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1.  Shared genetic susceptibility to ischemic stroke and coronary artery disease – a genome-wide analysis of common variants 
Summary
Background and Purpose
Ischemic stroke (IS) and coronary artery disease (CAD) share several risk factors and each have a substantial heritability. We conducted a genome-wide analysis to evaluate the extent of shared genetic determination of the two diseases.
Methods
Genome-wide association data were obtained from the METASTROKE, CARDIoGRAM, and C4D consortia. We first analyzed common variants reaching a nominal threshold of significance (p<0.01) for CAD for their association with IS and vice versa. We then examined specific overlap across phenotypes for variants that reached a high threshold of significance. Finally, we conducted a joint meta-analysis on the combined phenotype of IS or CAD. Corresponding analyses were performed restricted to the 2,167 individuals with the ischemic large artery stroke (LAS) subtype.
Results
Common variants associated with CAD at p<0.01 were associated with a significant excess risk for IS and for LAS and vice versa. Among the 42 known genome-wide significant loci for CAD, three and five loci were significantly associated with IS and LAS, respectively. In the joint meta-analyses, 15 loci passed genome-wide significance (p<5×10-8) for the combined phenotype of IS or CAD and 17 loci passed genome-wide significance for LAS or CAD. Since these loci had prior evidence for genome-wide significance for CAD we specifically analyzed the respective signals for IS and LAS and found evidence for association at chr12q24/SH2B3 (pIS=1.62×10-07) and ABO (pIS =2.6×10-4) as well as at HDAC9 (pLAS=2.32×10-12), 9p21 (pLAS =3.70×10-6), RAI1-PEMT-RASD1 (pLAS =2.69×10-5), EDNRA (pLAS =7.29×10-4), and CYP17A1-CNNM2-NT5C2 (pLAS =4.9×10-4).
Conclusions
Our results demonstrate substantial overlap in the genetic risk of ischemic stroke and particularly the large artery stroke subtype with coronary artery disease.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.113.002707
PMCID: PMC4112102  PMID: 24262325
2.  A 680 kb duplication at the FTO locus in a kindred with obesity and a distinct body fat distribution 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2013;21(12):1417-1422.
Common intronic SNPs in the human fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene are strongly associated with body mass index (BMI). In mouse models, inactivation of the Fto gene results in a lean phenotype, whereas overexpression of Fto leads to increased food intake and obesity. The latter finding suggests that copy number variants at the FTO locus might be associated with extremes of adiposity. To address this question, we searched for rare, private or de novo copy number variation in a cohort of 985 obese and 869 lean subjects of European ancestry drawn from the extremes of the BMI distribution, genotyped on Affymetrix 6.0 arrays. A ∼680 kb duplication, confirmed by real-time PCR and G-to-FISH analyses, was observed between ∼rs11859825 and rs9932411 in a 68-year-old male with severe obesity. The duplicated region on chromosome 16 spans the entire genome-wide association studies risk locus for obesity, and further encompasses RBL2, AKTIP, RPGRIP1L and all but the last exon of the FTO gene. Affected family members exhibit a unique obesity phenotype, characterized by increased fat distribution in the shoulders and neck with a significantly increased neck circumference. This phenotype was accompanied by increased peripheral blood expression of RBL2 with no alteration in expression of FTO or other genes in the region. No other duplications or deletions in this region were identified in the cohort of obese and lean individuals or in a further survey of 4778 individuals, suggesting that large rare copy number variants surrounding the FTO gene are not a frequent cause of obesity.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.63
PMCID: PMC3831078  PMID: 23591406
FTO; RBL2; CNV; obesity
3.  Netrin-1 promotes adipose tissue macrophage accumulation and insulin resistance in obesity 
Nature medicine  2014;20(4):377-384.
During obesity, macrophage accumulation in adipose tissue propagates the chronic inflammation and insulin resistance associated with type 2 diabetes. The factors that regulate the accrual of macrophages in adipose are not well understood. Here we show that the neuroimmune guidance cue netrin-1 is highly expressed in obese, but not lean adipose tissue of humans and mice, where it directs the retention of macrophages. Expression of netrin-1 is induced in macrophages by the saturated fatty acid palmitate, and acts via its receptor Unc5b to block macrophage migration. In a mouse model of diet-induced obesity, we show that adipose tissue macrophages exhibit reduced migratory capacity, which can be restored by blocking netrin-1. Furthermore, hematopoietic deletion of Ntn1 facilitates adipose tissue macrophage emigration, reduces inflammation, and improves insulin sensitivity. Collectively, these findings identify netrin-1 as a macrophage retention signal in adipose tissue during obesity, which promotes chronic inflammation and insulin resistance.
doi:10.1038/nm.3467
PMCID: PMC3981930  PMID: 24584118
4.  Meta-Analysis of Gene Level Tests for Rare Variant Association 
Nature genetics  2013;46(2):200-204.
