To our knowledge, no prospective study has examined the association between vitamin D and cognitive decline or dementia.
We determined whether low levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) were associated with an increased risk of substantial cognitive decline in the InCHIANTI population–based study conducted in Italy between 1998 and 2006 with follow-up assessments every 3 years. A total of 858 adults 65 years or older completed interviews, cognitive assessments, and medical examinations and provided blood samples. Cognitive decline was assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), and substantial decline was defined as 3 or more points. The Trail-Making Tests A and B were also used, and substantial decline was defined as the worst 10% of the distribution of decline or as discontinued testing.
The multivariate adjusted relative risk (95% confidence interval [CI]) of substantial cognitive decline on the MMSE in participants who were severely serum 25 (OH)D deficient (levels <25 nmol/L) in comparison with those with sufficient levels of 25(OH)D (≥75 nmol/L) was 1.60 (95% CI, 1.19-2.00). Multivariate adjusted random-effects models demonstrated that the scores of participants who were severely 25(OH)D deficient declined by an additional 0.3 MMSE points per year more than those with sufficient levels of 25(OH)D. The relative risk for substantial decline on Trail-Making Test B was 1.31 (95% CI, 1.03-1.51) among those who were severely 25(OH)D deficient compared with those with sufficient levels of 25(OH)D. No significant association was observed for Trail-Making Test A.
Low levels of vitamin D were associated with substantial cognitive decline in the elderly population studied over a 6-year period, which raises important new possibilities for treatment and prevention.
Common variation at chromosome 9p21 (marked by rs10757278 or rs1333049) is associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) and peripheral vascular disease. A decreasing effect at older age was suggested, and effects on long-term mortality are unclear. We estimated 9p21 associations with CAD and all-cause mortality in a CAD diagnosis–free older population. We also estimated classification gains on adding the variant to the Framingham Risk Score (FRS) for CAD.
Methods and Results
DNA was from an Established Populations for Epidemiological Study of the Elderly–Iowa cohort from 1988 (participants >71 years), with death certificates obtained to 2008 for 92% of participants. Cox regression models were adjusted for confounders and CAD risk factors. Of 1095 CAD diagnosis–free participants, 52% were heterozygous (CG) and 22% were homozygous (CC) for the risk C allele rs1333049. Unadjusted CAD-attributed death rates in the CC group were 30 vs 22 per 1000 person-years for the GG group. The C allele was associated with all-cause (hazard ratio, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.08–1.30) and CAD (hazard ratio, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.08–1.56) mortality, independent of CAD risk factors. There was no association with stroke deaths. Variant associations with CAD mortality were attenuated after the age of 80 years (age-interaction term P=0.05). In age group 71 to 80 years, FRS classified as high risk 21% of respondents who died of CAD within 10 years; adding 9p21 identified 27% of respondents.
In 71- to 80-year-old subjects free of CAD diagnoses, 9p21 is associated with excess mortality, mainly attributed to CAD mortality. Adding 9p21 to the FRS may improve the targeting of CAD prevention in older people, but validation in independent samples is needed for confirmation.
coronary artery disease; genetic variation; myocardial infarction; survival; Framingham Risk Score
With white blood cell count emerging as an important risk factor for chronic inflammatory diseases, genetic associations of differential leukocyte types, specifically monocyte count, are providing novel candidate genes and pathways to further investigate. Circulating monocytes play a critical role in vascular diseases such as in the formation of atherosclerotic plaque. We performed a joint and ancestry-stratified genome-wide association analyses to identify variants specifically associated with monocyte count in 11 014 subjects in the electronic Medical Records and Genomics Network. In the joint and European ancestry samples, we identified novel associations in the chromosome 16 interferon regulatory factor 8 (IRF8) gene (P-value = 2.78×10(−16), β = −0.22). Other monocyte associations include novel missense variants in the chemokine-binding protein 2 (CCBP2) gene (P-value = 1.88×10(−7), β = 0.30) and a region of replication found in ribophorin I (RPN1) (P-value = 2.63×10(−16), β = −0.23) on chromosome 3. The CCBP2 and RPN1 region is located near GATA binding protein2 gene that has been previously shown to be associated with coronary heart disease. On chromosome 9, we found a novel association in the prostaglandin reductase 1 gene (P-value = 2.29×10(−7), β = 0.16), which is downstream from lysophosphatidic acid receptor 1. This region has previously been shown to be associated with monocyte count. We also replicated monocyte associations of genome-wide significance (P-value = 5.68×10(−17), β = −0.23) at the integrin, alpha 4 gene on chromosome 2. The novel IRF8 results and further replications provide supporting evidence of genetic regions associated with monocyte count.
