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2.  The Role of Bacteria in the Pathogenesis and Progression of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Rationale: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive lung disease of unknown cause that leads to respiratory failure and death within 5 years of diagnosis. Overt respiratory infection and immunosuppression carry a high morbidity and mortality, and polymorphisms in genes related to epithelial integrity and host defense predispose to IPF.
Objectives: To investigate the role of bacteria in the pathogenesis and progression of IPF.
Methods: We prospectively enrolled patients diagnosed with IPF according to international criteria together with healthy smokers, nonsmokers, and subjects with moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as control subjects. Subjects underwent bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), from which genomic DNA was isolated. The V3–V5 region of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene was amplified, allowing quantification of bacterial load and identification of communities by 16S rRNA quantitative polymerase chain reaction and pyrosequencing.
Measurements and Main Results: Sixty-five patients with IPF had double the burden of bacteria in BAL fluid compared with 44 control subjects. Baseline bacterial burden predicted the rate of decline in lung volume and risk of death and associated independently with the rs35705950 polymorphism of the MUC5B mucin gene, a proven host susceptibility factor for IPF. Sequencing yielded 912,883 high-quality reads from all subjects. We identified Haemophilus, Streptococcus, Neisseria, and Veillonella spp. to be more abundant in cases than control subjects. Regression analyses indicated that these specific operational taxonomic units as well as bacterial burden associated independently with IPF.
Conclusions: IPF is characterized by an increased bacterial burden in BAL that predicts decline in lung function and death. Trials of antimicrobial therapy are needed to determine if microbial burden is pathogenic in the disease.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201403-0541OC
PMCID: PMC4299577  PMID: 25184687
idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; Muc5b; bacteria; microbiome
3.  Outgrowth of the Bacterial Airway Microbiome after Rhinovirus Exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: Rhinovirus infection is followed by significantly increased frequencies of positive, potentially pathogenic sputum cultures in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, it remains unclear whether these represent de novo infections or an increased load of organisms from the complex microbial communities (microbiome) in the lower airways.
Objectives: To investigate the effect of rhinovirus infection on the airway bacterial microbiome.
Methods: Subjects with COPD (n = 14) and healthy control subjects with normal lung function (n = 17) were infected with rhinovirus. Induced sputum was collected at baseline before rhinovirus inoculation and again on Days 5, 15, and 42 after rhinovirus infection and DNA was extracted. The V3–V5 region of the bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA gene was amplified and pyrosequenced, resulting in 370,849 high-quality reads from 112 of the possible 124 time points.
Measurements and Main Results: At 15 days after rhinovirus infection, there was a sixfold increase in 16S copy number (P = 0.007) and a 16% rise in numbers of proteobacterial sequences, most notably in potentially pathogenic Haemophilus influenzae (P = 2.7 × 10-20), from a preexisting community. These changes occurred only in the sputum microbiome of subjects with COPD and were still evident 42 days after infection. This was in contrast to the temporal stability demonstrated in the microbiome of healthy smokers and nonsmokers.
Conclusions: After rhinovirus infection, there is a rise in bacterial burden and a significant outgrowth of Haemophilus influenzae from the existing microbiota of subjects with COPD. This is not observed in healthy individuals. Our findings suggest that rhinovirus infection in COPD alters the respiratory microbiome and may precipitate secondary bacterial infections.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201302-0341OC
PMCID: PMC3863728  PMID: 23992479
rhinovirus; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; bacteria; microbiome
4.  Predicting DNA methylation level across human tissues 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(6):3515-3528.
Differences in methylation across tissues are critical to cell differentiation and are key to understanding the role of epigenetics in complex diseases. In this investigation, we found that locus-specific methylation differences between tissues are highly consistent across individuals. We developed a novel statistical model to predict locus-specific methylation in target tissue based on methylation in surrogate tissue. The method was evaluated in publicly available data and in two studies using the latest IlluminaBeadChips: a childhood asthma study with methylation measured in both peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) and lymphoblastoid cell lines; and a study of postoperative atrial fibrillation with methylation in PBL, atrium and artery. We found that our method can greatly improve accuracy of cross-tissue prediction at CpG sites that are variable in the target tissue [R2 increases from 0.38 (original R2 between tissues) to 0.89 for PBL-to-artery prediction; from 0.39 to 0.95 for PBL-to-atrium; and from 0.81 to 0.98 for lymphoblastoid cell line-to-PBL based on cross-validation, and confirmed using cross-study prediction]. An extended model with multiple CpGs further improved performance. Our results suggest that large-scale epidemiology studies using easy-to-access surrogate tissues (e.g. blood) could be recalibrated to improve understanding of epigenetics in hard-to-access tissues (e.g. atrium) and might enable non-invasive disease screening using epigenetic profiles.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt1380
PMCID: PMC3973306  PMID: 24445802
6.  A genome-wide association study of atopic dermatitis identifies loci with overlapping effects on asthma and psoriasis 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(23):4841-4856.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common dermatological disease of childhood. Many children with AD have asthma and AD shares regions of genetic linkage with psoriasis, another chronic inflammatory skin disease. We present here a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of childhood-onset AD in 1563 European cases with known asthma status and 4054 European controls. Using Illumina genotyping followed by imputation, we generated 268 034 consensus genotypes and in excess of 2 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for analysis. Association signals were assessed for replication in a second panel of 2286 European cases and 3160 European controls. Four loci achieved genome-wide significance for AD and replicated consistently across all cohorts. These included the epidermal differentiation complex (EDC) on chromosome 1, the genomic region proximal to LRRC32 on chromosome 11, the RAD50/IL13 locus on chromosome 5 and the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) on chromosome 6; reflecting action of classical HLA alleles. We observed variation in the contribution towards co-morbid asthma for these regions of association. We further explored the genetic relationship between AD, asthma and psoriasis by examining previously identified susceptibility SNPs for these diseases. We found considerable overlap between AD and psoriasis together with variable coincidence between allergic rhinitis (AR) and asthma. Our results indicate that the pathogenesis of AD incorporates immune and epidermal barrier defects with combinations of specific and overlapping effects at individual loci.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt317
PMCID: PMC3820131  PMID: 23886662

Results 1-6 (6)