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1.  Endothelin-1 Pathway Polymorphisms and Outcomes in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Rationale: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive fatal disease. Variable response and tolerability to PAH therapeutics suggests that genetic differences may influence outcomes. The endothelin pathway is central to pulmonary vascular function, and several polymorphisms and/or mutations in the genes coding for endothelin (ET)-1 and its receptors correlate with the clinical manifestations of other diseases.
Objectives: To examine the interaction of ET-1 pathway polymorphisms and treatment responses of patients with PAH treated with ET receptor antagonists (ERAs).
Methods: A total of 1,198 patients with PAH were prospectively enrolled from 45 U.S. and Canadian pulmonary hypertension centers or retrospectively from global sites participating in the STRIDE (Sitaxsentan To Relieve Impaired Exercise) trials. Comprehensive objective measures including a 6-minute-walk test, Borg dyspnea score, functional class, and laboratory studies were completed at baseline, before the initiation of ERAs, and repeated serially. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms from ET-1 pathway candidate genes were selected from a completed genome-wide association study performed on the study cohort.
Measurements and Main Results: Patient efficacy outcomes were analyzed for a relationship between ET-1 pathway polymorphisms and clinical efficacy using predefined, composite positive and negative outcome measures in 715 European descent samples. A single-nucleotide polymorphism (rs11157866) in the G-protein alpha and gamma subunits gene was significantly associated, accounting for multiple testing, with a combined improvement in functional class and 6-minute-walk distance at 12 and 18 months and marginally significant at 24 months.
Conclusions: ET-1 pathway associated polymorphisms may influence the clinical efficacy of ERA therapy for PAH. Further prospective studies are needed.
PMCID: PMC4731699  PMID: 26252367
pulmonary arterial hypertension; endothelin receptor antagonists; pharmacogenetics; polymorphisms
2.  Genome-wide association study of recalcitrant atopic dermatitis in Korean children 
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a heterogeneous chronic inflammatory skin disease. Most AD during infancy resolves during childhood, but moderate to severe AD with allergic sensitization is more likely to persist into adulthood and more often occurs with other allergic diseases.
We sought to find susceptibility loci by performing the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of AD in Korean children with recalcitrant AD, defined as moderate to severe AD with allergic sensitization.
Our study included 246 children with recalcitrant AD and 551 adult controls with a negative history of both allergic disease and allergic sensitization. DNA from these individuals was genotyped; sets of common SNPs were imputed and used in the GWAS after quality control checks.
SNPs at a region on 13q21.31 were associated with recalcitrant AD at a genome-wide threshold of significance (P < 2.0×10−8). These associated SNPs are >1Mb from the closest gene, PCDH9. SNPs at four additional loci had P < 1×10−6, including SNPs at or near the NBAS (2p24.3), THEMIS (6q22.33), GATA3 (10p14) and SCAPER (15q24.3) genes. Further analysis of total serum IgE levels suggested 13q21.31 may be primarily an IgE locus, and analyses of published data demonstrated SNPs at the 15q24.3 region are expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) for two nearby genes, ISL2 and PSTPIP1, in immune cells.