Interventions which inhibit TOR activity (including rapamycin and caloric restriction) lead to downstream gene expression changes and increased lifespan in laboratory models. However, the role of mTOR signaling in human aging is unclear.
We tested the expression of mTOR-related transcripts in two independent study cohorts; the InCHIANTI population study of aging and the San Antonio Family Heart Study (SAFHS). Expression of 27/56 (InCHIANTI) and 19/44 (SAFHS) genes were associated with age after correction for multiple testing. 8 genes were robustly associated with age in both cohorts. Genes involved in insulin signaling (PTEN, PI3K, PDK1), ribosomal biogenesis (S6K), lipid metabolism (SREBF1), cellular apoptosis (SGK1), angiogenesis (VEGFB), insulin production and sensitivity (FOXO), cellular stress response (HIF1A) and cytoskeletal remodeling (PKC) were inversely correlated with age, whereas genes relating to inhibition of ribosomal components (4EBP1) and inflammatory mediators (STAT3) were positively associated with age in one or both datasets.
We conclude that the expression of mTOR-related transcripts is associated with advancing age in humans. Changes seen are broadly similar to mTOR inhibition interventions associated with increased lifespan in animals. Work is needed to establish whether these changes are predictive of human longevity and whether further mTOR inhibition would be beneficial in older people.
Aging; aging mechanisms; mTOR; human population
Identifying the downstream effects of disease-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) is challenging: the causal gene is often unknown or it is unclear how the SNP affects the causal gene, making it difficult to design experiments that reveal functional consequences. To help overcome this problem, we performed the largest expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) meta-analysis so far reported in non-transformed peripheral blood samples of 5,311 individuals, with replication in 2,775 individuals. We identified and replicated trans-eQTLs for 233 SNPs (reflecting 103 independent loci) that were previously associated with complex traits at genome-wide significance. Although we did not study specific patient cohorts, we identified trait-associated SNPs that affect multiple trans-genes that are known to be markedly altered in patients: for example, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) SNP rs49170141 altered C1QB and five type 1 interferon response genes, both hallmarks of SLE2-4. Subsequent ChIP-seq data analysis on these trans-genes implicated transcription factor IKZF1 as the causal gene at this locus, with DeepSAGE RNA-sequencing revealing that rs4917014 strongly alters 3’ UTR levels of IKZF1. Variants associated with cholesterol metabolism and type 1 diabetes showed similar phenomena, indicating that large-scale eQTL mapping provides insight into the downstream effects of many trait-associated variants.
Depression is a heritable trait that exists on a continuum of varying severity and duration. Yet, the search for genetic variants associated with depression has had few successes. We exploit the entire continuum of depression to find common variants for depressive symptoms.
In this genome-wide association study, we combined the results of 17 population-based studies assessing depressive symptoms with the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Replication of the independent top hits (p < 1 × 10−5) was performed in five studies assessing depressive symptoms with other instruments. In addition, we performed a combined meta-analysis of all 22 discovery and replication studies.
The discovery sample comprised 34,549 individuals (mean age of 66.5) and no loci reached genome-wide significance (lowest p = 1.05 × 10−7). Seven independent single nucleotide polymorphisms were considered for replication. In the replication set (n = 16,709), we found suggestive association of one single nucleotide polymorphism with depressive symptoms (rs161645, 5q21, p = 9.19 × 10−3). This 5q21 region reached genome-wide significance (p = 4.78 × 10−8) in the overall meta-analysis combining discovery and replication studies (n = 51,258).
The results suggest that only a large sample comprising more than 50,000 subjects may be sufficiently powered to detect genes for depressive symptoms.
Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale; CHARGE consortium; depression; depressive symptoms; genetics; genome-wide association study; meta-analysis
In recent years there has been an exponential increase in tungsten demand, potentially increasing human exposure to the metal. Currently, the toxicology of tungsten is poorly understood, but mounting evidence suggests that both the elemental metal and its alloys have cytotoxic effects. Here, we investigate the association between tungsten and cardiovascular disease (CVD) or stroke using six waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
We investigated associations using crude and adjusted logistic regression models in a cohort of 8614 adults (18–74 years) with 193 reported stroke diagnoses and 428 reported diagnoses of CVD. We also stratified our data to characterize associations in a subset of younger individuals (18–50 years).
