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1.  The rare TREM2 R47H variant exerts only a modest effect on Alzheimer disease risk 
Neurology  2014;83(15):1353-1358.
Recently, 2 independent studies reported that a rare missense variant, rs75932628 (R47H), in exon 2 of the gene encoding the “triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2” (TREM2) significantly increases the risk of Alzheimer disease (AD) with an effect size comparable to that of the APOE ε4 allele.
In this study, we attempted to replicate the association between rs75932628 and AD risk by directly genotyping rs75932628 in 2 independent Caucasian family cohorts consisting of 927 families (with 1,777 affected and 1,235 unaffected) and in 2 Caucasian case-control cohorts composed of 1,314 cases and 1,609 controls. In addition, we imputed genotypes in 3 independent Caucasian case-control cohorts containing 1,906 cases and 1,503 controls.
Meta-analysis of the 2 family-based and the 5 case-control cohorts yielded a p value of 0.0029, while the overall summary estimate (using case-control data only) resulted in an odds ratio of 1.67 (95% confidence interval 0.95–2.92) for the association between the TREM2 R47H and increased AD risk.
While our results serve to confirm the association between R47H and risk of AD, the observed effect on risk was substantially smaller than that previously reported.
PMCID: PMC4189101  PMID: 25186855
2.  T-Cell Therapy: Options for Infectious Diseases 
The emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis is challenging tuberculosis control worldwide. In the absence of an effective vaccine to prevent primary infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and tuberculosis disease, host-directed therapies may offer therapeutic options, particularly for patients with multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis where prognosis is often limited. CD8+ and CD4+ T cells mediate antigen-specific adaptive cellular immune responses. Their use in precision immunotherapy in clinical conditions, especially in treating cancer as well as for prevention of life-threatening viral infections in allogeneic transplant recipients, demonstrated safety and clinical efficacy. We review key achievements in T-cell therapy, including the use of recombinant immune recognition molecules (eg, T-cell receptors and CD19 chimeric antigen receptors), and discuss its potential in the clinical management of patients with drug-resistant and refractory tuberculosis failing conventional therapy.
PMCID: PMC4583575  PMID: 26409284
T-cells; adoptive cell therapy; Mtb; CAR; host-directed therapy
3.  Functional Immune Reconstitution by Interleukin-2 Adjunctive Therapy for HIV/Mycobacterial Co-infection 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2015;21(9):1685-1687.
PMCID: PMC4550166  PMID: 26291675
HIV; IL-2; immunotherapy; Mycobacterium tilburgii
4.  Adjusting heterogeneous ascertainment bias for genetic association analysis with extended families 
BMC Medical Genetics  2015;16:62.
In family-based association analysis, each family is typically ascertained from a single proband, which renders the effects of ascertainment bias heterogeneous among family members. This is contrary to case–control studies, and may introduce sample or ascertainment bias. Statistical efficiency is affected by ascertainment bias, and careful adjustment can lead to substantial improvements in statistical power. However, genetic association analysis has often been conducted using family-based designs, without addressing the fact that each proband in a family has had a great influence on the probability for each family member to be affected.
We propose a powerful and efficient statistic for genetic association analysis that considered the heterogeneity of ascertainment bias among family members, under the assumption that both prevalence and heritability of disease are available. With extensive simulation studies, we showed that the proposed method performed better than the existing methods, particularly for diseases with large heritability.
We applied the proposed method to the genome-wide association analysis of Alzheimer’s disease. Four significant associations with the proposed method were found.
Our significant findings illustrated the practical importance of this new analysis method.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12881-015-0198-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4593209  PMID: 26286599
Family-based association analysis; Ascertainment; Liability model
5.  Using Network Methodology to Infer Population Substructure 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0130708.
One of the main caveats of association studies is the possible affection by bias due to population stratification. Existing methods rely on model-based approaches like structure and ADMIXTURE or on principal component analysis like EIGENSTRAT. Here we provide a novel visualization technique and describe the problem of population substructure from a graph-theoretical point of view. We group the sequenced individuals into triads, which depict the relational structure, on the basis of a predefined pairwise similarity measure. We then merge the triads into a network and apply community detection algorithms in order to identify homogeneous subgroups or communities, which can further be incorporated as covariates into logistic regression. We apply our method to populations from different continents in the 1000 Genomes Project and evaluate the type 1 error based on the empirical p-values. The application to 1000 Genomes data suggests that the network approach provides a very fine resolution of the underlying ancestral population structure. Besides we show in simulations, that in the presence of discrete population structures, our developed approach maintains the type 1 error more precisely than existing approaches.
