Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory disease that affects over 300 million people worldwide. Glucocorticoids are a mainstay therapy for asthma because they exert anti-inflammatory effects in multiple lung tissues, including the airway smooth muscle (ASM). However, the mechanism by which glucocorticoids suppress inflammation in ASM remains poorly understood. Using RNA-Seq, a high-throughput sequencing method, we characterized transcriptomic changes in four primary human ASM cell lines that were treated with dexamethasone—a potent synthetic glucocorticoid (1 µM for 18 hours). Based on a Benjamini-Hochberg corrected p-value <0.05, we identified 316 differentially expressed genes, including both well known (DUSP1, KLF15, PER1, TSC22D3) and less investigated (C7, CCDC69, CRISPLD2) glucocorticoid-responsive genes. CRISPLD2, which encodes a secreted protein previously implicated in lung development and endotoxin regulation, was found to have SNPs that were moderately associated with inhaled corticosteroid resistance and bronchodilator response among asthma patients in two previously conducted genome-wide association studies. Quantitative RT-PCR and Western blotting showed that dexamethasone treatment significantly increased CRISPLD2 mRNA and protein expression in ASM cells. CRISPLD2 expression was also induced by the inflammatory cytokine IL1β, and small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of CRISPLD2 further increased IL1β-induced expression of IL6 and IL8. Our findings offer a comprehensive view of the effect of a glucocorticoid on the ASM transcriptome and identify CRISPLD2 as an asthma pharmacogenetics candidate gene that regulates anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids in the ASM.
Family and twin studies suggest that a range of neurocognitive traits index the inherited liability to ADHD; however, the utility of such measures as endophenotypes in molecular genetic studies remains largely untested. The current paper examined whether the inclusion of neurocognitive measures in a genomewide linkage analysis of ADHD could aid in identifying QTL linked to the behavioral symptoms of the condition. Data were from an affected sibling pair linkage study of DSM-IV ADHD conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital. The sample included 1,212 individuals from 271 families. ADHD symptoms were assessed with the K-SADS-E. The neurocognitive battery included Wechsler Intelligence Scales subtests, the Stroop, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), the Rey Osterreith Complex Figure, a working memory CPT, the CVLT and WRAT-III subscales. Evidence for linkage was assessed using a simulation-based method that combines information from univariate analyses into the equivalent of a multivariate test. After correction for multiple trait testing, a region on chromosome 3q13 showed suggestive linkage to all neurocognitive traits examined and inattention symptoms of ADHD. The second highest peak occurred on 22q12 but showed linkage to a single subscale of the WCST. In univariate analysis, this region retained criteria for suggestive linkage to this measure after correction for multiple trait testing. Our primary findings raise the possibility that one or more genes on 3q13 influence neurocognitive functions and behavioral symptoms of inattention. Overall, these data support the utility of neurocognitive traits as ADHD endophenotypes, but also highlight their limited genetic overlap with the disorder.
ADHD; multivariate linkage; endophenotype; cognition
Past studies have demonstrated that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the sodium-bicarbonate co-transporter gene (SLC4A5) are associated with hypertension. We tested the hypothesis that SNPs in SLC4A5 are associated with salt-sensitivity of blood pressure (BP) in 185 Caucasians consuming an isocaloric constant diet with a randomized order of 7 days low Na+ (10 mmol/d) and 7 days high Na+ (300 mmol/d) intake. Salt-sensitivity was defined as a ≥7mm Hg increase in mean arterial pressure (MAP) during a randomized transition between high and low Na+ diet.
A total of 35 polymorphisms in 17 candidate genes were assayed, 25 of which were tested for association. Association analyses with salt-sensitivity revealed three variants that associated with salt-sensitivity, two in SLC4A5 (P <0.001), and one in GRK4 (P = 0.020). Of these, two SNPs in SLC4A5 (rs7571842 and rs10177833) demonstrated highly significant results and large effects sizes, using logistic regression. These two SNPs had P values of 1.0×10−4 and 3.1×10−4 with odds ratios of 0.221 and 0.221 in unadjusted regression models, respectively, with the G allele at both sites conferring protection. These SNPs remained significant after adjusting for BMI and age, (P = 8.9×10−5 and 2.6×10−4 and odds ratios 0.210 and 0.286, respectively). Further, the association of these SNPS with salt-sensitivity was replicated in a second hypertensive population. Meta-analysis demonstrated significant associations of both SNPs with salt-sensitivity [rs7571842 (P=1.2×10−5); rs1017783 (P=1.1×10−4)]. In conclusion, SLC4A5 variants are strongly associated with salt-sensitivity of BP in two separate Caucasian populations.