Elevated tungsten concentrations were strongly associated with an increase in the prevalence of stroke, independent of typical risk factors (Odds Ratio (OR): 1.66, 95% Confidence Interval (95% CI): 1.17, 2.34). The association between tungsten and stroke in the young age category was still evident (OR: 2.17, 95% CI: 1.33, 3.53).
This study represents the most comprehensive analysis of the human health effects of tungsten to date. Individuals with higher urinary tungsten concentrations have double the odds of reported stroke. We hypothesize that the pathological pathway resulting from tungsten exposure may involve oxidative stress.
Circulating inflammatory markers may play an important role in cognitive impairment at older ages. Mice deficient for the chemokine (C-C motif) receptor 2 (CCR2) develop an accelerated Alzheimer-like pathology. CCR2 is also important in neurogenesis. To identify human gene transcripts most closely associated with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores, we undertook a genome-wide and inflammation specific transcriptome screen in circulating leukocytes from a population-based sample.
We measured in vivo transcript levels by microarray analysis in 691 subjects (mean age 72.6 years) in the InCHIANTI study (Invecchiare in Chianti, aging in the Chianti area). We assessed expression associations with MMSE performance at RNA collection and prior 9-year change in MMSE score in linear regression models.
In genome-wide analysis, raised CCR2 expression was cross-sectionally the most strongly associated transcript with lower MMSE score (beta=−0.16, p=5.1×10−6, false discovery rate (FDR; q=0.077). Amongst inflammatory transcripts, only CCR2 expression was associated with both MMSE score and accelerated decline in score over the preceding 9 years (beta=−0.16, p=5.1×10−6, q=0.003; and beta=−0.13, p=5.5×10−5, q=0.03, respectively). CCR2 expression was also positively associated with apolipoprotein E (ApoE) e4 Alzheimer disease risk haplotype.
We show for the first time that CCR2 expression is associated with lower MMSE scores in an older human population. Laboratory models of Ccr2-mediated β-amyloid removal and regulation of neurogenesis affecting cognitive function may be applicable in humans. CCR2-mediated pathways may provide a possible focus for intervention to potentiate protective reactions to Alzheimer pathology in older people, including for people with an adverse ApoE haplotype.
Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have been limited by the reliance on common variants present on microarrays or imputable from the HapMap Project data. More recently, the completion of the 1000 Genomes Project has provided variant and haplotype information for several million variants derived from sequencing over 1,000 individuals. To help understand the extent to which more variants (including low frequency (1% ≤ MAF <5%) and rare variants (<1%)) can enhance previously identified associations and identify novel loci, we selected 93 quantitative circulating factors where data was available from the InCHIANTI population study. These phenotypes included cytokines, binding proteins, hormones, vitamins and ions. We selected these phenotypes because many have known strong genetic associations and are potentially important to help understand disease processes. We performed a genome-wide scan for these 93 phenotypes in InCHIANTI. We identified 21 signals and 33 signals that reached P<5×10−8 based on HapMap and 1000 Genomes imputation, respectively, and 9 and 11 that reached a stricter, likely conservative, threshold of P<5×10−11 respectively. Imputation of 1000 Genomes genotype data modestly improved the strength of known associations. Of 20 associations detected at P<5×10−8 in both analyses (17 of which represent well replicated signals in the NHGRI catalogue), six were captured by the same index SNP, five were nominally more strongly associated in 1000 Genomes imputed data and one was nominally more strongly associated in HapMap imputed data. We also detected an association between a low frequency variant and phenotype that was previously missed by HapMap based imputation approaches. An association between rs112635299 and alpha-1 globulin near the SERPINA gene represented the known association between rs28929474 (MAF = 0.007) and alpha1-antitrypsin that predisposes to emphysema (P = 2.5×10−12). Our data provide important proof of principle that 1000 Genomes imputation will detect novel, low frequency-large effect associations.
Genetic determinants of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) remain largely unknown. To identify genetic variants associated with the ankle-brachial index (ABI), a noninvasive measure of PAD, we conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association study data from 21 population-based cohorts.
