investigation of the associations between these gene variants and risk factors across the systemic metabolite profile in a population of healthy individuals can indicate whether higher BMI is causally related to known and novel metabolic risk factors and higher cardiometabolic disease risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured the BMI of 12,664 adolescents and young adults (average BMI 24.7 kg/m2) living in Finland and the blood levels of 82 metabolites in these young individuals at a single time point. Statistical analysis of these data indicated that elevated BMI was adversely associated with numerous cardiometabolic risk factors. For example, elevated BMI was associated with raised levels of low-density lipoprotein, “bad” cholesterol that increases cardiovascular disease risk. Next, the researchers used a gene score for predisposition to increased BMI, composed of 32 gene variants correlated with increased BMI, as an “instrumental variable” to assess whether adiposity causes metabolite abnormalities. The effects on the systemic metabolite profile of a 1-kg/m2 increment in BMI due to genetic predisposition closely matched the effects of an observed 1-kg/m2 increment in adulthood BMI on the metabolic profile. That is, higher levels of adiposity had causal effects on the levels of numerous blood-based metabolic risk factors, including higher levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride-carrying lipoproteins, protein markers of chronic inflammation and adverse liver function, impaired insulin sensitivity, and elevated concentrations of several amino acids that have recently been linked with the risk for developing diabetes. Elevated BMI also causally led to lower levels of certain high-density lipoprotein lipids in the blood, a marker for the risk of future cardiovascular disease. Finally, an examination of the metabolic changes associated with changes in BMI in 1,488 young adults after a period of six years showed that those metabolic measures that were most strongly associated with BMI at a single time point likewise displayed the highest responsiveness to weight change over time.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that increased adiposity has causal adverse effects on multiple cardiometabolic risk markers in non-obese young adults beyond the effects on cholesterol and blood sugar. Like all Mendelian randomization studies, the reliability of the causal association reported here depends on several assumptions made by the researchers. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that increased adiposity has causal adverse effects on multiple cardiometabolic risk markers in non-obese young adults. Importantly, the results of both the causal effect analyses and the longitudinal study suggest that there is no threshold below which a BMI increase does not adversely affect the metabolic profile, and that a systemic metabolic profile linked with high cardiometabolic disease risk that becomes established during early adulthood can be reversed. Overall, these findings therefore highlight the importance of weight reduction as a key target for metabolic risk factor control among young adults.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001765.
The Computational Medicine Research Team of the University of Oulu has a webpage that provides further information on metabolite profiling by high-throughput NMR metabolomics
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The Global Burden of Disease Study website provides the latest details about global obesity trends
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes (including some personal stories)
The American Heart Association provides information on all aspects of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and on keeping healthy; its website includes personal stories about heart attacks, stroke, and diabetes
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on all aspects of overweight and obesity and information about heart disease, stroke, and diabetes
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on heart disease, vascular disease, and obesity (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001765
PMCID: PMC4260795  PMID: 25490400
5.  The Challenges of Genome-Wide Interaction Studies: Lessons to Learn from the Analysis of HDL Blood Levels 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109290.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed 74 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) blood levels. This study is, to our knowledge, the first genome-wide interaction study (GWIS) to identify SNP×SNP interactions associated with HDL levels. We performed a GWIS in the Rotterdam Study (RS) cohort I (RS-I) using the GLIDE tool which leverages the massively parallel computing power of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to perform linear regression on all genome-wide pairs of SNPs. By performing a meta-analysis together with Rotterdam Study cohorts II and III (RS-II and RS-III), we were able to filter 181 interaction terms with a p-value<1 · 10−8 that replicated in the two independent cohorts. We were not able to replicate any of these interaction term in the AGES, ARIC, CHS, ERF, FHS and NFBC-66 cohorts (Ntotal = 30,011) when adjusting for multiple testing. Our GWIS resulted in the consistent finding of a possible interaction between rs774801 in ARMC8 (ENSG00000114098) and rs12442098 in SPATA8 (ENSG00000185594) being associated with HDL levels. However, p-values do not reach the preset Bonferroni correction of the p-values. Our study suggest that even for highly genetically determined traits such as HDL the sample sizes needed to detect SNP×SNP interactions are large and the 2-step filtering approaches do not yield a solution. Here we present our analysis plan and our reservations concerning GWIS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109290
PMCID: PMC4203717  PMID: 25329471
6.  Elevated Blood Pressure in Pregnancy and Subsequent Chronic Disease Risk 
Circulation  2013;127(6):681-690.
Background
Preeclampsia, a new-onset hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, is associated with lifetime cardiovascular disease risk, but less is known about risk after other pregnancy-related hypertension.
Methods and Results
The Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 included all expected births from 1 year (N=12 055 women). Blood pressure measurements and other prospective data were determined from prenatal care records and questionnaires for 10 314 women. Subsequent diagnoses were ascertained from Finnish registries (average follow-up, 39.4 years). Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) estimate risks in hypertensive women compared with normotensive women. Hypertension during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of subsequent cardiovascular disease and arterial hypertension. Women with chronic hypertension and superimposed preeclampsia/eclampsia had high risk for future diseases. Gestational hypertension was associated with increased risk of ischemic heart disease (HR, 1.44 [95% CI, 1.24–1.68]), myocardial infarcts (HR, 1.75 [95% CI, 1.40–2.19]), myocardial infarct death (HR, 3.00 [95% CI, 1.98–4.55]), heart failure (HR, 1.78 [95% CI, 1.43–2.21]), ischemic stroke (HR, 1.59 [95% CI, 1.24–2.04]), kidney disease (HR, 1.91 [95% CI, 1.18–3.09]), and diabetes mellitus (HR, 1.52 [95% CI, 1.21–1.89]). Isolated systolic hypertension was associated with increased risk of myocardial infarct death (HR, 2.15 [95% CI, 1.35–3.41]), heart failure (HR, 1.43 [95% CI, 1.13–1.82]), and diabetes mellitus (HR, 1.42 [95% CI, 1.13–1.78]), whereas isolated diastolic hypertension was associated with increased risk of ischemic heart disease (HR, 1.26 [95% CI, 1.05–1.50]). Results were similar in nonsmoking women aged <35 years with normal weight and no diabetes mellitus during pregnancy.