PMCID: PMC4476755  PMID: 26098940
6.  Quantitative Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization–Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry for Rapid Resistance Detection 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(12):4155-4162.
Antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative microorganisms is an increasing health care problem. The rapid detection of such resistance is crucial for starting an early specific therapy and to enable initiation of the required hygiene measures. With continued emphasis on reducing the cost of laboratory testing, only economical/low-cost approaches have a chance of being implemented. During recent years, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) has been developed to be a standard method in microbiology laboratories for the rapid and cost-efficient identification of microorganisms. Extending the usage of MALDI-TOF MS in the clinical microbiology laboratory to the area of resistance testing is an attractive option. Quantitative MALDI-TOF MS using an internal standard facilitates the measurement of the quantity of peptides and small proteins within a spectrum. These quantities correlate to the number of microorganisms and therefore to the growth of a microorganism. The comparison of growth in the presence or absence of an antibiotic allows for analysis of the susceptibility behavior of a strain. Here, we describe a novel method and its application in the analysis of 108 Klebsiella sp. isolates. After 1 h of incubation at a meropenem concentration of 8 μg/ml, a sensitivity of 97.3% and a specificity of 93.5% were achieved (compared to Etest results).
PMCID: PMC4313279  PMID: 25232164
7.  Combined Antigen-Specific Interferon-γ and Interleukin-2 Release Assay (FluoroSpot) for the Diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0120006.
To evaluate interleukin (IL)-2 and interferon (IFN)-γ secreting T-cells in parallel for the differentiation of latent infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection (LTBI) from active tuberculosis.
Following ex-vivo stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) with M. tuberculosis-specific antigens early secretory antigenic target (ESAT)-6 and culture filtrate protein (CFP)-10, immune responses were assessed by enzyme-linked immunospot IFN-γ release assay (EliSpot-IGRA) and a novel dual cytokine detecting fluorescence-linked immunospot (FluoroSpot) in 18 patients with pulmonary tuberculosis, 10 persons with previously cured tuberculosis, 25 individuals with LTBI and 16 healthy controls.
Correlation of IFN- γ+ spot-forming cells in EliSpot-IGRA and FluoroSpot were R2 = 0.67 for ESAT-6 and R2 = 0.73 for CFP-10. The number of IL-2- IFN- γ+ producing cells was higher in patients with tuberculosis compared with past tuberculosis (CFP-10-induced p = 0.0068) or individuals with LTBI (ESAT-6-induced p = 0.0136). A cutoff value of >16 CFP-10-induced IFN-γ+ secreting cells/200.000 PBMC in the EliSpot-IGRA discriminated with highest sensitivity and specificity (89% and 76%, respectively). However, overlap in cytokine responses precludes distinction between the cohorts on an individual basis.
Combined analysis of IFN-γ and IL-2 secretion by antigen specific T-cells does not allow a reliable differentiation between different states of M. tuberculosis infection in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC4364905  PMID: 25785445
8.  Quantitative Computed Tomography Measures of Pectoralis Muscle Area and Disease Severity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. A Cross-Sectional Study 
Rationale: Muscle wasting in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with a poor prognosis and is not readily assessed by measures of body mass index (BMI). BMI does not discriminate between relative proportions of adipose tissue and lean muscle and may be insensitive to early pathologic changes in body composition. Computed tomography (CT)–based assessments of the pectoralis muscles may provide insight into the clinical significance of skeletal muscles in smokers.
Objectives: We hypothesized that objective assessment of the pectoralis muscle area on chest CT scans provides information that is clinically relevant and independent of BMI.
Methods: Data from the ECLIPSE (Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints) Study (n = 73) were used to assess the relationship between pectoralis muscle area and fat-free mass. We then used data in a subset (n = 966) of a larger cohort, the COPDGene (COPD Genetic Epidemiology) Study, to explore the relationship between pectoralis muscle area and COPD-related traits.