Methods and Results
Continuous ABI and PAD (ABI≤0.9) phenotypes adjusted for age and sex were examined. Each study conducted genotyping and imputed data to the ~2.5 million SNPs in HapMap. Linear and logistic regression models were used to test each SNP for association with ABI and PAD using additive genetic models. Study-specific data were combined using fixed-effects inverse variance weighted meta-analyses. There were a total of 41,692 participants of European ancestry (~60% women, mean ABI 1.02 to 1.19), including 3,409 participants with PAD and with GWAS data available. In the discovery meta-analysis, rs10757269 on chromosome 9 near CDKN2B had the strongest association with ABI (β= −0.006, p=2.46x10−8). We sought replication of the 6 strongest SNP associations in 5 population-based studies and 3 clinical samples (n=16,717). The association for rs10757269 strengthened in the combined discovery and replication analysis (p=2.65x10−9). No other SNP associations for ABI or PAD achieved genome-wide significance. However, two previously reported candidate genes for PAD and one SNP associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) were associated with ABI : DAB21P (rs13290547, p=3.6x10−5); CYBA (rs3794624, p=6.3x10−5); and rs1122608 (LDLR, p=0.0026).
GWAS in more than 40,000 individuals identified one genome-wide significant association on chromosome 9p21 with ABI. Two candidate genes for PAD and 1 SNP for CAD are associated with ABI.
cohort study; genetic association; genome-wide association study; meta-analysis; peripheral vascular disease
Declining muscle strength is a core feature of aging. Several mechanisms have been postulated, including CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-beta (C/EBP-β) triggered macrophage-mediated muscle fibre regeneration after micro-injury, evidenced in a mouse model. We aimed to identify in-vivo circulating leukocyte gene expression changes associated with muscle strength in the human adult population.
We undertook a genome wide expression microarray screen, using peripheral blood RNA samples from InCHIANTI study participants (ages 30–104 yrs). Logged expression intensities were regressed with muscle strength using models adjusted for multiple confounders. Key results were validated by real-time PCR. The Short Physical Performance Battery score (SPPB) tested walk speed, chair stand and balance.
CEBPB expression levels were associated with muscle strength (beta coefficient = 0.20560, p=1.03*10−6, false discovery rate q=0.014). The estimated handgrip strength in 70 year old men in the lowest CEBPB expression tertile was 35.2 kg compared to 41.2 kg in the top tertile. CEBPB expression was also associated with hip, knee, ankle and shoulder strength and the SPPB performance score (p=0.018). Near study-wide associations were also noted for TGFB3 (p=3.4*10−5, q=0.12) and CEBPD expression (p=9.67E−5, q=0.18) but not for CEBPA expression.
We report here a novel finding that raised CEBPB expression in circulating leukocyte derived RNA samples in-vivo is associated with greater muscle strength and better physical performance in humans. This association may be consistent with mouse model evidence of CEBPB triggered muscle repair: if this mechanism is confirmed it may provide a target for intervention to protect and enhance aging muscle.
macrophage; inflammation; transcription; regeneration; population; mechanism
Aging is a major risk factor for chronic disease in the human population, but there is little human data on gene expression alterations that accompany the process. We examined human peripheral blood leucocyte in-vivo RNA in a large-scale transcriptomic microarray study (subjects aged 30 to 104 years). We tested associations between probe expression intensity and advancing age (adjusting for confounding factors), initially in a discovery set (n = 458), following-up findings in a replication set (n=240). We confirmed expression of key results by real-time PCR. Of 16,571 expressed probes, only 295 (2%) were robustly associated with age. Just six probes were required for a highly efficient model for distinguishing between young and old (Area Under the Curve in replication set; 95%). The focussed nature of age-related gene expression may therefore provide potential biomarkers of aging. Similarly, only 7 of 1065 biological or metabolic pathways were age-associated, in Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA), notably including the processing of messenger RNAs (mRNAs); (p<0.002, FDR q<0.05). This is supported by our observation of age-associated disruption to the balance of alternatively-expressed isoforms for selected genes, suggesting that modification of mRNA processing may be a feature of human aging.
Aging; Gene expression; mRNA processing; Cell senescence; predictive model
To identify novel loci for age at natural menopause, we performed a meta-analysis of 22 genome-wide association studies in 38,968 women of European descent, with replication in up to 14,435 women. In addition to four known loci, we identified 13 new age at natural menopause loci (P < 5 × 10−8). The new loci included genes implicated in DNA repair (EXO1, HELQ, UIMC1, FAM175A, FANCI, TLK1, POLG, PRIM1) and immune function (IL11, NLRP11, BAT2). Gene-set enrichment pathway analyses using the full GWAS dataset identified exodeoxyribonuclease, NFκB signalling and mitochondrial dysfunction as biological processes related to timing of menopause.
