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1.  Long-term predictive value of the Framingham Risk Score for Stroke in HIV-positive vs HIV-negative men 
Neurology  2013;81(24):2094-2102.
To test the predictive accuracy of the Framingham Risk Score for Stroke (FRS-S) in HIV-infected (HIV+) vs HIV-uninfected (HIV−) men.
The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) is an ongoing prospective study of HIV+ and HIV− men who have sex with men (MSM) enrolled in 4 US cities. We ascertained all reported stroke events during a recent 15-year timeframe (July 1, 1996 to June 30, 2011) among 3,945 participants (1,776 HIV+ and 2,169 HIV−). For those with strokes, FRS-S were calculated 10 years before the stroke event and assessed according to HIV status.
A total of 114 stroke events occurred, including 57 HIV+ and 37 HIV− participants with first-ever strokes and 19 fatal strokes. The incidence of first-ever stroke was 1.7/1,000 person-years among HIV− and 3.3/1,000 person-years among HIV+ participants. Among those with strokes, HIV+ participants were younger than HIV− participants (median age 51.3 vs 61.8 years, p < 0.0001). For these men with stroke, the average 10-year risk of stroke was higher for HIV− MSM (6.6% [range 3%–26%] vs 4.9% for HIV+ MSM [range 0%–15%], p < 0.04). Traditional risk factors for stroke were similar among the Framingham cohort and the MACS HIV+ and HIV− participants.
FRS-S prediction was systematically different in HIV+ vs HIV− men with stroke events. The FRS-S underestimates the long-term risk of stroke in HIV+ men.
PMCID: PMC3863354  PMID: 24212385
2.  Determinants of Coronary Artery and Aortic Calcification in the Old Order Amish 
Circulation  2007;115(6):717-724.
Coronary artery calcification (CAC) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease; little is known, however, about thoracic aortic calcification (AC). Our goal was to characterize risk factors for CAC and AC and to estimate the genetic contribution to their variation.
Methods and Results
The presence and quantity of CAC and AC were measured with electron beam computed tomography and fasting blood tests and cardiovascular risk factors were obtained in 614 asymptomatic Amish subjects. CAC prevalence was higher in men than women (55% versus 41%; P<0.0001), although there was no sex difference in AC prevalence (51% and 56% in men and women, respectively; P=0.95). Age was more strongly associated with AC presence (odds ratio [OR], 2.7 for 5 years) than CAC presence (OR, 1.9 for 5 years) (homogeneity P=0.001). Subjects with AC had a 3.3-fold higher odds of having CAC. Heritabilities of CAC and AC presence were 0.27±0.17 (P=0.04) and 0.55±0.18 (P=0.0008), respectively, whereas the heritabilities of quantity of CAC and AC were 0.30±0.10 (P=0.001) and 0.40±0.10 (P<0.0001), respectively. The genetic correlation between CAC and AC quantity was 0.34±0.19, whereas the environmental correlation between these 2 traits was 0.38±0.09.
CAC and AC have similar risk factors, except male gender is associated only with CAC and age is more strongly associated with AC. The patterns of correlations suggest that CAC and AC share some common sets of genes and environmental factors, although it is likely that separate genes and environmental factors also influence calcification at each site.
PMCID: PMC4039563  PMID: 17261661
aging; aorta; atherosclerosis; coronary disease; epidemiology; genetics; imaging
3.  Methods for Estimation of Disparities in Medication Use in an Observational Cohort Study: Results from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Evaluating disparities in health care is an important aspect of understanding differences in disease risk. The purpose of this study is to describe methodology for estimating such disparities, with application to a large multi-ethnic cohort study.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) includes 6814 participants aged 45–84 years free of cardiovascular disease. Prevalence ratio (PR) regression was used to model baseline lipid lowering medication (LLM) or anti-hypertensive medication use at baseline as a function of gender, race, risk factors and estimated pre-treatment biomarker values.
Hispanics and African-Americans had lower prevalence of medication use than non-Hispanic whites, even at the same risk factor profile. This became non-significant after adjustment for socio-economic status. Although gender did not influence the prevalence of LLM use (PR=1.09, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.25), there were differences in the association of diabetes and HDL with LLM use by gender. Men were significantly less likely to be on anti-hypertensive medications than women (PR=0.86, 95% CI 0.80 to 0.92, p<0.001) and this was not explained by risk factors or socioeconomic status. Lack of health insurance strongly influenced medication use, controlling for risk factors and other markers of socio-economic status.
Disparities exist in the treatment of cholesterol and hypertension. Hispanics and African Americans had less use of LLM, men had less use of anti-hypertensives. Risk factors have differential associations with medication use depending on gender. Methods described in this paper can provide improved disparity estimation in observational cohort studies.
PMCID: PMC3652567  PMID: 23382107
disparities; medication; statistical methods; statins; anti-hypertensives
4.  Ten-Year Trends in Coronary Calcification in Individuals without Clinical Cardiovascular Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94916.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) incidence has declined significantly in the US, as have levels of major coronary risk factors, including LDL-cholesterol, hypertension and smoking, but whether trends in subclinical atherosclerosis mirror these trends is not known.