Our GWAS of recalcitrant AD identified new susceptibility regions containing genes involved in epithelial cell function and immune dysregulation, two key features of AD, and potentially extend our understanding of their role in pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4562879  PMID: 25935106
genome-wide association study; atopic dermatitis; allergic sensitization; IgE; severity; children
3.  Multi-ethnic genome-wide association study of 21,000 cases and 95,000 controls identifies new risk loci for atopic dermatitis 
Paternoster, Lavinia | Standl, Marie | Waage, Johannes | Baurecht, Hansjörg | Hotze, Melanie | Strachan, David P | Curtin, John A | Bønnelykke, Klaus | Tian, Chao | Takahashi, Atsushi | Esparza-Gordillo, Jorge | Alves, Alexessander Couto | Thyssen, Jacob P | den Dekker, Herman T | Ferreira, Manuel A | Altmaier, Elisabeth | Sleiman, Patrick MA | Xiao, Feng Li | Gonzalez, Juan R | Marenholz, Ingo | Kalb, Birgit | Yanes, Maria Pino | Xu, Cheng-Jian | Carstensen, Lisbeth | Groen-Blokhuis, Maria M | Venturini, Cristina | Pennell, Craig E | Barton, Sheila J | Levin, Albert M | Curjuric, Ivan | Bustamante, Mariona | Kreiner-Møller, Eskil | Lockett, Gabrielle A | Bacelis, Jonas | Bunyavanich, Supinda | Myers, Rachel A | Matanovic, Anja | Kumar, Ashish | Tung, Joyce Y | Hirota, Tomomitsu | Kubo, Michiaki | McArdle, Wendy L | Henderson, A J | Kemp, John P | Zheng, Jie | Smith, George Davey | Rüschendorf, Franz | Bauerfeind, Anja | Lee-Kirsch, Min Ae | Arnold, Andreas | Homuth, Georg | Schmidt, Carsten O | Mangold, Elisabeth | Cichon, Sven | Keil, Thomas | Rodríguez, Elke | Peters, Annette | Franke, Andre | Lieb, Wolfgang | Novak, Natalija | Fölster-Holst, Regina | Horikoshi, Momoko | Pekkanen, Juha | Sebert, Sylvain | Husemoen, Lise L | Grarup, Niels | de Jongste, Johan C | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Hofman, Albert | Jaddoe, Vincent WV | Pasmans, Suzanne GMA | Elbert, Niels J | Uitterlinden, André G | Marks, Guy B | Thompson, Philip J | Matheson, Melanie C | Robertson, Colin F | Ried, Janina S | Li, Jin | Zuo, Xian Bo | Zheng, Xiao Dong | Yin, Xian Yong | Sun, Liang Dan | McAleer, Maeve A | O'Regan, Grainne M | Fahy, Caoimhe MR | Campbell, Linda E | Macek, Milan | Kurek, Michael | Hu, Donglei | Eng, Celeste | Postma, Dirkje S | Feenstra, Bjarke | Geller, Frank | Hottenga, Jouke Jan | Middeldorp, Christel M | Hysi, Pirro | Bataille, Veronique | Spector, Tim | Tiesler, Carla MT | Thiering, Elisabeth | Pahukasahasram, Badri | Yang, James J | Imboden, Medea | Huntsman, Scott | Vilor-Tejedor, Natàlia | Relton, Caroline L | Myhre, Ronny | Nystad, Wenche | Custovic, Adnan | Weiss, Scott T | Meyers, Deborah A | Söderhäll, Cilla | Melén, Erik | Ober, Carole | Raby, Benjamin A | Simpson, Angela | Jacobsson, Bo | Holloway, John W | Bisgaard, Hans | Sunyer, Jordi | Hensch, Nicole M Probst | Williams, L Keoki | Godfrey, Keith M | Wang, Carol A | Boomsma, Dorret I | Melbye, Mads | Koppelman, Gerard H | Jarvis, Deborah | McLean, WH Irwin | Irvine, Alan D | Zhang, Xue Jun | Hakonarson, Hakon | Gieger, Christian | Burchard, Esteban G | Martin, Nicholas G | Duijts, Liesbeth | Linneberg, Allan | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Noethen, Markus M | Lau, Susanne | Hübner, Norbert | Lee, Young-Ae | Tamari, Mayumi | Hinds, David A | Glass, Daniel | Brown, Sara J | Heinrich, Joachim | Evans, David M | Weidinger, Stephan
Nature genetics  2015;47(12):1449-1456.
Genetic association studies have identified 21 loci associated with atopic dermatitis risk predominantly in populations of European ancestry. To identify further susceptibility loci for this common complex skin disease, we performed a meta-analysis of >15 million genetic variants in 21,399 cases and 95,464 controls from populations of European, African, Japanese and Latino ancestry, followed by replication in 32,059 cases and 228,628 controls from 18 studies. We identified 10 novel risk loci, bringing the total number of known atopic dermatitis risk loci to 31 (with novel secondary signals at 4 of these). Notably, the new loci include candidate genes with roles in regulation of innate host defenses and T-cell function, underscoring the important contribution of (auto-)immune mechanisms to atopic dermatitis pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4753676  PMID: 26482879