The vast majority of connections between complex disease and common genetic variants were identified through meta-analysis, a powerful approach that enables large sample sizes while protecting against common artifacts due to population structure, repeated small sample analyses, and/or limitations with sharing individual level data. As the focus of genetic association studies shifts to rare variants, genes and other functional units are becoming the unit of analysis. Here, we propose and evaluate new approaches for performing meta-analysis of rare variant association tests, including burden tests, weighted burden tests, variable threshold tests and tests that allow variants with opposite effects to be grouped together. We show that our approach retains useful features of single variant meta-analytic approaches and demonstrate its utility in a study of blood lipid levels in ∼18,500 individuals genotyped with exome arrays.
doi:10.1038/ng.2852
PMCID: PMC3939031  PMID: 24336170
5.  Redundancy Control in Pathway Databases (ReCiPa): An Application for Improving Gene-Set Enrichment Analysis in Omics Studies and “Big Data” Biology 
Abstract
Unparalleled technological advances have fueled an explosive growth in the scope and scale of biological data and have propelled life sciences into the realm of “Big Data” that cannot be managed or analyzed by conventional approaches. Big Data in the life sciences are driven primarily via a diverse collection of ‘omics’-based technologies, including genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics, metagenomics, and lipidomics. Gene-set enrichment analysis is a powerful approach for interrogating large ‘omics’ datasets, leading to the identification of biological mechanisms associated with observed outcomes. While several factors influence the results from such analysis, the impact from the contents of pathway databases is often under-appreciated. Pathway databases often contain variously named pathways that overlap with one another to varying degrees. Ignoring such redundancies during pathway analysis can lead to the designation of several pathways as being significant due to high content-similarity, rather than truly independent biological mechanisms. Statistically, such dependencies also result in correlated p values and overdispersion, leading to biased results. We investigated the level of redundancies in multiple pathway databases and observed large discrepancies in the nature and extent of pathway overlap. This prompted us to develop the application, ReCiPa (Redundancy Control in Pathway Databases), to control redundancies in pathway databases based on user-defined thresholds. Analysis of genomic and genetic datasets, using ReCiPa-generated overlap-controlled versions of KEGG and Reactome pathways, led to a reduction in redundancy among the top-scoring gene-sets and allowed for the inclusion of additional gene-sets representing possibly novel biological mechanisms. Using obesity as an example, bioinformatic analysis further demonstrated that gene-sets identified from overlap-controlled pathway databases show stronger evidence of prior association to obesity compared to pathways identified from the original databases.
doi:10.1089/omi.2012.0083
PMCID: PMC3727566  PMID: 23758478
6.  Two Chromosome 9p21 Haplotype Blocks Distinguish Between Coronary Artery Disease and Myocardial Infarction Risk 
Circulation. Cardiovascular genetics  2013;6(4):10.1161/CIRCGENETICS.113.000104.
Background
Variants at the 9p21 locus associate with the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) or myocardial infarction (MI). However, atherosclerotic plaque deposition is distinct from MI (plaque rupture and thrombosis) and recent studies showed no association between these variants and MI in patients with preexisting CAD. We performed haplotype analysis at the 9p21 locus to test whether haplotypes at distinct linkage disequilibrium (LD) blocks predict these phenotypes.
Methods and Results
Using 24 single-nucleotide polymorphisms genotyped in Caucasians without diabetes, we reconstructed haplotypes at the 9p21 locus. Angiographic CAD/MI patients had at least 1 epicardial stenosis > 50% (n=2352) whereas controls were asymptomatic and over age 60 (n=2116). For CAD patients, regression models examined association of haplotypes with initial age of symptomatic CAD, number of diseased vessels, and history of MI. In the case-control study, only haplotypes at one block tagged by rs1333049 associated with CAD more so than MI. These haplotypes also associated with early onset of CAD (β=−0.13 p=1.37*10−4) and disease severity (β=0.1823, p=0.006), but not with prevalent MI among CAD patients. In contrast, haplotypes at another block tagged by rs518394 associated with prevalent MI (β=0.239, p= 2.05*10−4), but remarkably these are inversely associated with disease severity (β=−0.196, p=0.003). This MI association was replicated in the Cleveland Clinic GeneBank premature CAD cohort (n=1385, β=0.207, p= 0.019).
Conclusions
Variants/haplotypes at two blocks are distinguished at 9p21, those at one block predispose to atherosclerosis whereas those at the other predispose to MI among individuals with preexisting CAD.
doi:10.1161/CIRCGENETICS.113.000104
PMCID: PMC3839299  PMID: 23729007
coronary angiography; haplotype; myocardial infarction; atherosclerosis; chromosome 9p21
7.  A Low‐Frequency Variant in MAPK14 Provides Mechanistic Evidence of a Link With Myeloperoxidase: A Prognostic Cardiovascular Risk Marker 
Background
Genetics can be used to predict drug effects and generate hypotheses around alternative indications. To support Losmapimod, a p38 mitogen‐activated protein kinase inhibitor in development for acute coronary syndrome, we characterized gene variation in MAPK11/14 genes by exome sequencing and follow‐up genotyping or imputation in participants well‐phenotyped for cardiovascular and metabolic traits.
