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1.  Genetic variants influencing circulating lipid levels and risk of coronary artery disease 
Genetic studies might provide new insights into the biological mechanisms underlying lipid metabolism and risk of CAD. We therefore conducted a genome-wide association study to identify novel genetic determinants of LDL-c, HDL-c and triglycerides.
Methods and results
We combined genome-wide association data from eight studies, comprising up to 17,723 participants with information on circulating lipid concentrations. We did independent replication studies in up to 37,774 participants from eight populations and also in a population of Indian Asian descent. We also assessed the association between SNPs at lipid loci and risk of CAD in up to 9,633 cases and 38,684 controls.
We identified four novel genetic loci that showed reproducible associations with lipids (P values 1.6 × 10−8 to 3.1 × 10−10). These include a potentially functional SNP in the SLC39A8 gene for HDL-c, a SNP near the MYLIP/GMPR and PPP1R3B genes for LDL-c and at the AFF1 gene for triglycerides. SNPs showing strong statistical association with one or more lipid traits at the CELSR2, APOB, APOE-C1-C4-C2 cluster, LPL, ZNF259-APOA5-A4-C3-A1 cluster and TRIB1 loci were also associated with CAD risk (P values 1.1 × 10−3 to 1.2 × 10−9).
We have identified four novel loci associated with circulating lipids. We also show that in addition to those that are largely associated with LDL-c, genetic loci mainly associated with circulating triglycerides and HDL-c are also associated with risk of CAD. These findings potentially provide new insights into the biological mechanisms underlying lipid metabolism and CAD risk.
PMCID: PMC3891568  PMID: 20864672
lipids; lipoproteins; genetics; epidemiology
2.  Genome-wide analyses implicate 33 loci in heritable dog osteosarcoma, including regulatory variants near CDKN2A/B 
Genome Biology  2013;14(12):R132.
Canine osteosarcoma is clinically nearly identical to the human disease, but is common and highly heritable, making genetic dissection feasible.
Through genome-wide association analyses in three breeds (greyhounds, Rottweilers, and Irish wolfhounds), we identify 33 inherited risk loci explaining 55% to 85% of phenotype variance in each breed. The greyhound locus exhibiting the strongest association, located 150 kilobases upstream of the genes CDKN2A/B, is also the most rearranged locus in canine osteosarcoma tumors. The top germline candidate variant is found at a >90% frequency in Rottweilers and Irish wolfhounds, and alters an evolutionarily constrained element that we show has strong enhancer activity in human osteosarcoma cells. In all three breeds, osteosarcoma-associated loci and regions of reduced heterozygosity are enriched for genes in pathways connected to bone differentiation and growth. Several pathways, including one of genes regulated by miR124, are also enriched for somatic copy-number changes in tumors.
Mapping a complex cancer in multiple dog breeds reveals a polygenic spectrum of germline risk factors pointing to specific pathways as drivers of disease.
PMCID: PMC4053774  PMID: 24330828
3.  PLA2G7 genotype, Lp-PLA2 activity and coronary heart disease risk in 10,494 cases and 15,624 controls of European ancestry 
Circulation  2010;121(21):2284-2293.
Higher Lp-PLA2 activity is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), making Lp-PLA2 a potential therapeutic target. PLA2G7 variants associated with Lp-PLA2 activity could evaluate whether this relationship is causal.
Methods and Results
A meta-analysis including a total of 12 studies (5 prospective, 4 case-control, 1 case-only and 2 cross-sectional, n=26,118) was undertaken to examine the association of: (i) LpPLA2 activity vs. cardiovascular biomarkers and risk factors and CHD events (two prospective studies; n=4884); ii) PLA2G7 SNPs and Lp-PLA2 activity (3 prospective, 2 case-control, 2 cross-sectional studies; up to n=6094); and iii) PLA2G7 SNPs and angiographic coronary artery disease (2 case-control, 1 case-only study; n=4971 cases) and CHD events (5 prospective, 2 case-control studies; n=5523). Lp-PLA2 activity correlated with several CHD risk markers. Hazard ratio for CHD events top vs. bottom quartile of Lp-PLA2 activity was 1.61 (95%CI: 1.31, 1.99) and 1.17 (95%CI: 0.91, 1.51) after adjustment for baseline traits. Of seven SNPs, rs1051931 (A379V) showed the strongest association with Lp-PLA2 activity, VV subjects having 7.2% higher activity than AAs. Genotype was not associated with risk markers, angiographic coronary disease (OR 1.03 (95%CI 0.80, 1.32), or CHD events (OR 0.98 (95%CI 0.82, 1.17).