4.  Role of Lung Function Genes in the Development of Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(1):e0145832.
Although our previous GWAS failed to identify SNPs associated with pulmonary function at the level of genomewide significance, it did show that the heritability for FEV1/FVC was 41.6% in a Japanese population, suggesting that the heritability of pulmonary function traits can be explained by the additive effects of multiple common SNPs. In addition, our previous study indicated that pulmonary function genes identified in previous GWASs in non-Japanese populations accounted for 4.3% to 12.0% of the entire estimated heritability of FEV1/FVC in a Japanese population. Therefore, given that many loci with individual weak effects may contribute to asthma risk, in this study, we created a quantitative score of genetic load based on 16 SNPs implicated in lower lung function in both Japanese and non-Japanese populations. This genetic risk score (GRS) for lower FEV1/FVC was consistently associated with the onset of asthma (P = 9.6 × 10−4) in 2 independent Japanese populations as well as with the onset of COPD (P = 0.042). Clustering of asthma patients based on GRS levels indicated that an increased GRS may be responsible for the development of a particular phenotype of asthma characterized by early onset, atopy, and severer airflow obstruction.
PMCID: PMC4709100  PMID: 26752288
6.  High density genotyping study identifies four new susceptibility loci for atopic dermatitis 
Nature genetics  2013;45(7):808-812.
Atopic dermatitis is a common inflammatory skin disease with a strong heritable component. Pathogenetic models consider keratinocyte differentiation defects and immune alterations as scaffolds1, and recent data indicate a role for autoreactivity in at least a subgroup of patients2. With filaggrin (FLG) a major locus causing a skin barrier deficiency was identified3. To better define risk variants and identify additional susceptibility loci, we densely genotyped 2,425 German cases and 5,449 controls using the Immunochip array, followed by replication in 7,196 cases and 15,480 controls from Germany, Ireland, Japan and China. We identified 4 new susceptibility loci for atopic dermatitis and replicated previous associations. This brings the number of atopic dermatitis risk loci reported in individuals of European ancestry to 11. We estimate that these susceptibility loci together account for 14.4% of the heritability for atopic dermatitis.
PMCID: PMC3797441  PMID: 23727859
7.  Genome-Wide Association Study for Levels of Total Serum IgE Identifies HLA-C in a Japanese Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e80941.
Most of the previously reported loci for total immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels are related to Th2 cell-dependent pathways. We undertook a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify genetic loci responsible for IgE regulation. A total of 479,940 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were tested for association with total serum IgE levels in 1180 Japanese adults. Fine-mapping with SNP imputation demonstrated 6 candidate regions: the PYHIN1/IFI16, MHC classes I and II, LEMD2, GRAMD1B, and chr13∶60576338 regions. Replication of these candidate loci in each region was assessed in 2 independent Japanese cohorts (n = 1110 and 1364, respectively). SNP rs3130941 in the HLA-C region was consistently associated with total IgE levels in 3 independent populations, and the meta-analysis yielded genome-wide significance (P = 1.07×10−10). Using our GWAS results, we also assessed the reproducibility of previously reported gene associations with total IgE levels. Nine of 32 candidate genes identified by a literature search were associated with total IgE levels after correction for multiple testing. Our findings demonstrate that SNPs in the HLA-C region are strongly associated with total serum IgE levels in the Japanese population and that some of the previously reported genetic associations are replicated across ethnic groups.
PMCID: PMC3851760  PMID: 24324648
8.  Genomewide Association between GLCCI1 and Response to Glucocorticoid Therapy in Asthma 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;365(13):1173-1183.
The response to treatment for asthma is characterized by wide interindividual variability, with a significant number of patients who have no response. We hypothesized that a genomewide association study would reveal novel pharmacogenetic determinants of the response to inhaled glucocorticoids.
We analyzed a small number of statistically powerful variants selected on the basis of a family-based screening algorithm from among 534,290 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to determine changes in lung function in response to inhaled glucocorticoids. A significant, replicated association was found, and we characterized its functional effects.
We identified a significant pharmacogenetic association at SNP rs37972, replicated in four independent populations totaling 935 persons (P = 0.0007), which maps to the glucocorticoid-induced transcript 1 gene (GLCCI1) and is in complete linkage disequilibrium (i.e., perfectly correlated) with rs37973. Both rs37972 and rs37973 are associated with decrements in GLCCI1 expression. In isolated cell systems, the rs37973 variant is associated with significantly decreased luciferase reporter activity. Pooled data from treatment trials indicate reduced lung function in response to inhaled glucocorticoids in subjects with the variant allele (P = 0.0007 for pooled data). Overall, the mean (± SE) increase in forced expiratory volume in 1 second in the treated subjects who were homozygous for the mutant rs37973 allele was only about one third of that seen in similarly treated subjects who were homozygous for the wild-type allele (3.2 ± 1.6% vs. 9.4 ± 1.1%), and their risk of a poor response was significantly higher (odds ratio, 2.36; 95% confidence interval, 1.27 to 4.41), with genotype accounting for about 6.6% of overall inhaled glucocorticoid response variability.
