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1.  A continuous-time adaptive particle filter for estimations under measurement time uncertainties with an application to a plasma-leucine mixed effects model 
When mathematical modelling is applied to many different application areas, a common task is the estimation of states and parameters based on measurements. With this kind of inference making, uncertainties in the time when the measurements have been taken are often neglected, but especially in applications taken from the life sciences, this kind of errors can considerably influence the estimation results. As an example in the context of personalized medicine, the model-based assessment of the effectiveness of drugs is becoming to play an important role. Systems biology may help here by providing good pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) models. Inference on these systems based on data gained from clinical studies with several patient groups becomes a major challenge. Particle filters are a promising approach to tackle these difficulties but are by itself not ready to handle uncertainties in measurement times.
In this article, we describe a variant of the standard particle filter (PF) algorithm which allows state and parameter estimation with the inclusion of measurement time uncertainties (MTU). The modified particle filter, which we call MTU-PF, also allows the application of an adaptive stepsize choice in the time-continuous case to avoid degeneracy problems. The modification is based on the model assumption of uncertain measurement times. While the assumption of randomness in the measurements themselves is common, the corresponding measurement times are generally taken as deterministic and exactly known. Especially in cases where the data are gained from measurements on blood or tissue samples, a relatively high uncertainty in the true measurement time seems to be a natural assumption. Our method is appropriate in cases where relatively few data are used from a relatively large number of groups or individuals, which introduce mixed effects in the model. This is a typical setting of clinical studies. We demonstrate the method on a small artificial example and apply it to a mixed effects model of plasma-leucine kinetics with data from a clinical study which included 34 patients.
Comparisons of our MTU-PF with the standard PF and with an alternative Maximum Likelihood estimation method on the small artificial example clearly show that the MTU-PF obtains better estimations. Considering the application to the data from the clinical study, the MTU-PF shows a similar performance with respect to the quality of estimated parameters compared with the standard particle filter, but besides that, the MTU algorithm shows to be less prone to degeneration than the standard particle filter.
PMCID: PMC3848953  PMID: 23331521
Particle filter; Sequential Monte Carlo methods; Nonlinear filtering; Parameter estimation; Measurement time uncertainties; PK/PD; Mixed effects; Leucine kinetics
2.  Impact of metabolic syndrome and its components on cardiovascular disease event rates in 4900 patients with type 2 diabetes assigned to placebo in the field randomised trial 
Patients with the metabolic syndrome are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and may have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events.We aimed to establish whether CVD event rates were influenced by the metabolic syndrome as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and to determine which component(s) of the metabolic syndrome (MS) conferred the highest cardiovascular risk in in 4900 patients with type 2 diabetes allocated to placebo in the Fenofibrate Intervention and Event Lowering in Diabetes (FIELD) trial.
Research design and methods
We determined the influence of MS variables, as defined by NCEP ATPIII, IDF and WHO, on CVD risk over 5 years, after adjustment for CVD, sex, HbA1c, creatinine, and age, and interactions between the MS variables in a Cox proportional-hazards model.
About 80% had hypertension, and about half had other features of the metabolic syndrome (IDF, ATPIII). There was no difference in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome variables between those with and without CVD at study entry. The WHO definition identified those at higher CVD risk across both sexes, all ages, and in those without prior CVD, while the ATPIII definition predicted risk only in those aged over 65 years and in men but not in women. Patients meeting the IDF definition did not have higher risk than those without IDF MS.
CVD risk was strongly influenced by prior CVD, sex, age (particularly in women), baseline HbA1c, renal dysfunction, hypertension, and dyslipidemia (low HDL-c, triglycerides > 1.7 mmol/L). The combination of low HDL-c and marked hypertriglyceridemia (> 2.3 mmol/L) increased CVD risk by 41%. Baseline systolic blood pressure increased risk by 16% per 10 mmHg in those with no prior CVD, but had no effect in those with CVD. In those without prior CVD, increasing numbers of metabolic syndrome variables (excluding waist) escalated risk.
Absence of the metabolic syndrome (by the WHO definition) identifies diabetes patients without prior CVD, who have a lower risk of future CVD events. Hypertension and dyslipidemia increase risk.
PMCID: PMC3286386  PMID: 22104275
3.  Effect of HDL composition and particle size on the resistance of HDL to the oxidation 
To study the resistance of HDL particles to direct oxidation in respect to the distribution of HDL particles.
Design and Methods
We studied HDL composition, subclass distribution, and the kinetics of CuSO4-induced oxidation of total HDL and HDL3 in vitro in 36 low-HDL-C subjects and in 41 control subjects with normal HDL-C.
The resistance of HDL3 to oxidation, as assessed from the propagation rate was significantly higher than that of total HDL. The propagation rate and diene formation during HDL oxidation in vitro was attenuated in HDL derived from low-HDL-C subjects. Propagation rate and maximal diene formation during total HDL oxidation correlated significantly with HDL mean particle size. The propagation rate of total HDL oxidation in vitro displayed a significant positive association with HDL2 particle mass and HDL mean particle size by multiple regression analyses.
These observations highlight that the distribution of HDL subpopulations has important implications for the potential of HDL as an anti-oxidant source.
PMCID: PMC2954910  PMID: 20863394
4.  Genetic Variation in SULF2 Is Associated with Postprandial Clearance of Triglyceride-Rich Remnant Particles and Triglyceride Levels in Healthy Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79473.