Measurements and Main Results: We first investigated the correlation between pectoralis muscle area and fat-free mass, using data from a subset of participants in the ECLIPSE Study. We then further investigated pectoralis muscle area in COPDGene Study participants and found that higher pectoralis muscle area values were associated with greater height, male sex, and younger age. On subsequent clinical correlation, compared with BMI, pectoralis muscle area was more significantly associated with COPD-related traits, including spirometric measures, dyspnea, and 6-minute-walk distance (6MWD). For example, on average, each 10-cm2 increase in pectoralis muscle area was associated with a 0.8-unit decrease in the BODE (Body mass index, Obstruction, Dyspnea, Exercise) index (95% confidence interval, –1.0 to –0.6; P < 0.001). Furthermore, statistically significant associations between pectoralis muscle area and COPD-related traits remained even after adjustment for BMI.
Conclusions: CT-derived pectoralis muscle area provides relevant indices of COPD morbidity that may be more predictive of important COPD-related traits than BMI. However, the relationship with clinically relevant outcomes such as hospitalization and death requires additional investigation. Pectoralis muscle area is a convenient measure that can be collected in the clinical setting in addition to BMI.
PMCID: PMC4028743  PMID: 24558953
COPD; wasting; pectoral muscle area; imaging
9.  Risk loci for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis 
The Lancet. Respiratory medicine  2014;2(3):214-225.
The genetic risk factors for susceptibility to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are still largely unknown. Additional genetic variants are likely to be identified by genome-wide association studies in larger cohorts or specific subgroups.
Genome-wide association analysis in COPDGene (non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans) was combined with existing data from the ECLIPSE, NETT/NAS, and GenKOLS (Norway) studies. Analyses were performed both using all moderate-to-severe cases and the subset of severe cases. Top loci not previously described as genome-wide significant were genotyped in the ICGN study, and results combined in a joint meta-analysis.
Analysis of a total of 6,633 moderate-to-severe cases and 5,704 controls confirmed association at three known loci: CHRNA3/CHRNA5/IREB2, FAM13A, and HHIP (10−12 < P < 10−14), and also showed significant evidence of association at a novel locus near RIN3 (overall P, including ICGN = 5•4×10−9). In the severe COPD analysis (n=3,497), the effects at two of three previously described loci were significantly stronger; we also identified two additional loci previously reported to affect gene expression of MMP12 and TGFB2 (overall P = 2•6x10−9 and 8•3×10−9). RIN3 and TGFB2 expression levels were reduced in a set of Lung Tissue Research Consortium COPD lung tissue samples compared with controls.
In a genome-wide study of COPD, we confirmed associations at three known loci and found additional genome-wide significant associations with moderate-to-severe COPD near RIN3 and with severe COPD near MMP12 and TGFB2. Genetic variants, apart from alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, increase the risk of COPD. Our analysis of severe COPD suggests additional genetic variants may be identified by focusing on this subgroup.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the COPD Foundation through contributions from AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, and Sepracor; GlaxoSmithKline; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; US Department of Veterans Affairs.
PMCID: PMC4176924  PMID: 24621683
10.  Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis in Europe, 2010–2011 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2015;21(3):409-416.
Ongoing transmission, high levels of drug resistance, and poor diagnostic
Drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis is challenging elimination of tuberculosis (TB). We evaluated risk factors for TB and levels of second-line drug resistance in M. tuberculosis in patients in Europe with multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB. A total of 380 patients with MDR TB and 376 patients with non–MDR TB were enrolled at 23 centers in 16 countries in Europe during 2010–2011. A total of 52.4% of MDR TB patients had never been treated for TB, which suggests primary transmission of MDR M. tuberculosis. At initiation of treatment for MDR TB, 59.7% of M. tuberculosis strains tested were resistant to pyrazinamide, 51.1% were resistant to ≥1 second-line drug, 26.6% were resistant to second-line injectable drugs, 17.6% were resistant to fluoroquinolones, and 6.8% were extensively drug resistant. Previous treatment for TB was the strongest risk factor for MDR TB. High levels of primary transmission and advanced resistance to second-line drugs characterize MDR TB cases in Europe.
PMCID: PMC4344280  PMID: 25693485
tuberculosis and other mycobacteria; multidrug-resistant tuberculosis; MDR TB; extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis; XDR TB; drug resistance; risk; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; bacteria; TBNET; second-line drugs; Europe
11.  On the simultaneous association analysis of large genomic regions: a massive multi-locus association test 
Bioinformatics  2013;30(2):157-164.