Unlike Lp-PLA2 activity, PLA2G7 variants associated with modest effects on Lp-PLA2 activity were not associated with cardiovascular risk markers, coronary atheroma or CHD. Larger association studies, identification of SNPs with larger effects, or randomised trials of specific Lp-PLA2 inhibitors are needed to confirm/refute a contributory role for Lp-PLA2 in CHD.
PMCID: PMC3377948  PMID: 20479152
genetics; epidemiology; risk factors; Mendelian randomization
4.  Parallel Mapping and Simultaneous Sequencing Reveals Deletions in BCAN and FAM83H Associated with Discrete Inherited Disorders in a Domestic Dog Breed 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(1):e1002462.
The domestic dog (Canis familiaris) segregates more naturally-occurring diseases and phenotypic variation than any other species and has become established as an unparalled model with which to study the genetics of inherited traits. We used a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and targeted resequencing of DNA from just five dogs to simultaneously map and identify mutations for two distinct inherited disorders that both affect a single breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. We investigated episodic falling (EF), a paroxysmal exertion-induced dyskinesia, alongside the phenotypically distinct condition congenital keratoconjunctivitis sicca and ichthyosiform dermatosis (CKCSID), commonly known as dry eye curly coat syndrome. EF is characterised by episodes of exercise-induced muscular hypertonicity and abnormal posturing, usually occurring after exercise or periods of excitement. CKCSID is a congenital disorder that manifests as a rough coat present at birth, with keratoconjunctivitis sicca apparent on eyelid opening at 10–14 days, followed by hyperkeratinisation of footpads and distortion of nails that develops over the next few months. We undertook a GWAS with 31 EF cases, 23 CKCSID cases, and a common set of 38 controls and identified statistically associated signals for EF and CKCSID on chromosome 7 (Praw 1.9×10−14; Pgenome = 1.0×10−5) and chromosome 13 (Praw 1.2×10−17; Pgenome = 1.0×10−5), respectively. We resequenced both the EF and CKCSID disease-associated regions in just five dogs and identified a 15,724 bp deletion spanning three exons of BCAN associated with EF and a single base-pair exonic deletion in FAM83H associated with CKCSID. Neither BCAN or FAM83H have been associated with equivalent disease phenotypes in any other species, thus demonstrating the ability to use the domestic dog to study the genetic basis of more than one disease simultaneously in a single breed and to identify multiple novel candidate genes in parallel.
PMCID: PMC3257292  PMID: 22253609
5.  Common Variants at 10 Genomic Loci Influence Hemoglobin A1C Levels via Glycemic and Nonglycemic Pathways 
Diabetes  2010;59(12):3229-3239.
Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), used to monitor and diagnose diabetes, is influenced by average glycemia over a 2- to 3-month period. Genetic factors affecting expression, turnover, and abnormal glycation of hemoglobin could also be associated with increased levels of HbA1c. We aimed to identify such genetic factors and investigate the extent to which they influence diabetes classification based on HbA1c levels.
We studied associations with HbA1c in up to 46,368 nondiabetic adults of European descent from 23 genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and 8 cohorts with de novo genotyped single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We combined studies using inverse-variance meta-analysis and tested mediation by glycemia using conditional analyses. We estimated the global effect of HbA1c loci using a multilocus risk score, and used net reclassification to estimate genetic effects on diabetes screening.
Ten loci reached genome-wide significant association with HbA1c, including six new loci near FN3K (lead SNP/P value, rs1046896/P = 1.6 × 10−26), HFE (rs1800562/P = 2.6 × 10−20), TMPRSS6 (rs855791/P = 2.7 × 10−14), ANK1 (rs4737009/P = 6.1 × 10−12), SPTA1 (rs2779116/P = 2.8 × 10−9) and ATP11A/TUBGCP3 (rs7998202/P = 5.2 × 10−9), and four known HbA1c loci: HK1 (rs16926246/P = 3.1 × 10−54), MTNR1B (rs1387153/P = 4.0 × 10−11), GCK (rs1799884/P = 1.5 × 10−20) and G6PC2/ABCB11 (rs552976/P = 8.2 × 10−18). We show that associations with HbA1c are partly a function of hyperglycemia associated with 3 of the 10 loci (GCK, G6PC2 and MTNR1B). The seven nonglycemic loci accounted for a 0.19 (% HbA1c) difference between the extreme 10% tails of the risk score, and would reclassify ∼2% of a general white population screened for diabetes with HbA1c.