Bisphenol A is widely used in food and drinks packaging. There is evidence of associations between raised urinary bisphenol A (uBPA) and increased incidence of reported cardiovascular diagnoses.
To estimate associations between BPA exposure and angiographically graded coronary atherosclerosis. 591 patients participating in The Metabonomics and Genomics in Coronary Artery Disease (MaGiCAD) study in Cambridgeshire UK, comparing urinary BPA (uBPA) with grades of severity of coronary artery disease (CAD) on angiography. Linear models were adjusted for BMI, occupational social class and diabetes status. Severe (one to three vessel) CAD was present in 385 patients, 86 had intermediate disease (n = 86) and 120 had normal coronary arteries. The (unadjusted) median uBPA concentration was 1.28 ng/mL with normal coronary arteries, and 1.53 ng/mL with severe CAD. Compared to those with normal coronary arteries, uBPA concentration was significantly higher in those with severe CAD (OR per uBPA SD = 5.96 ng/ml OR = 1.43, CI 1.03 to 1.98, p = 0.033), and near significant for intermediate disease (OR = 1.69, CI 0.98 to 2.94, p = 0.061). There was no significant uBPA difference between patients with severe CAD (needing surgery) and the remaining groups combined.
BPA exposure was higher in those with severe coronary artery stenoses compared to those with no vessel disease. Larger studies are needed to estimate true dose response relationships. The mechanisms underlying the association remain to be established.
Exposure to heavy metals can promote oxidative stress and damage to cellular components, and may accelerate age-related disease and disability.. Physical mobility is a validated biomarker of age-related disability and is predictive of hospitalization and mortality.
To examine associations between selected heavy metals and impaired lower limb mobility in a representative older human population.
Data for 1615 adults aged ≥60 years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999 to 2004 were used to identify associations between urinary concentrations of 10 metals with self-reported and measured walking impairments (at p<0.01). Models were adjusted for confounding factors, including smoking.
In models adjusted for age, sex and ethnicity, elevated levels of cadmium, cobalt and uranium were associated with impairment of the ability to walk a quarter mile. In fully adjusted models, cobalt was the only metal that remained associated: the odds ratio for reporting walking problems with a 1-unit increase in logged cobalt concentration (μg L-1) was 1.43 (95% CI 1.12 to 1.84). Cobalt was also the only metal associated with an increased measured time to walk a 20 foot course (p=0.008). In analyses of disease categories to explain the mobility finding, cobalt was associated with physician diagnosed arthritis (1-unit increase OR=1.22 (95% CI 1.00 to 1.49, p=0.045).
Low level cobalt exposure, assessed through urinary concentrations of this essential heavy metal may be a risk factor for age-related physical impairments. Independent replication is needed to confirm this association.
Cobalt; aging; NHANES; arthritis; gait speed
To identify predictors of extraordinary survival (ES).
Longitudinal study of a cohort of elderly people followed up until almost all have died
Two counties in Iowa, USA, a part of the Epidemiological Study of the Elderly.
2890 community-dwelling citizens, 65–85 years at baseline, surviving at least three years.
Data relating to age, sex, birth order, parental longevity, marital status, education, family income, social support, self-reported health, chronic diseases, blood pressure, body mass index, physical ability, exercises, life attitude and mental health were obtained. Extraordinary survivors were defined as those belonging to approximately top 10% longest survivors for their sex group.
253 ES were far more likely to have never smoked. In basic models (age/sex/smoking adjusted) for earlier-life factors, parent’s longevity, being earlier in the birth order (in women only) and BMI at age 50 were associated with ES.
In similar models for predictors at age 65–85 years (later-life or baseline), ES was associated with excellent self-reported health, fewest chronic diseases, better physical mobility, memory and positive attitude towards life, but not with depression, anxiety or sleep. In multi-variable models, attitude towards life was not an independent predictor. On a cumulative score of independent predictors, women in the top third of longevity attributes were 9.26 (CI 4.38–19.57, p<0.0001) times as likely to reach ES compared to bottom third.
Extraordinary survivors had fewer ‘classical’ risk factors and were in better health than their contemporaneous controls. Earlier-life, possibly genetic factors appear less predictive in men.
