The effect of urban sprawl on body weight in Finland is not well known. To provide more information, we examined whether body mass index (BMI) and the prevalence of overweight are associated with an individual’s distance to the local community centre and population density in his/her resident area.
The sample consisted of 5363 men and women, members of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC), who filled in a postal questionnaire and attended a medical checkup in 1997, at the age of 31 years. Body mass index (BMI; kg/m2) and the prevalence of overweight (BMI ≥ 25.0 kg/m2) were regressed on each subject’s road distance to the resident commune’s centre and on population density in the 1 km2 geographical grid in which he/she resided, using a generalized additive model. Adjustments were made for sex, marital status, occupational class, education, leisure-time and occupational physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking.
The mean BMI among the subjects was 24.7 kg/m2, but it increased by increasing road distance (by 1.3 kg/m2 from 5–10 to 20–184 km) and by decreasing population density (by 1.7 kg/m2 from 1000–19,192 to 1–5 inhabitants/km2). The respective increases in overweight (overall prevalence 41%) were 13 per cent units for distance and 14 per cent units for population density. Adjusted regressions based on continuous explanatory variables showed an inverse L-shaped pattern with a mean BMI of 24.6 kg/m2 at distances shorter than 5 km and a rise of 2.6 kg/m2 at longer distances, and an increase of 2.5 kg/m2 from highest to lowest population density. The associations with road distance were stronger for women than men, while the sex difference in association with population density remained indeterminate.
We conclude that young adults in Northern Finland who live far away from local centres or in the most sparsely populated areas are fatter than those who live close to local centres or in densely populated areas. The likely explanations include variations in everyday physical activity in different residential environments, although causality of the associations remains to be confirmed.
Body mass index; Overweight; Medical geography; Urban/rural; Population density; Finland
Recent studies suggest that meal frequencies influence the risk of obesity in children and adolescents. It has also been shown that multiple genetic loci predispose to obesity already in youth. However, it is unknown whether meal frequencies could modulate the association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and the risk of obesity. We examined the effect of two meal patterns on weekdays –5 meals including breakfast (regular) and ≤4 meals with or without breakfast (meal skipping) – on the genetic susceptibility to increased body mass index (BMI) in Finnish adolescents. Eight variants representing 8 early-life obesity-susceptibility loci, including FTO and MC4R, were genotyped in 2215 boys and 2449 girls aged 16 years from the population-based Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986. A genetic risk score (GRS) was calculated for each individual by summing the number of BMI-increasing alleles across the 8 loci. Weight and height were measured and dietary data were collected using self-administered questionnaires. Among meal skippers, the difference in BMI between high-GRS and low-GRS (<8 and ≥8 BMI-increasing alleles) groups was 0.90 (95% CI 0.63,1.17) kg/m2, whereas in regular eaters, this difference was 0.32 (95% CI 0.06,0.57) kg/m2 (pinteraction = 0.003). The effect of each MC4R rs17782313 risk allele on BMI in meal skippers (0.47 [95% CI 0.22,0.73] kg/m2) was nearly three-fold compared with regular eaters (0.18 [95% CI -0.06,0.41] kg/m2) (pinteraction = 0.016). Further, the per-allele effect of the FTO rs1421085 was 0.24 (95% CI 0.05,0.42) kg/m2 in regular eaters and 0.46 (95% CI 0.27,0.66) kg/m2 in meal skippers but the interaction between FTO genotype and meal frequencies on BMI was significant only in boys (pinteraction = 0.015). In summary, the regular five-meal pattern attenuated the increasing effect of common SNPs on BMI in adolescents. Considering the epidemic of obesity in youth, the promotion of regular eating may have substantial public health implications.
Early pubertal onset in females is associated with increased risk for adult obesity and cardiovascular disease, but whether this relationship is independent of preceding childhood growth events is unclear. Furthermore, the association between male puberty and adult disease remains unknown. To clarify the link between puberty and adult health, we evaluated the relationship between pubertal timing and risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in both males and females from a large, prospective, and randomly ascertained birth cohort from Northern Finland.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Pubertal timing was estimated based on pubertal height growth in 5,058 subjects (2,417 males and 2,641 females), and the relationship between puberty and body weight, glucose and lipid homeostasis, and blood pressure at age 31 years was evaluated with linear regression modeling.