A functional GLCCI1 variant is associated with substantial decrements in the response to inhaled glucocorticoids in patients with asthma. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others; number, NCT00000575.)
PMCID: PMC3667396  PMID: 21991891
9.  Haplotypes with Copy Number and Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in CYP2A6 Locus Are Associated with Smoking Quantity in a Japanese Population 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44507.
Smoking is a major public health problem, but the genetic factors associated with smoking behaviors are not fully elucidated. Here, we have conducted an integrated genome-wide association study to identify common copy number polymorphisms (CNPs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) in Japanese smokers ( = 17,158). Our analysis identified a common CNP with a strong effect on CPD (rs8102683; ) in the 19q13 region, encompassing the CYP2A6 locus. After adjustment for the associated CNP, we found an additional associated SNP (rs11878604; ) located 30 kb downstream of the CYP2A6 gene. Imputation of the CYP2A6 locus revealed that haplotypes underlying the CNP and the SNP corresponded to classical, functional alleles of CYP2A6 gene that regulate nicotine metabolism and explained 2% of the phenotypic variance of CPD (ANOVA -test ). These haplotypes were also associated with smoking-related diseases, including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and arteriosclerosis obliterans.
PMCID: PMC3458030  PMID: 23049750
10.  Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin Gene Promoter Polymorphisms Are Associated with Susceptibility to Bronchial Asthma 
Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) triggers dendritic cell–mediated T helper (Th) 2 inflammatory responses. A single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs3806933, in the promoter region of the TSLP gene creates a binding site for the transcription factor activating protein (AP)–1. The variant enhances AP-1 binding to the regulatory element, and increases the promoter–reporter activity of TSLP in response to polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly[I:C]) stimulation in normal human bronchial epithelium (NHBE). We investigated whether polymorphisms including the SNP rs3806933 could affect the susceptibility to and clinical phenotypes of bronchial asthma. We selected three representative (i.e., Tag) SNPs and conducted association studies of the TSLP gene, using two independent populations (639 patients with childhood atopic asthma and 838 control subjects, and 641 patients with adult asthma and 376 control subjects, respectively). We further examined the effects of corticosteroids and a long-acting β2-agonist (salmeterol) on the expression levels of the TSLP gene in response to poly(I:C) in NHBE. We found that the promoter polymorphisms rs3806933 and rs2289276 were significantly associated with disease susceptibility in both childhood atopic and adult asthma. The functional SNP rs3806933 was associated with asthma (meta-analysis, P = 0.000056; odds ratio, 1.29; 95% confidence interval, 1.14–1.47). A genotype of rs2289278 was correlated with pulmonary function. Moreover, the induction of TSLP mRNA and protein expression induced by poly(I:C) in NHBE was synergistically impaired by a corticosteroid and salmeterol. TSLP variants are significantly associated with bronchial asthma and pulmonary function. Thus, TSLP may serve as a therapeutic target molecule for combination therapy.
PMCID: PMC3159073  PMID: 20656951
asthma; TSLP; bronchial epithelial cells; combination therapy; genetic polymorphisms
11.  82 Association of Matrix Metalloproteinase-7 and -12 Genes polymorphisms With Asthma: A Case-Control Study of MMP-7 and -12 in a Japanese Population 
Genetic variants influencing lung function or immune system may be involved in the development of asthma and/or its symptoms. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) contribute to both normal and pathological tissue remodeling and also act as regulatory molecules by processing cytokines or adhesion molecules. In animal models, growing evidences suggest that MMPs play important roles in asthma phenotypes. Some MMP genes (e.g. MMP-9 and MMP-12) have recently been shown to be associated with asthma in Caucasian populations. We investigated whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in MMP-7 and MMP-12 could affect the susceptibility to and clinical phenotypes of asthma in the Japanese population.
We conducted a case-control study between SNPs in MMP-7 and MMP-12 genes and asthma-related phenotypes using childhood and adult Japanese populations (653 childhood asthma patients and 423 controls, and 428 adult asthma patients and 646 controls, respectively). To investigate the effects of amino acid substitutions by SNPs on MMPs' enzymatic activity, MMP activity assays were performed using commercially available kits based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) peptide. We also evaluated the effect of 3’UTR SNP in MMP-7 on its mRNA stability and the effect of SNP in MMP-12 on its antimicrobial activity.