Genetics-human; Genetics-association studies; Cardiovascular disease; Hypertension (Kidney); Blood Pressure; Sodium-bicarbonate co-transporter; Salt-sensitivity; Hypertension; Genetics
A pro-asthmatic culture milieu and β2-agonist (isoproterenol) were previously shown to regulate the expression of select transcription factors (TFs) within human airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells. This study tests 1116 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across 98 of these TF genes for association with bronchodilator response (BDR) in asthma patients. Genotyping was conducted using the Illumina HumanHap550v3 Beadchip in 403 non-Hispanic White asthmatic children and their parents. SNPs were evaluated for association with BDR using family and population-based analyses. Forty-two SNPs providing p values < 0.1 in both analyses were then genotyped in three adult asthma trials. One SNP 5’ of the thyroid hormone receptor beta gene was associated with BDR in the childhood population and two adult populations (p value = 0.0012). This investigation identified a novel locus for inter-individual variability in BDR and represents a translation of a cellular drug-response study to potential personalization of clinical asthma management.
Bronchodilator response; transcription factor; association; thyroid hormone receptor β; asthma; pharmacogenetics
Vitamin D deficiency is becoming more apparent in many populations. Genetic factors may play a role in the maintenance of vitamin D levels. The objective of this study was to perform a genome-wide analysis (GWAS) of vitamin D levels, including replication of prior GWAS results. We measured 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels in serum collected at the time of enrollment and at year 4 in 572 Caucasian children with asthma, who were part of a multi-center clinical trial, the Childhood Asthma Management Program. Replication was performed in a second cohort of 592 asthmatics from Costa Rica and a third cohort of 516 Puerto Rican asthmatics. In addition, we attempted replication of three SNPs that were previously identified in a large GWAS of Caucasian individuals. The setting included data from a clinical trial of childhood asthmatics and two cohorts of asthmatics recruited for genetic studies of asthma. The main outcome measure was circulating 25(OH)D levels. The 25(OH)D levels at the two time-points were only modestly correlated with each other (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.33) in the CAMP population. We identified SNPs that were nominally associated with 25(OH)D levels at two time-points in CAMP, and replicated four SNPs in the Costa Rican cohort: rs11002969, rs163221, rs1678849, and rs4864976. However, these SNPs were not significantly associated with 25(OH)D levels in a third population of Puerto Rican asthmatics. We were able to replicate the SNP with the strongest effect, previously reported in a large GWAS: rs2282679 (GC), and we were able to replicate another SNP, rs10741657 (CYP2R1), to a lesser degree. We were able to replicate two of three prior significant findings in a GWAS of 25(OH)D levels. Other SNPs may be additionally associated with 25(OH)D levels in certain populations.
The relative contributions of genetics and environment to asthma in Hispanics or to asthma in children younger than 3 years are not well understood.
To examine the relative contributions of genetics and environment to early-childhood asthma by performing a longitudinal twin study of asthma in Puerto Rican children ≤3 years old.
678 twin infants from the Puerto Rico Neo-Natal Twin Registry were assessed for asthma at age 1 year, with follow-up data obtained for 624 twins at age 3 years. Zygosity was determined by DNA microsatellite profiling. Structural equation modeling was performed for three phenotypes at ages 1 and 3 years: physician-diagnosed asthma, asthma medication use in the past year, and ≥1 hospitalization for asthma in the past year. Models were additionally adjusted for early-life environmental tobacco smoke exposure, sex, and age.
The prevalences of physician-diagnosed asthma, asthma medication use, and hospitalization for asthma were 11.6%, 10.8%, 4.9% at age 1 year, and 34.1%, 40.1%, and 8.5% at 3 years, respectively. Shared environmental effects contributed to the majority of variance in susceptibility to physician-diagnosed asthma and asthma medication use in the first year of life (84%–86%), while genetic effects drove variance in all phenotypes (45%–65%) at age 3 years. Early-life environmental tobacco smoke, sex, and age contributed to variance in susceptibility.