Earlier pubertal timing associated with higher adult BMI, fasting insulin, diastolic blood pressure, and decreased HDL cholesterol in both sexes (P < 0.002) and with higher total serum cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in males. The association with BMI and diastolic blood pressure remained statistically significant in both sexes, as did the association with insulin levels and HDL cholesterol concentrations in males after adjusting for covariates reflecting both fetal and childhood growth including childhood BMI.
We demonstrate independent association between earlier pubertal timing and adult metabolic syndrome-related derangements both in males and females. The connection emphasizes that the mechanisms advancing puberty may also contribute to adult metabolic disorders.
The limited ability of common variants to account for the genetic contribution to complex disease has prompted searches for rare variants of large effect, to partly explain the ‘missing heritability’. Analyses of genome-wide genotyping data have identified genomic structural variants (GSVs) as a source of such rare causal variants. Recent studies have reported multiple GSV loci associated with risk of obesity. We attempted to replicate these associations by similar analysis of two familial-obesity case-control cohorts and a population cohort, and detected GSVs at 11 out of 18 loci, at frequencies similar to those previously reported. Based on their reported frequencies and effect sizes (OR≥25), we had sufficient statistical power to detect the large majority (80%) of genuine associations at these loci. However, only one obesity association was replicated. Deletion of a 220 kb region on chromosome 16p11.2 has a carrier population frequency of 2×10−4 (95% confidence interval [9.6×10−5–3.1×10−4]); accounts overall for 0.5% [0.19%–0.82%] of severe childhood obesity cases (P = 3.8×10−10; odds ratio = 25.0 [9.9–60.6]); and results in a mean body mass index (BMI) increase of 5.8 kg.m−2 [1.8–10.3] in adults from the general population. We also attempted replication using BMI as a quantitative trait in our population cohort; associations with BMI at or near nominal significance were detected at two further loci near KIF2B and within FOXP2, but these did not survive correction for multiple testing. These findings emphasise several issues of importance when conducting rare GSV association, including the need for careful cohort selection and replication strategy, accurate GSV identification, and appropriate correction for multiple testing and/or control of false discovery rate. Moreover, they highlight the potential difficulty in replicating rare CNV associations across different populations. Nevertheless, we show that such studies are potentially valuable for the identification of variants making an appreciable contribution to complex disease.
The role of environmental factors in lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration (DD) in young adults is largely unknown. Therefore, we investigated whether body mass index (BMI), smoking, and physical activity are associated with lumbar DD among young adults.
The Oulu Back Study (OBS) is a subpopulation of the 1986 Northern Finland Birth Cohort (NFBC 1986) and it originally included 2,969 children. The OBS subjects received a postal questionnaire, and those who responded (N = 1,987) were invited to the physical examination. The participants (N = 874) were invited to lumbar MRI study. A total of 558 young adults (325 females and 233 males) underwent MRI that used a 1.5-T scanner at the mean age of 21. Each lumbar intervertebral disc was graded as normal (0), mildly (1), moderately (2), or severely (3) degenerated. We calculated a sum score of the lumbar DD, and analyzed the associations between environmental risk factors (smoking, physical activity and weight-related factors assessed at 16 and 19 years) and DD using ordinal logistic regression, the results being expressed as cumulative odds ratios (COR). All analyses were stratified by gender.
Of the 558 subjects, 256 (46%) had no DD, 117 (21%) had sum score of one, 93 (17%) sum score of two, and 92 (17%) sum score of three or higher. In the multivariate ordinal logistic regression model, BMI at 16 years (highest vs. lowest quartile) was associated with DD sum score among males (COR 2.35; 95% CI 1.19-4.65) but not among females (COR 1.29; 95% CI 0.72-2.32). Smoking of at least four pack-years was associated with DD among males, but not among females (COR 2.41; 95% CI 0.99-5.86 and 1.59; 95% 0.67-3.76, respectively). Self-reported physical activity was not associated with DD.
High BMI at 16 years was associated with lumbar DD at 21 years among young males but not among females. High pack-years of smoking showed a comparable association in males, while physical activity had no association with DD in either gender. These results suggest that environmental factors are associated with DD among young males.
Disc degeneration; Smoking; Body mass index; Physical activity; Waist circumference; Young adult
To evaluate whether midsagittal (abdominal) obesity in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), waist circumference (WC) and body fat percentage are associated with lumbar disc degeneration in early adulthood.