Conclusions
Elevated blood pressure during pregnancy, regardless of type and even without known risk factors, signals high risk of later cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes mellitus. Clinical monitoring, risk factor evaluation, and early intervention could benefit women with hypertension in pregnancy.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.128751
PMCID: PMC4151554  PMID: 23401113
epidemiology; hypertension; myocardial infarction; pregnancy; prevention; stroke
7.  The Association of Genotype-Based Inbreeding Coefficient with a Range of Physical and Psychological Human Traits 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103102.
Across animal species, offspring of closely related mates exhibit lower fitness, a phenomenon called inbreeding depression. Inbreeding depression in humans is less well understood because mating between close relatives is generally rare and stigmatised, confounding investigation of its effect on fitness-relevant traits. Recently, the availability of high-density genotype data has enabled quantification of variation in distant inbreeding in ‘outbred’ human populations, but the low variance of inbreeding detected from genetic data in most outbred populations means large samples are required to test effects, and only a few traits have yet been studied. However, it is likely that isolated populations, or those with a small effective population size, have higher variation in inbreeding and therefore require smaller sample sizes to detect inbreeding effects. With a small effective population size and low immigration, Northern Finland is such a population. We make use of a sample of ∼5,500 ‘unrelated’ individuals in the Northern Finnish Birth Cohort 1966 with known genotypes and measured phenotypes across a range of fitness-relevant physical and psychological traits, including birth length and adult height, body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio, blood pressure, heart rate, grip strength, educational attainment, income, marital status, handedness, health, and schizotypal features. We find significant associations in the predicted direction between individuals' inbreeding coefficient (measured by proportion of the genome in runs of homozygosity) and eight of the 18 traits investigated, significantly more than the one or two expected by chance. These results are consistent with inbreeding depression effects on a range of human traits, but further research is needed to replicate and test alternative explanations for these effects.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103102
PMCID: PMC4111285  PMID: 25062308
8.  Genome Wide Association Identifies Common Variants at the SERPINA6/SERPINA1 Locus Influencing Plasma Cortisol and Corticosteroid Binding Globulin 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(7):e1004474.
Variation in plasma levels of cortisol, an essential hormone in the stress response, is associated in population-based studies with cardio-metabolic, inflammatory and neuro-cognitive traits and diseases. Heritability of plasma cortisol is estimated at 30–60% but no common genetic contribution has been identified. The CORtisol NETwork (CORNET) consortium undertook genome wide association meta-analysis for plasma cortisol in 12,597 Caucasian participants, replicated in 2,795 participants. The results indicate that <1% of variance in plasma cortisol is accounted for by genetic variation in a single region of chromosome 14. This locus spans SERPINA6, encoding corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG, the major cortisol-binding protein in plasma), and SERPINA1, encoding α1-antitrypsin (which inhibits cleavage of the reactive centre loop that releases cortisol from CBG). Three partially independent signals were identified within the region, represented by common SNPs; detailed biochemical investigation in a nested sub-cohort showed all these SNPs were associated with variation in total cortisol binding activity in plasma, but some variants influenced total CBG concentrations while the top hit (rs12589136) influenced the immunoreactivity of the reactive centre loop of CBG. Exome chip and 1000 Genomes imputation analysis of this locus in the CROATIA-Korcula cohort identified missense mutations in SERPINA6 and SERPINA1 that did not account for the effects of common variants. These findings reveal a novel common genetic source of variation in binding of cortisol by CBG, and reinforce the key role of CBG in determining plasma cortisol levels. In turn this genetic variation may contribute to cortisol-associated degenerative diseases.
Author Summary
Cortisol is a steroid hormone from the adrenal glands that is essential in the response to stress. Most cortisol in blood is bound to corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG). Diseases causing cortisol deficiency (Addison's disease) or excess (Cushing's syndrome) are life-threatening. Variations in plasma cortisol have been associated with cardiovascular and psychiatric diseases and their risk factors. To dissect the genetic contribution to variation in plasma cortisol, we formed the CORtisol NETwork (CORNET) consortium and recruited collaborators with suitable samples from more than 15,000 people. The results reveal that the major genetic influence on plasma cortisol is mediated by variations in the binding capacity of CBG. This is determined by differences in the circulating concentrations of CBG and also in the immunoreactivity of its ‘reactive centre loop’, potentially influencing not only binding affinity for cortisol but also the stability of CBG and hence the tissue delivery of cortisol. These findings provide the first evidence for a common genetic effect on levels of this clinically important hormone, suggest that differences in CBG between individuals are biologically important, and pave the way for further research to dissect causality in the associations of plasma cortisol with common diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004474
PMCID: PMC4091794  PMID: 25010111
9.  Genome-wide association and longitudinal analyses reveal genetic loci linking pubertal height growth, pubertal timing and childhood adiposity 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(13):2735-2747.