Nonfasting (postprandial) triglyceride concentrations have emerged as a clinically significant cardiovascular disease risk factor that results from accumulation of remnant triglyceride-rich lipoproteins (TRLs) in the circulation. The remnant TRLs are cleared from the circulation by hepatic uptake, but the specific mechanisms involved are unclear. The syndecan-1 heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) pathway is important for the hepatic clearance of remnant TRLs in mice, but its relevance in humans is unclear.
We sought to determine whether polymorphisms of the genes responsible for HSPG assembly and disassembly contribute to atherogenic dyslipoproteinemias in humans.
Patients And Design
We performed an oral fat load in 68 healthy subjects. Lipoproteins (chylomicrons and very low density lipoproteins 1 and 2) were isolated from blood, and the area under curve and incremental area under curve for postprandial variables were calculated. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in genes encoding syndecan-1 and enzymes involved in the synthesis or degradation of HSPG were genotyped in the study subjects.
Our results indicate that the genetic variation rs2281279 in SULF2 associates with postprandial clearance of remnant TRLs and triglyceride levels in healthy subjects. Furthermore, the SNP rs2281279 in SULF2 associates with hepatic SULF2 mRNA levels.
In humans, mild but clinically relevant postprandial hyperlipidemia due to reduced hepatic clearance of remnant TRLs may result from genetic polymorphisms that affect hepatic HSPG.
PMCID: PMC3835823  PMID: 24278138
5.  Glycemic Control Over 5 Years in 4,900 People With Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(5):1165-1170.
Glycemic control in type 2 diabetes generally worsens over time, requiring intensification of therapy. The Fenofibrate Intervention and Event Lowering in Diabetes (FIELD) trial provided the opportunity to observe glycemic control in a real-world setting. We assessed the adequacy of metformin, sulfonylureas, and insulin to maintain glycemic control and their effects on weight.
Diabetes control was measured at baseline and yearly for a median of 5 years in the 4,900 patients from the nonintervention arm of this study allocated to placebo.
Median HbA1c was 6.9% at baseline and increased by an average of 0.22% over 5 years (P < 0.001). Median weight was 86.3 kg at baseline and decreased by 0.4 kg over 5 years (P = 0.002). Baseline therapy was lifestyle measures only in 27%, oral agents without insulin in 59%, and insulin in 14% (7% also taking oral agents). Over 5 years, insulin use increased to 32% (21% also taking oral agents). Use of oral agents remained similar at 56%. Only 2% of patients at baseline and 4% after 5 years were taking oral agents other than metformin or sulfonylureas. Initiation of insulin therapy in 855 patients produced a sustained reduction of HbA1c from a median of 8.2 to 7.7%, with a weight gain of 4.6 kg over 5 years.
With intensification of traditional therapies, glycemic control deteriorated very little over 5 years in a large cohort of type 2 diabetes. However, the requirement for insulin therapy doubled, at the expense of significant weight gain and risk of hypoglycemia.
PMCID: PMC3329812  PMID: 22432105
6.  Transgenic expression and genetic variation of LMF1 affect LPL activity in mice and humans 
Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is a principal enzyme in lipoprotein metabolism, tissue lipid utilization and energy metabolism. LPL is synthesized by parenchymal cells in adipose, heart and muscle tissues followed by secretion to extracellular sites, where lipolyic function is exerted. The catalytic activity of LPL is attained during post-translational maturation, which involves glycosylation, folding and subunit assembly within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). A lipase-chaperone, lipase maturation factor 1 (Lmf1), has recently emerged as a critical factor in this process. Previous studies demonstrated that loss-of-function mutations of Lmf1 result in diminished lipase activity and severe hypertriglyceridemia in mice and human subjects. The objective of this study is to investigate whether, beyond its role as a required factor in lipase maturation, variation in Lmf1 expression is sufficient to modulate LPL activity in vivo.
Methods and Results
To assess the effects of Lmf1 overexpression in adipose and muscle tissues, we generated aP2-Lmf1 and Mck-Lmf1 transgenic mice. Characterization of relevant tissues revealed increased LPL activity in both mouse strains. In the omental and subcutaneous adipose depots, Lmf1 overexpression was associated with increased LPL specific activity without changes in LPL mass. In contrast, increased LPL activity was due to elevated LPL protein level in heart and gonadal adipose tissue. To extend these studies to humans, we detected association between LMF1 gene variants and post-heparin LPL activity in a dyslipidemic cohort.
Our results suggest that variation in Lmf1 expression is a post-translational determinant of LPL activity.
PMCID: PMC3331946  PMID: 22345169
7.  Effects of Exenatide on Measures of β-Cell Function After 3 Years in Metformin-Treated Patients With Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(9):2041-2047.
We previously showed that exenatide (EXE) enhanced insulin secretion after 1 year of treatment, relative to insulin glargine (GLAR), with a similar glucose-lowering action. These effects were not sustained after a 4-week off-drug period. This article reports the results after additional 2 years of exposure.
Sixty-nine metformin-treated patients with type 2 diabetes were randomized to EXE or GLAR. Forty-six patients entered the 2-year extension study in which they continued their allocated therapy. Thirty-six completed (EXE: n = 16; GLAR: n = 20) the 3-year exposure period. Insulin sensitivity (M value) and β-cell function were measured by euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp followed by hyperglycemic clamp with arginine stimulation at pretreatment (week 52) and 4 weeks after discontinuation of study medication (week 56 and week 172). First-phase glucose stimulated C-peptide secretion was adjusted for M value and calculated as the disposition index (DI).