We obtained the lumbar MRI (1.5-T scanner) of 325 females and 233 males at a mean age of 21 years. Lumbar disc degeneration was evaluated using Pfirrmann classification. We analysed the associations of MRI measures of obesity (abdominal diameter (AD), sagittal diameter (SAD), ventral subcutaneous thickness (VST), and dorsal subcutaneous thickness (DST)), WC and body fat percentage with disc degeneration sum scores using ordinal logistic regression.
A total of 155 (48%) females and 147 (63%) males had disc degeneration. AD and SAD were associated with a disc degeneration sum score of ≥3 compared to disc degeneration sum score of 0–2 (OR 1.67; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.20–2.33 and OR 1.40; 95% CI 1.12–1.75, respectively) among males, but we found no association among females. WC was also associated with disc degeneration among males (OR 1.03 per one cm; 95% CI 1.00–1.05), but not among females.
Measures of abdominal obesity in MRI and waist circumference were associated with disc degeneration among 21-year-old males.
Prevention of obesity should start as early as possible after birth. We aimed to build clinically useful equations estimating the risk of later obesity in newborns, as a first step towards focused early prevention against the global obesity epidemic.
We analyzed the lifetime Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 (NFBC1986) (N = 4,032) to draw predictive equations for childhood and adolescent obesity from traditional risk factors (parental BMI, birth weight, maternal gestational weight gain, behaviour and social indicators), and a genetic score built from 39 BMI/obesity-associated polymorphisms. We performed validation analyses in a retrospective cohort of 1,503 Italian children and in a prospective cohort of 1,032 U.S. children.
In the NFBC1986, the cumulative accuracy of traditional risk factors predicting childhood obesity, adolescent obesity, and childhood obesity persistent into adolescence was good: AUROC = 0·78[0·74–0.82], 0·75[0·71–0·79] and 0·85[0·80–0·90] respectively (all p<0·001). Adding the genetic score produced discrimination improvements ≤1%. The NFBC1986 equation for childhood obesity remained acceptably accurate when applied to the Italian and the U.S. cohort (AUROC = 0·70[0·63–0·77] and 0·73[0·67–0·80] respectively) and the two additional equations for childhood obesity newly drawn from the Italian and the U.S. datasets showed good accuracy in respective cohorts (AUROC = 0·74[0·69–0·79] and 0·79[0·73–0·84]) (all p<0·001). The three equations for childhood obesity were converted into simple Excel risk calculators for potential clinical use.
This study provides the first example of handy tools for predicting childhood obesity in newborns by means of easily recorded information, while it shows that currently known genetic variants have very little usefulness for such prediction.
Asthma has substantial morbidity and mortality and a strong genetic component, but identification of genetic risk factors is limited by availability of suitable studies.
To test if population-based cohorts with self-reported physician-diagnosed asthma and genome-wide association (GWA) data could be used to validate known associations with asthma and identify novel associations.
The APCAT (Analysis in Population-based Cohorts of Asthma Traits) consortium consists of 1,716 individuals with asthma and 16,888 healthy controls from six European-descent population-based cohorts. We examined associations in APCAT of thirteen variants previously reported as genome-wide significant (P<5x10−8) and three variants reported as suggestive (P<5×10−7). We also searched for novel associations in APCAT (Stage 1) and followed-up the most promising variants in 4,035 asthmatics and 11,251 healthy controls (Stage 2). Finally, we conducted the first genome-wide screen for interactions with smoking or hay fever.
We observed association in the same direction for all thirteen previously reported variants and nominally replicated ten of them. One variant that was previously suggestive, rs11071559 in RORA, now reaches genome-wide significance when combined with our data (P = 2.4×10−9). We also identified two genome-wide significant associations: rs13408661 near IL1RL1/IL18R1 (PStage1+Stage2 = 1.1x10−9), which is correlated with a variant recently shown to be associated with asthma (rs3771180), and rs9268516 in the HLA region (PStage1+Stage2 = 1.1x10−8), which appears to be independent of previously reported associations in this locus. Finally, we found no strong evidence for gene-environment interactions with smoking or hay fever status.
Population-based cohorts with simple asthma phenotypes represent a valuable and largely untapped resource for genetic studies of asthma.
The object of this study was to identify temperament patterns in the Finnish population, and to determine the relationship between these profiles and life habits, socioeconomic status, and health.
A cluster analysis of the Temperament and Character Inventory subscales was performed on 3,761 individuals from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 and replicated on 2,097 individuals from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study. Clusters were formed using the k-means method and their relationship with 115 variables from the areas of life habits, socioeconomic status and health was examined.