Methods and Results
Investigation of genetic variation in MAPK11 and MAPK14 genes using additive genetic models in linear or logistic regression with cardiovascular, metabolic, and biomarker phenotypes highlighted an association of RS2859144 in MAPK14 with myeloperoxidase in a dyslipidemic population (Genetic Epidemiology of Metabolic Syndrome Study), P=2.3×10−6). This variant (or proxy) was consistently associated with myeloperoxidase in the Framingham Heart Study and Cardiovascular Health Study studies (replication meta‐P=0.003), leading to a meta‐P value of 9.96×10−7 in the 3 dyslipidemic groups. The variant or its proxy was then profiled in additional population‐based cohorts (up to a total of 58 930 subjects) including Cohorte Lausannoise, Ely, Fenland, European Prospective Investigation of Cancer, London Life Sciences Prospective Population Study, and the Genetics of Obesity Associations study obesity case–control for up to 40 cardiovascular and metabolic traits. Overall analysis identified the same single nucleotide polymorphisms to be nominally associated consistently with glomerular filtration rate (P=0.002) and risk of obesity (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2, P=0.004).
Conclusions
As myeloperoxidase is a prognostic marker of coronary events, the MAPK14 variant may provide a mechanistic link between p38 map kinase and these events, providing information consistent with current indication of Losmapimod for acute coronary syndrome. If replicated, the association with glomerular filtration rate, along with previous biological findings, also provides support for kidney diseases as alternative indications.
doi:10.1161/JAHA.114.001074
PMCID: PMC4310399  PMID: 25164947
acute coronary syndrome; drug target gene; exome sequencing; myeloperoxidase; rare variation
8.  Distribution and Medical Impact of Loss-of-Function Variants in the Finnish Founder Population 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(7):e1004494.
Exome sequencing studies in complex diseases are challenged by the allelic heterogeneity, large number and modest effect sizes of associated variants on disease risk and the presence of large numbers of neutral variants, even in phenotypically relevant genes. Isolated populations with recent bottlenecks offer advantages for studying rare variants in complex diseases as they have deleterious variants that are present at higher frequencies as well as a substantial reduction in rare neutral variation. To explore the potential of the Finnish founder population for studying low-frequency (0.5–5%) variants in complex diseases, we compared exome sequence data on 3,000 Finns to the same number of non-Finnish Europeans and discovered that, despite having fewer variable sites overall, the average Finn has more low-frequency loss-of-function variants and complete gene knockouts. We then used several well-characterized Finnish population cohorts to study the phenotypic effects of 83 enriched loss-of-function variants across 60 phenotypes in 36,262 Finns. Using a deep set of quantitative traits collected on these cohorts, we show 5 associations (p<5×10−8) including splice variants in LPA that lowered plasma lipoprotein(a) levels (P = 1.5×10−117). Through accessing the national medical records of these participants, we evaluate the LPA finding via Mendelian randomization and confirm that these splice variants confer protection from cardiovascular disease (OR = 0.84, P = 3×10−4), demonstrating for the first time the correlation between very low levels of LPA in humans with potential therapeutic implications for cardiovascular diseases. More generally, this study articulates substantial advantages for studying the role of rare variation in complex phenotypes in founder populations like the Finns and by combining a unique population genetic history with data from large population cohorts and centralized research access to National Health Registers.
Author Summary
We explored the coding regions of 3,000 Finnish individuals with 3,000 non-Finnish Europeans (NFEs) using whole-exome sequence data, in order to understand how an individual from a bottlenecked population might differ from an individual from an out-bred population. We provide empirical evidence that there are more rare and low-frequency deleterious alleles in Finns compared to NFEs, such that an average Finn has almost twice as many low-frequency complete knockouts of a gene. As such, we hypothesized that some of these low-frequency loss-of-function variants might have important medical consequences in humans and genotyped 83 of these variants in 36,000 Finns. In doing so, we discovered that completely knocking out the TSFM gene might result in inviability or a very severe phenotype in humans and that knocking out the LPA gene might confer protection against coronary heart diseases, suggesting that LPA is likely to be a good potential therapeutic target.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004494
PMCID: PMC4117444  PMID: 25078778
9.  Integrative Genomics Reveals Novel Molecular Pathways and Gene Networks for Coronary Artery Disease 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(7):e1004502.