Methods and Findings
To describe recent secular trends in subclinical atherosclerosis as measured by serial evaluations of coronary artery calcification (CAC) prevalence in a population over 10 years, we measured CAC using computed tomography (CT) and CHD risk factors in five serial cross-sectional samples of men and women from four race/ethnic groups, aged 55–84 and without clinical cardiovascular disease, who were members of Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohort from 2000 to 2012. Sample sizes ranged from 1062 to 4837. After adjusting for age, gender, and CT scanner, the prevalence of CAC increased across exams among African Americans, whose prevalence of CAC was 52.4% in 2000–02, 50.4% in 2003–04, 60.0% is 2005–06, 57.4% in 2007–08, and 61.3% in 2010–12 (p for trend <0.001). The trend was strongest among African Americans aged 55–64 [prevalence ratio for 2010–12 vs. 2000–02, 1.59 (95% confidence interval 1.06, 2.39); p = 0.005 for trend across exams]. There were no consistent trends in any other ethnic group. Risk factors generally improved in the cohort, and adjustment for risk factors did not change trends in CAC prevalence.
There was a significant secular trend towards increased prevalence of CAC over 10 years among African Americans and no change in three other ethnic groups. Trends did not reflect concurrent general improvement in risk factors. The trend towards a higher prevalence of CAC in African Americans suggests that CHD risk in this population is not improving relative to other groups.
PMCID: PMC3990562  PMID: 24743658
5.  Genetic variants associated with VLDL, LDL and HDL particle size differ with race/ethnicity 
Human genetics  2012;132(4):405-413.
Specific constellations of lipoprotein particle features, reflected as differences in mean lipoprotein particle diameters, are associated with risk of insulin resistance (IR) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). The associations of lipid profiles with disease risk differ by race/ethnicity, the reason for this is not clear. We aimed to examine whether there were additional genetic differences between racial / ethnic groups on lipoprotein profile.
Methods and results
Genotypes were assessed using the Affymetrix 6.0 array in 817 related Caucasian participants of the Genetics of Lipid Lowering Drugs and Diet Network (GOLDN). Association analysis was conducted on fasting mean particle diameters using linear models, adjusted for age, sex and study center as fixed effects, and pedigree as a random effect. Replication of associations reaching P<1.97 * 10−05 (the level at which we achieved at least 80% power to replicate SNP-phenotype associations) was conducted in the Caucasian population of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA; N=2430). Variants which replicated across both Caucasian populations were subsequently tested for association in the African-American (N=1594), Chinese (N=758) and Hispanic (N=1422) populations of MESA. Variants in the APOB gene region were significantly associated with mean VLDL diameter in GOLDN, and in the Caucasian and Hispanic populations of MESA, while variation in the hepatic lipase (LIPC) gene was associated with mean HDL diameter in both Caucasians populations only.
Our findings suggest the genetic underpinnings of mean lipoprotein diameter differ by race/ethnicity. As lipoprotein diameters are modifiable, this may lead new strategies to modify lipoprotein profiles during the reduction of IR that are sensitive to race / ethnicity.
PMCID: PMC3600091  PMID: 23263444
Lipoprotein size; race / ethnicity; ApoB; Hepatic Lipase; NMR
6.  Genetic Variation in PEAR1 is Associated with Platelet Aggregation and Cardiovascular Outcomes 
Aspirin or dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) with aspirin and clopidogrel is standard therapy for patients at increased risk for cardiovascular events. However, the genetic determinants of variable response to aspirin (alone and in combination with clopidogrel) are not known.
Methods and Results
We measured ex-vivo platelet aggregation before and after DAPT in individuals (n=565) from the Pharmacogenomics of Antiplatelet Intervention (PAPI) Study and conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of drug response. Significant findings were extended by examining genotype and cardiovascular outcomes in two independent aspirin-treated cohorts: 227 percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) patients, and 1,000 patients of the International VErapamil SR/trandolapril Study (INVEST) GENEtic Substudy (INVEST-GENES). GWAS revealed a strong association between single nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 1q23 and post-DAPT platelet aggregation. Further genotyping revealed rs12041331 in the platelet endothelial aggregation receptor-1 (PEAR1) gene to be most strongly associated with DAPT response (P=7.66×10−9). In Caucasian and African American patients undergoing PCI, A-allele carriers of rs12041331 were more likely to experience a cardiovascular event or death compared to GG homozygotes (hazard ratio = 2.62, 95%CI 0.96-7.10, P=0.059 and hazard ratio = 3.97, 95%CI 1.10-14.31, P=0.035 respectively). In aspirin-treated INVEST-GENES patients, rs12041331 A-allele carriers had significantly increased risk of myocardial infarction compared to GG homozygotes (OR=2.03, 95%CI 1.01-4.09, P=0.048).
Common genetic variation in PEAR1 may be a determinant of platelet response and cardiovascular events in patients on aspirin, alone and in combination with clopidogrel.
Clinical Trial Registration Information; Identifiers: NCT00799396 and NCT00370045
PMCID: PMC3715320  PMID: 23392654
pharmacogenomics; platelets; percutaneous coronary intervention; PEAR1; CYP2C19
7.  Lower Adiponectin is Associated with Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease among HIV-infected Men 
AIDS (London, England)  2014;28(6):901-909.
To examine if altered levels of adipokines, adipose-derived peptides associated with myocardial infarction in the general population, may contribute to subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in HIV-infected persons.
Nested cohort study.
We studied HIV-infected(HIV+) and HIV-uninfected(HIV−) men in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study with noncontrast CT to measure coronary artery calcium and regional adiposity; 75% additionally underwent coronary CT angiography to measure plaque composition and stenosis. Adiponectin and leptin levels were assessed. Multiple regression models were used to assess associations between adipokine levels and HIV disease parameters, regional adiposity, and plaque adjusted for age, race, HIV serostatus and CVD risk factors (RFs).