Four clusters were identified for both genders. Individuals from Cluster I are characterized by high persistence, low extravagance and disorderliness. They have healthy life habits, and lowest scores in most of the measures for psychiatric disorders. Cluster II individuals are characterized by low harm avoidance and high novelty seeking. They report the best physical capacity and highest level of income, but also high rate of divorce, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Individuals from Cluster III are not characterized by any extreme characteristic. Individuals from Cluster IV are characterized by high levels of harm avoidance, low levels of exploratory excitability and attachment, and score the lowest in most measures of health and well-being.
This study shows that the temperament subscales do not distribute randomly but have an endogenous structure, and that these patterns have strong associations to health, life events, and well-being.
Very few studies have evaluated the association between a child's lifestyle factors and their parent's ability to recognise the overweight status of their offspring. The aim of this study was to analyze the factors associated with a parent's ability to recognise their own offspring's overweight status.
125 overweight children out of all 1,278 school beginners in Northern Finland were enrolled.
Weight and height were measured in health care clinics. Overweight status was defined by BMI according to internationally accepted criteria. A questionnaire to be filled in by parents was delivered by the school nurses. The parents were asked to evaluate their offspring's weight status. The child's eating habits and physical activity patterns were also enquired about. Factor groups of food and physical activity habits were formed by factor analysis. Binary logistic regression was performed using all variables associated with recognition of overweight status in univariate analyses. The significant risk factors in the final model are reported using odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Fifty-seven percent (69/120) of the parents of the overweight children considered their child as normal weight. Child's BMI was positively associated with parental recognition of overweight (OR 3.59, CI 1.8 to 7.0). Overweight boys were less likely to be recognised than overweight girls (OR 0.14, CI 0.033 to 0.58). Child's healthy diet (OR 0.22, CI 0.091 to 0.54) and high physical activity (OR 0.29, CI 0.11 to 0.79) were inversely related to parental recognition of overweight status.
Child's healthy eating habits and physical activity are inversely related to parental recognition of their offspring's overweight. These should be taken into account when planning prevention and treatment strategies for childhood obesity.
overweight status; children; recognition; parents
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.
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.
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.
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.
Asthma; wheeze; prevalence; adolescent; maternal pre-pregnancy weight; BMI; obesity
The associations of prenatal exposures to maternal prepregnancy overweight and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) with offspring overweight are controversial. Research estimating risk for offspring overweight due to these exposures, separately and concomitantly, is limited.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Prevalence of overweight and abdominal obesity at age 16 years and odds ratios (ORs) for prenatal exposures to maternal prepregnancy overweight and GDM were estimated in participants of the prospective longitudinal Northern Finland Birth Cohort of 1986 (N = 4,168).
The prevalence and estimates of risk for overweight and abdominal obesity were highest in those exposed to both maternal prepregnancy overweight and GDM (overweight prevalence 40% [OR 4.05], abdominal obesity prevalence 25.7% [3.82]). Even in offspring of mothers with a normal oral glucose tolerance test during pregnancy, maternal prepregnancy overweight is associated with increased risk for these outcomes (overweight prevalence 27.9% [2.56], abdominal obesity prevalence 19.5% [2.60]). In offspring of women with prepregnancy normal weight, the prevalence or risks of the outcomes were not increased by prenatal exposure to GDM. These estimates of risk were adjusted for parental prepregnancy smoking, paternal overweight, and offspring sex and size at birth.
Maternal prepregnancy overweight is an independent risk factor for offspring overweight and abdominal obesity at age 16 years. The risks are highest in offspring with concomitant prenatal exposure to maternal prepregnancy overweight and GDM, whereas the risks associated with GDM are only small.
An age-dependent association between variation at the FTO locus and BMI in children has been suggested. We meta-analyzed associations between the FTO locus (rs9939609) and BMI in samples, aged from early infancy to 13 years, from 8 cohorts of European ancestry. We found a positive association between additional minor (A) alleles and BMI from 5.5 years onwards, but an inverse association below age 2.5 years. Modelling median BMI curves for each genotype using the LMS method, we found that carriers of minor alleles showed lower BMI in infancy, earlier adiposity rebound (AR), and higher BMI later in childhood. Differences by allele were consistent with two independent processes: earlier AR equivalent to accelerating developmental age by 2.37% (95% CI 1.87, 2.87, p = 10−20) per A allele and a positive age by genotype interaction such that BMI increased faster with age (p = 10−23). We also fitted a linear mixed effects model to relate genotype to the BMI curve inflection points adiposity peak (AP) in infancy and AR. Carriage of two minor alleles at rs9939609 was associated with lower BMI at AP (−0.40% (95% CI: −0.74, −0.06), p = 0.02), higher BMI at AR (0.93% (95% CI: 0.22, 1.64), p = 0.01), and earlier AR (−4.72% (−5.81, −3.63), p = 10−17), supporting cross-sectional results. Overall, we confirm the expected association between variation at rs9939609 and BMI in childhood, but only after an inverse association between the same variant and BMI in infancy. Patterns are consistent with a shift on the developmental scale, which is reflected in association with the timing of AR rather than just a global increase in BMI. Results provide important information about longitudinal gene effects and about the role of FTO in adiposity. The associated shifts in developmental timing have clinical importance with respect to known relationships between AR and both later-life BMI and metabolic disease risk.