Motivation: For samples of unrelated individuals, we propose a general analysis framework in which hundred thousands of genetic loci can be tested simultaneously for association with complex phenotypes. The approach is built on spatial-clustering methodology, assuming that genetic loci that are associated with the target phenotype cluster in certain genomic regions. In contrast to standard methodology for multilocus analysis, which has focused on the dimension reduction of the data, our multilocus association-clustering test profits from the availability of large numbers of genetic loci by detecting clusters of loci that are associated with the phenotype.
Results: The approach is computationally fast and powerful, enabling the simultaneous association testing of large genomic regions. Even the entire genome or certain chromosomes can be tested simultaneously. Using simulation studies, the properties of the approach are evaluated. In an application to a genome-wide association study for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, we illustrate the practical relevance of the proposed method by simultaneously testing all genotyped loci of the genome-wide association study and by testing each chromosome individually. Our findings suggest that statistical methodology that incorporates spatial-clustering information will be especially useful in whole-genome sequencing studies in which millions or billions of base pairs are recorded and grouped by genomic regions or genes, and are tested jointly for association.
Availability and implementation: Implementation of the approach is available upon request.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3892690  PMID: 24262215
12.  Attitudes about Tuberculosis Prevention in the Elimination Phase: A Survey among Physicians in Germany 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112681.
Targeted and stringent measures of tuberculosis prevention are necessary to achieve the goal of tuberculosis elimination in countries of low tuberculosis incidence.
We ascertained the knowledge about tuberculosis risk factors and stringency of tuberculosis prevention measures by a standardized questionnaire among physicians in Germany involved in the care of individuals from classical risk groups for tuberculosis.
510 physicians responded to the online survey. Among 16 risk factors immunosuppressive therapy, HIV-infection and treatment with TNF-antagonist were thought to be the most important risk factors for the development of tuberculosis in Germany. Exposure to a patient with tuberculosis ranked on the 10th position. In the event of a positive tuberculin-skin-test or interferon-γ release assay only 50%, 40%, 36% and 25% of physicians found that preventive chemotherapy was indicated for individuals undergoing tumor necrosis factor-antagonist therapy, close contacts of tuberculosis patients, HIV-infected individuals and migrants, respectively.
A remarkably low proportion of individuals with latent infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis belonging to classical risk groups for tuberculosis are considered candidates for preventive chemotherapy in Germany. Better knowledge about the risk for tuberculosis in different groups and more stringent and targeted preventive interventions will probably be necessary to achieve tuberculosis elimination in Germany.
PMCID: PMC4231044  PMID: 25393241
13.  Principal components methods for narrow-sense heritability in the analysis of multidimensional longitudinal cognitive phenotypes 
Genetic association studies of longitudinal cognitive phenotypes are an alternate approach to discovering genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. However, the standard linear mixed model approach is limited in the face of multidimensional longitudinal data and multiple genotypes. In this setting, the principal components of heritability (PCH) approach may increase efficiency by deriving a linear combination of phenotypes to maximize the heritability attributable to a particular genetic locus. The current study investigated the performance of two PCH methods, the Principal Components of Heritability Association Test (PCHAT) and C2BAT, in detecting association of the known Alzheimer’s disease susceptibility allele APOE-ε4 with cognitive function at baseline and decline in cognition over time.
PCHAT, C2BAT, and standard linear mixed models were used to test for association between APOE-ε4 allele and performance on 19 neuropsychological tests using subjects without dementia at baseline from the Religious Orders Study (ROS) (n=693) and Memory and Aging Project (MAP) (n=778). Analyses were conducted across the three methods for three nested phenotype definitions (all 19 measures, executive function and episodic memory measures, and episodic memory only), and for baseline data only vs. longitudinal change.
In all cases, APOE-ε4 was significantly associated with baseline level of and change over time in cognitive function, and PCHAT and C2BAT yielded evidence of association comparable to or stronger than conventional methods.
PCHAT, C2BAT, and other PCH methods may have utility for genetic association studies of multidimensional cognitive and other phenotypes by maximizing genetic information while limiting multiple comparisons.
PMCID: PMC3758806  PMID: 23650207
Principal components of heritability; multidimensional longitudinal data; cognitive decline; neuropsychological tests
14.  On the Analysis of Sequence Data: Testing for Disease Susceptibility Loci using Patterns of Linkage Disequilibrium 
Genetic epidemiology  2011;35(8):880-886.