Significant findings were limited to adiponectin. HIV+ men (n=493) had lower adiponectin levels than HIV− men (n=250) after adjusting for CVD RFs (p<0.0001), which became non-significant after adjustment for abdominal visceral and thigh subcutaneous adipose tissue. Among HIV+ men, lower adiponectin levels were associated with higher CD4+ T cell counts (p= 0.004), longer duration of antiretroviral therapy (p= 0.006) and undetectable HIV RNA levels (p = 0.04) after adjusting for age, race and CVD RFs; only CD4+ cell count remained significant after further adjustment for adipose tissue. In both groups, lower adiponectin levels were associated with increased odds of coronary stenosis > 50% (p <0.007). Lower adiponectin levels were associated with increased extent of plaque in HIV+ and of mixed plaque in HIV− men.
Adiponectin levels were lower in HIV-infected men and related to the severity of subclinical atherosclerosis, independent of traditional CVD risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3967406  PMID: 24401646
Adipokines; adiponectin; leptin; heart; subclinical coronary atherosclerosis; metabolic side effects of HIV infection; coronary CT angiography; cardiac CT
8.  Genome-Wide Association Study of Cardiac Structure and Systolic Function in African Americans: The Candidate Gene Association Resource (CARe) Study 
Using data from four community-based cohorts of African Americans (AA), we tested the association between genome-wide markers (SNPs) and cardiac phenotypes in the Candidate-gene Association REsource (CARe) study.
Methods and Results
Among 6,765 AA, we related age, sex, height and weight-adjusted residuals for nine cardiac phenotypes (assessed by echocardiogram or MRI) to 2.5 million SNPs genotyped using Genome-Wide Affymetrix Human SNP Array 6.0 (Affy6.0) and the remainder imputed. Within cohort genome-wide association analysis was conducted followed by meta-analysis across cohorts using inverse variance weights (genome-wide significance threshold=4.0 ×10−07). Supplementary pathway analysis was performed. We attempted replication in 3 smaller cohorts of African ancestry and tested look-ups in one consortium of European ancestry (EchoGEN). Across the 9 phenotypes, variants in 4 genetic loci reached genome-wide significance: rs4552931 in UBE2V2 (p=1.43 × 10−07) for left ventricular mass (LVM); rs7213314 in WIPI1 (p=1.68 × 10−07) for LV internal diastolic diameter (LVIDD); rs1571099 in PPAPDC1A (p= 2.57 × 10−08) for interventricular septal wall thickness (IVST); and rs9530176 in KLF5 (p=4.02 × 10−07) for ejection fraction (EF). Associated variants were enriched in three signaling pathways involved in cardiac remodeling. None of the 4 loci replicated in cohorts of African ancestry were confirmed in look-ups in EchoGEN.
In the largest GWAS of cardiac structure and function to date in AA, we identified 4 genetic loci related to LVM, IVST, LVIDD and EF that reached genome-wide significance. Replication results suggest that these loci may represent unique to individuals of African ancestry. Additional large-scale studies are warranted for these complex phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3591479  PMID: 23275298
echocardiography; ethnic; genome-wide association studies; Left atrium genetics; left ventricular mass genetics
9.  Associations Between NOS1AP Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) and QT Interval Duration in Four Racial/Ethnic Groups in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
QT is a risk factor for sudden cardiac death (SCD). A genome wide association study identified NOS1AP variants associated with QT, which have been replicated in predominantly Caucasian (CAU) populations. We used MESA to examine association of QT with NOS1AP variants in an ethnically diverse cohort.
Twenty-eight tagging SNPs spanning NOS1AP were genotyped in 2847 MESA participants (approximately equal numbers of CAU, African-Americans (AFA), Hispanics (HIS) and Chinese (CHN)), age 45–84 years, without cardiovascular disease. QT was measured using 12-lead ECG. Associations between QT and NOS1AP variants were evaluated using linear regression, adjusted for heart rate, age, gender, and field center stratified by ancestry, using an additive inheritance model. Ancestry informative markers (AIMs) and principal components using AIMs were used as additional covariates.
More NOS1AP SNPs were associated with QT in CAU than the other races. In CAU, each copy of rs1932933 risk allele was associated with an increase in QT (4.9msec, p= 7.20×10-7). Significant associations in CAU and HIS were located at the 5′ end, while associations in CHN were located at the 3′ end.
NOS1AP variants were associated with QT in CAU, with weaker evidence for selected variants in HIS and CHN. Location of significant SNPs varied across ancestry. We identified possible novel associations at the 3′ end of NOS1AP, where we observed significant association with QT in CHN only. Genotyping within these regions may determine functional variants affecting QT and SCD risk. Further investigations are needed across ethnically diverse population cohorts.
PMCID: PMC3642094  PMID: 23347024
Genetics; Electrocardiography; Arrhythmia; Electrophysiology
10.  The Impact of Ancestry and Common Genetic Variants on QT Interval in African Americans 
Ethnic differences in cardiac arrhythmia incidence have been reported, with a particularly high incidence of sudden cardiac death (SCD) and low incidence of atrial fibrillation in individuals of African ancestry. We tested the hypotheses that African ancestry and common genetic variants are associated with prolonged duration of cardiac repolarization, a central pathophysiological determinant of arrhythmia, as measured by the electrocardiographic QT interval.