The majority of the heritability of coronary artery disease (CAD) remains unexplained, despite recent successes of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in identifying novel susceptibility loci. Integrating functional genomic data from a variety of sources with a large-scale meta-analysis of CAD GWAS may facilitate the identification of novel biological processes and genes involved in CAD, as well as clarify the causal relationships of established processes. Towards this end, we integrated 14 GWAS from the CARDIoGRAM Consortium and two additional GWAS from the Ottawa Heart Institute (25,491 cases and 66,819 controls) with 1) genetics of gene expression studies of CAD-relevant tissues in humans, 2) metabolic and signaling pathways from public databases, and 3) data-driven, tissue-specific gene networks from a multitude of human and mouse experiments. We not only detected CAD-associated gene networks of lipid metabolism, coagulation, immunity, and additional networks with no clear functional annotation, but also revealed key driver genes for each CAD network based on the topology of the gene regulatory networks. In particular, we found a gene network involved in antigen processing to be strongly associated with CAD. The key driver genes of this network included glyoxalase I (GLO1) and peptidylprolyl isomerase I (PPIL1), which we verified as regulatory by siRNA experiments in human aortic endothelial cells. Our results suggest genetic influences on a diverse set of both known and novel biological processes that contribute to CAD risk. The key driver genes for these networks highlight potential novel targets for further mechanistic studies and therapeutic interventions.
Author Summary
Sudden death due to heart attack ranks among the top causes of death in the world, and family studies have shown that genetics has a substantial effect on heart disease risk. Recent studies suggest that multiple genetic factors each with modest effects are necessary for the development of CAD, but the genes and molecular processes involved remain poorly understood. We conducted an integrative genomics study where we used the information of gene-gene interactions to capture groups of genes that are most likely to increase heart disease risk. We not only confirmed the importance of several known CAD risk processes such as the metabolism and transport of cholesterol, immune response, and blood coagulation, but also revealed many novel processes such as neuroprotection, cell cycle, and proteolysis that were not previously implicated in CAD. In particular, we highlight several genes such as GLO1 with key regulatory roles within these processes not detected by the first wave of genetic analyses. These results highlight the value of integrating population genetic data with diverse resources that functionally annotate the human genome. Such integration facilitates the identification of novel molecular processes involved in the pathogenesis of CAD as well as potential novel targets for the development of efficacious therapeutic interventions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004502
PMCID: PMC4102418  PMID: 25033284
10.  A Systems Biology Framework Identifies Molecular Underpinnings of Coronary Heart Disease 
Objective
Genetic approaches have identified numerous loci associated with coronary heart disease (CHD). The molecular mechanisms underlying CHD gene-disease associations, however, remain unclear. We hypothesized that genetic variants with both strong and subtle effects drive gene subnetworks that in turn affect CHD.
Approach and Results
We surveyed CHD-associated molecular interactions by constructing coexpression networks using whole blood gene expression profiles from 188 CHD cases and 188 age- and sex-matched controls. 24 coexpression modules were identified including one case-specific and one control-specific differential module (DM). The DMs were enriched for genes involved in B-cell activation, immune response, and ion transport. By integrating the DMs with altered gene expression associated SNPs (eSNPs) and with results of GWAS of CHD and its risk factors, the control-specific DM was implicated as CHD-causal based on its significant enrichment for both CHD and lipid eSNPs. This causal DM was further integrated with tissue-specific Bayesian networks and protein-protein interaction networks to identify regulatory key driver (KD) genes. Multi-tissue KDs (SPIB and TNFRSF13C) and tissue-specific KDs (e.g. EBF1) were identified.
Conclusions
Our network-driven integrative analysis not only identified CHD-related genes, but also defined network structure that sheds light on the molecular interactions of genes associated with CHD risk.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300112
PMCID: PMC3752786  PMID: 23539213
Gene expression; coronary heart disease; systems biology; coexpression network
11.  Exome sequencing and directed clinical phenotyping diagnose cholesterol ester storage disease presenting as autosomal recessive hypercholesterolemia 
Objective
Autosomal recessive hypercholesterolemia (ARH) is a rare inherited disorder characterized by extremely high total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels that has been previously linked to mutations in LDLRAP1. We identified a family with ARH not explained by mutations in LDLRAP1 or other genes known to cause monogenic hypercholesterolemia. The aim of this study was to identify the molecular etiology of ARH in this family.
Approach and Results
We used exome sequencing to assess all protein coding regions of the genome in three family members and identified a homozygous exon 8 splice junction mutation (c.894G>A, also known as E8SJM) in LIPA that segregated with the diagnosis of hypercholesterolemia. Since homozygosity for mutations in LIPA is known to cause cholesterol ester storage disease (CESD), we performed directed follow-up phenotyping by non-invasively measuring hepatic cholesterol content. We observed abnormal hepatic accumulation of cholesterol in the homozygote individuals, supporting the diagnosis of CESD. Given previous suggestions of cardiovascular disease risk in heterozygous LIPA mutation carriers, we genotyped E8SJM in >27,000 individuals and found no association with plasma lipid levels or risk of myocardial infarction, confirming a true recessive mode of inheritance.