Despite the numerous, successful applications of GWASs, there has been much difficulty in discovering DSLs. This is due to the fact that the GWAS approach is an indirect mapping technique, often identifying markers. For the identification of DSLs, which is required for the understanding of the genetic pathways for complex diseases, sequencing data that examines every genetic locus directly is necessary. Yet there is currently a lack of methodology targeted at the identification of the DSLs in sequencing data: existing methods localize the causal variant to a region, but not to a single variant and therefore do not allow one to identify unique loci that cause the phenotype association. Here, we have developed such a method to determine if there is evidence that an individual loci affects case-control status with sequencing data. This methodology differs from other rare variant approaches: rather than testing an entire region comprised of many loci for association with the phenotype, we can identify the individual genetic locus that causes the association between the phenotype and the genetic region. For each variant, the test determines if the pattern of LD across the other variants coincides with the pattern expected if that variant were a DSL. Power simulations show that the method successfully detects the causal variant, distinguishing it from other nearby variants (in high LD with the causal variant), and outperforms the standard tests. The efficiency of the method is especially apparent with small samples, which are currently realistic for studies due to sequence data costs. The practical relevance of the approach is illustrated by an application to a sequence dataset for nonsyndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate. The proposed method implicated one variant (p=0.002, .062 after Bonferroni correction), which was not found by standard analyses. Code for implementation is available.
PMCID: PMC4181609  PMID: 22125225
15.  Dendritic cell recruitment in response to skin antigen tests in HIV-1 infected individuals correlates with the level of T cell infiltration 
AIDS (London, England)  2013;27(7):1071-1080.
To study whether in vivo recruitment of dendritic cells (DCs) in response to antigen administration in the skin is altered during HIV-1 infection.
Skin punch biopsies were collected from HIV-1+ as well as seronegative individuals at 48 hours post intradermal injection of inactivated antigens of mumps virus, Candida albicans or purified protein derivate (PPD) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Cryosections were analyzed by in situ staining and computerized imaging.
Control skin biopsies showed that there was no difference in the number of skin-resident DCs between seronegative and HIV-1+ individuals. Antigen injection resulted in substantial infiltration of DCs compared to the frequencies found in donor-matched control skin. In HIV-1+ individuals, CD123+/CD303+ plasmacytoid DCs and CD11c+ myeloid DCs, including the CD141+ cross-presenting subset, were recruited at lower levels compared to healthy controls in response to PPD and mumps but not C. albicans. The level of DC recruitment correlated with the frequencies of T cells infiltrating the respective antigen sites. Ki67+ cycling T cells at the injection sites were much more frequent in response to each of the antigens in the HIV-1+ individuals, including those with AIDS, compared to healthy controls.
Multiple DC subsets infiltrate the dermis in response to antigen exposure. There was no obvious depletion or deficiency in mobilization of DCs in response to antigen skin tests during chronic HIV-1 infection. Instead, the levels of antigen-specific memory T cells that accumulate at the antigen site may determine the level of DC infiltration.
PMCID: PMC4176731  PMID: 23324660
HIV-1; dendritic cells; plasmacytoid; skin; skin test; delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction; Ki67
16.  Development of a One-Step Probe Based Molecular Assay for Rapid Immunodiagnosis of Infection with M. tuberculosis Using Dried Blood Spots 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e105628.
Antigen specific release of IP-10 is the most promising alternative marker to IFN-γ for infection with M. tuberculosis. Compared to Interferon-γ release assays (IGRA), IP-10 is released in high levels enabling novel approaches such as field friendly dried blood spots (DBS) and molecular detection.
To develop a robust IP-10 based molecular assay for the diagnosis of infection with M. tubercuolsis from whole blood and DBS.
We developed a one-step probe based multiplex RT-qPCR assay for detecting IP-10 and IFN-γ mRNA expression from whole blood and DBS samples. The assay was validated and applied for the diagnosis of M. tuberculosis infection in DBS samples from 43 patients with confirmed TB, 13 patients with latent TB and 96 presumed uninfected controls. In parallel, IP-10 and INF-γ levels were measured in Quantiferon (QFT-TB) plasma supernatants.
IP-10 mRNA upregulation was detectable at 4 hours after stimulation (6 fold upregulation) peaking at 8 hours (108 fold upregulation). IFN-γ expression occurred in concert but levels were lower (peak 6.7 fold upregulation). IP-10 gene expression level was significantly higher in patients with tuberculosis (median 31.2, IQR 10.7–67.0) and persons with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) (41.2, IQR 9.8–64.9) compared to healthy controls (1.6, IQR 1.1–2.4; p<0.0001). The IP-10 mRNA and protein based tests had comparable diagnostic accuracy to QFT-TB, sensitivity (85% and 88% vs 85%) and specificity (96% and 96% vs 97%, p = ns.).