We found that, in the Japanese population, SNPs of MMP-7 (rs10502001, G/A, Arg77His; rs14983, C/T, 3’UTR) (P = 0.006; odds ratio (OR), 1.46; 95% confidential interval (CI), 1.126-1.903) and MMP-12 (rs652438, A/G, Asn357Ser) (P = 0.015; OR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.002-2.556) showed significant association with adult and childhood asthma, respectively. We also found that the SNP (rs652438) in MMP-12 was associated with severity in adult asthma (P = 0.010). Using supernatant from cultured HEK293 cells stably transfected with the pcDNA3.1(+)-MMP-7 or MMP-12 as MMP proteins, we evaluated activation kinetics, rate of proteolytic cleavage of FRET peptide, Michaelis constant, and substrate specificity of the enzyme. In this system, we couldn't detect the functional effects of amino acid substitutions by SNPs on the enzymatic activity.
Our association study suggested that genetic variants of MMP7 and MMP12 conferred risk for development of asthma in the Japanese population.
PMCID: PMC3512818
12.  ORAI1 Genetic Polymorphisms Associated with the Susceptibility of Atopic Dermatitis in Japanese and Taiwanese Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29387.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. Multiple genetic and environmental factors are thought to be responsible for susceptibility to AD. In this study, we collected 2,478 DNA samples including 209 AD patients and 729 control subjects from Taiwanese population and 513 AD patients and 1027 control subject from Japanese population for sequencing and genotyping ORAI1. A total of 14 genetic variants including 3 novel single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the ORAI1 gene were identified. Our results indicated that a non-synonymous SNP (rs3741596, Ser218Gly) associated with the susceptibility of AD in the Japanese population but not in the Taiwanese population. However, there is another SNP of ORAI1 (rs3741595) associated with the risk of AD in the Taiwanese population but not in the Japanese population. Taken together, our results indicated that genetic polymorphisms of ORAI1 are very likely to be involved in the susceptibility of AD.
PMCID: PMC3258251  PMID: 22253717
13.  Variants of C-C Motif Chemokine 22 (CCL22) Are Associated with Susceptibility to Atopic Dermatitis: Case-Control Studies 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26987.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common inflammatory skin disease caused by multiple genetic and environmental factors. AD is characterized by the local infiltration of T helper type 2 (Th2) cells. Recent clinical studies have shown important roles of the Th2 chemokines, CCL22 and CCL17 in the pathogenesis of AD. To investigate whether polymorphisms of the CCL22 gene affect the susceptibility to AD, we conducted association studies and functional studies of the related variants. We first resequenced the CCL22 gene and found a total of 39 SNPs. We selected seven tag SNPs in the CCL22 gene, and conducted association studies using two independent Japanese populations (1st population, 916 cases and 1,032 controls; 2nd population 1,034 cases and 1,004 controls). After the association results were combined by inverse variance method, we observed a significant association at rs4359426 (meta-analysis, combined P = 9.6×10−6; OR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.65–0.85). Functional analysis revealed that the risk allele of rs4359426 contributed to higher expression levels of CCL22 mRNA. We further examined the allelic differences in the binding of nuclear proteins by electrophoretic mobility shift assay. The signal intensity of the DNA-protein complex derived from the G allele of rs223821, which was in absolute LD with rs4359426, was higher than that from the A allele. Although further functional analyses are needed, it is likely that related variants play a role in susceptibility to AD in a gain-of-function manner. Our findings provide a new insight into the etiology and pathogenesis of AD.
PMCID: PMC3219642  PMID: 22125604
14.  Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies HLA-DP as a Susceptibility Gene for Pediatric Asthma in Asian Populations 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(7):e1002170.
Asthma is a complex phenotype influenced by genetic and environmental factors. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) with 938 Japanese pediatric asthma patients and 2,376 controls. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showing strong associations (P<1×10−8) in GWAS were further genotyped in an independent Japanese samples (818 cases and 1,032 controls) and in Korean samples (835 cases and 421 controls). SNP rs987870, located between HLA-DPA1 and HLA-DPB1, was consistently associated with pediatric asthma in 3 independent populations (Pcombined = 2.3×10−10, odds ratio [OR] = 1.40). HLA-DP allele analysis showed that DPA1*0201 and DPB1*0901, which were in strong linkage disequilibrium, were strongly associated with pediatric asthma (DPA1*0201: P = 5.5×10−10, OR = 1.52, and DPB1*0901: P = 2.0×10−7, OR = 1.49). Our findings show that genetic variants in the HLA-DP locus are associated with the risk of pediatric asthma in Asian populations.