Conclusions
By integrating observations from Mendelian and population genetics along with directed clinical phenotyping, we diagnosed clinically unapparent CESD in the affected individuals from this kindred and addressed an outstanding question regarding risk of cardiovascular disease in LIPA E8SJM heterozygous carriers.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.113.302426
PMCID: PMC4002172  PMID: 24072694
hypercholesterolemia; genetics; myocardial infarction
12.  Functional Analysis of the TRIB1 Associated Locus Linked to Plasma Triglycerides and Coronary Artery Disease 
Background
The TRIB1 locus has been linked to hepatic triglyceride metabolism in mice and to plasma triglycerides and coronary artery disease in humans. The lipid‐associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), identified by genome‐wide association studies, are located ≈30 kb downstream from TRIB1, suggesting complex regulatory effects on genes or pathways relevant to hepatic triglyceride metabolism. The goal of this study was to investigate the functional relationship between common SNPs at the TRIB1 locus and plasma lipid traits.
Methods and Results
Characterization of the risk locus reveals that it encompasses a gene, TRIB1‐associated locus (TRIBAL), composed of a well‐conserved promoter region and an alternatively spliced transcript. Bioinformatic analysis and resequencing identified a single SNP, rs2001844, within the promoter region that associates with increased plasma triglycerides and reduced high‐density lipoprotein cholesterol and coronary artery disease risk. Further, correction for triglycerides as a covariate indicated that the genome‐wide association studies association is largely dependent on triglycerides. In addition, we show that rs2001844 is an expression trait locus (eQTL) for TRIB1 expression in blood and alters TRIBAL promoter activity in a reporter assay model. The TRIBAL transcript has features typical of long noncoding RNAs, including poor sequence conservation. Modulation of TRIBAL expression had limited impact on either TRIB1 or lipid regulatory genes mRNA levels in human hepatocyte models. In contrast, TRIB1 knockdown markedly increased TRIBAL expression in HepG2 cells and primary human hepatocytes.
Conclusions
These studies demonstrate an interplay between a novel locus, TRIBAL, and TRIB1. TRIBAL is located in the genome‐wide association studies identified risk locus, responds to altered expression of TRIB1, harbors a risk SNP that is an eQTL for TRIB1 expression, and associates with plasma triglyceride concentrations.
doi:10.1161/JAHA.114.000884
PMCID: PMC4309087  PMID: 24895164
cardiovascular diseases; lipids; lipoproteins; liver
13.  Genome-wide Linkage and Association Analyses to Identify Genes Influencing Adiponectin Levels: The GEMS Study 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2009;17(4):737-744.
Adiponectin has a variety of metabolic effects on obesity, insulin sensitivity, and atherosclerosis. To identify genes influencing variation in plasma adiponectin levels, we performed genome-wide linkage and association scans of adiponectin in two cohorts of subjects recruited in the Genetic Epidemiology of Metabolic Syndrome Study. The genome-wide linkage scan was conducted in families of Turkish and southern European (TSE, n = 789) and Northern and Western European (NWE, N = 2,280) origin. A whole genome association (WGA) analysis (500K Affymetrix platform) was carried out in a set of unrelated NWE subjects consisting of approximately 1,000 subjects with dyslipidemia and 1,000 overweight subjects with normal lipids. Peak evidence for linkage occurred at chromosome 8p23 in NWE subjects (lod = 3.10) and at chromosome 3q28 near ADIPOQ, the adiponectin structural gene, in TSE subjects (lod = 1.70). In the WGA analysis, the single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) most strongly associated with adiponectin were rs3774261 and rs6773957 (P < 10−7). These two SNPs were in high linkage disequilibrium (r2 = 0.98) and located within ADIPOQ. Interestingly, our fourth strongest region of association (P < 2 × 10−5) was to an SNP within CDH13, whose protein product is a newly identified receptor for high-molecular-weight species of adiponectin. Through WGA analysis, we confirmed previous studies showing SNPs within ADIPOQ to be strongly associated with variation in adiponectin levels and further observed these to have the strongest effects on adiponectin levels throughout the genome. We additionally identified a second gene (CDH13) possibly influencing variation in adiponectin levels. The impact of these SNPs on health and disease has yet to be determined.
doi:10.1038/oby.2008.625
PMCID: PMC4028785  PMID: 19165155
14.  Genetic predisposition to higher blood pressure increases coronary artery disease risk 
Hypertension  2013;61(5):10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.00275.