Extraordinary survivor; oldest old; predictors; heritable
Recent European studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with increased odds of cognitive impairment in older persons, although findings from the United States are equivocal. Our objective was to investigate the association between vitamin D deficiency and cognitive impairment in the elderly U.S. population.
Three thousand and three hundred twenty-five adults aged 65 years or more completed cognitive assessments, medical examinations, and physical performance measures and provided blood samples in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative cross-sectional study of the U.S. noninstitutionalized population. We determined whether low levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) were associated with increased odds of cognitive impairment using logistic regression models. Cognitive impairment was assessed using measures of immediate and delayed verbal memory, orientation, and attention (impairment was defined as the worst 10% of the distribution of combined scores).
The multivariate adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence interval) of cognitive impairment in participants who were 25(OH)D insufficient (≥50 < 75 nmol/L), deficient (≥25 < 50 nmol/L), and severely deficient (<25 nmol/L) in comparison with those sufficient (≥75 nmol/L) were 0.9 (0.6–1.3), 1.4 (1.0–2.1), and 3.9 (1.5–10.4), respectively (p for linear trend = .02). Log-transformed levels of 25(OH)D were also significantly associated with the odds of cognitive impairment (p = .02).
These findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased odds of cognitive impairment in the elderly U.S. population. Further exploration of a possible causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency and cognitive impairment is warranted.
Cognitive impairment; Cognition; Dementia; Vitamin D; Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D
Background: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a synthetic estrogen commonly used in polycarbonate plastic and resin-lined food and beverage containers. Exposure of animal and cell models to doses of BPA below the recommended tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 50 μg/kg/day have been shown to alter specific estrogen-responsive gene expression, but this has not previously been shown in humans.
Objective: We investigated associations between BPA exposure and in vivo estrogenic gene expression in humans.
Methods: We studied 96 adult men from the InCHIANTI population study and examined in vivo expression of six estrogen receptor, estrogen-related receptor, and androgen receptor genes in peripheral blood leukocytes.
Results: The geometric mean urinary BPA concentration was 3.65 ng/mL [95% confidence interval (CI): 3.13, 4.28], giving an estimated mean excretion of 5.84 μg/day (95% CI: 5.00, 6.85), significantly below the current TDI. In age-adjusted models, there were positive associations between higher BPA concentrations and higher ESR2 [estrogen receptor 2 (ER beta)] expression (unstandardized linear regression coefficient = 0.1804; 95% CI: 0.0388, 0.3221; p = 0.013) and ESRRA (estrogen related receptor alpha) expression (coefficient = 0.1718; 95% CI: 0.0213, 0.3223; p = 0.026): These associations were little changed after adjusting for potential confounders, including obesity, serum lipid concentrations, and white cell subtype percentages. Upper-tertile BPA excretors (urinary BPA > 4.6 ng/mL) had 65% higher mean ESR2 expression than did lower-tertile BPA excretors (0–2.4 ng/mL).
Conclusions: Because activation of nuclear-receptor–mediated pathways by BPA is consistently found in laboratory studies, such activation in humans provides evidence that BPA is likely to function as a xenoestrogen in this sample of adults.
bisphenol A; endocrine disruption; estrogen receptor-β; estrogen-related receptor-α; human biomonitoring; InCHIANTI; toxicogenomics
The Second International Workshop on CMV & Immunosenescence was held in Cambridge, UK, 2-4th December, 2010. The presentations covered four separate sessions: cytomegalovirus and T cell phenotypes; T cell memory frequency, inflation and immunosenescence; cytomegalovirus in aging, mortality and disease states; and the immunobiology of cytomegalovirus-specific T cells and effects of the virus on vaccination. This commentary summarizes the major findings of these presentations and references subsequently published work from the presenter laboratory where appropriate and draws together major themes that were subsequently discussed along with new areas of interest that were highlighted by this discussion.