Methods and Results
First, individual estimates of African and European ancestry were inferred from genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data in seven population-based cohorts of African Americans (n=12 097) and regressed on measured QT interval from electrocardiograms. Second, imputation was performed for 2.8 million SNPs and a genome-wide association (GWA) study of QT interval performed in ten cohorts (n=13 105). There was no evidence of association between genetic ancestry and QT interval (p=0.94). Genome-wide significant associations (p<2.5×10−8) were identified with SNPs at two loci, upstream of the genes NOS1AP (rs12143842, p=2×10−15) and ATP1B1 (rs1320976, p=2×10−10). The most significant SNP in NOS1AP was the same as the strongest SNP previously associated with QT interval in individuals of European ancestry. Low p-values (p<10−5) were observed for SNPs at several other loci previously identified in GWA studies in individuals of European ancestry, including KCNQ1, KCNH2, LITAF and PLN.
We observed no difference in duration of cardiac repolarization with global genetic indices of African ancestry. In addition, our GWA study extends the association of polymorphisms at several loci associated with repolarization in individuals of European ancestry to include African Americans.
PMCID: PMC3568265  PMID: 23166209
electrocardiography; electrophysiology; genome-wide association studies; ion channels; repolarization
11.  The ABCG8 G574R Variant, Serum Plant Sterol Levels, and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in the Old Order Amish 
Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology  2012;33(2):10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.245480.
To determine whether long-term exposure to moderate elevations in plasma plant sterol levels increases risk for atherosclerosis.
Methods and Results
In Old Order Amish participants aged 18 to 85 years, with (n=110) and without (n=181) 1 copy of the ABCG8 G574R variant, we compared mean plasma levels of plant sterols and cholesterol precursors and carotid intima-media wall thickness. Carriers of a single 574R allele had increased plant sterol levels (eg, 35%–37% higher plasma levels of sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol) and increased plant sterol/cholesterol ratios (P<0.001 for all). 574R carriers had significantly decreased levels of lathosterol and lanosterol, precursors in a pathway for endogenous cholesterol synthesis, suggesting that plant sterols may alter regulation of genes involved in cholesterol synthesis. The G574R variant was not associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Compared with noncarriers, 574R carriers had decreased carotid intima-media wall thickness (0.62 versus 0.66 mm; age- and sex-adjusted P=0.03). Adjustment for body weight, blood pressure, and standard lipid measures (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides) did not alter this association.
Although the G574R variant is associated with moderately elevated plant sterol levels, carriers of the 574R allele had modestly lower levels of carotid wall thickness compared with noncarriers.
PMCID: PMC3817740  PMID: 23241408
ABC transporter; atherosclerosis; lipids; plant sterols; sitosterol
12.  Progression of coronary artery atherosclerosis in rheumatoid arthritis: comparison with participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R134.
In cross-sectional studies, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have higher coronary artery calcium (CAC) than controls. However, their rate of progression of CAC and the predictors of CAC progression have heretofore remained unknown.
Incidence and progression of CAC were compared in 155 patients with RA and 835 control participants. The association of demographic characteristics, traditional cardiovascular risk factors, RA disease characteristics and selected inflammatory markers with incidence and progression of CAC were evaluated.
The incidence rate of newly detected CAC was 8.2/100 person-years in RA and 7.3/100 person-years in non-RA control subjects [IRR 1.1 (0.7-1.8)]. RA patients who developed newly detectable CAC were older (59±7 vs. 55±6 years old, p=0.03), had higher triglyceride levels (137±86 vs. 97±60 mg/dL, p=0.03), and higher systolic blood pressure (129±17 vs. 117±15 mm Hg, p=0.01) compared to those who did not develop incident CAC. Differences in blood pressure and triglyceride levels remained significant after adjustment for age (p<=0.05). RA patients with any CAC at baseline had a median rate of yearly progression of 21 (7–62) compared to 21 (5–70) Agatston units in controls. No statistical differences between RA progressors and RA non-progressors were observed for inflammatory markers or for RA disease characteristics.
The incidence and progression of CAC did not differ between RA and non-RA participants. In patients with RA, incident CAC was associated with older age, higher triglyceride levels, and higher blood pressure, but not with inflammatory markers or RA disease characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3978773  PMID: 24286380
13.  Genetic Associations with Valvular Calcification and Aortic Stenosis 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;368(6):503-512.
Limited information is available regarding genetic contributions to valvular calcification, which is an important precursor of clinical valve disease.
We determined genomewide associations with the presence of aorticvalve calcification (among 6942 participants) and mitral annular calcification (among 3795 participants), as detected by computed tomographic (CT) scanning; the study population for this analysis included persons of white European ancestry from three cohorts participating in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology consortium (discovery population). Findings were replicated in independent cohorts of persons with either CT-detected valvular calcification or clinical aortic stenosis.
One SNP in the lipoprotein(a) (LPA) locus (rs10455872) reached genomewide significance for the presence of aorticvalve calcification (odds ratio per allele, 2.05; P = 9.0×10−10), a finding that was replicated in additional white European, African-American, and Hispanic-American cohorts (P<0.05 for all comparisons). Genetically determined Lp(a) levels, as predicted by LPA genotype, were also associated with aorticvalve calcification, supporting a causal role for Lp(a). In prospective analyses, LPA genotype was associated with incident aortic stenosis (hazard ratio per allele, 1.68; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.32 to 2.15) and aortic-valve replacement (hazard ratio, 1.54; 95% CI, 1.05 to 2.27) in a large Swedish cohort; the association with incident aortic stenosis was also replicated in an independent Danish cohort. Two SNPs (rs17659543 and rs13415097) near the proinflammatory gene IL1F9 achieved genomewide significance for mitral annular calcification (P = 1.5×10−8 and P = 1.8×10−8, respectively), but the findings were not replicated consistently.