At 3 years, EXE and GLAR resulted in similar levels of glycemic control: 6.6 ± 0.2% and 6.9 ± 0.2%, respectively (P = 0.186). EXE compared with GLAR significantly reduced body weight (−7.9 ± 1.8 kg; P < 0.001). After the 4-week off-drug period, EXE increased the M value by 39% (P = 0.006) while GLAR had no effect (P = 0.647). Following the 4-week off-drug period, the DI, compared with pretreatment, increased with EXE, but decreased with GLAR (1.43 ± 0.78 and −0.99 ± 0.65, respectively; P = 0.028).
EXE and GLAR sustained HbA1c over the 3-year treatment period, while EXE reduced body weight and GLAR increased body weight. Following the 3-year treatment with EXE, the DI was sustained after a 4-week off-drug period. These findings suggest a beneficial effect on β-cell health.
PMCID: PMC3161303  PMID: 21868779
8.  Exenatide Affects Circulating Cardiovascular Risk Biomarkers Independently of Changes in Body Composition 
Diabetes Care  2010;33(8):1734-1737.
To study the effect of exenatide on body composition and circulating cardiovascular risk biomarkers.
Metformin-treated patients with type 2 diabetes (N = 69) were randomized to exenatide or insulin glargine and treated for 1 year. Body composition was evaluated by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Additionally, body weight, waist circumference, and cardiovascular biomarkers were measured.
Treatment with exenatide for 1 year significantly reduced body weight, waist circumference, and total body and trunkal fat mass by 6, 5, 11, and 13%, respectively. In addition, exenatide increased total adiponectin by 12% and reduced high-sensitivity C-reactive protein by 61%. Insulin glargine significantly reduced endothelin-1 by 7%. These changes were statistically independent of the change in total body fat mass and body weight.
Exenatide treatment for 1 year reduced body fat mass and improved the profile of circulating biomarkers of cardiovascular risk. No significant changes were seen with insulin glargine except a trend for reduced endothelin-1 levels.
PMCID: PMC2909051  PMID: 20424219
9.  Triglyceride-rich lipoproteins and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease: evidence and guidance for management 
European Heart Journal  2011;32(11):1345-1361.
Even at low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) goal, patients with cardiometabolic abnormalities remain at high risk of cardiovascular events. This paper aims (i) to critically appraise evidence for elevated levels of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins (TRLs) and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) as cardiovascular risk factors, and (ii) to advise on therapeutic strategies for management. Current evidence supports a causal association between elevated TRL and their remnants, low HDL-C, and cardiovascular risk. This interpretation is based on mechanistic and genetic studies for TRL and remnants, together with the epidemiological data suggestive of the association for circulating triglycerides and cardiovascular disease. For HDL, epidemiological, mechanistic, and clinical intervention data are consistent with the view that low HDL-C contributes to elevated cardiovascular risk; genetic evidence is unclear however, potentially reflecting the complexity of HDL metabolism. The Panel believes that therapeutic targeting of elevated triglycerides (≥1.7 mmol/L or 150 mg/dL), a marker of TRL and their remnants, and/or low HDL-C (<1.0 mmol/L or 40 mg/dL) may provide further benefit. The first step should be lifestyle interventions together with consideration of compliance with pharmacotherapy and secondary causes of dyslipidaemia. If inadequately corrected, adding niacin or a fibrate, or intensifying LDL-C lowering therapy may be considered. Treatment decisions regarding statin combination therapy should take into account relevant safety concerns, i.e. the risk of elevation of blood glucose, uric acid or liver enzymes with niacin, and myopathy, increased serum creatinine and cholelithiasis with fibrates. These recommendations will facilitate reduction in the substantial cardiovascular risk that persists in patients with cardiometabolic abnormalities at LDL-C goal.
PMCID: PMC3105250  PMID: 21531743
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol; Triglycerides; Triglyceride-rich lipoproteins; Remnants; Cholesterol; Atherogenic dyslipidaemia; Cardiovascular disease; Atherosclerosis; Guidelines
10.  Effects of Long-Term Fenofibrate Treatment on Markers of Renal Function in Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2009;33(2):215-220.
Although fenofibrate was associated with less progression of albuminuria in the Fenofibrate Intervention and Event Lowering in Diabetes (FIELD) study, it is unknown if it has any effect on renal function. We explored if there were changes in commonly available markers of renal function during fenofibrate treatment in the FIELD Helsinki cohort excluding statin users.
One hundred and seventy subjects with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to micronized fenofibrate (200 mg/day) or placebo for 5 years. In this substudy, we measured several markers of albumin excretion and renal function.
After intensified treatment, blood pressure and fasting glucose decreased in both groups while A1C remained at 7.2%. Plasma creatinine increased with fenofibrate while urine creatinine remained comparable between the groups, resulting in significant decreases in both creatinine clearance and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) by the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD)-4 and Cockroft-Gault equations in the fenofibrate group. Cystatin C increased during fenofibrate treatment. Urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio and diurnal urine protein remained unchanged, whereas overnight urinary albumin excretion rate showed minor decreases in both groups.