Our longitudinal study in Puerto Rican twins demonstrates a changing contribution of shared environmental effects to liability for physician-diagnosed asthma and asthma medication use between ages 1 and 3 years. Early-life environmental tobacco smoke reduction could markedly reduce asthma morbidity in young Puerto Rican children.
Childhood asthma is a complex disease with known heritability and phenotypic diversity. Although an earlier onset has been associated with more severe disease, there has been no genome-wide association study of the age of onset of asthma in children.
To identify genetic variants associated with earlier onset of childhood asthma.
We conducted the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of the age of onset of childhood asthma among participants in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP), and used three independent cohorts from North America, Costa Rica, and Sweden for replication.
Two SNPs were associated with earlier onset of asthma in the combined analysis of CAMP and the replication cohorts: : rs9815663 (Fisher’s P value=2.31 × 10−8) and rs7927044 (P=6.54 × 10−9). Of these two SNPs, rs9815663 was also significantly associated with earlier asthma onset in an analysis including only the replication cohorts. Ten SNPs in linkage disequilibrium with rs9815663 were also associated with earlier asthma onset (2.24 × 10−7 < P < 8.22 ×10−6). Having ≥1 risk allele of the two SNPs of interest (rs9815663 and rs7927044) was associated with lower lung function and higher asthma medication use during 4 years of follow-up in CAMP.
We have identified two SNPs associated with earlier onset of childhood asthma in four independent cohorts.
Asthma; pediatrics; age of onset; asthma genetics; C1orf100; genome-wide association study; pediatric asthma
The innate immune pathway is important in the pathogenesis of asthma and eczema. However, only a few variants in these genes have been associated with either disease. We investigate the association between polymorphisms of genes in the innate immune pathway with childhood asthma and eczema. In addition, we compare individual associations with those discovered using a multivariate approach.
Using a novel method, case control based association testing (C2BAT), 569 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 44 innate immune genes were tested for association with asthma and eczema in children from the Boston Home Allergens and Asthma Study and the Connecticut Childhood Asthma Study. The screening algorithm was used to identify the top SNPs associated with asthma and eczema. We next investigated the interaction of innate immune variants with asthma and eczema risk using Bayesian networks.
After correction for multiple comparisons, 7 SNPs in 6 genes (CARD25, TGFB1, LY96, ACAA1, DEFB1, and IFNG) were associated with asthma (adjusted p-value<0.02), while 5 SNPs in 3 different genes (CD80, STAT4, and IRAKI) were significantly associated with eczema (adjusted p-value < 0.02). None of these SNPs were associated with both asthma and eczema. Bayesian network analysis identified 4 SNPs that were predictive of asthma and 10 SNPs that predicted eczema. Of the genes identified using Bayesian networks, only CD80 was associated with eczema in the single-SNP study. Using novel methodology that allows for screening and replication in the same population, we have identified associations of innate immune genes with asthma and eczema. Bayesian network analysis suggests that additional SNPs influence disease susceptibility via SNP interactions.
Our findings suggest that innate immune genes contribute to the pathogenesis of asthma and eczema, and that these diseases likely have different genetic determinants.
asthma; Bayesian network; genetic association; eczema; innate immunity
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; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00000575.)
To assess the feasibility of developing a Combined Clinical and Pharmacogenetic Predictive Test, comprised of multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that is associated with poor bronchodilator response (BDR).
We genotyped SNPs that tagged the whole genome of the parents and children in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) and implemented an algorithm using a family-based association test that ranked SNPs by statistical power. The top eight SNPs that were associated with BDR comprised the Pharmacogenetic Predictive Test. The Clinical Predictive Test was comprised of baseline forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1). We evaluated these predictive tests and a Combined Clinical and Pharmacogenetic Predictive Test in three distinct populations: the children of the CAMP trial and two additional clinical trial populations of asthma. Our outcome measure was poor BDR, defined as BDR of less than 20th percentile in each population. BDR was calculated as the percent difference between the prebronchodilator and postbronchodilator (two puffs of albuterol at 180 μg/puff) FEV1 value. To assess the predictive ability of the test, the corresponding area under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUROCs) were calculated for each population.