Genetic variation in the LPA locus, mediated by Lp(a) levels, is associated with aorticvalve calcification across multiple ethnic groups and with incident clinical aortic stenosis. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others.)
PMCID: PMC3766627  PMID: 23388002
14.  Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) as a coronary atherosclerosis risk factor in HIV-infected men: Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study 
Atherosclerosis  2012;223(2):433-436.
We assessed associations of herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and -2), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) infection with subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in 291 HIV-infected men in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study. Coronary artery calcium (CAC) was measured by non-contrast coronary CT imaging. Markers for herpesviruses infection were measured in frozen specimens collected 10-12 years prior to case identification. Multivariable logistic regression models and ordinal logistic regression models were performed. HSV-2 seropositivity was associated with coronary atherosclerosis (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] =4.12, 95% confidence interval [CI] =1.58-10.85) after adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, cardiovascular risk factors, and HIV infection related factors. Infection with a greater number of herpesviruses was associated with elevated CAC levels (AOR=1.58, 95% CI=1.06-2.36). Our findings suggest HSV-2 may be a risk factor for subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in HIV-infected men. Infection with multiple herpesviruses may contribute to the increased burden of atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3392500  PMID: 22472456
herpesvirus; HSV-2; atherosclerosis; HIV-1/AIDS; risk factors
15.  Genetics of coronary artery calcification among African Americans, a meta-analysis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:75.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the major cause of death in the United States. Coronary artery calcification (CAC) scores are independent predictors of CHD. African Americans (AA) have higher rates of CHD but are less well-studied in genomic studies. We assembled the largest AA data resource currently available with measured CAC to identify associated genetic variants.
We analyzed log transformed CAC quantity (ln(CAC + 1)), for association with ~2.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and performed an inverse-variance weighted meta-analysis on results for 5,823 AA from 8 studies. Heritability was calculated using family studies. The most significant SNPs among AAs were evaluated in European Ancestry (EA) CAC data; conversely, the significance of published SNPs for CAC/CHD in EA was queried within our AA meta-analysis.
Heritability of CAC was lower in AA (~30%) than previously reported for EA (~50%). No SNP reached genome wide significance (p < 5E-08). Of 67 SNPs with p < 1E-05 in AA there was no evidence of association in EA CAC data. Four SNPs in regions previously implicated in CAC/CHD (at 9p21 and PHACTR1) in EA reached nominal significance for CAC in AA, with concordant direction. Among AA, rs16905644 (p = 4.08E-05) had the strongest association in the 9p21 region.
While we observed substantial heritability for CAC in AA, we failed to identify loci for CAC at genome-wide significant levels despite having adequate power to detect alleles with moderate to large effects. Although suggestive signals in AA were apparent at 9p21 and additional CAC and CAD EA loci, overall the data suggest that even larger samples and an ethnic specific focus will be required for GWAS discoveries for CAC in AA populations.
PMCID: PMC3733595  PMID: 23870195
Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery calcium; Genetics; Meta-analysis; African-American
16.  Use of Cardiac CT Angiography Imaging in an Epidemiology Study – the Methodology of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study Cardiovascular Disease Substudy 
The methodology for use of cardiac CT angiography (CTA) in low risk populations is not well defined. In order to present a reference for future studies, we present CTA methodology that is being used in an epidemiology study- the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS).
The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) is an on-going multicenter prospective, observational cohort study. The MACS Cardiovascular Disease substudy plans to enroll 800 men (n= 575 HIV seropositive and n= 225 HIV seronegative) age 40-75 years for coronary atherosclerosis imaging using cardiac CTA. The protocol includes heart rate (HR) optimization with beta blockers; use of proper field of view; scan length limitation; prospective ECG-gating using the lowest beam voltage possible. All scans are evaluated for presence, extent, and composition of coronary atherosclerosis, left atrial volumes, left ventricular volume and mass and non-coronary cardiac pathology.
The first 498 participants had an average radiation dose of 2.5±1.6 milliSieverts (mSv) for the cardiac CTA study. Overall quality of scans was fair to excellent in 98.6% of studies. There were three significant adverse events- two allergic reactions to contrast and one subcutaneous contrast extravasation.
Cardiac CTA was safe and afforded a low effective radiation exposure to these asymptomatic research participants and provides valuable cardiovascular endpoints for scientific analysis. The cardiac CTA methodology described here may serve as a reference for use in future epidemiology studies aiming to assess coronary atherosclerosis and cardiac anatomy in low risk populations while minimizing radiation exposure.
PMCID: PMC3673004  PMID: 23376648
CT angiography; radiation dose; epidemiological study
17.  Subclinical coronary atherosclerosis, HIV infection and antiretroviral therapy: Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study 
AIDS (London, England)  2008;22(13):1589-1599.
To evaluate the association of HIV infection and cumulative exposure to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) with the presence and extent of coronary artery calcification (CAC).
A cross-sectional study of 947 male participants (332 HIV-seronegative, 84 HAART-naive and 531 HAART-experienced HIV-infected) from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study.