Hypertension is a risk factor for coronary artery disease. Recent genome-wide association studies have identified 30 genetic variants associated with higher blood pressure at genome-wide significance (p<5×10−8). If elevated blood pressure is a causative factor for coronary artery disease, these variants should also increase coronary artery disease risk. Analyzing genome-wide association data from 22,233 coronary artery disease cases and 64,762 controls, we observed in the Coronary artery disease Genome-Wide Replication And Meta-Analysis (CARDIoGRAM) consortium that 88% of these blood pressure-associated polymorphisms were likewise positively associated with coronary artery disease, i.e. they had an odds ratio >1 for coronary artery disease, a proportion much higher than expected by chance (p=4.10−5). The average relative coronary artery disease risk increase per each of the multiple blood pressure-raising alleles observed in the consortium was 3.0% for systolic blood pressure-associated polymorphisms (95% confidence interval, 1.8 to 4.3%) and 2.9% for diastolic blood pressure-associated polymorphisms (95% confidence interval, 1.7 to 4.1%). In sub-studies, individuals carrying most systolic blood pressure- and diastolic blood pressure-related risk alleles (top quintile of a genetic risk score distribution) had 70% (95% confidence interval, 50-94%) and 59% (95% confidence interval, 40-81%) higher odds of having coronary artery disease, respectively, as compared to individuals in the bottom quintile. In conclusion, most blood pressure-associated polymorphisms also confer an increased risk for coronary artery disease. These findings are consistent with a causal relationship of increasing blood pressure to coronary artery disease. Genetic variants primarily affecting blood pressure contribute to the genetic basis of coronary artery disease.
doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.00275
PMCID: PMC3855241  PMID: 23478099
Blood pressure; polymorphism; genetics; coronary artery disease
15.  Genetic variants influencing circulating lipid levels and risk of coronary artery disease 
Objectives
Genetic studies might provide new insights into the biological mechanisms underlying lipid metabolism and risk of CAD. We therefore conducted a genome-wide association study to identify novel genetic determinants of LDL-c, HDL-c and triglycerides.
Methods and results
We combined genome-wide association data from eight studies, comprising up to 17,723 participants with information on circulating lipid concentrations. We did independent replication studies in up to 37,774 participants from eight populations and also in a population of Indian Asian descent. We also assessed the association between SNPs at lipid loci and risk of CAD in up to 9,633 cases and 38,684 controls.
We identified four novel genetic loci that showed reproducible associations with lipids (P values 1.6 × 10−8 to 3.1 × 10−10). These include a potentially functional SNP in the SLC39A8 gene for HDL-c, a SNP near the MYLIP/GMPR and PPP1R3B genes for LDL-c and at the AFF1 gene for triglycerides. SNPs showing strong statistical association with one or more lipid traits at the CELSR2, APOB, APOE-C1-C4-C2 cluster, LPL, ZNF259-APOA5-A4-C3-A1 cluster and TRIB1 loci were also associated with CAD risk (P values 1.1 × 10−3 to 1.2 × 10−9).
Conclusions
We have identified four novel loci associated with circulating lipids. We also show that in addition to those that are largely associated with LDL-c, genetic loci mainly associated with circulating triglycerides and HDL-c are also associated with risk of CAD. These findings potentially provide new insights into the biological mechanisms underlying lipid metabolism and CAD risk.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.109.201020
PMCID: PMC3891568  PMID: 20864672
lipids; lipoproteins; genetics; epidemiology
16.  Clinical and Genetic Association of Serum Paraoxonase and Arylesterase Activities with Cardiovascular Risk 
Objective
Diminished serum paraoxonase and arylesterase activities (measures of paraoxonase-1 [PON-1] function) in humans have been linked to heightened systemic oxidative stress and atherosclerosis risk. The clinical prognostic utility of measuring distinct PON1 activities has not been established, and the genetic determinants of PON-1 activities are not known.
Methods and Results
We established analytically robust high throughput assays for serum paraoxonase and arylesterase activities and measured these in 3,668 stable subjects undergoing elective coronary angiography without acute coronary syndrome, and were prospectively followed for major adverse cardiac events (MACE = death, myocardial infarction, stroke) over 3 years. Low serum arylesterase and paraoxonase activities were both associated with increased risk for MACE, with arylesterase activity showing greatest prognostic value (Q4 versus Q1, Hazard Ratio [HR] 2.63, 95%CI 1.97–3.50, p<0.01). Arylesterase remained significant after adjusting for traditional risk factors, C-reactive protein, and creatinine clearance (HR 2.20, 95%CI 1.60–3.02, p<0.01), predicted future development of MACE in both primary and secondary prevention populations, and reclassified risk categories incrementally to traditional clinical variables. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified distinct SNPs within the PON-1 gene that were highly significantly associated with serum paraoxonase (1.18×10−303) or arylesterase (4.99×10−116) activity but these variants were not associated with either 3-year MACE risk in an angiographic cohort (n=2,136) or history of either coronary artery disease or myocardial infarction in the CARDIoGRAM consortium (n~80,000 subjects).