The AUROC values for the Clinical Predictive Test alone were not significantly different from 0.50, the AUROC of a random classifier. Our Combined Clinical and Pharmacogenetic Predictive Test comprised of genetic polymorphisms in addition to FEV1 predicted poor BDR with an AUROC of 0.65 in the CAMP children (n= 422) and 0.60 (n= 475) and 0.63 (n= 235) in the two independent populations. Both the Combined Clinical and Pharmacogenetic Predictive Test and the Pharmacogenetic Predictive Test were significantly more accurate than the Clinical Predictive Test (AUROC between 0.44 and 0.55) in each of the populations.
Our finding that genetic polymorphisms with a clinical trait are associated with BDR suggests that there is promise in using multiple genetic polymorphisms simultaneously to predict which asthmatics are likely to respond poorly to bronchodilators.
asthma; bronchodilator response; personalized medicine; pharmacogenetic test; predictive medicine
Insulin resistance (IR) is a complex disorder caused by an interplay of both genetic and environmental factors. Recent studies identified a significant interaction between body mass index (BMI) and the rs1800795 polymorphism of the Interleukin-6 (IL-6) gene that influences both IR and onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) with obese individuals homozygous for the C allele demonstrating the highest level of IR and greatest risk for T2DM. Replication of a gene-environment interaction is important to confirm the validity of the initial finding and extends the generalizability of the results to other populations. Thus, the objective of this study was to replicate this gene-environment interaction on IR in a hypertensive population and perform a meta-analysis with prior published results.
Material and Methods
The replication analysis was performed using Caucasian individuals with hypertension (HTN) from the HyperPATH cohort (N=311), genotyped for rs1800795. Phenotype studies were conducted after participants consumed two diets: high sodium (HS) (200mmol/day) and low sodium (LS) (10mmol/day) for 7 days each. Measurements for plasma glucose, insulin, and IL-6 were obtained after 8 hours of fasting. IR was characterized by the homeostatic model assessment (HOMA-IR).
In HyperPATH, BMI was a significant effect modifier of the relationship between rs1800795 and HOMA-IR; higher BMI was associated with higher HOMA-IR among homozygote CC individuals when compared to major allele G carriers (p=0.003). Further, the meta-analysis in 1028 individuals confirmed the result demonstrating the same significant interaction between rs1800795 and BMI on HOMA-IR (p=1.05×10−6).
This rare replication of a gene-environment interaction extends the generalizability of the results to HTN while highlighting this polymorphism as a marker of IR in obese individuals.
Interleukin-6 gene; Hypertension; Obesity; Insulin Resistance
It has recently been shown that vitamin D deficiency can increase asthma development and severity and that variations in vitamin D receptor genes are associated with asthma susceptibility.
We sought to find genetic factors that might interact with vitamin D levels to affect the risk of asthma exacerbation. Methods: We conducted a genome-wide study of gene–vitamin D interaction on asthma exacerbations using population-based and family-based approaches on 403 subjects and trios from the Childhood Asthma Management Program. Twenty-three polymorphisms with significant interactions were studied in a replication analysis in 584 children from a Costa Rican cohort. Results: We identified 3 common variants in the class I MHC–restricted T cell–associated molecule gene (CRTAM) that were associated with an increased rate of asthma exacerbations based on the presence of a low circulating vitamin D level. These results were replicated in a second independent population (unadjusted combined interaction, P =.00028–.00097; combined odds ratio, 3.28–5.38). One variant, rs2272094, is a nonsynonymous coding polymorphism of CRTAM. Functional studies on cell lines confirmed the interaction of vitamin D and rs2272094 on CRTAM expression. CRTAM is highly expressed in activated human CD8+ and natural killer T cells, both of which have been implicated in asthmatic patients.
The findings highlight an important gene-environment interaction that elucidates the role of vitamin D and CD8+ and natural killer T cells in asthma exacerbation in a genome-wide gene-environment interaction study that has been replicated in an independent population. The results suggest the potential importance of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels in subsets of high-risk asthmatic patients.