The main outcome was CAC score calculated as the geometric mean of the Agatston scores of two computed tomography replicates. Presence of CAC was defined as calcification score above 10, and extent of CAC by the score for those with CAC present. Multivariable regression was used to evaluate the association between HIV infection and HAART and presence and extent of calcification.
Increasing age was most strongly associated with both prevalence and extent of CAC for all study groups. After adjustment for age, race, family history, smoking, high-density lipoprotein-C, low-density lipoprotein-C and hypertension, HIV infection (odds ratio, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 0.70, 2.61) and long-term HAART use (odds ratio, 1.33; 95% confidence interval, 0.87, 2.05) increased the odds for presence of CAC. In contrast, after adjustment for these covariates, the extent of CAC was lower among HAART users. Among those not taking lipid-lowering therapy, HAART usage of at least 8 years was associated with significantly reduced CAC scores (relative CAC score, 0.43; 95% confidence interval, 0.24, 0.79).
HAART use may have different effects on the presence and extent of coronary calcification. Although prevalence of calcification was marginally increased among long-term HAART users, the extent of calcification was significantly reduced among HAART users compared with HIV-seronegative controls.
PMCID: PMC3633463  PMID: 18670218
18.  Thyroid Hormones and Electrocardiographic Parameters: Findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e59489.
Altered thyroid status exerts a major effect on the heart. Individuals with hypo- or hyperthyroidism showed various changes in electrocardiograms. However, little is known about how variations in thyroid hormone levels within the normal range affect electrical activities of the heart in the general population.
Methods and Results
We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 5,990 men and women from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Serum total T4 was measured by immunoassay and TSH was measured by chemiluminescent assay. We categorized T4 and TSH into 7 groups with cut-offs at the 5th, 20th, 40th, 60th, 80th, and 95th percentiles of the weighted population distribution. Electrocardiographic parameters were measured from the standard 12-lead electrocardiogram. We found a positive linear association between serum total T4 level and heart rate in men, and a U-shape association between T4 and PR interval in men and women. TSH level was positively associated with QRS interval in men, while a U-shape association between TSH and QRS was observed in women. No clear graded association between thyroid hormones and corrected QT or JT was found, except that men in the highest category of T4 levels appeared to have longer corrected QT and JT, and men in the lowest category of T4 appeared to have shorter corrected QT and JT.
Variation in thyroid hormone levels in the general population, even within the normal range, was associated with various ECG changes.
PMCID: PMC3625180  PMID: 23593140
19.  25(OH)D deficiency is associated with fatal stroke among whites but not blacks: The NHANES-III linked mortality files 
Deficient 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels are associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and mortality. Both 25(OH)D deficiency and stroke are more prevalent among blacks. We examined whether low 25(OH)D contributes to the excess risk of fatal stroke in blacks compared to whites.
Research Methods and Procedures
The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a probability sample of US civilians, measured 25(OH)D levels and CVD risk factors between 1988–1994. Vital status through December 2006 was obtained via linkage with the National Death Index. Among white and black adults without CVD reported at baseline (n=7981), Cox regression models were fit to estimate hazard ratios (HR) for fatal stroke by 25(OH)D status and race.
During a median of 14.1 years, there were 116 and 60 fatal strokes among whites and blacks respectively. The risk of fatal stroke was greater in blacks compared to whites in models adjusted for socio-economic status and CVD risk factors, [HR 1.60 (95% CI 1.01–2.53)]. Mean baseline 25(OH)D levels were significantly lower in blacks compared to whites (19.4 vs 30.8 ng/mL, respectively). In multivariable-adjusted models, deficient 25(OH)D levels <15 ng/mL were associated with fatal stroke among whites [HR 2.13 (1.01–4.50)] but not blacks [HR 0.93 (0.49–1.80)].
Vitamin D deficiency was associated with increased risk of stroke death in whites but not blacks. Although blacks had a higher rate of fatal stroke compared to whites, the low 25(OH)D levels in blacks were unrelated to stroke incidence and therefore 25(OH)D levels did not explain this excess risk.
PMCID: PMC3304002  PMID: 22261577
vitamin D; stroke; racial differences
20.  Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein Genetic Polymorphisms, HDL Cholesterol, and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2008;200(2):359-367.
The cholesteryl ester transport protein (CETP) plays a key role in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) metabolism. Genetic variants that alter CETP activity and concentration may cause significant alterations in HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) concentration; however, controversies remain about whether these genetic variants are associated with atherosclerosis. We genotyped the CETP R451Q, A373P, -629C/A, Taq1B, and -2505C/A polymorphisms in a cohort of Caucasian, Chinese, African-American, and Hispanic individuals within the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Genotypes were examined in relationship to HDL-C, CETP activity, CETP concentration, and three measures of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD): coronary artery calcium (CAC) measured by fast CT scanning, and carotid intimal-medial thickness (IMT) and carotid artery plaque, measured by ultrasonography. Carriers of the 451Q and 373P alleles have significantly higher CETP concentration (22.4% and 19.5%, respectively; p<0.001) and activity (13.1% and 9.4%, respectively; p<0.01) and lower HDL-C (5.6% and 6.0%, respectively; p<0.05). The minor alleles of the R451Q and A373P polymorphisms are associated with the presence of CAC, even after adjusting for CVD risk factors and HDL-C (p=0.006 and p=0.01, respectively). The R451Q polymorphism is also associated with presence of carotid artery plaque (p=0.036). Neither polymorphism is associated with common or internal carotid IMT. We confirmed that the -629A, Taq1B B2, and -2505A alleles are significantly associated with lower CETP concentration (20.8%, 25.0%, and 23.7%, respectively; p<0.001) and activity (14.8%, 19.8%, and 18.4%, respectively; p<0.001) and higher HDL-C concentration (9.7%, 11.5%, and 10.4%, respectively; p<0.01). However, we did not find any associations between these non-coding polymorphisms and subclinical CVD.