The pubertal height growth spurt is a distinctive feature of childhood growth reflecting both the central onset of puberty and local growth factors. Although little is known about the underlying genetics, growth variability during puberty correlates with adult risks for hormone-dependent cancer and adverse cardiometabolic health. The only gene so far associated with pubertal height growth, LIN28B, pleiotropically influences childhood growth, puberty and cancer progression, pointing to shared underlying mechanisms. To discover genetic loci influencing pubertal height and growth and to place them in context of overall growth and maturation, we performed genome-wide association meta-analyses in 18 737 European samples utilizing longitudinally collected height measurements. We found significant associations (P < 1.67 × 10−8) at 10 loci, including LIN28B. Five loci associated with pubertal timing, all impacting multiple aspects of growth. In particular, a novel variant correlated with expression of MAPK3, and associated both with increased prepubertal growth and earlier menarche. Another variant near ADCY3-POMC associated with increased body mass index, reduced pubertal growth and earlier puberty. Whereas epidemiological correlations suggest that early puberty marks a pathway from rapid prepubertal growth to reduced final height and adult obesity, our study shows that individual loci associating with pubertal growth have variable longitudinal growth patterns that may differ from epidemiological observations. Overall, this study uncovers part of the complex genetic architecture linking pubertal height growth, the timing of puberty and childhood obesity and provides new information to pinpoint processes linking these traits.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt104
PMCID: PMC3674797  PMID: 23449627
10.  Vitamin D and adipose tissue—more than storage 
The pandemic increase in obesity is inversely associated with vitamin D levels. While a higher BMI was causally related to lower 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), no evidence was obtained for a BMI lowering effect by higher 25(OH)D. Some of the physiological functions of 1,25(OH)2D3 (1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol or calcitriol) via its receptor within the adipose tissue have been investigated such as its effect on energy balance, adipogenesis, adipokine, and cytokine secretion. Adipose tissue inflammation has been recognized as the key component of metabolic disorders, e.g., in the metabolic syndrome. The adipose organ secretes more than 260 different proteins/peptides. However, the molecular basis of the interactions of 1,25(OH)2D3, vitamin D binding proteins (VDBPs) and nuclear vitamin D receptor (VDR) after sequestration in adipose tissue and their regulations are still unclear. 1,25(OH)2D3 and its inactive metabolites are known to inhibit the formation of adipocytes in mouse 3T3-L1 cell line. In humans, 1,25(OH)2D3 promotes preadipocyte differentiation under cell culture conditions. Further evidence of its important functions is given by VDR knock out (VDR−/−) and CYP27B1 knock out (CYP27B1 −/−) mouse models: Both VDR−/− and CYP27B1−/− models are highly resistant to the diet induced weight gain, while the specific overexpression of human VDR in adipose tissue leads to increased adipose tissue mass. The analysis of microarray datasets from human adipocytes treated with macrophage-secreted products up-regulated VDR and CYP27B1 genes indicating the capacity of adipocytes to even produce active 1,25(OH)2D3. Experimental studies demonstrate that 1,25(OH)2D3 has an active role in adipose tissue by modulating inflammation, adipogenesis and adipocyte secretion. Yet, further in vivo studies are needed to address the effects and the effective dosages of vitamin D in human adipose tissue and its relevance in the associated diseases.
doi:10.3389/fphys.2014.00228
PMCID: PMC4067728  PMID: 25009502
1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol or calcitriol; vitamin D binding protein; gene regulation; adipose tissue; adipogenesis; secretion; adipokines
11.  Genome metabolome integrated network analysis to uncover connections between genetic variants and complex traits: an application to obesity 
Current studies of phenotype diversity by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are mainly focused on identifying genetic variants that influence level changes of individual traits without considering additional alterations at the system-level. However, in addition to level alterations of single phenotypes, differences in association between phenotype levels are observed across different physiological states. Such differences in molecular correlations between states can potentially reveal information about the system state beyond that reported by changes in mean levels alone. In this study, we describe a novel methodological approach, which we refer to as genome metabolome integrated network analysis (GEMINi) consisting of a combination of correlation network analysis and genome-wide correlation study. The proposed methodology exploits differences in molecular associations to uncover genetic variants involved in phenotype variation. We test the performance of the GEMINi approach in a simulation study and illustrate its use in the context of obesity and detailed quantitative metabolomics data on systemic metabolism. Application of GEMINi revealed a set of metabolic associations which differ between normal and obese individuals. While no significant associations were found between genetic variants and body mass index using a standard GWAS approach, further investigation of the identified differences in metabolic association revealed a number of loci, several of which have been previously implicated with obesity-related processes. This study highlights the advantage of using molecular associations as an alternative phenotype when studying the genetic basis of complex traits and diseases.
doi:10.1098/rsif.2013.0908
PMCID: PMC3973353  PMID: 24573330
correlation analysis; differential networks; genome-wide association analysis; metabolomics; GEMINi
12.  Discovery and Refinement of Loci Associated with Lipid Levels 