Gene-environment interaction; genome-wide association study; vitamin D; asthma exacerbation
The renin gene has been previously reported to be associated with essential hypertension in a variety of ethnic groups. However, no studies have systematically evaluated the relationship between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) representing coverage of the entire renin gene and hypertension risk. To evaluate the association between renin gene variation and hypertension we investigated data on HyperPath cohort with 570 hypertensive and 222 normotensive Caucasian subjects. Six tagging SNPs and resultant haplotypes were tested for associations with hypertension risk, followed by mean arterial pressure (MAP), plasma renin activity (PRA) and the change in MAP in response to angiotensin II infusion (AngII ΔMAP). The A allele of SNP rs6693954 and the haplotype containing rs6696954A were significantly associated with higher risk for hypertension (OR=1.98, P=0.0001; OR=1.63 P=0.0005, respectively). The same haplotype block was also associated with altered PRA levels and blunted AngII ΔMAP (global P value=0.02, 0.047, respectively). Our results confirm that polymorphisms in the REN are associated with increased risk for hypertension in an independent cohort, and that the underlying mechanism may reside in the interaction of renin activity and vascular responsiveness to angiotensin II.
Renin; SNP; haplotype; blood pressure and Hypertension
The purpose of this study was to clarify the association of the angiotensinogen gene (AGT) with insulin sensitivity using SNP and haplotype analyses in a Caucasian cohort.
Material and Methods
A candidate gene association study was conducted in Caucasians with and without hypertension (N=449). Seventeen single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the AGT gene and their haplotypes were analyzed for an association with HOMA-IR. Multivariate regression model accounting for age, gender, BMI, hypertension status, study site, and sibling relatedness was used to test the hypothesis.
Nine of the seventeen SNPs were significantly associated with lower HOMA-IR levels. Homozygous minor allele carriers of the most significant SNP rs2493134 (GG), a surrogate for the gain of function mutation rs699 [AGT p.M268T], had significantly lower HOMA-IR levels (p=0.0001) than heterozygous or homozygous major allele carriers (GC, AA). Direct genotyping of rs699 in a subset of the population showed similar results with minor allele carriers exhibiting significantly decreased HOMA-IR levels (p=0.003). Haplotype analysis demonstrated that haplotypes rs2493137A|rs5050A|rs3789678G|rs2493134A and rs2004776G|rs11122576A|rs699T|rs6687360G were also significantly associated with HOMA-IR (p=0.0009, p=0.02) and these results were driven by rs2493134 and rs699.
This study confirms an association between the AGT gene and insulin sensitivity in Caucasian humans. Haplotype analysis extends this finding and implicates SNPs rs2493134 and rs699 as the most influential. Thus, AGT gene variants, previously shown to be associated with AGT levels, are also associated with insulin sensitivity; suggesting a relationship between the AGT gene, AGT levels, and insulin sensitivity in humans.
insulin resistance; hypertension; angiotensinogen; genetics
Impulsive drive for immediate reward (IDIR) and delay aversion are dissociable elements of the preference for immediate over delayed rewards seen in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We hypothesized that IDIR would be associated with dopamine regulating genes and delay aversion with serotonin regulating genes.
IDIR and delay aversion were measured in 459 male children and adolescents (328 ADHD and 131 unaffected siblings) using a laboratory choice task. The sample was genotyped for the 5HTT (SLC6A4) promoter 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and a DAT1 (SLC6A3) 40-base pair VNTR located in the 3`-untranslated region of the gene.
There was no effect of DAT1 on IDIR. As predicted 5-HTTLPR s-allele carriers were more delay averse. This effect was driven by the s/l genotype in the ADHD group. These results were not altered by taking account of the rs25531 A/G SNP and were independent of age, IQ and ODD symptoms.
The results support the genetic distinctiveness of IDIR and delay aversion in ADHD and implicate serotonin function in delay aversion. Possible explanations of the heterosis effect in the ADHD cases are presented.