Conclusions
Diminished serum arylesterase activity, but not the genetic determinants of PON-1 functional measures, provides incremental prognostic value and clinical reclassification of stable subjects at risk of developing MACE.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.253930
PMCID: PMC3499946  PMID: 22982463
paraoxonase 1 gene; coronary artery disease; oxidative stress; arylesterase activity
17.  Meta-analysis and imputation refines the association of 15q25 with smoking quantity 
Liu, Jason Z. | Tozzi, Federica | Waterworth, Dawn M. | Pillai, Sreekumar G. | Muglia, Pierandrea | Middleton, Lefkos | Berrettini, Wade | Knouff, Christopher W. | Yuan, Xin | Waeber, Gérard | Vollenweider, Peter | Preisig, Martin | Wareham, Nicholas J | Zhao, Jing Hua | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Barroso, Inês | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Grundy, Scott | Barter, Philip | Mahley, Robert | Kesaniemi, Antero | McPherson, Ruth | Vincent, John B. | Strauss, John | Kennedy, James L. | Farmer, Anne | McGuffin, Peter | Day, Richard | Matthews, Keith | Bakke, Per | Gulsvik, Amund | Lucae, Susanne | Ising, Marcus | Brueckl, Tanja | Horstmann, Sonja | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Rawal, Rajesh | Dahmen, Norbert | Lamina, Claudia | Polasek, Ozren | Zgaga, Lina | Huffman, Jennifer | Campbell, Susan | Kooner, Jaspal | Chambers, John C | Burnett, Mary Susan | Devaney, Joseph M. | Pichard, Augusto D. | Kent, Kenneth M. | Satler, Lowell | Lindsay, Joseph M. | Waksman, Ron | Epstein, Stephen | Wilson, James F. | Wild, Sarah H. | Campbell, Harry | Vitart, Veronique | Reilly, Muredach P. | Li, Mingyao | Qu, Liming | Wilensky, Robert | Matthai, William | Hakonarson, Hakon H. | Rader, Daniel J. | Franke, Andre | Wittig, Michael | Schäfer, Arne | Uda, Manuela | Terracciano, Antonio | Xiao, Xiangjun | Busonero, Fabio | Scheet, Paul | Schlessinger, David | St Clair, David | Rujescu, Dan | Abecasis, Gonçalo R. | Grabe, Hans Jörgen | Teumer, Alexander | Völzke, Henry | Petersmann, Astrid | John, Ulrich | Rudan, Igor | Hayward, Caroline | Wright, Alan F. | Kolcic, Ivana | Wright, Benjamin J | Thompson, John R | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Hall, Alistair S. | Samani, Nilesh J. | Anderson, Carl A. | Ahmad, Tariq | Mathew, Christopher G. | Parkes, Miles | Satsangi, Jack | Caulfield, Mark | Munroe, Patricia B. | Farrall, Martin | Dominiczak, Anna | Worthington, Jane | Thomson, Wendy | Eyre, Steve | Barton, Anne | Mooser, Vincent | Francks, Clyde | Marchini, Jonathan
Nature genetics  2010;42(5):436-440.
Smoking is a leading global cause of disease and mortality1. We performed a genomewide meta-analytic association study of smoking-related behavioral traits in a total sample of 41,150 individuals drawn from 20 disease, population, and control cohorts. Our analysis confirmed an effect on smoking quantity (SQ) at a locus on 15q25 (P=9.45e-19) that includes three genes encoding neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunits (CHRNA5, CHRNA3, CHRNB4). We used data from the 1000 Genomes project to investigate the region using imputation, which allowed analysis of virtually all common variants in the region and offered a five-fold increase in coverage over the HapMap. This increased the spectrum of potentially causal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which included a novel SNP that showed the highest significance, rs55853698, located within the promoter region of CHRNA5. Conditional analysis also identified a secondary locus (rs6495308) in CHRNA3.
doi:10.1038/ng.572
PMCID: PMC3612983  PMID: 20418889
18.  Clinical and Genetic Association of Serum Ceruloplasmin with Cardiovascular Risk 
Objective
Ceruloplasmin (Cp) is an acute-phase reactant that is increased in inflammatory diseases and in acute coronary syndromes. Cp has recently been shown to possess nitric oxide (NO) oxidase catalytic activity, but its impact on long-term cardiovascular outcomes in stable cardiac patients has not been explored.
Methods and Results
We examined serum Cp levels and their relationship with incident major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE = death, myocardial infarction [MI], stroke) over 3-year follow-up in 4,177 patients undergoing elective coronary angiography. We also carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify the genetic determinants of serum Cp levels and evaluate their relationship to prevalent and incident cardiovascular risk. In our cohort (age 63±11 years, 66% male, 32% history of MI, 31% diabetes mellitus), mean Cp level was 24±6 mg/dL. Serum Cp level was associated with greater risk of MI at 3 years (Hazard ratio [HR, Quartile 4 versus 1] 2.35, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.79–3.09, p<0.001). After adjusting for traditional risk factors, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and creatinine clearance, Cp remained independently predictive of MACE (HR 1.55, 95% CI 1.10–2.17, p=0.012). A two-stage GWAS identified a locus on chromosome 3 over the CP gene that was significantly associated with Cp levels (lead SNP rs13072552; p=1.90 × 10−11). However, this variant, which leads to modestly increased serum Cp levels (~1.5–2 mg/dL per minor allele copy), was not associated with coronary artery disease or future risk of MACE.