We report concomitant decreases in creatinine clearance and eGFR by fenofibrate. These changes complicate the clinical surveillance during fenofibrate treatment. We could not demonstrate the beneficial effects of fenofibrate on albumin excretion. A novel finding is the increase of cystatin C in type 2 diabetic patients during fenofibrate treatment. The clinical relevance of the changes needs to be assessed in a long-term outcome study of renal function.
PMCID: PMC2809252  PMID: 19846798
11.  Lipoprotein(a) as a cardiovascular risk factor: current status 
European Heart Journal  2010;31(23):2844-2853.
The aims of the study were, first, to critically evaluate lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] as a cardiovascular risk factor and, second, to advise on screening for elevated plasma Lp(a), on desirable levels, and on therapeutic strategies.
Methods and results
The robust and specific association between elevated Lp(a) levels and increased cardiovascular disease (CVD)/coronary heart disease (CHD) risk, together with recent genetic findings, indicates that elevated Lp(a), like elevated LDL-cholesterol, is causally related to premature CVD/CHD. The association is continuous without a threshold or dependence on LDL- or non-HDL-cholesterol levels. Mechanistically, elevated Lp(a) levels may either induce a prothrombotic/anti-fibrinolytic effect as apolipoprotein(a) resembles both plasminogen and plasmin but has no fibrinolytic activity, or may accelerate atherosclerosis because, like LDL, the Lp(a) particle is cholesterol-rich, or both. We advise that Lp(a) be measured once, using an isoform-insensitive assay, in subjects at intermediate or high CVD/CHD risk with premature CVD, familial hypercholesterolaemia, a family history of premature CVD and/or elevated Lp(a), recurrent CVD despite statin treatment, ≥3% 10-year risk of fatal CVD according to European guidelines, and/or ≥10% 10-year risk of fatal + non-fatal CHD according to US guidelines. As a secondary priority after LDL-cholesterol reduction, we recommend a desirable level for Lp(a) <80th percentile (less than ∼50 mg/dL). Treatment should primarily be niacin 1–3 g/day, as a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled intervention trials demonstrates reduced CVD by niacin treatment. In extreme cases, LDL-apheresis is efficacious in removing Lp(a).
We recommend screening for elevated Lp(a) in those at intermediate or high CVD/CHD risk, a desirable level <50 mg/dL as a function of global cardiovascular risk, and use of niacin for Lp(a) and CVD/CHD risk reduction.
PMCID: PMC3295201  PMID: 20965889
Lipids; Hyperlipidemia; Prevention; Myocardial infarction; Stroke
12.  Genetic Variation at the Proprotein Convertase Subtilisin/Kexin Type 5 Gene Modulates HDL Cholesterol Levels 
A low level of plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. HDL particles are modulated by a variety of lipases, including endothelial lipase (EL), a phospholipase present on vascular endothelial cells. The proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 5 (PCSK5) gene product is known to directly inactivate EL, and, indirectly, cleave and activate angiopoetin-like protein 3, a natural inhibitor of EL. We therefore investigated the effect of human PCSK5 genetic variants on plasma HDL-C levels.
Methods and Results
Haplotypes at the PCSK5 locus were examined in nine multi-generational families that included 60 individuals with HDL-C<10th percentile. Segregation with low HDL-C in one family was found. Sequencing of the PCSK5 gene in 12 probands with HDL-C<5th percentile identified seven novel variants. Using a two-stage design, we first genotyped these single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) along with 163 tagSNPs and 12 additional SNPs (n=182 total) in 457 individuals with documented coronary artery disease. We identified nine SNPs associated with HDL-C (P<0.05), with the strongest results for rs11144782 and rs11144766 (P=0.002 and P=0.005 respectively). The SNP rs11144782 was also associated with very low-density lipoprotein (P=0.039), triglycerides (P=0.049) and total apolipoprotein B levels (P=0.022). In stage 2, we replicated the association of rs11144766 with HDL-C (P=0.014) in an independent sample of Finnish low HDL-C families. In a combined analysis of both stages (n=883), region-wide significance of rs11144766 and low HDL-C was observed (unadjusted P=1.86×10−4 and Bonferroni adjusted P=0.031).
We conclude that variability at the PCSK5 locus influences HDL-C levels, possibly through the inactivation of EL activity and consequently, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk.
PMCID: PMC2901678  PMID: 20031622
cholesterol; coronary disease; genetics; lipids; lipoproteins
13.  ApoCIII-Enriched LDL in Type 2 Diabetes Displays Altered Lipid Composition, Increased Susceptibility for Sphingomyelinase, and Increased Binding to Biglycan 
Diabetes  2009;58(9):2018-2026.
Apolipoprotein CIII (apoCIII) is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but the molecular mechanisms involved are poorly understood. We investigated potential proatherogenic properties of apoCIII-containing LDL from hypertriglyceridemic patients with type 2 diabetes.
LDL was isolated from control subjects, subjects with type 2 diabetes, and apoB transgenic mice. LDL-biglycan binding was analyzed with a solid-phase assay using immunoplates coated with biglycan. Lipid composition was analyzed with mass spectrometry. Hydrolysis of LDL by sphingomyelinase was analyzed after labeling plasma LDL with [3H]sphingomyelin. ApoCIII isoforms were quantified after isoelectric focusing. Human aortic endothelial cells were incubated with desialylated apoCIII or with LDL enriched with specific apoCIII isoforms.