GWAS identified 10 genetic loci reproducibly associated with HbA1c. Six are novel and seven map to loci where rarer variants cause hereditary anemias and iron storage disorders. Common variants at these loci likely influence HbA1c levels via erythrocyte biology, and confer a small but detectable reclassification of diabetes diagnosis by HbA1c.
PMCID: PMC2992787  PMID: 20858683
6.  Effect modification by population dietary folate on the association between MTHFR genotype, homocysteine, and stroke risk: a meta-analysis of genetic studies and randomised trials 
Lancet  2011;378(9791):584-594.
The MTHFR 677C→T polymorphism has been associated with raised homocysteine concentration and increased risk of stroke. A previous overview showed that the effects were greatest in regions with low dietary folate consumption, but differentiation between the effect of folate and small-study bias was difficult. A meta-analysis of randomised trials of homocysteine-lowering interventions showed no reduction in coronary heart disease events or stroke, but the trials were generally set in populations with high folate consumption. We aimed to reduce the effect of small-study bias and investigate whether folate status modifies the association between MTHFR 677C→T and stroke in a genetic analysis and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.
We established a collaboration of genetic studies consisting of 237 datasets including 59 995 individuals with data for homocysteine and 20 885 stroke events. We compared the genetic findings with a meta-analysis of 13 randomised trials of homocysteine-lowering treatments and stroke risk (45 549 individuals, 2314 stroke events, 269 transient ischaemic attacks).
The effect of the MTHFR 677C→T variant on homocysteine concentration was larger in low folate regions (Asia; difference between individuals with TT versus CC genotype, 3·12 μmol/L, 95% CI 2·23 to 4·01) than in areas with folate fortification (America, Australia, and New Zealand, high; 0·13 μmol/L, −0·85 to 1·11). The odds ratio (OR) for stroke was also higher in Asia (1·68, 95% CI 1·44 to 1·97) than in America, Australia, and New Zealand, high (1·03, 0·84 to 1·25). Most randomised trials took place in regions with high or increasing population folate concentrations. The summary relative risk (RR) of stroke in trials of homocysteine-lowering interventions (0·94, 95% CI 0·85 to 1·04) was similar to that predicted for the same extent of homocysteine reduction in large genetic studies in populations with similar folate status (predicted RR 1·00, 95% CI 0·90 to 1·11). Although the predicted effect of homocysteine reduction from large genetic studies in low folate regions (Asia) was larger (RR 0·78, 95% CI 0·68 to 0·90), no trial has evaluated the effect of lowering of homocysteine on stroke risk exclusively in a low folate region.
In regions with increasing levels or established policies of population folate supplementation, evidence from genetic studies and randomised trials is concordant in suggesting an absence of benefit from lowering of homocysteine for prevention of stroke. Further large-scale genetic studies of the association between MTHFR 677C→T and stroke in low folate settings are needed to distinguish effect modification by folate from small-study bias. If future randomised trials of homocysteine-lowering interventions for stroke prevention are undertaken, they should take place in regions with low folate consumption.
Full funding sources listed at end of paper (see Acknowledgments).
PMCID: PMC3156981  PMID: 21803414
7.  Prospective study of insulin-like growth factor-I, insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3, genetic variants in the IGF1 and IGFBP3 genes and risk of coronary artery disease 
Although experimental studies have suggested that insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and its binding protein IGFBP-3 might have a role in the aetiology of coronary artery disease (CAD), the relevance of circulating IGFs and their binding proteins in the development of CAD in human populations is unclear. We conducted a nested case-control study, with a mean follow-up of six years, within the EPIC-Norfolk cohort to assess the association between circulating levels of IGF-I and IGFBP-3 and risk of CAD in up to 1,013 cases and 2,055 controls matched for age, sex and study enrolment date. After adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors, we found no association between circulating levels of IGF-I or IGFBP-3 and risk of CAD (odds ratio: 0.98 (95% Cl 0.90-1.06) per 1 SD increase in circulating IGF-I; odds ratio: 1.02 (95% Cl 0.94-1.12) for IGFBP-3). We examined associations between tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (tSNPs) at the IGF1 and IGFBP3 loci and circulating IGF-I and IGFBP-3 levels in up to 1,133 cases and 2,223 controls and identified three tSNPs (rs1520220, rs3730204, rs2132571) that showed independent association with either circulating IGF-I or IGFBP-3 levels. In an assessment of 31 SNPs spanning the IGF1 or IGFBP3 loci, none were associated with risk of CAD in a meta-analysis that included EPIC-Norfolk and eight additional studies comprising up to 9,319 cases and 19,964 controls. Our results indicate that IGF-I and IGFBP-3 are unlikely to be importantly involved in the aetiology of CAD in human populations.