PMCID: PMC3612981  PMID: 18243217
21.  Familial Defective Apolipoprotein B-100 and Increased Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Coronary Artery Calcification in the Old Order Amish 
Archives of internal medicine  2010;170(20):1850-1855.
Elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels are a major cardiovascular disease risk factor. Genetic factors are an important determinant of LDL-C levels.
To identify single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with LDL-C and subclinical coronary atherosclerosis, we performed a genome-wide association study of LDL-C in 841 asymptomatic Amish individuals aged 20 to 80 years, with replication in a second sample of 663 Amish individuals. We also performed scanning for coronary artery calcification (CAC) in 1018 of these individuals.
From the initial genome-wide association study, a cluster of single nucleotide polymorphisms in the region of the apolipoprotein B-100 gene (APOB) was strongly associated with LDL-C levels (P < 10−68). Additional genotyping revealed the presence of R3500Q, the mutation responsible for familial defective apolipoprotein B-100, which was also strongly associated with LDL-C in the replication sample (P < 10−36). The R3500Q carrier frequency, previously reported to be 0.1% to 0.4% in white European individuals, was 12% in the combined sample of 1504 Amish participants, consistent with a founder effect. The mutation was also strongly associated with CAC in both samples (P < 10−6 in both) and accounted for 26% and 7% of the variation in LDL-C levels and CAC, respectively. Compared with noncarriers, R3500Q carriers on average had LDL-C levels 58 mg/dL higher, a 4.41-fold higher odds (95% confidence interval, 2.69–7.21) of having detectable CAC, and a 9.28-fold higher odds (2.93–29.35) of having extensive CAC (CAC score ≥400).
The R3500Q mutation in APOB is a major determinant of LDL-C levels and CAC in the Amish.
PMCID: PMC3587042  PMID: 21059979
22.  Common Genetic Variation in the 3-BCL11B Gene Desert Is Associated With Carotid-Femoral Pulse Wave Velocity and Excess Cardiovascular Disease Risk The AortaGen Consortium 
Mitchell, Gary F. | Verwoert, Germaine C. | Tarasov, Kirill V. | Isaacs, Aaron | Smith, Albert V. | Yasmin | Rietzschel, Ernst R. | Tanaka, Toshiko | Liu, Yongmei | Parsa, Afshin | Najjar, Samer S. | O’Shaughnessy, Kevin M. | Sigurdsson, Sigurdur | De Buyzere, Marc L. | Larson, Martin G. | Sie, Mark P.S. | Andrews, Jeanette S. | Post, Wendy S. | Mattace-Raso, Francesco U.S. | McEniery, Carmel M. | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Segers, Patrick | Vasan, Ramachandran S. | van Rijn, Marie Josee E. | Howard, Timothy D. | McArdle, Patrick F. | Dehghan, Abbas | Jewell, Elizabeth | Newhouse, Stephen J. | Bekaert, Sofie | Hamburg, Naomi M. | Newman, Anne B. | Hofman, Albert | Scuteri, Angelo | De Bacquer, Dirk | Ikram, Mohammad Arfan | Psaty, Bruce | Fuchsberger, Christian | Olden, Matthias | Wain, Louise V. | Elliott, Paul | Smith, Nicholas L. | Felix, Janine F. | Erdmann, Jeanette | Vita, Joseph A. | Sutton-Tyrrell, Kim | Sijbrands, Eric J.G. | Sanna, Serena | Launer, Lenore J. | De Meyer, Tim | Johnson, Andrew D. | Schut, Anna F.C. | Herrington, David M. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Uda, Manuela | Wilkinson, Ian B. | Aspelund, Thor | Gillebert, Thierry C. | Van Bortel, Luc | Benjamin, Emelia J. | Oostra, Ben A. | Ding, Jingzhong | Gibson, Quince | Uitterlinden, André G. | Abecasis, Gonçalo R. | Cockcroft, John R. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | De Backer, Guy G. | Ferrucci, Luigi | Harris, Tamara B. | Shuldiner, Alan R. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Levy, Daniel | Lakatta, Edward G. | Witteman, Jacqueline C.M.
Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (CFPWV) is a heritable measure of aortic stiffness that is strongly associated with increased risk for major cardiovascular disease events.
Methods and Results
We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data in 9 community-based European ancestry cohorts consisting of 20,634 participants. Results were replicated in 2 additional European ancestry cohorts involving 5,306 participants. Based on a preliminary analysis of 6 cohorts, we identified a locus on chromosome 14 in the 3′-BCL11B gene desert that is associated with CFPWV (rs7152623, minor allele frequency = 0.42, beta=−0.075±0.012 SD/allele, P = 2.8 x 10−10; replication beta=−0.086±0.020 SD/allele, P = 1.4 x 10−6). Combined results for rs7152623 from 11 cohorts gave beta=−0.076±0.010 SD/allele, P=3.1x10−15. The association persisted when adjusted for mean arterial pressure (beta=−0.060±0.009 SD/allele, P = 1.0 x 10−11). Results were consistent in younger (<55 years, 6 cohorts, N=13,914, beta=−0.081±0.014 SD/allele, P = 2.3 x 10−9) and older (9 cohorts, N=12,026, beta=−0.061±0.014 SD/allele, P=9.4x10−6) participants. In separate meta-analyses, the locus was associated with increased risk for coronary artery disease (hazard ratio [HR]=1.05, confidence interval [CI]=1.02 to 1.08, P=0.0013) and heart failure (HR=1.10, CI=1.03 to 1.16, P=0.004).