We showed that enriching LDL with apoCIII only induced a small increase in LDL-proteoglycan binding, and this effect was dependent on a functional site A in apoB100. Our findings indicated that intrinsic characteristics of the diabetic LDL other than apoCIII are responsible for further increased proteoglycan binding of diabetic LDL with high-endogenous apoCIII, and we showed alterations in the lipid composition of diabetic LDL with high apoCIII. We also demonstrated that high apoCIII increased susceptibility of LDL to hydrolysis and aggregation by sphingomyelinases. In addition, we demonstrated that sialylation of apoCIII increased with increasing apoCIII content and that sialylation of apoCIII was essential for its proinflammatory properties.
We have demonstrated a number of features of apoCIII-containing LDL from hypertriglyceridemic patients with type 2 diabetes that could explain the proatherogenic role of apoCIII.
PMCID: PMC2731525  PMID: 19502413
14.  One-Year Treatment With Exenatide Improves β-Cell Function, Compared With Insulin Glargine, in Metformin-Treated Type 2 Diabetic Patients 
Diabetes Care  2009;32(5):762-768.
Traditional blood glucose–lowering agents do not sustain adequate glycemic control in most type 2 diabetic patients. Preclinical studies with exenatide have suggested sustained improvements in β-cell function. We investigated the effects of 52 weeks of treatment with exenatide or insulin glargine followed by an off-drug period on hyperglycemic clamp–derived measures of β-cell function, glycemic control, and body weight.
Sixty-nine metformin-treated patients with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to exenatide (n = 36) or insulin glargine (n = 33). β-Cell function was measured during an arginine-stimulated hyperglycemic clamp at week 0, at week 52, and after a 4-week off-drug period. Additional end points included effects on glycemic control, body weight, and safety.
Treatment-induced change in combined glucose- and arginine-stimulated C-peptide secretion was 2.46-fold (95% CI 2.09–2.90, P < 0.0001) greater after a 52-week exenatide treatment compared with insulin glargine treatment. Both exenatide and insulin glargine reduced A1C similarly: −0.8 ± 0.1 and −0.7 ± 0.2%, respectively (P = 0.55). Exenatide reduced body weight compared with insulin glargine (difference −4.6 kg, P < 0.0001). β-Cell function measures returned to pretreatment values in both groups after a 4-week off-drug period. A1C and body weight rose to pretreatment values 12 weeks after discontinuation of either exenatide or insulin glargine therapy.
Exenatide significantly improves β-cell function during 1 year of treatment compared with titrated insulin glargine. After cessation of both exenatide and insulin glargine therapy, β-cell function and glycemic control returned to pretreatment values, suggesting that ongoing treatment is necessary to maintain the beneficial effects of either therapy.
PMCID: PMC2671094  PMID: 19196887
15.  The ATF6-Met[67]Val substitution is associated with increased plasma cholesterol levels 
Activating Transcription Factor 6 (ATF6) is a sensor of the endoplasmic reticulum stress response and regulates expression of several key lipogenic genes. We utilized a two-stage design to investigate whether ATF6 polymorphisms are associated with lipids in subjects at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Methods and Results
In stage 1, 13 tag-SNPs were tested for association in Dutch samples ascertained for Familial Combined Hyperlipidemia (FCHL) or increased risk for CVD (CVR). In stage 2, we further investigated the SNP with the strongest association from stage 1, a Methionine/Valine substitution at amino-acid 67, in Finnish FCHL families and in subjects with CVR from METSIM, a Finnish population-based cohort. The combined analysis of both stages reached region-wide significance (P=9×10−4), but this association was not seen in the entire METSIM cohort. Our functional analysis demonstrated that Valine at position 67 augments ATF6 protein and its targets Grp78 and Grp94 as well as increases luciferase expression through Grp78 promoter.
A common nonsynonymous variant in ATF6 increases ATF6 protein levels and is associated with cholesterol levels in subjects at increased risk for CVD, but this association was not seen in a population-based cohort. Further replication is needed to confirm this variant's role in lipids.
PMCID: PMC2756089  PMID: 19667116
Activating Transcription Factor 6; cardiovascular risk; cholesterol; association; lipids
16.  Effects of Fenofibrate Treatment on Cardiovascular Disease Risk in 9,795 Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes and Various Components of the Metabolic Syndrome 
Diabetes Care  2009;32(3):493-498.
OBJECTIVE—We explored whether cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and the effects of fenofibrate differed in subjects with and without metabolic syndrome and according to various features of metabolic syndrome defined by the Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) in subjects with type 2 diabetes in the Fenofibrate Intervention and Event Lowering in Diabetes (FIELD) study.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—The prevalence of metabolic syndrome and its features was calculated. Cox proportional models adjusted for age, sex, CVD status, and baseline A1C levels were used to determine the independent contributions of metabolic syndrome features to total CVD event rates and the effects of fenofibrate.
RESULTS—More than 80% of FIELD participants met the ATP III criteria for metabolic syndrome. Each ATP III feature of metabolic syndrome, apart from increased waist circumference, increased the absolute risk of CVD events over 5 years by at least 3%. Those with marked dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides ≥2.3 mmol/l and low HDL cholesterol) were at the highest risk of CVD (17.8% over 5 years). Fenofibrate significantly reduced CVD events in those with low HDL cholesterol or hypertension. The largest effect of fenofibrate to reduce CVD risk was observed in subjects with marked dyslipidemia in whom a 27% relative risk reduction (95% CI 9–42, P = 0.005; number needed to treat = 23) was observed. Subjects with no prior CVD had greater risk reductions than the entire group.