PMCID: PMC3166154  PMID: 21915365
Epidemiology; Genetics of cardiovascular disease; Risk factors; IGF1; IGFBP3
8.  Detailed Investigation of the Role of Common and Low-Frequency WFS1 Variants in Type 2 Diabetes Risk 
Diabetes  2009;59(3):741-746.
Wolfram syndrome 1 (WFS1) single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are associated with risk of type 2 diabetes. In this study we aimed to refine this association and investigate the role of low-frequency WFS1 variants in type 2 diabetes risk.
For fine-mapping, we sequenced WFS1 exons, splice junctions, and conserved noncoding sequences in samples from 24 type 2 diabetic case and 68 control subjects, selected tagging SNPs, and genotyped these in 959 U.K. type 2 diabetic case and 1,386 control subjects. The same genomic regions were sequenced in samples from 1,235 type 2 diabetic case and 1,668 control subjects to compare the frequency of rarer variants between case and control subjects.
Of 31 tagging SNPs, the strongest associated was the previously untested 3′ untranslated region rs1046320 (P = 0.008); odds ratio 0.84 and P = 6.59 × 10−7 on further replication in 3,753 case and 4,198 control subjects. High correlation between rs1046320 and the original strongest SNP (rs10010131) (r2 = 0.92) meant that we could not differentiate between their effects in our samples. There was no difference in the cumulative frequency of 82 rare (minor allele frequency [MAF] <0.01) nonsynonymous variants between type 2 diabetic case and control subjects (P = 0.79). Two intermediate frequency (MAF 0.01–0.05) nonsynonymous changes also showed no statistical association with type 2 diabetes.
We identified six highly correlated SNPs that show strong and comparable associations with risk of type 2 diabetes, but further refinement of these associations will require large sample sizes (>100,000) or studies in ethnically diverse populations. Low frequency variants in WFS1 are unlikely to have a large impact on type 2 diabetes risk in white U.K. populations, highlighting the complexities of undertaking association studies with low-frequency variants identified by resequencing.
PMCID: PMC2828659  PMID: 20028947
9.  Biological, Clinical, and Population Relevance of 95 Loci for Blood Lipids 
Teslovich, Tanya M. | Musunuru, Kiran | Smith, Albert V. | Edmondson, Andrew C. | Stylianou, Ioannis M. | Koseki, Masahiro | Pirruccello, James P. | Ripatti, Samuli | Chasman, Daniel I. | Willer, Cristen J. | Johansen, Christopher T. | Fouchier, Sigrid W. | Isaacs, Aaron | Peloso, Gina M. | Barbalic, Maja | Ricketts, Sally L. | Bis, Joshua C. | Aulchenko, Yurii S. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Feitosa, Mary F. | Chambers, John | Orho-Melander, Marju | Melander, Olle | Johnson, Toby | Li, Xiaohui | Guo, Xiuqing | Li, Mingyao | Cho, Yoon Shin | Go, Min Jin | Kim, Young Jin | Lee, Jong-Young | Park, Taesung | Kim, Kyunga | Sim, Xueling | Ong, Rick Twee-Hee | Croteau-Chonka, Damien C. | Lange, Leslie A. | Smith, Joshua D. | Song, Kijoung | Zhao, Jing Hua | Yuan, Xin | Luan, Jian'an | Lamina, Claudia | Ziegler, Andreas | Zhang, Weihua | Zee, Robert Y.L. | Wright, Alan F. | Witteman, Jacqueline C.M. | Wilson, James F. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wichmann, H-Erich | Whitfield, John B. | Waterworth, Dawn M. | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Waeber, Gérard | Vollenweider, Peter | Voight, Benjamin F. | Vitart, Veronique | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Uda, Manuela | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Thompson, John R. | Tanaka, Toshiko | Surakka, Ida | Stringham, Heather M. | Spector, Tim D. | Soranzo, Nicole | Smit, Johannes H. | Sinisalo, Juha | Silander, Kaisa | Sijbrands, Eric J.G. | Scuteri, Angelo | Scott, James | Schlessinger, David | Sanna, Serena | Salomaa, Veikko | Saharinen, Juha | Sabatti, Chiara | Ruokonen, Aimo | Rudan, Igor | Rose, Lynda M. | Roberts, Robert | Rieder, Mark | Psaty, Bruce M. | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Pichler, Irene | Perola, Markus | Penninx, Brenda W.J.H. | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Pattaro, Cristian | Parker, Alex N. | Pare, Guillaume | Oostra, Ben A. | O'Donnell, Christopher J. | Nieminen, Markku S. | Nickerson, Deborah A. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Meitinger, Thomas | McPherson, Ruth | McCarthy, Mark I. | McArdle, Wendy | Masson, David | Martin, Nicholas G. | Marroni, Fabio | Mangino, Massimo | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Lucas, Gavin | Luben, Robert | Loos, Ruth J. F. | Lokki, Maisa | Lettre, Guillaume | Langenberg, Claudia | Launer, Lenore J. | Lakatta, Edward G. | Laaksonen, Reijo | Kyvik, Kirsten O. | Kronenberg, Florian | König, Inke R. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kaplan, Lee M. | Johansson, Åsa | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Janssens, A. Cecile J.W. | Ingelsson, Erik | Igl, Wilmar | Hovingh, G. Kees | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Hofman, Albert | Hicks, Andrew A. | Hengstenberg, Christian | Heid, Iris M. | Hayward, Caroline | Havulinna, Aki S. | Hastie, Nicholas D. | Harris, Tamara B. | Haritunians, Talin | Hall, Alistair S. | Gyllensten, Ulf | Guiducci, Candace | Groop, Leif C. | Gonzalez, Elena | Gieger, Christian | Freimer, Nelson B. | Ferrucci, Luigi | Erdmann, Jeanette | Elliott, Paul | Ejebe, Kenechi G. | Döring, Angela | Dominiczak, Anna F. | Demissie, Serkalem | Deloukas, Panagiotis | de Geus, Eco J.C. | de Faire, Ulf | Crawford, Gabriel | Collins, Francis S. | Chen, Yii-der I. | Caulfield, Mark J. | Campbell, Harry | Burtt, Noel P. | Bonnycastle, Lori L. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Boekholdt, S. Matthijs | Bergman, Richard N. | Barroso, Inês | Bandinelli, Stefania | Ballantyne, Christie M. | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Quertermous, Thomas | Altshuler, David | Seielstad, Mark | Wong, Tien Y. | Tai, E-Shyong | Feranil, Alan B. | Kuzawa, Christopher W. | Adair, Linda S. | Taylor, Herman A. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Gabriel, Stacey B. | Wilson, James G. | Stefansson, Kari | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Krauss, Ronald M. | Mohlke, Karen L. | Ordovas, Jose M. | Munroe, Patricia B. | Kooner, Jaspal S. | Tall, Alan R. | Hegele, Robert A. | Kastelein, John J.P. | Schadt, Eric E. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Strachan, David P. | Mooser, Vincent | Holm, Hilma | Reilly, Muredach P. | Samani, Nilesh J | Schunkert, Heribert | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Sandhu, Manjinder S. | Ridker, Paul M | Rader, Daniel J. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Peltonen, Leena | Abecasis, Gonçalo R. | Boehnke, Michael | Kathiresan, Sekar
Nature  2010;466(7307):707-713.
Serum concentrations of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and triglycerides (TG) are among the most important risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD) and are targets for therapeutic intervention. We screened the genome for common variants associated with serum lipids in >100,000 individuals of European ancestry. Here we report 95 significantly associated loci (P < 5 × 10-8), with 59 showing genome-wide significant association with lipid traits for the first time. The newly reported associations include single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) near known lipid regulators (e.g., CYP7A1, NPC1L1, and SCARB1) as well as in scores of loci not previously implicated in lipoprotein metabolism. The 95 loci contribute not only to normal variation in lipid traits but also to extreme lipid phenotypes and impact lipid traits in three non-European populations (East Asians, South Asians, and African Americans). Our results identify several novel loci associated with serum lipids that are also associated with CAD. Finally, we validated three of the novel genes—GALNT2, PPP1R3B, and TTC39B—with experiments in mouse models. Taken together, our findings provide the foundation to develop a broader biological understanding of lipoprotein metabolism and to identify new therapeutic opportunities for the prevention of CAD.