We developed a rapid, robust and accurate molecular immunodiagnostic test for M. tuberculosis infection. By combining DBS based sample acquisition, mail or currier based sample transport with centralized molecular detection, this immunodiagnostic test concept can reduce the local technological requirements everywhere and make it possible to offer highly accurate immunodiagnostic tests in low resource settings.
PMCID: PMC4153573  PMID: 25184553
17.  Evaluation of Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization–Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry for Rapid Detection of β-Lactam Resistance in Enterobacteriaceae Derived from Blood Cultures 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(3):924-930.
The identification of pathogens directly from blood cultures by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) can be a valuable tool for improving the treatment of patients with sepsis and bacteremia. However, the increasing incidence of multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria makes it difficult to predict resistance patterns based only on pathogen identification. Most therapy regimens for sepsis caused by Gram-negative rods consist of at least one β-lactam antibiotic. Thus, it would be of great benefit to have an early marker of resistance against these drugs. In the current study, we tested 100 consecutive blood cultures containing Enterobacteriaceae for resistance against 3rd-generation cephalosporins in a MALDI-TOF MS β-lactamase assay. Escherichia coli was also tested for resistance against aminopenicillins. The results of the β-lactamase assay were compared with those of conventional methods. The assay permitted discrimination between E. coli strains that were resistant or susceptible to aminopenicillins with a sensitivity and a specificity of 100%. The same was true for resistance to 3rd-generation cephalosporins in Enterobacteriaceae that constitutively produced class C β-lactamases. Discrimination was more difficult in species expressing class A β-lactamases, as these enzymes can generate false-positive results. Thus, the sensitivity and specificity for this group were 100% and 91.5%, respectively. The test permitted the prediction of resistance within 2.5 h after the blood culture was flagged as positive.
PMCID: PMC3957742  PMID: 24403301
18.  Time to Culture Positivity and Sputum Smear Microscopy during Tuberculosis Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e106075.
Sputum smear microscopy is widely used for tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment monitoring. We evaluated the correlation between smear microscopy and time to liquid culture positivity during early tuberculosis treatment. The study included patients with smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis hospitalized at a tuberculosis reference centre in Germany between 01/2012 and 05/2013. Patient records were reviewed and clinical, radiological and microbiological data were analysed. Sputum samples were collected before treatment initiation and weekly thereafter. A number of 310 sputum samples from 30 patients were analysed. Time to liquid culture positivity inversely correlated with smear grade (Spearman's rho −0.439, p<0.001). There was a better correlation within the first two months vs. after two months of therapy (−0.519 vs. −0.416) with a trend to a more rapid increase in time to positivity between baseline and week 2 in patients who culture-converted within the first two months (5.9 days vs. 9.4 days, p = 0.3). In conclusion, the numbers of acid-fast bacilli in sputum smears of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis and time to culture positivity for M. tuberculosis cultures from sputum are correlated before and during tuberculosis treatment. A considerable proportion of patients with culture conversion after two months of therapy continued to have detectable acid-fast bacilli on sputum smears.
PMCID: PMC4149502  PMID: 25171337
19.  A genome-wide association study of bronchodilator response in asthmatics 
The pharmacogenomics journal  2013;14(1):41-47.
Reversibility of airway obstruction in response to β2-agonists is highly variable among asthmatics, which is partially attributed to genetic factors. In a genome-wide association study of acute bronchodilator response (BDR) to inhaled albuterol, 534,290 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were tested in 403 white trios from the Childhood Asthma Management Program using five statistical models to determine the most robust genetic associations. The primary replication phase included 1397 polymorphisms in three asthma trials (pooled n=764). The second replication phase tested 13 SNPs in three additional asthma populations (n=241, n=215, and n=592). An intergenic SNP on chromosome 10, rs11252394, proximal to several excellent biological candidates, significantly replicated (p=1.98×10−7) in the primary replication trials. An intronic SNP (rs6988229) in the collagen (COL22A1) locus also provided strong replication signals (p=8.51×10−6). This study applied a robust approach for testing the genetic basis of BDR and identified novel loci associated with this drug response in asthmatics.