CONCLUSIONS—Metabolic syndrome components identify higher CVD risk in individuals with type 2 diabetes, so the absolute benefits of fenofibrate are likely to be greater when metabolic syndrome features are present. The highest risk and greatest benefits of fenofibrate are seen among those with marked hypertriglyceridemia.
PMCID: PMC2646035  PMID: 18984774
17.  Galanin preproprotein is associated with elevated plasma triglycerides 
There is increasing physiological evidence in rodents connecting the neuropeptide galanin to triglyceride (TG) levels. We hypothesized that variation in the galanin preproprotein (GAL) gene may contribute to hypertriglyceridemia (HTG) in humans.
Methods and Results
We investigated GAL as a TG candidate gene by genotyping four tagSNPs in Dutch, Finnish and Mexican familial combined hyperlipidemia (FCHL) families as well as in Caucasian combined hyperlipidemia cases/controls (n=2,471). The common allele of rs2187331, residing in the promoter region of GAL, was significantly associated with HTG (p-value=0.00038). In an unascertained population sample of 4,463 Finnish males, the rare allele of rs2187331 was associated with higher TGs (p-value=0.0028−0.00016). We also observed an allele specific difference with rs2187331 in reporter gene expression and nuclear factor binding in vitro. Furthermore, we detected differential expression of many key lipid genes in adipose tissue based on rs2187331 genotypes.
The SNP rs2187331 is associated with HTG in FCHL and Caucasian combined hyperlipidemia cases/controls and influences TG levels in the population. Further studies are warranted to elucidate the allelic difference observed between FCHL and the general population. Functional evidence shows that rs2187331 has an allele specific cis-regulatory function and influences the expression of lipid related genes in adipose.
PMCID: PMC2650822  PMID: 18988886
18.  A nonsynonymous SNP within PCDH15 is associated with lipid traits in familial combined hyperlipidemia 
Human Genetics  2009;127(1):83-89.
Familial combined hyperlipidemia (FCHL) is a common lipid disorder characterized by the presence of multiple lipoprotein phenotypes that increase the risk of premature coronary heart disease. In a previous study, we identified an intragenic microsatellite marker within the protocadherin 15 (PCDH15) gene to be associated with high triglycerides (TGs) in Finnish dyslipidemic families. In this study we analyzed all four known nonsynonymous SNPs within PCDH15 in 1,268 individuals from Finnish and Dutch multigenerational families with FCHL. Association analyses of quantitative traits for SNPs were performed using the QTDT test. The nonsynonymous SNP rs10825269 resulted in a P = 0.0006 for the quantitative TG trait. Additional evidence for association was observed with the same SNP for apolipoprotein B levels (apo-B) (P = 0.0001) and total cholesterol (TC) levels (P = 0.001). None of the other three SNPs tested showed a significant association with any lipid-related trait. We investigated the expression of PCDH15 in different human tissues and observed that PCDH15 is expressed in several tissues including liver and pancreas. In addition, we measured the plasma lipid levels in mice with loss-of-function mutations in Pcdh15 (Pcdh15av-Tg and Pcdh15av-3J) to investigate possible abnormalities in their lipid profile. We observed a significant difference in plasma TG and TC concentrations for the Pcdh15av-3J carriers when compared with the wild type (P = 0.013 and P = 0.044, respectively). Our study suggests that PCDH15 is associated with lipid abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC2793376  PMID: 19816713
19.  OSBPL10, a novel candidate gene for high triglyceride trait in dyslipidemic Finnish subjects, regulates cellular lipid metabolism 
Analysis of variants in three genes encoding oxysterol-binding protein (OSBP) homologues (OSBPL2, OSBPL9, OSBPL10) in Finnish families with familial low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels (N = 426) or familial combined hyperlipidemia (N = 684) revealed suggestive linkage of OSBPL10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with extreme end high triglyceride (TG; >90th percentile) trait. Prompted by this initial finding, we carried out association analysis in a metabolic syndrome subcohort (Genmets) of Health2000 examination survey (N = 2,138), revealing association of multiple OSBPL10 SNPs with high serum TG levels (>95th percentile). To investigate whether OSBPL10 could be the gene underlying the observed linkage and association, we carried out functional experiments in the human hepatoma cell line Huh7. Silencing of OSBPL10 increased the incorporation of [3H]acetate into cholesterol and both [3H]acetate and [3H]oleate into triglycerides and enhanced the accumulation of secreted apolipoprotein B100 in growth medium, suggesting that the encoded protein ORP10 suppresses hepatic lipogenesis and very-low-density lipoprotein production. ORP10 was shown to associate dynamically with microtubules, consistent with its involvement in intracellular transport or organelle positioning. The data introduces OSBPL10 as a gene whose variation may contribute to high triglyceride levels in dyslipidemic Finnish subjects and provides evidence for ORP10 as a regulator of cellular lipid metabolism.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00109-009-0490-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC2707950  PMID: 19554302
Cholesterol; High-density lipoprotein; Microtubule; Oxysterol-binding protein; Single-nucleotide polymorphism; Triglyceride
20.  Variation in GYS1 Interacts with Exercise and Gender to Predict Cardiovascular Mortality 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(3):e285.