ATTENTION DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER; IMPULSIVITY; DELAY AVERSION; 5-HTTLPR (SLC6A4); DAT1 (SLC6A3)
Bronchodilator response (BDR) is an important asthma phenotype that measures reversibility of airway obstruction by comparing lung function (i.e. FEV1) before and after the administration of a short-acting β2-agonist, the most common rescue medications used for the treatment of asthma. BDR also serves as a test of β2-agonist efficacy. BDR is a complex trait that is partly under genetic control. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) of BDR, quantified as percent change in baseline FEV1 after administration of a β2-agonist, was performed with 1,644 non-Hispanic white asthmatic subjects from six drug clinical trials: CAMP, LOCCS, LODO, a medication trial conducted by Sepracor, CARE, and ACRN. Data for 469,884 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were used to measure the association of SNPs with BDR using a linear regression model, while adjusting for age, sex, and height. Replication of primary P-values was attempted in 501 white subjects from SARP and 550 white subjects from DAG. Experimental evidence supporting the top gene was obtained via siRNA knockdown and Western blotting analyses. The lowest overall combined P-value was 9.7E-07 for SNP rs295137, near the SPATS2L gene. Among subjects in the primary analysis, those with rs295137 TT genotype had a median BDR of 16.0 (IQR = [6.2, 32.4]), while those with CC or TC genotypes had a median BDR of 10.9 (IQR = [5.0, 22.2]). SPATS2L mRNA knockdown resulted in increased β2-adrenergic receptor levels. Our results suggest that SPATS2L may be an important regulator of β2-adrenergic receptor down-regulation and that there is promise in gaining a better understanding of the biological mechanisms of differential response to β2-agonists through GWAS.
Bronchodilator response (BDR) is an important asthma phenotype that measures reversibility of airway obstruction by comparing lung function before and after the administration of short-acting β2-agonists, common medications used for asthma treatment. We performed a genome-wide association study of BDR with 1,644 white asthmatic subjects from six drug clinical trials and attempted to replicate these findings in 1,051 white subjects from two independent cohorts. The most significant associated variant was near the SPATS2L gene. We knocked down SPATS2L mRNA in human airway smooth muscle cells and found that β2-adrenergic receptor levels increased, suggesting that SPATS2L may be a regulator of BDR. Our results highlight the promise of pursuing GWAS results that do not necessarily reach genome-wide significance and are an example of how results from pharmacogenetic GWAS can be studied functionally.
Polymorphisms in the endotoxin-mediated TLR4 pathway genes have been associated with asthma and atopy. We aimed to examine how genetic polymorphisms in innate immunity pathways interact with endotoxin to influence asthma risk in children.
In a previous analysis of 372 children from the Boston Home Allergens and the Connecticut Childhood Asthma studies, 7 SNPs in 6 genes (CARD15, TGFB1, LY96, ACAA1, DEFB1 and IFNG) involved in innate immune pathways were associated with asthma, and 5 SNPs in 3 genes (CD80, STAT4, IRAK2) were associated with eczema. We tested these SNPs for interaction with early life endotoxin exposure (n = 291), in models for asthma and eczema by age 6.
We found a significant interaction between endotoxin and a SNP (rs156265) in ACAA1 (p = 0.0013 for interaction). Increased endotoxin exposure (by quartile) showed protective effects for asthma in individuals with at least one copy of the minor allele (OR = 0.39 per quartile increase in endotoxin, 95% CI 0.15 to 1.01). Endotoxin exposure did not reduce the risk of asthma in children homozygous for the major allele.
Our findings suggest that protective effects of endotoxin exposure on asthma may vary depending upon the presence or absence of a polymorphism in ACAA1.
Corticotropin - releasing hormone receptor 2 (CRHR2) participates in smooth muscle relaxation response and may influence acute airway bronchodilator response to short – acting β2 agonist treatment of asthma. We aim to assess associations between genetic variants of CRHR2 and acute bronchodilator response in asthma.
We investigated 28 single nucleotide polymorphisms in CRHR2 for associations with acute bronchodilator response to albuterol in 607 Caucasian asthmatic subjects recruited as part of the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP). Replication was conducted in two Caucasian adult asthma cohorts – a cohort of 427 subjects enrolled in a completed clinical trial conducted by Sepracor Inc. (MA, USA) and a cohort of 152 subjects enrolled in the Clinical Trial of Low-Dose Theopylline and Montelukast (LODO) conducted by the American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Centers.
Five variants were significantly associated with acute bronchodilator response in at least one cohort (p-value ≤ 0.05). Variant rs7793837 was associated in CAMP and LODO (p-value = 0.05 and 0.03, respectively) and haplotype blocks residing at the 5’ end of CRHR2 were associated with response in all three cohorts.
We report for the first time, at the gene level, replicated associations between CRHR2 and acute bronchodilator response. While no single variant was significantly associated in all three cohorts, the findings that variants at the 5’ end of CRHR2 are associated in each of three cohorts strongly suggest that the causative variants reside in this region and its genetic effect, although present, is likely to be weak.