PMCID: PMC3706515  PMID: 23508266
pharmacogenetics; asthma; bronchodilator response; genome-wide association study; albuterol
20.  On the Follow-Up of Genome-Wide Association Studies: An Overall Test for the Most Promising S.N.P.’s 
Genetic epidemiology  2011;35(5):303-309.
Even in large-scale genome-wide association studies, only a fraction of the true associations are detected at the genome-wide significance level. When few or no associations reach the significance threshold, one strategy is to follow-up on the most promising candidates, i.e. the single nucleotide polymorphisms with the smallest association-test p-values, by genotyping them in additional studies. In this communication, we propose an overall test for genome-wide association studies that analyzes the SNP’s with the most promising p-values simultaneously and thereby allows an early assessment of whether the follow- up of the selected SNP’s is likely promising. We theoretically derive the properties of the proposed overall test under the null hypothesis and assess its power based on simulation studies. An application to a GWAS for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease suggests that there are true association signals among the top SNPs and that an additional follow-up study is promising.
PMCID: PMC4096304  PMID: 21374717
genome wide association studies; snps association tests; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; statistical genetics; multiple testing
21.  An alternative hypothesis testing strategy for secondary phenotype data in case-control genetic association studies 
Frontiers in Genetics  2014;5:188.
Motivated by the challenges associated with accounting for the ascertainment when analyzing secondary phenotypes that are correlated with case-control status, Lin and Zeng have proposed a method that properly reflects the case-control sampling (Lin and Zeng, 2009). The Lin and Zeng method has the advantage of accurately estimating effect sizes for secondary phenotypes that are normally distributed or dichotomous. This method can be computationally intensive in practice under the null hypothesis when the likelihood surface that needs to be maximized can be relatively flat. We propose an extension of the Lin and Zeng method for hypothesis testing that uses proportional odds logistic regression to circumvent these computational issues. Through simulation studies, we compare the power and type-1 error rate of our method to standard approaches and Lin and Zeng's approach.
PMCID: PMC4076613  PMID: 25071819
secondary phenotype; case-control study; ascertainment; genetic association; proportional odds logistic regression
22.  Integrated Pathway-Based Approach Identifies Association between Genomic Regions at CTCF and CACNB2 and Schizophrenia 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(6):e1004345.
In the present study, an integrated hierarchical approach was applied to: (1) identify pathways associated with susceptibility to schizophrenia; (2) detect genes that may be potentially affected in these pathways since they contain an associated polymorphism; and (3) annotate the functional consequences of such single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the affected genes or their regulatory regions. The Global Test was applied to detect schizophrenia-associated pathways using discovery and replication datasets comprising 5,040 and 5,082 individuals of European ancestry, respectively. Information concerning functional gene-sets was retrieved from the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes, Gene Ontology, and the Molecular Signatures Database. Fourteen of the gene-sets or pathways identified in the discovery dataset were confirmed in the replication dataset. These include functional processes involved in transcriptional regulation and gene expression, synapse organization, cell adhesion, and apoptosis. For two genes, i.e. CTCF and CACNB2, evidence for association with schizophrenia was available (at the gene-level) in both the discovery study and published data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium schizophrenia study. Furthermore, these genes mapped to four of the 14 presently identified pathways. Several of the SNPs assigned to CTCF and CACNB2 have potential functional consequences, and a gene in close proximity to CACNB2, i.e. ARL5B, was identified as a potential gene of interest. Application of the present hierarchical approach thus allowed: (1) identification of novel biological gene-sets or pathways with potential involvement in the etiology of schizophrenia, as well as replication of these findings in an independent cohort; (2) detection of genes of interest for future follow-up studies; and (3) the highlighting of novel genes in previously reported candidate regions for schizophrenia.
Author Summary
Large-scale genetic studies of complex diseases such as schizophrenia have identified a variety of susceptibility loci. Since many of the respective variants have only a weak influence on disease risk, pathophysiological interpretation of the results is problematic. Investigation of the joint effects of multiple functionally related genes or pathways increases the power to detect disease related genes, and provides insights into the etiology of the disease in question. In the present study, an integrated hierarchical approach was applied to: (i) identify pathways associated with complex neuropsychiatric disease schizophrenia (ii) detect potentially affected genes in these pathways; and (iii) annotate the functional consequences of genetic markers in the affected genes or their regulatory regions. Two samples comprising >10,000 individuals of European ancestry as well as data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium schizophrenia study were examined. Pathways representing transcriptional regulation and gene expression, cell adhesion, apoptosis, and synapse organization showed significant association with schizophrenia. In particular, CTCF, CACNB2, and ARL5B, i.e. genes involved in chromatin modulation, calcium channel signaling and membrane transport, respectively, were highlighted as candidate genes for schizophrenia risk.