PMCID: PMC3039276  PMID: 20686565
10.  Detailed investigation of the role of common and low frequency WFS1 variants in type 2 diabetes risk 
Diabetes  2009;59(3):741-746.
WFS1 (Wolfram Syndrome 1) SNPs are associated with risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Here, we aimed to refine this association and investigate the role of low frequency WFS1 variants in T2D risk.
For fine-mapping, we sequenced WFS1 exons, splice junctions and conserved non-coding sequences in 24 T2D cases and 68 controls, selected tagging SNPs, and genotyped these in 959 UK T2D cases and 1386 controls. The same genomic regions were sequenced in 1235 T2D cases and 1668 controls to compare the frequency of rarer variants between cases and controls.
Of 31 tagging SNPs, the strongest associated was the previously untested 3′ UTR rs1046320 (P=0.008); OR=0.84, P=6.59 × 10−7 on further replication in 3753 cases and 4198 controls. High correlation between rs1046320 and the original strongest SNP (rs10010131) (r2=0.92) meant that we could not differentiate between their effects in our samples. There was no difference in the cumulative frequency of 82 rare (MAF<0.01) non-synonymous variants between T2D cases and controls (P=0.79). Two intermediate frequency (MAF 0.01-0.05) non-synonymous changes also showed no statistical association with T2D.
We identified six highly correlated SNPs that show strong and comparable associations with risk of T2D association but further refinement of these associations will require large sample sizes (>100,000), or studies in ethnically diverse populations. Low frequency variants in WFS1 are unlikely to have a large impact on T2D risk in white UK populations, highlighting the complexities of undertaking association studies with low frequency variants identified by re-sequencing.
PMCID: PMC2828659  PMID: 20028947
11.  Separating the mechanism-based and off-target actions of CETP-inhibitors using CETP gene polymorphisms 
Circulation  2009;121(1):52-62.
Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) inhibitors raise HDL-cholesterol but torcetrapib, the first-in-class inhibitor tested in a large outcome trial caused unexpected blood pressure elevation and increased cardiovascular events. Whether the hypertensive effect resulted from CETP-inhibition or an off-target action of torcetrapib has been debated. We hypothesised that common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CETP-gene could help distinguish mechanism-based from off-target actions of CETP-inhibitors to inform on the validity of CETP as a therapeutic target.
Methods and Results
We compared the effect of CETP SNPs and torcetrapib treatment on lipid fractions, blood pressure and electrolytes in up to 67,687 individuals from genetic studies and 17,911 from randomised trials. CETP SNPs and torcetrapib treatment reduced CETP activity and had directionally concordant effect on eight lipid and lipoprotein traits (total-, LDL- and HDL-cholesterol, HDL2, HDL3, apolipoproteins A-I, -B, and triglycerides), with the genetic effect on HDL-cholesterol (0.13 mmol/L; 95% CI: 0.11, 0.14) being consistent with that expected of a 10 mg dose of torcetrapib (0.13 mmol/L; 0.10, 0.15). In trials, 60mg torcetrapib elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 4.47mmHg (4.10, 4.84) and 2.08mmHg (1.84, 2.31) respectively. However, the effect of CETP SNPs on systolic 0.16mmHg (−0.28, 0.60) and diastolic blood pressure −0.04mmHg (−0.36, 0.28) was null and significantly different from that expected of 10 mg torcetrapib.
Discordance in the effects of CETP SNPs and torcetrapib treatment on blood pressure despite the concordant effects on lipids indicates the hypertensive action of torcetrapib is unlikely to be due to CETP-inhibition, or shared by chemically dissimilar CETP inhibitors. Genetic studies could find use in drug development programmes as a new source of randomised evidence for drug target validation in man.
PMCID: PMC2811869  PMID: 20026784
genetics; pharmacology; epidemiology
12.  A Genome-Wide Association Study Reveals Variants in ARL15 that Influence Adiponectin Levels 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(12):e1000768.