Author Summary
Asthma is the most common chronic disorder in children, and asthma exacerbation is an important cause of childhood morbidity and hospitalization. Here, taking advantage of recent technological advances in human genetics, we performed a genome-wide association study and follow-up validation studies to identify genetic variants for asthma. By examining 6,428 Asians, we found rs987870 and HLA-DPA1*0201/DPB1*0901 were associated with pediatric asthma. The association signal was stretched in the region of HLA-DPB2, collagen, type XI, alpha 2 (COL11A2), and Retinoid X receptor beta (RXRB), but strong linkage disequilibrium in this region made it difficult to specifically identify causative variants. Interestingly, the SNP (or the HLA-DP allele) associated with pediatric asthma (Th-2 type immune diseases) in the present study confers protection against Th-1 type immune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, the association results obtained in the present study could partially explain the inverse relationship between asthma and Th-1 type immune diseases and may lead to better understanding of Th-1/Th-2 immune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3140987  PMID: 21814517
15.  An interaction between Nrf2 polymorphisms and smoking status affects annual decline in FEV1: a longitudinal retrospective cohort study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:97.
An Nrf2-dependent response is a central protective mechanism against oxidative stress. We propose that particular genetic variants of the Nrf2 gene may be associated with a rapid forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) decline induced by cigarette smoking.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 915 Japanese from a general population. Values of annual decline in FEV1 were computed for each individual using a linear mixed-effect model. Multiple clinical characteristics were assessed to identify associations with annual FEV1 decline. Tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the Nrf2 gene (rs2001350, rs6726395, rs1962142, rs2364722) and one functional SNP (rs6721961) in the Nrf2 promoter region were genotyped to assess interactions between the Nrf2 polymorphisms and smoking status on annual FEV1 decline.
Annual FEV1 decline was associated with smoking behavior and inversely correlated with FEV1/FVC and FEV1 % predicted. The mean annual FEV1 declines in individuals with rs6726395 G/G, G/A, or A/A were 26.2, 22.3, and 20.8 mL/year, respectively, and differences in these means were statistically significant (pcorr = 0.016). We also found a significant interaction between rs6726395 genotype and smoking status on the FEV1 decline (p for interaction = 0.011). The haplotype rs2001350T/rs6726395A/rs1962142A/rs2364722A/rs6721961T was associated with lower annual decline in FEV1 (p = 0.004).
This study indicated that an Nrf2-dependent response to exogenous stimuli may affect annual FEV1 decline in the general population. It appears that the genetic influence of Nrf2 is modified by smoking status, suggesting the presence of a gene-environment interaction in accelerated decline in FEV1.
PMCID: PMC3160350  PMID: 21774808
16.  Identification of Nine Novel Loci Associated with White Blood Cell Subtypes in a Japanese Population 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(6):e1002067.
White blood cells (WBCs) mediate immune systems and consist of various subtypes with distinct roles. Elucidation of the mechanism that regulates the counts of the WBC subtypes would provide useful insights into both the etiology of the immune system and disease pathogenesis. In this study, we report results of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and a replication study for the counts of the 5 main WBC subtypes (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, basophils, and eosinophils) using 14,792 Japanese subjects enrolled in the BioBank Japan Project. We identified 12 significantly associated loci that satisfied the genome-wide significance threshold of P<5.0×10−8, of which 9 loci were novel (the CDK6 locus for the neutrophil count; the ITGA4, MLZE, STXBP6 loci, and the MHC region for the monocyte count; the SLC45A3-NUCKS1, GATA2, NAALAD2, ERG loci for the basophil count). We further evaluated associations in the identified loci using 15,600 subjects from Caucasian populations. These WBC subtype-related loci demonstrated a variety of patterns of pleiotropic associations within the WBC subtypes, or with total WBC count, platelet count, or red blood cell-related traits (n = 30,454), which suggests unique and common functional roles of these loci in the processes of hematopoiesis. This study should contribute to the understanding of the genetic backgrounds of the WBC subtypes and hematological traits.