Variation at the FTO locus is reliably associated with BMI and adiposity-related traits, but little is still known about the effects of variation at this gene, particularly in children. We have examined a large collection of samples for which both genotypes at rs9939609 and multiple measurements of BMI are available. We observe a positive association between the minor allele (A) at rs9939609 and BMI emerging in childhood that has the characteristics of a shift in the age scale leading simultaneously to lower BMI during infancy and higher BMI in childhood. Assessed in cross section and longitudinally, we find evidence of variation at rs9939609 being associated with the timing of AR and the concert of events expected with such a change to the BMI curve. Importantly, the apparently negative association between the minor allele (A) and BMI in early life, which is then followed by an earlier AR and greater BMI in childhood, is a pattern known to be associated with both the risk of adult BMI and metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes (T2D). These findings are important in our understanding of the contribution of FTO to adiposity, but also in light of efforts to appreciate genetic effects in a lifecourse context.
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.
body mass index; molecular epidemiology; structural equation model
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.
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.
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.
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.
A pedometer helps adults exercise more, but sedentary adults need instruction and advice to be motivated to use one. We conducted this qualitative study to describe the experiences of participants at high risk of type 2 diabetes who began using a pedometer.
A total of 74 people at high risk of type 2 diabetes participated in 6 months of group counseling. From April 2007 to April 2008, we collected data through questionnaires, theme interviews (n = 22) and video recordings of counseling sessions. From October 2007 through June 2008, we analyzed the data.
Pedometers were useful tools for observing levels of exercise, setting personal goals for walking, and helping evaluate whether daily goals were met. Negative experiences were associated with functional failures, pedometers' unsuitability for exercise other than walking, and the goal of 10,000 steps, which some participants considered too high.
Sedentary adults can be motivated to use a pedometer if we inform them that regular users find it a useful instrument for increasing their level of exercise. These adults should set realistic goals for walking and receive adequate instructions for using pedometers.
Tooth development is a highly heritable process which relates to other growth and developmental processes, and which interacts with the development of the entire craniofacial complex. Abnormalities of tooth development are common, with tooth agenesis being the most common developmental anomaly in humans. We performed a genome-wide association study of time to first tooth eruption and number of teeth at one year in 4,564 individuals from the 1966 Northern Finland Birth Cohort (NFBC1966) and 1,518 individuals from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). We identified 5 loci at P<5×10−8, and 5 with suggestive association (P<5×10−6). The loci included several genes with links to tooth and other organ development (KCNJ2, EDA, HOXB2, RAD51L1, IGF2BP1, HMGA2, MSRB3). Genes at four of the identified loci are implicated in the development of cancer. A variant within the HOXB gene cluster associated with occlusion defects requiring orthodontic treatment by age 31 years.
Genome-wide association studies have been used to identify genetic variants conferring susceptibility to diseases, intermediate phenotypes, and physiological traits such as height, hair color, and age at menarche. Here we analyze the NFBC1966 and ALSPAC birth cohorts to investigate the genetic determinants of a key developmental process: primary tooth development. The prospective nature of our studies allows us to exploit accurate measurements of age at first tooth eruption and number of teeth at one year, and also provides the opportunity to assess whether genetic variants affecting these traits are associated with dental problems later in the life course. Of the genes that we find to be associated with primary tooth development, several have established roles in tooth development and growth, and almost half have proposed links with the development of cancer. We find that one of the variants is also associated with occlusion defects requiring orthodontic treatment later in life. Our findings should provide a strong foundation for the study of the genetic architecture of tooth development, which as well as its relevance to medicine and dentistry, may have implications in evolutionary biology since teeth represent important markers of evolution.