Willer, Cristen J. | Schmidt, Ellen M. | Sengupta, Sebanti | Peloso, Gina M. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Kanoni, Stavroula | Ganna, Andrea | Chen, Jin | Buchkovich, Martin L. | Mora, Samia | Beckmann, Jacques S. | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Chang, Hsing-Yi | Demirkan, Ayşe | Den Hertog, Heleen M. | Do, Ron | Donnelly, Louise A. | Ehret, Georg B. | Esko, Tõnu | Feitosa, Mary F. | Ferreira, Teresa | Fischer, Krista | Fontanillas, Pierre | Fraser, Ross M. | Freitag, Daniel F. | Gurdasani, Deepti | Heikkilä, Kauko | Hyppönen, Elina | Isaacs, Aaron | Jackson, Anne U. | Johansson, Åsa | Johnson, Toby | Kaakinen, Marika | Kettunen, Johannes | Kleber, Marcus E. | Li, Xiaohui | Luan, Jian’an | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Mangino, Massimo | Mihailov, Evelin | Montasser, May E. | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Nolte, Ilja M. | O’Connell, Jeffrey R. | Palmer, Cameron D. | Perola, Markus | Petersen, Ann-Kristin | Sanna, Serena | Saxena, Richa | Service, Susan K. | Shah, Sonia | Shungin, Dmitry | Sidore, Carlo | Song, Ci | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Surakka, Ida | Tanaka, Toshiko | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Van den Herik, Evita G. | Voight, Benjamin F. | Volcik, Kelly A. | Waite, Lindsay L. | Wong, Andrew | Wu, Ying | Zhang, Weihua | Absher, Devin | Asiki, Gershim | Barroso, Inês | Been, Latonya F. | Bolton, Jennifer L. | Bonnycastle, Lori L | Brambilla, Paolo | Burnett, Mary S. | Cesana, Giancarlo | Dimitriou, Maria | Doney, Alex S.F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Epstein, Stephen E. | Ingi Eyjolfsson, Gudmundur | Gigante, Bruna | Goodarzi, Mark O. | Grallert, Harald | Gravito, Martha L. | Groves, Christopher J. | Hallmans, Göran | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hayward, Caroline | Hernandez, Dena | Hicks, Andrew A. | Holm, Hilma | Hung, Yi-Jen | Illig, Thomas | Jones, Michelle R. | Kaleebu, Pontiano | Kastelein, John J.P. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kim, Eric | Klopp, Norman | Komulainen, Pirjo | Kumari, Meena | Langenberg, Claudia | Lehtimäki, Terho | Lin, Shih-Yi | Lindström, Jaana | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Mach, François | McArdle, Wendy L | Meisinger, Christa | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Müller, Gabrielle | Nagaraja, Ramaiah | Narisu, Narisu | Nieminen, Tuomo V.M. | Nsubuga, Rebecca N. | Olafsson, Isleifur | Ong, Ken K. | Palotie, Aarno | Papamarkou, Theodore | Pomilla, Cristina | Pouta, Anneli | Rader, Daniel J. | Reilly, Muredach P. | Ridker, Paul M. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Ruokonen, Aimo | Samani, Nilesh | Scharnagl, Hubert | Seeley, Janet | Silander, Kaisa | Stančáková, Alena | Stirrups, Kathleen | Swift, Amy J. | Tiret, Laurence | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | van Pelt, L. Joost | Vedantam, Sailaja | Wainwright, Nicholas | Wijmenga, Cisca | Wild, Sarah H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wilsgaard, Tom | Wilson, James F. | Young, Elizabeth H. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Adair, Linda S. | Arveiler, Dominique | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Bandinelli, Stefania | Bennett, Franklyn | Bochud, Murielle | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Bornstein, Stefan R. | Bovet, Pascal | Burnier, Michel | Campbell, Harry | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Chambers, John C. | Chen, Yii-Der Ida | Collins, Francis S. | Cooper, Richard S. | Danesh, John | Dedoussis, George | de Faire, Ulf | Feranil, Alan B. | Ferrières, Jean | Ferrucci, Luigi | Freimer, Nelson B. | Gieger, Christian | Groop, Leif C. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hamsten, Anders | Harris, Tamara B. | Hingorani, Aroon | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Hofman, Albert | Hovingh, G. Kees | Hsiung, Chao Agnes | Humphries, Steve E. | Hunt, Steven C. | Hveem, Kristian | Iribarren, Carlos | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kesäniemi, Antero | Kivimaki, Mika | Kooner, Jaspal S. | Koudstaal, Peter J. | Krauss, Ronald M. | Kuh, Diana | Kuusisto, Johanna | Kyvik, Kirsten O. | Laakso, Markku | Lakka, Timo A. | Lind, Lars | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Martin, Nicholas G. | März, Winfried | McCarthy, Mark I. | McKenzie, Colin A. | Meneton, Pierre | Metspalu, Andres | Moilanen, Leena | Morris, Andrew D. | Munroe, Patricia B. | Njølstad, Inger | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Power, Chris | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Price, Jackie F. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Quertermous, Thomas | Rauramaa, Rainer | Saleheen, Danish | Salomaa, Veikko | Sanghera, Dharambir K. | Saramies, Jouko | Schwarz, Peter E.H. | Sheu, Wayne H-H | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Siegbahn, Agneta | Spector, Tim D. | Stefansson, Kari | Strachan, David P. | Tayo, Bamidele O. | Tremoli, Elena | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uusitupa, Matti | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Vollenweider, Peter | Wallentin, Lars | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Whitfield, John B. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H.R. | Ordovas, Jose M. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Chasman, Daniel I. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Franks, Paul W. | Ripatti, Samuli | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Sandhu, Manjinder S. | Rich, Stephen S. | Boehnke, Michael | Deloukas, Panos | Kathiresan, Sekar | Mohlke, Karen L. | Ingelsson, Erik | Abecasis, Gonçalo R.
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):10.1038/ng.2797.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol are heritable, modifiable, risk factors for coronary artery disease. To identify new loci and refine known loci influencing these lipids, we examined 188,578 individuals using genome-wide and custom genotyping arrays. We identify and annotate 157 loci associated with lipid levels at P < 5×10−8, including 62 loci not previously associated with lipid levels in humans. Using dense genotyping in individuals of European, East Asian, South Asian, and African ancestry, we narrow association signals in 12 loci. We find that loci associated with blood lipids are often associated with cardiovascular and metabolic traits including coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, waist-hip ratio, and body mass index. Our results illustrate the value of genetic data from individuals of diverse ancestries and provide insights into biological mechanisms regulating blood lipids to guide future genetic, biological, and therapeutic research.
doi:10.1038/ng.2797
PMCID: PMC3838666  PMID: 24097068
13.  Common variants associated with plasma triglycerides and risk for coronary artery disease 
Do, Ron | Willer, Cristen J. | Schmidt, Ellen M. | Sengupta, Sebanti | Gao, Chi | Peloso, Gina M. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Kanoni, Stavroula | Ganna, Andrea | Chen, Jin | Buchkovich, Martin L. | Mora, Samia | Beckmann, Jacques S. | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Chang, Hsing-Yi | Demirkan, Ayşe | Den Hertog, Heleen M. | Donnelly, Louise A. | Ehret, Georg B. | Esko, Tõnu | Feitosa, Mary F. | Ferreira, Teresa | Fischer, Krista | Fontanillas, Pierre | Fraser, Ross M. | Freitag, Daniel F. | Gurdasani, Deepti | Heikkilä, Kauko | Hyppönen, Elina | Isaacs, Aaron | Jackson, Anne U. | Johansson, Åsa | Johnson, Toby | Kaakinen, Marika | Kettunen, Johannes | Kleber, Marcus E. | Li, Xiaohui | Luan, Jian'an | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Mangino, Massimo | Mihailov, Evelin | Montasser, May E. | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Nolte, Ilja M. | O'Connell, Jeffrey R. | Palmer, Cameron D. | Perola, Markus | Petersen, Ann-Kristin | Sanna, Serena | Saxena, Richa | Service, Susan K. | Shah, Sonia | Shungin, Dmitry | Sidore, Carlo | Song, Ci | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Surakka, Ida | Tanaka, Toshiko | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Van den Herik, Evita G. | Voight, Benjamin F. | Volcik, Kelly A. | Waite, Lindsay L. | Wong, Andrew | Wu, Ying | Zhang, Weihua | Absher, Devin | Asiki, Gershim | Barroso, Inês | Been, Latonya F. | Bolton, Jennifer L. | Bonnycastle, Lori L | Brambilla, Paolo | Burnett, Mary S. | Cesana, Giancarlo | Dimitriou, Maria | Doney, Alex S.F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Epstein, Stephen E. | Eyjolfsson, Gudmundur Ingi | Gigante, Bruna | Goodarzi, Mark O. | Grallert, Harald | Gravito, Martha L. | Groves, Christopher J. | Hallmans, Göran | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hayward, Caroline | Hernandez, Dena | Hicks, Andrew A. | Holm, Hilma | Hung, Yi-Jen | Illig, Thomas | Jones, Michelle R. | Kaleebu, Pontiano | Kastelein, John J.P. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kim, Eric | Klopp, Norman | Komulainen, Pirjo | Kumari, Meena | Langenberg, Claudia | Lehtimäki, Terho | Lin, Shih-Yi | Lindström, Jaana | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Mach, François | McArdle, Wendy L | Meisinger, Christa | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Müller, Gabrielle | Nagaraja, Ramaiah | Narisu, Narisu | Nieminen, Tuomo V.M. | Nsubuga, Rebecca N. | Olafsson, Isleifur | Ong, Ken K. | Palotie, Aarno | Papamarkou, Theodore | Pomilla, Cristina | Pouta, Anneli | Rader, Daniel J. | Reilly, Muredach P. | Ridker, Paul M. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Ruokonen, Aimo | Samani, Nilesh | Scharnagl, Hubert | Seeley, Janet | Silander, Kaisa | Stančáková, Alena | Stirrups, Kathleen | Swift, Amy J. | Tiret, Laurence | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | van Pelt, L. Joost | Vedantam, Sailaja | Wainwright, Nicholas | Wijmenga, Cisca | Wild, Sarah H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wilsgaard, Tom | Wilson, James F. | Young, Elizabeth H. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Adair, Linda S. | Arveiler, Dominique | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Bandinelli, Stefania | Bennett, Franklyn | Bochud, Murielle | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Bornstein, Stefan R. | Bovet, Pascal | Burnier, Michel | Campbell, Harry | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Chambers, John C. | Chen, Yii-Der Ida | Collins, Francis S. | Cooper, Richard S. | Danesh, John | Dedoussis, George | de Faire, Ulf | Feranil, Alan B. | Ferrières, Jean | Ferrucci, Luigi | Freimer, Nelson B. | Gieger, Christian | Groop, Leif C. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hamsten, Anders | Harris, Tamara B. | Hingorani, Aroon | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Hofman, Albert | Hovingh, G. Kees | Hsiung, Chao Agnes | Humphries, Steve E. | Hunt, Steven C. | Hveem, Kristian | Iribarren, Carlos | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kesäniemi, Antero | Kivimaki, Mika | Kooner, Jaspal S. | Koudstaal, Peter J. | Krauss, Ronald M. | Kuh, Diana | Kuusisto, Johanna | Kyvik, Kirsten O. | Laakso, Markku | Lakka, Timo A. | Lind, Lars | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Martin, Nicholas G. | März, Winfried | McCarthy, Mark I. | McKenzie, Colin A. | Meneton, Pierre | Metspalu, Andres | Moilanen, Leena | Morris, Andrew D. | Munroe, Patricia B. | Njølstad, Inger | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Power, Chris | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Price, Jackie F. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Quertermous, Thomas | Rauramaa, Rainer | Saleheen, Danish | Salomaa, Veikko | Sanghera, Dharambir K. | Saramies, Jouko | Schwarz, Peter E.H. | Sheu, Wayne H-H | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Siegbahn, Agneta | Spector, Tim D. | Stefansson, Kari | Strachan, David P. | Tayo, Bamidele O. | Tremoli, Elena | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uusitupa, Matti | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Vollenweider, Peter | Wallentin, Lars | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Whitfield, John B. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H.R. | Altshuler, David | Ordovas, Jose M. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Chasman, Daniel I. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Franks, Paul W. | Ripatti, Samuli | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Sandhu, Manjinder S. | Rich, Stephen S. | Boehnke, Michael | Deloukas, Panos | Mohlke, Karen L. | Ingelsson, Erik | Abecasis, Goncalo R. | Daly, Mark J. | Neale, Benjamin M. | Kathiresan, Sekar
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):1345-1352.
Triglycerides are transported in plasma by specific triglyceride-rich lipoproteins; in epidemiologic studies, increased triglyceride levels correlate with higher risk for coronary artery disease (CAD). However, it is unclear whether this association reflects causal processes. We used 185 common variants recently mapped for plasma lipids (P<5×10−8 for each) to examine the role of triglycerides on risk for CAD. First, we highlight loci associated with both low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides, and show that the direction and magnitude of both are factors in determining CAD risk. Second, we consider loci with only a strong magnitude of association with triglycerides and show that these loci are also associated with CAD. Finally, in a model accounting for effects on LDL-C and/or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, a polymorphism's strength of effect on triglycerides is correlated with the magnitude of its effect on CAD risk. These results suggest that triglyceride-rich lipoproteins causally influence risk for CAD.
doi:10.1038/ng.2795
PMCID: PMC3904346  PMID: 24097064
14.  Stability of the Associations between Early Life Risk Indicators and Adolescent Overweight over the Evolving Obesity Epidemic 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95314.
Background
Pre- and perinatal factors and preschool body size may help identify children developing overweight, but these factors might have changed during the development of the obesity epidemic.
Objective
We aimed to assess the associations between early life risk indicators and overweight at the age of 9 and 15 years at different stages of the obesity epidemic.
Methods
We used two population-based Northern Finland Birth Cohorts including 4111 children born in 1966 (NFBC1966) and 5414 children born in 1985–1986 (NFBC1986). In both cohorts, we used the same a priori defined prenatal factors, maternal body mass index (BMI), birth weight, infant weight (age 5 months and 1 year), and preschool BMI (age 2–5 years). We used internal references in early childhood to define percentiles of body size (<50, 50–75, 75–90 and >90) and generalized linear models to study the association with overweight, according to the International Obesity Taskforce (IOTF) definitions, at the ages of 9 and 15 years.
Results
The prevalence of overweight at the age of 15 was 9% for children born in 1966 and 16% for children born in 1986. However, medians of infant weight and preschool BMI changed little between the cohorts, and we found similar associations between maternal BMI, infant weight, preschool BMI, and later overweight in the two cohorts. At 5 years, children above the 90th percentile had approximately a 12 times higher risk of being overweight at the age of 15 years compared to children below the 50th percentile in both cohorts.