Common genetic variation in a locus in the BCL11B gene desert that is thought to harbor one or more gene enhancers is associated with higher CFPWV and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Elucidation of the role this novel locus plays in aortic stiffness may facilitate development of therapeutic interventions that limit aortic stiffening and related cardiovascular disease events.
PMCID: PMC3288392  PMID: 22068335
aorta; arterial stiffness; pulse wave velocity; genetics; cardiovascular disease
23.  Prevalence of Traditional Modifiable Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Comparison with Control Subjects from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Despite the recognized risk of accelerated atherosclerosis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), little is known about cardiovascular risk management in contemporary cohorts of these patients. We tested the hypotheses that major modifiable cardiovascular risk factors were more frequent and rates of treatment, detection, and control were lower in patients with RA than in non-RA controls.
The prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, elevated body mass index, smoking, moderate-high 10-year cardiovascular risk and the rates of underdiagnosis, therapeutic treatment, and recommended management were compared in 197 RA patients and 274 frequency-matched control subjects, and their associations with clinical characteristics were examined.
Eighty percent of RA patients and 81% of control subjects had at least 1 modifiable traditional cardiovascular risk factor. Hypertension was more prevalent in the RA group (57%) than in controls [42%, P =0.001]. There were no statistically significant differences in the frequency of diabetes, elevated body mass index, smoking, intermediate-high 10-year coronary heart disease risk, or elevated LDL in patients with RA versus controls. Rates of newly identified diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia were similar in RA patients versus controls. Rates of therapeutic interventions were low in both groups but their use was associated with well-controlled blood pressure (OR = 4.55, 95% CI: 1.70, 12.19) and lipid levels (OR = 9.90, 95% CI: 3.30, 29.67).
Hypertension is more common in RA than in controls. Other traditional cardiovascular risk factors are highly prevalent, underdiagnosed, and poorly controlled in patients with RA, as well as controls.
PMCID: PMC3538033  PMID: 22340996
rheumatoid arthritis; cardiovascular risk; epidemiology
24.  Genome-wide Association Study for Coronary Artery Calcification with Follow-up in Myocardial Infarction 
Circulation  2011;124(25):2855-2864.
Coronary artery calcification (CAC) detected by computed tomography is a non-invasive measure of coronary atherosclerosis, that underlies most cases of myocardial infarction (MI). We aimed to identify common genetic variants associated with CAC and further investigate their associations with MI.
Methods and Results
Computed tomography was used to assess quantity of CAC. A meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for CAC was carried out in 9,961 men and women from five independent community-based cohorts, with replication in three additional independent cohorts (n=6,032). We examined the top single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with CAC quantity for association with MI in multiple large genome-wide association studies of MI. Genome-wide significant associations with CAC for SNPs on chromosome 9p21 near CDKN2A and CDKN2B (top SNP: rs1333049, P=7.58×10−19) and 6p24 (top SNP: rs9349379, within the PHACTR1 gene, P=2.65×10−11) replicated for CAC and for MI. Additionally, there is evidence for concordance of SNP associations with both CAC and with MI at a number of other loci, including 3q22 (MRAS gene), 13q34 (COL4A1/COL4A2 genes), and 1p13 (SORT1 gene).
SNPs in the 9p21 and PHACTR1 gene loci were strongly associated with CAC and MI, and there are suggestive associations with both CAC and MI of SNPs in additional loci. Multiple genetic loci are associated with development of both underlying coronary atherosclerosis and clinical events.
PMCID: PMC3397173  PMID: 22144573
cardiac computed tomography; coronary artery calcification; coronary atherosclerosis; genome-wide association studies; myocardial infarction
25.  Gene-Centric Meta-Analysis of Lipid Traits in African, East Asian and Hispanic Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50198.
Meta-analyses of European populations has successfully identified genetic variants in over 100 loci associated with lipid levels, but our knowledge in other ethnicities remains limited. To address this, we performed dense genotyping of ∼2,000 candidate genes in 7,657 African Americans, 1,315 Hispanics and 841 East Asians, using the IBC array, a custom ∼50,000 SNP genotyping array. Meta-analyses confirmed 16 lipid loci previously established in European populations at genome-wide significance level, and found multiple independent association signals within these lipid loci. Initial discovery and in silico follow-up in 7,000 additional African American samples, confirmed two novel loci: rs5030359 within ICAM1 is associated with total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) (p = 8.8×10−7 and p = 1.5×10−6 respectively) and a nonsense mutation rs3211938 within CD36 is associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels (p = 13.5×10−12). The rs3211938-G allele, which is nearly absent in European and Asian populations, has been previously found to be associated with CD36 deficiency and shows a signature of selection in Africans and African Americans. Finally, we have evaluated the effect of SNPs established in European populations on lipid levels in multi-ethnic populations and show that most known lipid association signals span across ethnicities. However, differences between populations, especially differences in allele frequency, can be leveraged to identify novel signals, as shown by the discovery of ICAM1 and CD36 in the current report.
PMCID: PMC3517599  PMID: 23236364

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