The global prevalence of obesity has increased significantly in recent decades, mainly due to excess calorie intake and increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Here, we test the association between obesity measured by body mass index (BMI) and one of the best-known genetic variants showing strong selective pressure: the functional variant in the cis-regulatory element of the lactase gene. We tested this variant since it is presumed to provide nutritional advantage in specific physical and cultural environments. We genetically defined lactase persistence (LP) in 31 720 individuals from eight European population-based studies and one family study by genotyping or imputing the European LP variant (rs4988235). We performed a meta-analysis by pooling the β-coefficient estimates of the relationship between rs4988235 and BMI from the nine studies and found that the carriers of the allele responsible for LP among Europeans showed higher BMI (P = 7.9 × 10−5). Since this locus has been shown to be prone to population stratification, we paid special attention to reveal any population substructure which might be responsible for the association signal. The best evidence of exclusion of stratification came from the Dutch family sample which is robust for stratification. In this study, we highlight issues in model selection in the genome-wide association studies and problems in imputation of these special genomic regions.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of longitudinal birth cohorts enable joint investigation of environmental and genetic influences on complex traits. We report GWAS results for nine quantitative metabolic traits (triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, glucose, insulin, C-reactive protein, body mass index, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure) in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC1966), drawn from the most genetically isolated Finnish regions. We replicate most previously reported associations for these traits and identify nine new associations, several of which highlight genes with metabolic functions: high-density lipoprotein with NR1H3 (LXRA), low-density lipoprotein with AR and FADS1-FADS2, glucose with MTNR1B, and insulin with PANK1. Two of these new associations emerged after adjustment of results for body mass index. Gene-environment interaction analyses suggested additional associations, which will require validation in larger samples. The currently identified loci, together with quantified environmental exposures, explain little of the trait variation in NFBC1966. The association observed between low-density lipoprotein and an infrequent variant in AR suggests the potential of such a cohort for identifying associations with both common, low-impact and rarer, high-impact quantitative trait loci.
Recent genome-wide association (GWA) studies have identified dozens of common variants associated with adult height. However, it is unknown how these variants influence height growth during childhood. We derived peak height velocity in infancy (PHV1) and puberty (PHV2) and timing of pubertal height growth spurt from parametric growth curves fitted to longitudinal height growth data to test their association with known height variants. The study consisted of N = 3,538 singletons from the prospective Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 with genotype data and frequent height measurements (on average 20 measurements per person) from 0–20 years. Twenty-six of the 48 variants tested associated with adult height (p<0.05, adjusted for sex and principal components) in this sample, all in the same direction as in previous GWA scans. Seven SNPs in or near the genes HHIP, DLEU7, UQCC, SF3B4/SV2A, LCORL, and HIST1H1D associated with PHV1 and five SNPs in or near SOCS2, SF3B4/SV2A, C17orf67, CABLES1, and DOT1L with PHV2 (p<0.05). We formally tested variants for interaction with age (infancy versus puberty) and found biologically meaningful evidence for an age-dependent effect for the SNP in SOCS2 (p = 0.0030) and for the SNP in HHIP (p = 0.045). We did not have similar prior evidence for the association between height variants and timing of pubertal height growth spurt as we had for PHVs, and none of the associations were statistically significant after correction for multiple testing. The fact that in this sample, less than half of the variants associated with adult height had a measurable effect on PHV1 or PHV2 is likely to reflect limited power to detect these associations in this dataset. Our study is the first genetic association analysis on longitudinal height growth in a prospective cohort from birth to adulthood and gives grounding for future research on the genetic regulation of human height during different periods of growth.
Family studies have shown that adult height is largely genetically determined. Identification of common genetic factors has been expedited with recent advances in genotyping techniques. However, factors regulating childhood height growth remain unclear. We investigated genetic variants of adult height for associations with peak height velocity in infancy (PHV1) and puberty (PHV2) and timing of pubertal growth spurt in a population based sample of 3,538 Finns born in 1966. Most variants studied associated with adult height in this sample. Of the 48 genetic variants tested, seven of them associated with PHV1 and five with PHV2. However, only one of these associated with both, and we found suggestive evidence for differential effects at different stages of growth for some of the variants. In this sample, less than half of the variants associated with adult height had a measurable effect on PHV1 or PHV2. However, these differences may reflect lower statistical power to detect associations with height velocities compared to adult height. This study provides a foundation for further biological investigation into the genes acting at each stage of height growth.