Author Summary
White blood cells (WBCs) are blood cells that mediate immune systems and defend the body against foreign microorganisms. It is well known that WBCs consist of various subtypes of cells with distinct roles, although the genetic background of each of the WBC subtypes has yet to be examined. In this study, we report genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for the 5 main WBC subtypes (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, basophils, and eosinophils) using 14,792 Japanese subjects. We identified 12 significantly associated genetic loci, and 9 of them were novel. Evaluation of the associations of these identified loci in cohorts of Caucasian populations demonstrated both ethnically common and divergent genetic backgrounds of the WBC subtypes. These loci also indicated a variety of patterns of pleiotropic associations within the hematological traits, including the other WBC subtypes, total WBC count, platelet count, or red blood cell-related traits, which suggests unique and common functional roles of these loci in the processes of hematopoiesis.
PMCID: PMC3128095  PMID: 21738478
17.  Lower FEV1 in non-COPD, nonasthmatic subjects: association with smoking, annual decline in FEV1, total IgE levels, and TSLP genotypes 
Few studies have investigated the significance of decreased FEV1 in non-COPD, nonasthmatic healthy subjects. We hypothesized that a lower FEV1 in these subjects is a potential marker of an increased susceptibility to obstructive lung disease such as asthma and COPD. This was a cross-sectional analysis of 1505 Japanese adults. We divided the population of healthy adults with no respiratory diseases whose FEV1/FVC ratio was ≥70% (n = 1369) into 2 groups according to their prebronchodilator FEV1 (% predicted) measurements: <80% (n = 217) and ≥80% (n = 1152). We compared clinical data – including gender, age, smoking habits, total IgE levels, and annual decline of FEV1 – between these 2 groups. In addition, as our group recently found that TSLP variants are associated with asthma and reduced lung function, we assessed whether TSLP single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were associated with baseline lung function in non-COPD, nonasthmatic healthy subjects (n = 1368). Although about half of the subjects with lower FEV1 had never smoked, smoking was the main risk factor for the decreased FEV1 in non-COPD, nonasthmatic subjects. However, the subjects with lower FEV1 had a significantly higher annual decline in FEV1 independent of smoking status. Airflow obstruction was associated with increased levels of total serum IgE (P = 0.029) and with 2 functional TSLP SNPs (corrected P = 0.027–0.058 for FEV1% predicted, corrected P = 0.015–0.033 for FEV1/FVC). This study highlights the importance of early recognition of a decreased FEV1 in healthy subjects without evident pulmonary diseases because it predicts a rapid decline in FEV1 irrespective of smoking status. Our series of studies identified TSLP variants as a potential susceptibility locus to asthma and to lower lung function in non-COPD, nonasthmatic healthy subjects, which may support the contention that genetic determinants of lung function influence susceptibility to asthma.
PMCID: PMC3064418  PMID: 21468164
airflow obstruction; asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; pulmonary function test; thymic stromal lymphopoietin
18.  Large scale genotyping study for asthma in the Japanese population 
BMC Research Notes  2009;2:54.
Asthma is a complex phenotype that is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Genome-wide linkage and association studies have been performed to identify susceptibility genes for asthma. These studies identified new genes and pathways implicated in this disease, many of which were previously unknown.
To perform a large-scale genotyping study to identify asthma-susceptibility genes in the Japanese population.
We performed a large-scale, three-stage association study on 288 atopic asthmatics and 1032 controls, by using multiplex PCR-Invader assay methods at 82,935 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (1st stage). SNPs that were strongly associated with asthma were further genotyped in samples from asthmatic families (216 families, 762 members, 2nd stage), 541 independent patients, and 744 controls (3rd stage).
SNPs located in the 5' region of PEX19 (rs2820421) were significantly associated with P < 0.05 through the 1st to the 3rd stage analyses; however, the P values did not reach statistically significant levels (combined, P = 3.8 × 10-5; statistically significant levels with Bonferroni correction, P = 6.57 × 10-7). SNPs on HPCAL1 (rs3771140) and on IL18R1 (rs3213733) were associated with asthma in the 1st and 2nd stage analyses, but the associations were not observed in the 3rd stage analysis.
No association attained genome-wide significance, but several loci for possible association emerged. Future studies are required to validate these results for the prevention and treatment of asthma.
PMCID: PMC2674055  PMID: 19335888

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