The adipocyte-derived protein adiponectin is highly heritable and inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) and coronary heart disease (CHD). We meta-analyzed 3 genome-wide association studies for circulating adiponectin levels (n = 8,531) and sought validation of the lead single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 5 additional cohorts (n = 6,202). Five SNPs were genome-wide significant in their relationship with adiponectin (P≤5×10−8). We then tested whether these 5 SNPs were associated with risk of T2D and CHD using a Bonferroni-corrected threshold of P≤0.011 to declare statistical significance for these disease associations. SNPs at the adiponectin-encoding ADIPOQ locus demonstrated the strongest associations with adiponectin levels (P-combined = 9.2×10−19 for lead SNP, rs266717, n = 14,733). A novel variant in the ARL15 (ADP-ribosylation factor-like 15) gene was associated with lower circulating levels of adiponectin (rs4311394-G, P-combined = 2.9×10−8, n = 14,733). This same risk allele at ARL15 was also associated with a higher risk of CHD (odds ratio [OR] = 1.12, P = 8.5×10−6, n = 22,421) more nominally, an increased risk of T2D (OR = 1.11, P = 3.2×10−3, n = 10,128), and several metabolic traits. Expression studies in humans indicated that ARL15 is well-expressed in skeletal muscle. These findings identify a novel protein, ARL15, which influences circulating adiponectin levels and may impact upon CHD risk.
Author Summary
Through a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of 14,733 individuals, we identified common base-pair variants in the genome which influence circulating adiponectin levels. Since adiponectin is an adipocyte-derived circulating protein which has been inversely associated with risk of obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes (T2D) and coronary heart disease (CHD), we next sought to understand if the identified variants influencing adiponectin levels also influence risk of T2D, CHD, and several metabolic traits. In addition to confirming that variation at the ADIPOQ locus influences adiponectin levels, our analyses point to a variant in the ARL15 (ADP-ribosylation factor-like 15) locus which decreases adiponectin levels and increases risk of CHD and T2D. Further, this same variant was associated with increased fasting insulin levels and glycated hemoglobin. While the function of ARL15 is not known, we provide insight into the tissue specificity of ARL15 expression. These results thus provide novel insights into the physiology of the adiponectin pathway and obesity-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC2781107  PMID: 20011104
13.  Both Paraoxonase-1 Genotype and Activity Do Not Predict the Risk of Future Coronary Artery Disease; the EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Population Study 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6809.
Paraoxonase-1 (PON1) is an antioxidant enzyme, that resides on high-density lipoprotein (HDL). PON1-activity, is heavily influenced by the PON1-Q192R polymorphism. PON1 is considered to protect against atherosclerosis, but it is unclear whether this relation is independent of its carrier, HDL. In order to evaluate the atheroprotective potential of PON1, we assessed the relationships among PON1-genotype, PON1-activity and risk of future coronary artery disease (CAD), in a large prospective case-control study.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Cases (n = 1138) were apparently healthy men and women aged 45–79 years who developed fatal or nonfatal CAD during a mean follow-up of 6 years. Controls (n = 2237) were matched by age, sex and enrollment time. PON1-activity was similar in cases and controls (60.7±45.3 versus 62.6±45.8 U/L, p = 0.3) and correlated with HDL-cholesterol levels (r = 0.16, p<0.0001). The PON1-Q192R polymorphism had a profound impact on PON1-activity, but did not predict CAD risk (Odds Ratio [OR] per R allele 0.98[0.84–1.15], p = 0.8). Using conditional logistic regression, quartiles of PON1-activity showed a modest inverse relation with CAD risk (OR for the highest versus the lowest quartile 0.77[0.63–0.95], p = 0.01; p-trend = 0.06). PON1-activity adjusted for Q192R polymorphism correlated better with HDL-cholesterol (r = 0.26, p<0.0001) and more linearly predicted CAD risk (0.79[0.64–0.98], p = 0.03; p-trend = 0.008). However, these relationships were abolished after adjustment for HDL (particles-cholesterol-size) and apolipoproteinA-I (0.94[0.74–1.18], p-trend = 0.3).
This study, shows that PON1-activity inversely relates to CAD risk, but not independent of HDL, due to its close association with the HDL-particle. These data strongly suggest that a low PON1-activity is not a causal factor in atherogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2728540  PMID: 19710913

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