Testosterone concentrations in men are associated with cardiovascular morbidity, osteoporosis, and mortality and are affected by age, smoking, and obesity. Because of serum testosterone's high heritability, we performed a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data in 8,938 men from seven cohorts and followed up the genome-wide significant findings in one in silico (n = 871) and two de novo replication cohorts (n = 4,620) to identify genetic loci significantly associated with serum testosterone concentration in men. All these loci were also associated with low serum testosterone concentration defined as <300 ng/dl. Two single-nucleotide polymorphisms at the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) locus (17p13-p12) were identified as independently associated with serum testosterone concentration (rs12150660, p = 1.2×10−41 and rs6258, p = 2.3×10−22). Subjects with ≥3 risk alleles of these variants had 6.5-fold higher risk of having low serum testosterone than subjects with no risk allele. The rs5934505 polymorphism near FAM9B on the X chromosome was also associated with testosterone concentrations (p = 5.6×10−16). The rs6258 polymorphism in exon 4 of SHBG affected SHBG's affinity for binding testosterone and the measured free testosterone fraction (p<0.01). Genetic variants in the SHBG locus and on the X chromosome are associated with a substantial variation in testosterone concentrations and increased risk of low testosterone. rs6258 is the first reported SHBG polymorphism, which affects testosterone binding to SHBG and the free testosterone fraction and could therefore influence the calculation of free testosterone using law-of-mass-action equation.
Testosterone is the most important testicular androgen in men. Low serum testosterone concentrations are associated with cardiovascular morbidity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and increased mortality risk. Thus, there is growing evidence that serum testosterone is a valuable biomarker of men's overall health status. Studies in male twins indicate that there is a strong heritability of serum testosterone. Here we perform a large-scale genome-wide association study to examine the effects of common genetic variants on serum testosterone concentrations. By examining 14,429 men, we show that genetic variants in the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) locus and on the X chromosome are associated with a substantial variation in serum testosterone concentrations and increased risk of low testosterone. The reported associations may now be used in order to better understand the functional background of recently identified disease associations related to low testosterone. Importantly, we identified the first known genetic variant, which affects SHBG's affinity for binding testosterone and the free testosterone fraction and could therefore influence the calculation of free testosterone. This finding suggests that individual-based SHBG-testosterone affinity constants are required depending on the genotype of this single-nucleotide polymorphism.
A recent genome-wide association (GWA) study of late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) identified 15 novel single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) independent of ApoE. We hypothesized that variants associated with LOAD are also associated with poor cognitive function in elderly populations. We measured additive associations between the five most strongly associated LOAD SNPs and grouped Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores. Variants were genotyped in respondents (mean age 79yrs) from the Oxford Healthy Aging project (OHAP) and other sites of the MRC Cognitive Function and Aging Study (MRC-CFAS). In adjusted ordinal logistic models, two variants were associated with poorer cognitive function: rs11622883 (OR=1.14, 95%CI: 1.01 to 1.28, p=0.040) and rs505058 (OR=1.29, 95% CI: 1.02 to 1.64, p=0.036). These SNPs are close to a SERPINA gene cluster and within LMNA respectively. The mechanisms underlying the associations with cognitive impairment and LOAD require further elucidation, but both genes are interesting candidates for involvement in age-related cognitive impairment.
Late-onset Alzheimer's disease; dementia; cognitive function; cognitive impairment; gene; single nucleotide polymorphism; ApoE; LMNA
The identification of multiple signals at individual loci could explain additional phenotypic variance (‘missing heritability’) of common traits, and help identify causal genes. We examined gene expression levels as a model trait because of the large number of strong genetic effects acting in cis. Using expression profiles from 613 individuals, we performed genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analyses to identify cis-expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs), and conditional analysis to identify second signals. We examined patterns of association when accounting for multiple SNPs at a locus and when including additional SNPs from the 1000 Genomes Project. We identified 1298 cis-eQTLs at an approximate false discovery rate 0.01, of which 118 (9%) showed evidence of a second independent signal. For this subset of 118 traits, accounting for two signals resulted in an average 31% increase in phenotypic variance explained (Wilcoxon P< 0.0001). The association of SNPs with cis gene expression could increase, stay similar or decrease in significance when accounting for linkage disequilibrium with second signals at the same locus. Pairs of SNPs increasing in significance tended to have gene expression increasing alleles on opposite haplotypes, whereas pairs of SNPs decreasing in significance tended to have gene expression increasing alleles on the same haplotypes. Adding data from the 1000 Genomes Project showed that apparently independent signals could be potentially explained by a single association signal. Our results show that accounting for multiple variants at a locus will increase the variance explained in a substantial fraction of loci, but that allelic heterogeneity will be difficult to define without resequencing loci and functional work.