Asthma; genetics; corticotrophin releasing hormone receptor 2; CRHR2; bronchodilator response; polymorphism; β2 adrenergic receptor agonist
Rationale: Chitinases are enzymes that cleave chitin, which is present in fungal cells. Two types of human chitinases, chitotriosidase and acidic mammalian chitinase, and the chitinase-like protein, YKL-40, seem to play an important role in asthma. We hypothesized that exposure to environmental fungi may modulate the effect of chitinases in individuals with asthma.
Objectives: To explore whether interactions between high fungal exposure and common genetic variants in the two chitinases in humans, CHIT1 and CHIA, and the chitinase 3-like 1 gene, CHI3L1, are associated with severe asthma exacerbations and other asthma-related outcomes.
Methods: Forty-eight single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in CHIT1, CHIA, and CHI3L1 and one CHIT1 duplication were genotyped in 395 subjects and their parents as part of the Childhood Asthma Management Program. Household levels of mold (an index of fungal exposure) were determined on house dust samples. We conducted family-based association tests with gene–environment interactions. Our outcome was severe exacerbation, defined as emergency department visits and hospitalizations from asthma over a 4-year period, and our secondary outcomes included indices of lung function and allergy-related phenotypes.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 395 subjects who had mold levels at randomization, 24% (95 subjects) had levels that were greater than 25,000 units per gram of house dust (high mold exposure). High mold exposure significantly modified the relation between three SNPs in CHIT1 (rs2486953, rs4950936, and rs1417149) and severe exacerbations (P for interaction 0.0010 for rs2486953, 0.0008 for rs4950936, and 0.0005 for rs1417149). High mold exposure did not significantly modify the relationship between any of the other variants and outcomes.
Conclusions: Environmental exposure to fungi, modifies the effect of CHIT1 SNPs on severe asthma exacerbations.
chitinase; asthma; CHIA; CHIT1; CHI13L1
Epidemiological studies consistently show associations between asthma and obesity. Shared genetics may account for this association.
To identify genetic variants associated with both asthma and obesity.
Based on a literature search, we identified genes from: 1) Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of Body Mass Index (BMI) (n=17 genes), 2) GWAS of asthma (n=14) and 3) candidate gene studies of BMI and asthma (n=7). We used GWAS data from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) to analyze associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these genes and asthma (n=359 subjects) and BMI (n=537).
One top BMI GWAS SNP from the literature, rs10938397 near GNPDA2, was associated with both BMI (p=4 × 10−4) and asthma (p=0.03). Of the top asthma GWAS SNPs and the candidate gene SNPs, none was found to be associated with both BMI and asthma. Gene-based analyses that included all available SNPs in each gene found associations (p<0.05) with both phenotypes for several genes: NEGR1, ROBO1, DGKG, FAIM2, FTO and CHST8 among the BMI GWAS genes; ILRL1/IL18R1, DPP10, PDE4D, MYB, PDE10A, IL33 and especially PTPRD among the asthma GWAS genes; and PRKCA among the BMI and asthma candidate genes.
SNPs within several genes showed associations to BMI and asthma at a gene level, but none of these associations were significant after correction for multiple testing. Our analysis of known candidate genes reveals some evidence for shared genetics between asthma and obesity, but other shared genetic determinants are likely to be identified in novel loci.
Association; Asthma; BMI; Children; Genetics; GWAS; Obesity; Polymorphism; SNP
We propose an omnibus family-based association test (MFBAT) that can be applied to multiple markers and multiple phenotypes and that has only one degree of freedom. The proposed test statistic extends current FBAT methodology to incorporate multiple markers as well as multiple phenotypes. Using simulation studies, power estimates for the proposed methodology are compared with the standard methodologies. On the basis of these simulations, we find that MFBAT substantially outperforms other methods, including haplotypic approaches and doing multiple tests with single single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and single phenotypes. The practical relevance of the approach is illustrated by an application to asthma in which SNP/phenotype combinations are identified and reach overall significance that would not have been identified using other approaches. This methodology is directly applicable to cases in which there are multiple SNPs, such as candidate gene studies, cases in which there are multiple phenotypes, such as expression data, and cases in which there are multiple phenotypes and genotypes, such as genome-wide association studies that incorporate expression profiles as phenotypes. This program is available in the PBAT analysis package.