The muscle glycogen synthase gene (GYS1) has been associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D), the metabolic syndrome (MetS), male myocardial infarction and a defective increase in muscle glycogen synthase protein in response to exercise. We addressed the questions whether polymorphism in GYS1 can predict cardiovascular (CV) mortality in a high-risk population, if this risk is influenced by gender or physical activity, and if the association is independent of genetic variation in nearby apolipoprotein E gene (APOE).
Methodology/Principal Findings
Polymorphisms in GYS1 (XbaIC>T) and APOE (-219G>T, ε2/ε3/ε4) were genotyped in 4,654 subjects participating in the Botnia T2D-family study and followed for a median of eight years. Mortality analyses were performed using Cox proportional-hazards regression. During the follow-up period, 749 individuals died, 409 due to CV causes. In males the GYS1 XbaI T-allele (hazard ratio (HR) 1.9 [1.2–2.9]), T2D (2.5 [1.7–3.8]), earlier CV events (1.7 [1.2–2.5]), physical inactivity (1.9 [1.2–2.9]) and smoking (1.5 [1.0–2.3]) predicted CV mortality. The GYS1 XbaI T-allele predicted CV mortality particularly in physically active males (HR 1.7 [1.3–2.0]). Association of GYS1 with CV mortality was independent of APOE (219TT/ε4), which by its own exerted an effect on CV mortality risk in females (2.9 [1.9–4.4]). Other independent predictors of CV mortality in females were fasting plasma glucose (1.2 [1.1–1.2]), high body mass index (BMI) (1.0 [1.0–1.1]), hypertension (1.9 [1.2–3.1]), earlier CV events (1.9 [1.3–2.8]) and physical inactivity (1.9 [1.2–2.8]).
Polymorphisms in GYS1 and APOE predict CV mortality in T2D families in a gender-specific fashion and independently of each other. Physical exercise seems to unmask the effect associated with the GYS1 polymorphism, rendering carriers of the variant allele less susceptible to the protective effect of exercise on the risk of CV death, which finding could be compatible with a previous demonstration of defective increase in the glycogen synthase protein in carriers of this polymorphism.
PMCID: PMC1805686  PMID: 17356695
21.  ApoE Polymorphism Is Associated With C-Reactive Protein in Low-HDL Family Members and in Normolipidemic Subjects 
Mediators of Inflammation  2006;2006(3):12587.
The study was aimed to compare inflammatory parameters between carriers of apoE4 isoforms (apoE4/3, apoE4/2, and apoE4/4 phenotypes) and those of carrying apoE3 isoform without apoE4 isoform (apoE3/3 phenotypes and apoE2/3 phenotypes). The concentrations of serum hsCRP, sVCAM-1, sICAM-1, and sE-selectin were measured in 211 subjects from Finnish low-HDL families and in 157 normolipidemic subjects. The subjects with apoE4 isoform had lower concentrations of serum hsCRP both in low-HDL family members (p < 0.05) and in normolipidemic subjects (p < 0.01). The differences in serum CRP values remained significant after adjustment for age, BMI, smoking status, hypertension, gender, lipoprotein variables, and family number. We conclude that apoE phenotype has a strong influence on serum CRP values.
PMCID: PMC1592602  PMID: 16951484
22.  Insulin-Mediated Down-Regulation of Apolipoprotein A5 Gene Expression through the Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase Pathway: Role of Upstream Stimulatory Factor 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(4):1537-1548.
The apolipoprotein A5 gene (APOA5) has been repeatedly implicated in lowering plasma triglyceride levels. Since several studies have demonstrated that hyperinsulinemia is associated with hypertriglyceridemia, we sought to determine whether APOA5 is regulated by insulin. Here, we show that cell lines and mice treated with insulin down-regulate APOA5 expression in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, we found that insulin decreases human APOA5 promoter activity, and subsequent deletion and mutation analyses uncovered a functional E box in the promoter. Electrophoretic mobility shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that this APOA5 E box binds upstream stimulatory factors (USFs). Moreover, in transfection studies, USF1 stimulates APOA5 promoter activity, and the treatment with insulin reduced the binding of USF1/USF2 to the APOA5 promoter. The inhibition of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway abolished insulin's effect on APOA5 gene expression, while the inhibition of the P70 S6 kinase pathway with rapamycin reversed its effect and increased APOA5 gene expression. Using an oligonucleotide precipitation assay for USF from nuclear extracts, we demonstrate that phosphorylated USF1 fails to bind to the APOA5 promoter. Taken together, these data indicate that insulin-mediated APOA5 gene transrepression could involve a phosphorylation of USFs through the PI3K and P70 S6 kinase pathways that modulate their binding to the APOA5 E box and results in APOA5 down-regulation. The effect of exogenous hyperinsulinemia in men showed a decrease in the plasma ApoAV level. These results suggest a potential contribution of the APOA5 gene in hypertriglyceridemia associated with hyperinsulinemia.
PMCID: PMC548024  PMID: 15684402
23.  Cardiac steatosis and left ventricular function in men with metabolic syndrome 
Ectopic accumulation of fat accompanies visceral obesity with detrimental effects. Lipid oversupply to cardiomyocytes leads to cardiac steatosis, and in animal studies lipotoxicity has been associated with impaired left ventricular (LV) function. In humans, studies have yielded inconclusive results. The aim of the study was to evaluate the role of epicardial, pericardial and myocardial fat depots on LV structure and function in male subjects with metabolic syndrome (MetS).