Conclusions
The associations between early body size and adolescent overweight showed remarkable stability, despite the increase in prevalence of overweight over the 20 years between the cohorts. Using consequently defined internal percentiles may be a valuable tool in clinical practice.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095314
PMCID: PMC3991687  PMID: 24748033
15.  Stress-related eating, obesity and associated behavioural traits in adolescents: a prospective population-based cohort study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:321.
Background
Stress-related eating is associated with unhealthy eating and drinking habits and an increased risk of obesity among adults, but less is known about factors related to stress-driven eating behaviour among children and adolescents. We studied the prevalence of stress-related eating and its association with overweight, obesity, abdominal obesity, dietary and other health behaviours at the age of 16. Furthermore, we examined whether stress-related eating is predicted by early-life factors including birth size and maternal gestational health.
Methods
The study population comprised 3598 girls and 3347 boys from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 (NFBC1986). Followed up since their antenatal period, adolescents underwent a clinical examination, and their stress-related eating behaviour, dietary habits and other health behaviours were assessed using a postal questionnaire. We examined associations using cross-tabulations followed by latent class analysis and logistic regression to profile the adolescents and explain the risk of obesity with behavioural traits.
Results
Stress-related eating behaviour was more common among girls (43%) than among boys (15%). Compared with non-stress-driven eaters, stress-driven eaters had a higher prevalence of overweight, obesity and abdominal obesity. We found no significant associations between stress-eating and early-life factors. Among girls, tobacco use, shorter sleep, infrequent family meals and frequent consumption of chocolate, sweets, light sodas and alcohol were more prevalent among stress-driven eaters. Among boys, the proportions of those with frequent consumption of sausages, chocolate, sweets, hamburgers and pizza were greater among stress-driven eaters. For both genders, the proportions of those bingeing and using heavy exercise and strict diet for weight control were higher among stress-eaters. Besides a ‘healthy lifestyle’ cluster, latent class analysis revealed two other patterns (‘adverse habits’, ‘unbalanced weight control’) that significantly explained the risk of overweight among boys and girls.
Conclusions
Stress-related eating is highly prevalent among 16-year-old girls and is associated with obesity as well as adverse dietary and other health behaviours among both genders, but intrauterine conditions are seemingly uninvolved. In terms of obesity prevention and future health, adolescents who use eating as a passive way of coping could benefit from learning healthier strategies for stress and weight management.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-321
PMCID: PMC3995503  PMID: 24708823
Adolescent; Body mass index; Cohort studies; Diet; Drinking behaviour; Health behaviour; Latent class analysis; Obesity; Psychological stress
16.  Genetic association analysis of vitamin D pathway with obesity traits 
Objective
Observational studies have examined the link between vitamin D deficiency and obesity traits. Some studies have reported associations between vitamin D pathway genes such as VDR, GC and CYP27B1 with body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC); however, the findings have been inconsistent. Hence, we investigated the involvement of vitamin D metabolic pathway genes in obesity-related traits in a large population-based study.
Methods
We undertook a comprehensive analysis between 100 tagging polymorphisms (tagSNPs) in genes encoding for DHCR7, CYP2R1, VDBP, CYP27B1, CYP27A1, CYP24A1, VDR and RXRG and obesity traits in 5,224 participants (aged 45 years) in the 1958 British birth cohort (1958BC). We further extended our analyses to investigate the associations between SNPs and obesity traits using the summary statistics from the GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) consortium (n=123,865).
Results
In the 1958BC (n=5,224), after Bonferroni correction, none of the tagSNPs were associated with obesity traits except for one tagSNP from CYP24A1 that was associated with waist-hip ratio (WHR) (rs2296239, P=0.001). However, the CYP24A1 SNP was not associated with BMI-adjusted WHR (WHRadj) in the 1958BC (rs2296239, P=1.00) and GIANT results (n=123,865, P=0.18). There was also no evidence for an interaction between the tagSNPs and obesity on BMI, WC, WHR and WHRadj in the 1958BC. In the GIANT consortium, none of the tagSNPs were associated with obesity traits.
Conclusions
Despite a very large study, our findings suggest that the vitamin D pathway genes are unlikely to have a major role in obesity-related traits in the general population.
doi:10.1038/ijo.2013.6
PMCID: PMC3763965  PMID: 23381556
Vitamin D pathway; 1958 British birth cohort; tagSNPs; obesity; GIANT; BMI
17.  Assessing multivariate gene-metabolome associations with rare variants using Bayesian reduced rank regression 
Bioinformatics  2014;30(14):2026-2034.
Motivation: A typical genome-wide association study searches for associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and a univariate phenotype. However, there is a growing interest to investigate associations between genomics data and multivariate phenotypes, for example, in gene expression or metabolomics studies. A common approach is to perform a univariate test between each genotype–phenotype pair, and then to apply a stringent significance cutoff to account for the large number of tests performed. However, this approach has limited ability to uncover dependencies involving multiple variables. Another trend in the current genetics is the investigation of the impact of rare variants on the phenotype, where the standard methods often fail owing to lack of power when the minor allele is present in only a limited number of individuals.
Results: We propose a new statistical approach based on Bayesian reduced rank regression to assess the impact of multiple SNPs on a high-dimensional phenotype. Because of the method’s ability to combine information over multiple SNPs and phenotypes, it is particularly suitable for detecting associations involving rare variants. We demonstrate the potential of our method and compare it with alternatives using the Northern Finland Birth Cohort with 4702 individuals, for whom genome-wide SNP data along with lipoprotein profiles comprising 74 traits are available. We discovered two genes (XRCC4 and MTHFD2L) without previously reported associations, which replicated in a combined analysis of two additional cohorts: 2390 individuals from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study and 3659 individuals from the FINRISK study.
Availability and implementation: R-code freely available for download at http://users.ics.aalto.fi/pemartti/gene_metabolome/.
Contact: samuli.ripatti@helsinki.fi; samuel.kaski@aalto.fi
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btu140
PMCID: PMC4080737  PMID: 24665129
18.  Interaction between allelic variations in vitamin D receptor and retinoid X receptor genes on metabolic traits 
BMC Genetics  2014;15:37.