family-based association testing (FBAT); genome-wide association studies; FBAT-PC; multiple marker; multiple phenotypes; multiple testing
The etiology of suicide is complex in nature with both environmental and genetic causes that are extremely diverse. This extensive heterogeneity weakens the relationship between genotype and phenotype and as a result, we face many challenges when studying the genetic etiology of suicide. We are now in the midst of a genetics revolution, where genotyping costs are decreasing and genotyping speed is increasing at a fast rate, allowing genetic association studies to genotype thousands to millions of SNPs that cover the entire human genome. As such, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are now the norm. In this article we address several statistical challenges that occur when studying the genetic etiology of suicidality in the age of the genetics revolution. These challenges include 1) the large number of statistical tests; 2) complex phenotypes that are difficult to quantify; and 3) modest genetic effect sizes. We address these statistical issues in the context of family-based study designs. Specifically we discuss several statistical extensions of family-based association tests (FBATs) that work to alleviate these challenges. As our intention it to describe how statistical methodology may work to identify disease variants for suicidality, we avoid the mathematical details of the methodologies presented.
Family-based association methods; genetics; suicidality; psychiatric disorders; candidate gene; genome-wide association
Despite the potential role of chitinases and chitinase-like proteins in the pathogenesis of asthma, variants in their respective genes are not associated with asthma, changes in lung physiology or allergy-related phenotypes in Caucasian children.
chitinase; chitinase-like protein; CHIA; CHIT1; CHI13L1; YKL-40; AMCase; SNPs; asthma
Rationale: Animal models demonstrate that aberrant gene expression in utero can result in abnormal pulmonary phenotypes.
Objectives: We sought to identify genes that are differentially expressed during in utero airway development and test the hypothesis that variants in these genes influence lung function in patients with asthma.
Methods: Stage 1 (Gene Expression): Differential gene expression analysis across the pseudoglandular (n = 27) and canalicular (n = 9) stages of human lung development was performed using regularized t tests with multiple comparison adjustments. Stage 2 (Genetic Association): Genetic association analyses of lung function (FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC) for variants in five differentially expressed genes were conducted in 403 parent-child trios from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP). Associations were replicated in 583 parent-child trios from the Genetics of Asthma in Costa Rica study.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 1,776 differentially expressed genes between the pseudoglandular (gestational age: 7–16 wk) and the canalicular (gestational age: 17–26 wk) stages, we selected 5 genes in the Wnt pathway for association testing. Thirteen single nucleotide polymorphisms in three genes demonstrated association with lung function in CAMP (P < 0.05), and associations for two of these genes were replicated in the Costa Ricans: Wnt1-inducible signaling pathway protein 1 with FEV1 (combined P = 0.0005) and FVC (combined P = 0.0004), and Wnt inhibitory factor 1 with FVC (combined P = 0.003) and FEV1/FVC (combined P = 0.003).
Conclusions: Wnt signaling genes are associated with impaired lung function in two childhood asthma cohorts. Furthermore, gene expression profiling of human fetal lung development can be used to identify genes implicated in the pathogenesis of lung function impairment in individuals with asthma.
asthma; lung development; lung function; genetic variation; gene expression
Prior studies suggest a role for a variant (rs5743836) in the promoter of toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) in asthma and other inflammatory diseases. We performed detailed genetic association studies of the functional variant rs5743836 with asthma susceptibility and asthma-related phenotypes in three independent cohorts.
rs5743836 was genotyped in two family-based cohorts of children with asthma and a case-control study of adult asthmatics. Association analyses were performed using chi square, family-based and population-based testing. A luciferase assay was performed to investigate whether rs5743836 genotype influences TLR9 promoter activity.
Contrary to prior reports, rs5743836 was not associated with asthma in any of the three cohorts. Marginally significant associations were found with FEV1 and FVC (p = 0.003 and p = 0.008, respectively) in one of the family-based cohorts, but these associations were not significant after correcting for multiple comparisons. Higher promoter activity of the CC genotype was demonstrated by luciferase assay, confirming the functional importance of this variant.
Although rs5743836 confers regulatory effects on TLR9 transcription, this variant does not appear to be an important asthma-susceptibility locus.