A study population of 37 men with MetS and 38 men without MetS underwent cardiovascular magnetic resonance and proton magnetic spectroscopy at 1.5 T to assess LV function, epicardial and pericardial fat area and myocardial triglyceride (TG) content.
All three fat deposits were greater in the MetS than in the control group (p <0.001). LV diastolic dysfunction was associated with MetS as measured by absolute (471 mL/s vs. 667 mL/s, p = 0.002) and normalized (3.37 s-1 vs. 3.75 s-1, p = 0.02) LV early diastolic peak filling rate and the ratio of early diastole (68% vs. 78%, p = 0.001). The amount of epicardial and pericardial fat correlated inversely with LV diastolic function. However, myocardial TG content was not independently associated with LV diastolic dysfunction.
In MetS, accumulation of epicardial and pericardial fat is linked to the severity of structural and functional alterations of the heart. The role of increased intramyocardial TG in MetS is more complex and merits further study.
PMCID: PMC3842676  PMID: 24228979
Cardiovascular magnetic resonance; Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Metabolic syndrome; Obesity; Diastolic dysfunction; Myocardial triglyceride content; Epicardial fat; Pericardial fat; Cardiac steatosis
24.  Familial hypercholesterolaemia is underdiagnosed and undertreated in the general population: guidance for clinicians to prevent coronary heart disease  
European Heart Journal  2013;34(45):3478-3490.
The first aim was to critically evaluate the extent to which familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) is underdiagnosed and undertreated. The second aim was to provide guidance for screening and treatment of FH, in order to prevent coronary heart disease (CHD).
Methods and results
Of the theoretical estimated prevalence of 1/500 for heterozygous FH, <1% are diagnosed in most countries. Recently, direct screening in a Northern European general population diagnosed approximately 1/200 with heterozygous FH. All reported studies document failure to achieve recommended LDL cholesterol targets in a large proportion of individuals with FH, and up to 13-fold increased risk of CHD. Based on prevalences between 1/500 and 1/200, between 14 and 34 million individuals worldwide have FH. We recommend that children, adults, and families should be screened for FH if a person or family member presents with FH, a plasma cholesterol level in an adult ≥8 mmol/L(≥310 mg/dL) or a child ≥6 mmol/L(≥230 mg/dL), premature CHD, tendon xanthomas, or sudden premature cardiac death. In FH, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol targets are <3.5 mmol/L(<135 mg/dL) for children, <2.5 mmol/L(<100 mg/dL) for adults, and <1.8 mmol/L(<70 mg/dL) for adults with known CHD or diabetes. In addition to lifestyle and dietary counselling, treatment priorities are (i) in children, statins, ezetimibe, and bile acid binding resins, and (ii) in adults, maximal potent statin dose, ezetimibe, and bile acid binding resins. Lipoprotein apheresis can be offered in homozygotes and in treatment-resistant heterozygotes with CHD.
Owing to severe underdiagnosis and undertreatment of FH, there is an urgent worldwide need for diagnostic screening together with early and aggressive treatment of this extremely high-risk condition.
PMCID: PMC3844152  PMID: 23956253
Cholesterol; Low-density lipoprotein; Atherosclerosis; Coronary heart disease; Cardiovascular disease
25.  Novel Loci for Metabolic Networks and Multi-Tissue Expression Studies Reveal Genes for Atherosclerosis 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(8):e1002907.
Association testing of multiple correlated phenotypes offers better power than univariate analysis of single traits. We analyzed 6,600 individuals from two population-based cohorts with both genome-wide SNP data and serum metabolomic profiles. From the observed correlation structure of 130 metabolites measured by nuclear magnetic resonance, we identified 11 metabolic networks and performed a multivariate genome-wide association analysis. We identified 34 genomic loci at genome-wide significance, of which 7 are novel. In comparison to univariate tests, multivariate association analysis identified nearly twice as many significant associations in total. Multi-tissue gene expression studies identified variants in our top loci, SERPINA1 and AQP9, as eQTLs and showed that SERPINA1 and AQP9 expression in human blood was associated with metabolites from their corresponding metabolic networks. Finally, liver expression of AQP9 was associated with atherosclerotic lesion area in mice, and in human arterial tissue both SERPINA1 and AQP9 were shown to be upregulated (6.3-fold and 4.6-fold, respectively) in atherosclerotic plaques. Our study illustrates the power of multi-phenotype GWAS and highlights candidate genes for atherosclerosis.
Author Summary
In this study, we aim to identify novel genetic variants for metabolism, characterize their effects on nearby genes, and show that the nearby genes are associated with metabolism and atherosclerosis. To discover new genetic variants, we use an alternative approach to traditional genome-wide association studies: we leverage the information in phenotype covariance to increase our statistical power. We identify variants at seven novel loci and then show that our top signals drive expression of nearby genes AQP9 and SERPINA1 in multiple tissues. We demonstrate that AQP9 and SERPINA1 gene expression, in turn, is associated with metabolite levels. Finally, we show that the genes are associated with atherosclerosis using mouse atherosclerotic lesion size (AQP9) as well as tissue from healthy human arteries and atherosclerotic plaques (AQP9 and SERPINA1). This study illustrates that multivariate analysis of correlated metabolites can boost power for gene discovery substantially. Further functional work will need to be performed to elucidate the biological role of SERPINA1 and AQP9 in atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3420921  PMID: 22916037

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