White blood cell (WBC) count is a common clinical measure from complete blood count assays, and it varies widely among healthy individuals. Total WBC count and its constituent subtypes have been shown to be moderately heritable, with the heritability estimates varying across cell types. We studied 19,509 subjects from seven cohorts in a discovery analysis, and 11,823 subjects from ten cohorts for replication analyses, to determine genetic factors influencing variability within the normal hematological range for total WBC count and five WBC subtype measures. Cohort specific data was supplied by the CHARGE, HeamGen, and INGI consortia, as well as independent collaborative studies. We identified and replicated ten associations with total WBC count and five WBC subtypes at seven different genomic loci (total WBC count—6p21 in the HLA region, 17q21 near ORMDL3, and CSF3; neutrophil count—17q21; basophil count- 3p21 near RPN1 and C3orf27; lymphocyte count—6p21, 19p13 at EPS15L1; monocyte count—2q31 at ITGA4, 3q21, 8q24 an intergenic region, 9q31 near EDG2), including three previously reported associations and seven novel associations. To investigate functional relationships among variants contributing to variability in the six WBC traits, we utilized gene expression- and pathways-based analyses. We implemented gene-clustering algorithms to evaluate functional connectivity among implicated loci and showed functional relationships across cell types. Gene expression data from whole blood was utilized to show that significant biological consequences can be extracted from our genome-wide analyses, with effect estimates for significant loci from the meta-analyses being highly corellated with the proximal gene expression. In addition, collaborative efforts between the groups contributing to this study and related studies conducted by the COGENT and RIKEN groups allowed for the examination of effect homogeneity for genome-wide significant associations across populations of diverse ancestral backgrounds.
WBC traits are highly variable, moderately heritable, and commonly assayed as part of clinical complete blood count (CBC) examinations. The counts of constituent cell subtypes comprising the WBC count measure are assayed as part of a standard clinical WBC differential test. In this study we employed meta-analytic techniques and identified ten associations with WBC measures at seven genomic loci in a large sample set of over 31,000 participants. Cohort specific data was supplied by the CHARGE, HeamGen, and INGI consortia, as well as independent collaborative studies. We confirm previous associations of WBC traits with three loci and identified seven novel loci. We also utilize a number of additional analytic methods to infer the functional relatedness of independently implicated loci across WBC phenotypes, as well as investigate direct functional consequences of these loci through analyses of genomic variation affecting the expression of proximal genes in samples of whole blood. In addition, subsequent collaborative efforts with studies of WBC traits in African-American and Japanese cohorts allowed for the investigation of the effects of these genomic variants across populations of diverse continental ancestries.
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) is the most abundant circulating steroid secreted by adrenal glands—yet its function is unknown. Its serum concentration declines significantly with increasing age, which has led to speculation that a relative DHEAS deficiency may contribute to the development of common age-related diseases or diminished longevity. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data with 14,846 individuals and identified eight independent common SNPs associated with serum DHEAS concentrations. Genes at or near the identified loci include ZKSCAN5 (rs11761528; p = 3.15×10−36), SULT2A1 (rs2637125; p = 2.61×10−19), ARPC1A (rs740160; p = 1.56×10−16), TRIM4 (rs17277546; p = 4.50×10−11), BMF (rs7181230; p = 5.44×10−11), HHEX (rs2497306; p = 4.64×10−9), BCL2L11 (rs6738028; p = 1.72×10−8), and CYP2C9 (rs2185570; p = 2.29×10−8). These genes are associated with type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, actin filament assembly, drug and xenobiotic metabolism, and zinc finger proteins. Several SNPs were associated with changes in gene expression levels, and the related genes are connected to biological pathways linking DHEAS with ageing. This study provides much needed insight into the function of DHEAS.
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), mainly secreted by the adrenal gland, is the most abundant circulating steroid in humans. It shows a significant physiological decline after the age of 25 and diminishes about 95% by the age of 85 years, which has led to speculation that a relative DHEAS deficiency may contribute to the development of common age-related diseases or diminished longevity. Twin- and family-based studies have shown that there is a substantial genetic effect with heritability estimate of 60%, but no specific genes regulating serum DHEAS concentration have been identified to date. Here we take advantage of recent technical and methodological advances to examine the effects of common genetic variants on serum DHEAS concentrations. By examining 14,846 Caucasian individuals, we show that eight common genetic variants are associated with serum DHEAS concentrations. Genes at or near these genetic variants include BCL2L11, ARPC1A, ZKSCAN5, TRIM4, HHEX, CYP2C9, BMF, and SULT2A1. These genes have various associations with steroid hormone metabolism—co-morbidities of ageing including type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, actin filament assembly, drug and xenobiotic metabolism, and zinc finger proteins—suggesting a wider functional role for DHEAS than previously thought.