Background
Low vitamin D status has been shown to be a risk factor for several metabolic traits such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The biological actions of 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D, are mediated through the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which heterodimerizes with retinoid X receptor, gamma (RXRG). Hence, we examined the potential interactions between the tagging polymorphisms in the VDR (22 tag SNPs) and RXRG (23 tag SNPs) genes on metabolic outcomes such as body mass index, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio (WHR), high- and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterols, serum triglycerides, systolic and diastolic blood pressures and glycated haemoglobin in the 1958 British Birth Cohort (1958BC, up to n = 5,231). We used Multifactor- dimensionality reduction (MDR) program as a non-parametric test to examine for potential interactions between the VDR and RXRG gene polymorphisms in the 1958BC. We used the data from Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC66, up to n = 5,316) and Twins UK (up to n = 3,943) to replicate our initial findings from 1958BC.
Results
After Bonferroni correction, the joint-likelihood ratio test suggested interactions on serum triglycerides (4 SNP - SNP pairs), LDL cholesterol (2 SNP - SNP pairs) and WHR (1 SNP - SNP pair) in the 1958BC. MDR permutation model testing analysis showed one two-way and one three-way interaction to be statistically significant on serum triglycerides in the 1958BC. In meta-analysis of results from two replication cohorts (NFBC66 and Twins UK, total n = 8,183), none of the interactions remained after correction for multiple testing (Pinteraction >0.17).
Conclusions
Our results did not provide strong evidence for interactions between allelic variations in VDR and RXRG genes on metabolic outcomes; however, further replication studies on large samples are needed to confirm our findings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-15-37
PMCID: PMC4004151  PMID: 24641809
VDR; RXRG; SNPs; SNP-SNP interaction; 1958BC
19.  Preschool Weight and Body Mass Index in Relation to Central Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Adulthood 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e89986.
Background
If preschool measures of body size routinely collected at preventive health examinations are associated with adult central obesity and metabolic syndrome, a focused use of these data for the identification of high risk children is possible. The aim of this study was to test the associations between preschool weight and body mass index (BMI) and adult BMI, central obesity and metabolic alterations.
Methods
The Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC1966) (N = 4111) is a population-based cohort. Preschool weight (age 5 months and 1 year) and BMI (age 2–5 years) were studied in relation to metabolic syndrome as well as BMI, waist circumference, lipoproteins, blood pressure, and fasting glucose at the age of 31 years. Linear regression models and generalized linear regression models with log link were used.
Results
Throughout preschool ages, weight and BMI were significantly linearly associated with adult BMI and waist circumference. Preschool BMI was inversely associated with high-density lipoprotein levels from the age of 3 years. Compared with children in the lower half of the BMI range, the group of children with the 5% highest BMI at the age of 5 years had a relative risk of adult obesity of 6.2(95% CI:4.2–9.3), of adult central obesity of 2.4(95% CI:2.0–2.9), and of early onset adult metabolic syndrome of 2.5(95% CI:1.7–3.8).
Conclusions
High preschool BMI is consistently associated with adult obesity, central obesity and early onset metabolic syndrome. Routinely collected measures of body size in preschool ages can help to identify children in need of focused prevention due to their increased risk of adverse metabolic alterations in adulthood.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089986
PMCID: PMC3940896  PMID: 24595022
20.  Linking the Developmental and Degenerative Theories of Schizophrenia: Association Between Infant Development and Adult Cognitive Decline 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2014;40(6):1319-1327.
Neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative theories may be viewed as incompatible accounts that compete to explain the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. However, it is possible that neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative processes could both reflect common underlying causal mechanisms. We hypothesized that cognitive dysfunction would gradually deteriorate over time in schizophrenia and the degree of this deterioration in adulthood would be predicted by an infant measure of neurodevelopment. We aimed to examine the association between age of learning to stand in infancy and deterioration of cognitive function in adulthood. Participants were nonpsychotic control subjects (n = 76) and participants with schizophrenia (n = 36) drawn from the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort study. The schizophrenia group showed greater deterioration in abstraction with memory than controls, but there were no differences between schizophrenia and controls in rate of change of other cognitive measures. Age of learning to stand in infancy significantly inversely predicted later deterioration of abstraction with memory in adult schizophrenia (later infant development linked to greater subsequent cognitive deterioration during adulthood), possibly suggesting a link between abnormal neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative processes in schizophrenia.
doi:10.1093/schbul/sbu010
PMCID: PMC4193708  PMID: 24583905
schizophrenia; cognition; executive function; memory; neurodevelopment
21.  Chromosome X-Wide Association Study Identifies Loci for Fasting Insulin and Height and Evidence for Incomplete Dosage Compensation 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(2):e1004127.
The X chromosome (chrX) represents one potential source for the “missing heritability” for complex phenotypes, which thus far has remained underanalyzed in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Here we demonstrate the benefits of including chrX in GWAS by assessing the contribution of 404,862 chrX SNPs to levels of twelve commonly studied cardiometabolic and anthropometric traits in 19,697 Finnish and Swedish individuals with replication data on 5,032 additional Finns. By using a linear mixed model, we estimate that on average 2.6% of the additive genetic variance in these twelve traits is attributable to chrX, this being in proportion to the number of SNPs in the chromosome. In a chrX-wide association analysis, we identify three novel loci: two for height (rs182838724 near FGF16/ATRX/MAGT1, joint P-value = 2.71×10−9, and rs1751138 near ITM2A, P-value = 3.03×10−10) and one for fasting insulin (rs139163435 in Xq23, P-value = 5.18×10−9). Further, we find that effect sizes for variants near ITM2A, a gene implicated in cartilage development, show evidence for a lack of dosage compensation. This observation is further supported by a sex-difference in ITM2A expression in whole blood (P-value = 0.00251), and is also in agreement with a previous report showing ITM2A escapes from X chromosome inactivation (XCI) in the majority of women. Hence, our results show one of the first links between phenotypic variation in a population sample and an XCI-escaping locus and pinpoint ITM2A as a potential contributor to the sexual dimorphism in height. In conclusion, our study provides a clear motivation for including chrX in large-scale genetic studies of complex diseases and traits.