PMCID: PMC4046913  PMID: 24901509
23.  Fish intake during pregnancy and the risk of child asthma and allergic rhinitis -longitudinal evidence from the Danish National Birth Cohort 
The British journal of nutrition  2013;110(7):1313-1325.
Maternal fish intake during pregnancy may influence risk of child asthma and allergic rhinitis, yet evidence is conflicting on its association with these outcomes.
We examined associations of maternal fish intake during pregnancy with child asthma and allergic rhinitis. Mothers in the Danish National Birth Cohort (N=28,936) reported their fish intake at 12 and 30 weeks of gestation. Using multivariate logistic regression, we examined associations of fish intake with child wheeze, asthma, and rhinitis assessed at several time points: ever wheeze, recurrent wheeze (>3 episodes), ever asthma and allergic rhinitis, and current asthma, assessed at 18 months (N~22,000) and 7 years (N~17,000) using self-report and registry data on hospitalizations and prescribed medications.
Compared to consistently high fish intake during pregnancy (fish as a sandwich or hot meal >=2-3 times/week), never eating fish was associated with higher risk of child asthma diagnosis at 18 months (1·30, 95%CI: 1·05, 1·63, P=0.02), and ever asthma by hospitalization (1·46, 95%CI: 0·99, 2·13, P=0.05) and medication prescription (1·37, 95%CI: 1·10, 1·71, P=0·01). A dose-response was present for asthma at 18 months only (P for trend: 0·001). We found no associations with wheeze or recurrent wheeze at 18 months or with allergic rhinitis.
Our results suggest that high (vs. no) maternal fish intake during pregnancy is protective against both early and ever asthma in 7 year old children.
PMCID: PMC4035354  PMID: 23473120
fish; cohort study; asthma; allergic rhinitis
24.  MALDI Biotyper-Based Rapid Resistance Detection by Stable-Isotope Labeling 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(11):3741-3748.
Against the background of increasing numbers of resistant microorganisms, the fast and cost-efficient detection of microbial resistance is an important clinical requirement for optimal therapeutic intervention. Current routine assays take at least 5 h, but in most cases an overnight incubation is necessary to identify resistant isolates. The usage of matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) profiling in combination with growth media containing isotopically labeled amino acids facilitates the detection of resistant microorganisms after 3 h or less directly from the profile spectrum. Growing microorganisms incorporate isotopically labeled amino acids, increasing protein masses and thereby leading to mass shifts of their corresponding peaks in the profile spectra. In the presence of antibiotics, only resistant microorganisms are able to grow and to incorporate the labeled amino acids. This leads to a difference in the mass spectra of susceptible and resistant isolates, allowing their differentiation. In the presented study, we demonstrated the applicability of this novel approach for the detection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and tested different bioinformatics approaches for automated data interpretation.
PMCID: PMC3889761  PMID: 24006001
25.  Dissecting direct and indirect genetic effects on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility 
Human genetics  2013;132(4):431-441.
Cigarette smoking is the major environmental risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Genome-wide association studies have provided compelling associations for three loci with COPD. In this study, we aimed to estimate direct, i.e., independent from smoking, and indirect effects of those loci on COPD development using mediation analysis. We included a total of 3,424 COPD cases and 1,872 unaffected controls with data on two smoking-related phenotypes: lifetime average smoking intensity and cumulative exposure to tobacco smoke (pack years). Our analysis revealed that effects of two linked variants (rs1051730 and rs8034191) in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development are significantly, yet not entirely, mediated by the smoking-related phenotypes. Approximately 30 % of the total effect of variants in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development was mediated by pack years. Simultaneous analysis of modestly (r2 = 0.21) linked markers in CHRNA3 and IREB2 revealed that an even larger (~42 %) proportion of the total effect of the CHRNA3 locus on COPD was mediated by pack years after adjustment for an IREB2 single nucleotide polymorphism. This study confirms the existence of direct effects of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3, IREB2, FAM13A and HHIP loci on COPD development. While the association of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 locus with COPD is significantly mediated by smoking-related phenotypes, IREB2 appears to affect COPD independently of smoking.
PMCID: PMC3600068  PMID: 23299987

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