Author Summary
The X chromosome (chrX) analyses have often been neglected in large-scale genome-wide association studies. Given that chrX contains a considerable proportion of DNA, we wanted to examine how the variation in the chromosome contributes to commonly studied phenotypes. To this end, we studied the associations of over 400,000 chrX variants with twelve complex phenotypes, such as height, in almost 25,000 Northern European individuals. Demonstrating the value of assessing chrX associations, we found that as a whole the variation in the chromosome influences the levels of many of these phenotypes and further identified three new genomic regions where the variants associate with height or fasting insulin levels. In one of these three associated regions, the region near ITM2A, we observed that there is a sex difference in the genetic effects on height in a manner consistent with a lack of dosage compensation in this locus. Further supporting this observation, ITM2A has been shown to be among those chrX genes where the X chromosome inactivation is incomplete. Identifying phenotype associations in regions like this where chrX allele dosages are not balanced between men and women can be particularly valuable in helping us to understand why some characteristics differ between sexes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004127
PMCID: PMC3916240  PMID: 24516404
22.  Genetic variants influencing circulating lipid levels and risk of coronary artery disease 
Objectives
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.109.201020
PMCID: PMC3891568  PMID: 20864672
lipids; lipoproteins; genetics; epidemiology
23.  Preeclampsia, gestational hypertension and subsequent hypothyroidism 
Pregnancy hypertension  2012;3(1):21-27.
Objectives
To evaluate the effect of preeclampsia (PE) and gestational hypertension (GH) on subsequent hypothyroidism. Recent studies suggest that women with PE have increased risk for reduced thyroid function, but the association between PE and GH with overt hypothyroidism has not been examined.
Study design
Two prospective population-based cohort studies, the Northern Finland Birth Cohorts 1966 and 1986, followed women who had PE (N=955), GH (N=1449) or were normotensive (N=13531) during pregnancy. Finnish national registers were used to confirm subsequent hypothyroidism. Adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) estimated hypothyroidism risk when comparing women with PE or GH with normotensive women.
Main outcome measures
Primary hypothyroidism during follow-up of 20–40 years.
Results
The subsequent prevalence of hypothyroidism was higher among women with PE (4.0%) and GH (4.5%) compared with normotensive women (3.5%), but the risk increase was not significant (aHR for PE 1.13, 95%CI 0.80–1.59 and aHR for GH 1.11, 95%CI 0.85–1.45).
Subgroup analysis among nulliparous women revealed a significant association between late PE and subsequent hypothyroidism (aHR 1.82, 95%CI 1.04–3.19).
Early or recurrent PE were not associated with hypothyroidism (aHR 0.93, 95%CI 0.46–1.81 and aHR 1.35, 95%CI 0.63–2.88, respectively).
Conclusions
Overall, PE or GH during pregnancy was not significantly associated with subsequent hypothyroidism in Finnish women after 20–40 years of follow-up. However, late PE in nulliparous women was associated with a 1.8-fold increased risk of subsequent hypothyroidism, a finding that merits further study in other populations.
doi:10.1016/j.preghy.2012.09.001
PMCID: PMC3578699  PMID: 23439671
preeclampsia; gestational hypertension; thyroid; hypothyroidism
24.  Prenatal Glucocorticoid Treatment and Later Mental Health in Children and Adolescents 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81394.
Background
Animal studies demonstrate a clear link between prenatal exposure to glucocorticoids (GC) and altered offspring brain development. We aim to examine whether prenatal GC exposure programs long-term mental health in humans.
Methods
Using propensity-score-matching, children prenatally exposed to synthetic glucocorticoids (sGC), n=37, and controls, n=185, were balanced on important confounders related to sGC treatment - gestational age and pre-pregnancy BMI. We also used mixed-effects modeling to analyse the entire cohort – matching each sGC case, n=37, to all possible controls, n=6079, on gestational age and sex. We obtained data from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 at four waves – pregnancy, birth, 8 and 16 years. Data on pregnancy and birth outcomes came from medical records. Mental health was assessed at 8 years by teachers with the Rutter B2 scale, and at 16 years by parents with the Strengths and Weaknesses of ADHD symptoms and Normal behavior (SWAN) scale and adolescents by the Youth Self-Report (YSR) scale.
Results
Prenatal sGC treatment was consistently associated with adverse mental health in childhood and adolescence, as shown by both the propensity-score method and mixed-effects model. Using the propensity-score-matched subsample, linear multiple regression showed prenatal sGC was significantly linked with general psychiatric disturbance (B=8.34 [95% CI: .23-16.45]) and inattention (B= .97 [95% CI: .16-1.80]) at 8 years after control for relevant confounders. Similar findings were obtained at 16 years, but did not reach statistical significance. Mediation by birthweight/placental weight was not detected.
Conclusions
This study is the first to prospectively investigate the long-term associations between prenatal exposure to sGC treatment and mental health in children and adolescents. We report an association between prenatal exposure to sGC and child mental health, supportive of the idea that sGC has a programming effect on the fetal brain.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081394
PMCID: PMC3838350  PMID: 24278432
25.  Long-Term Unemployment Is Associated with Short Telomeres in 31-Year-Old Men: An Observational Study in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80094.
Objective
Life stress resulting from early-life experiences and domestic stress is linked with shorter leukocyte telomere length (LTL), but evidence on employment-related stress is scarce. We explored whether unemployment in early adulthood is associated with shorter LTL, a potential biomarker of premature aging.
Methods
We used data from 5620 men and women belonging to the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. Individually registered unemployment days in 1995–97 were compared with data on biological, behavioral and socioeconomic health predictors and existing medical conditions obtained by surveys and clinical examinations at follow-up in 1997–98. Mean LTL at follow-up was measured by multiplex quantitative real-time PCR. We calculated odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) of belonging to the sex-stratified shortest decile of standardized relative mean LTL according to the categories of: 0, <260, <500 and over 500 unemployment days, representing 0, <1, <2 and over 2 calendar years.
Results
Among men, unemployment exceeding 500 days during three years was associated with having shorter LTL at follow-up, compared to being continuously employed. The corresponding odds ratio was 2.61 (95% CI 1.16 to 5.85) in the fully adjusted model. Such an association was not found among women in this study.
Conclusions
Long-term unemployment in early adulthood is associated with shorter LTL among men.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080094
PMCID: PMC3835859  PMID: 24278245

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