Conclusion
In stable cardiac patients, serum Cp provides independent risk prediction of long-term adverse cardiac events. Genetic variants at the CP locus that modestly affect serum Cp levels are not associated with prevalent or incident risk of coronary artery disease in this study population.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.111.237040
PMCID: PMC3262121  PMID: 22075249
19.  Eight genetic loci associated with variation in lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 mass and activity and coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies from five community-based studies 
European Heart Journal  2011;33(2):238-251.
Aims
Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) generates proinflammatory and proatherogenic compounds in the arterial vascular wall and is a potential therapeutic target in coronary heart disease (CHD). We searched for genetic loci related to Lp-PLA2 mass or activity by a genome-wide association study as part of the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium.
Methods and results
In meta-analyses of findings from five population-based studies, comprising 13 664 subjects, variants at two loci (PLA2G7, CETP) were associated with Lp-PLA2 mass. The strongest signal was at rs1805017 in PLA2G7 [P = 2.4 × 10−23, log Lp-PLA2 difference per allele (beta): 0.043]. Variants at six loci were associated with Lp-PLA2 activity (PLA2G7, APOC1, CELSR2, LDL, ZNF259, SCARB1), among which the strongest signals were at rs4420638, near the APOE–APOC1–APOC4–APOC2 cluster [P = 4.9 × 10−30; log Lp-PLA2 difference per allele (beta): −0.054]. There were no significant gene–environment interactions between these eight polymorphisms associated with Lp-PLA2 mass or activity and age, sex, body mass index, or smoking status. Four of the polymorphisms (in APOC1, CELSR2, SCARB1, ZNF259), but not PLA2G7, were significantly associated with CHD in a second study.
Conclusion
Levels of Lp-PLA2 mass and activity were associated with PLA2G7, the gene coding for this protein. Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 activity was also strongly associated with genetic variants related to low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehr372
PMCID: PMC3258449  PMID: 22003152
Genome-wide association; Inflammation; Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2
20.  Plasma HDL cholesterol and risk of myocardial infarction: a mendelian randomisation study 
Voight, Benjamin F | Peloso, Gina M | Orho-Melander, Marju | Frikke-Schmidt, Ruth | Barbalic, Maja | Jensen, Majken K | Hindy, George | Hólm, Hilma | Ding, Eric L | Johnson, Toby | Schunkert, Heribert | Samani, Nilesh J | Clarke, Robert | Hopewell, Jemma C | Thompson, John F | Li, Mingyao | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Newton-Cheh, Christopher | Musunuru, Kiran | Pirruccello, James P | Saleheen, Danish | Chen, Li | Stewart, Alexandre FR | Schillert, Arne | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Thorgeirsson, Gudmundur | Anand, Sonia | Engert, James C | Morgan, Thomas | Spertus, John | Stoll, Monika | Berger, Klaus | Martinelli, Nicola | Girelli, Domenico | McKeown, Pascal P | Patterson, Christopher C | Epstein, Stephen E | Devaney, Joseph | Burnett, Mary-Susan | Mooser, Vincent | Ripatti, Samuli | Surakka, Ida | Nieminen, Markku S | Sinisalo, Juha | Lokki, Marja-Liisa | Perola, Markus | Havulinna, Aki | de Faire, Ulf | Gigante, Bruna | Ingelsson, Erik | Zeller, Tanja | Wild, Philipp | de Bakker, Paul I W | Klungel, Olaf H | Maitland-van der Zee, Anke-Hilse | Peters, Bas J M | de Boer, Anthonius | Grobbee, Diederick E | Kamphuisen, Pieter W | Deneer, Vera H M | Elbers, Clara C | Onland-Moret, N Charlotte | Hofker, Marten H | Wijmenga, Cisca | Verschuren, WM Monique | Boer, Jolanda MA | van der Schouw, Yvonne T | Rasheed, Asif | Frossard, Philippe | Demissie, Serkalem | Willer, Cristen | Do, Ron | Ordovas, Jose M | Abecasis, Gonçalo R | Boehnke, Michael | Mohlke, Karen L | Daly, Mark J | Guiducci, Candace | Burtt, Noël P | Surti, Aarti | Gonzalez, Elena | Purcell, Shaun | Gabriel, Stacey | Marrugat, Jaume | Peden, John | Erdmann, Jeanette | Diemert, Patrick | Willenborg, Christina | König, Inke R | Fischer, Marcus | Hengstenberg, Christian | Ziegler, Andreas | Buysschaert, Ian | Lambrechts, Diether | Van de Werf, Frans | Fox, Keith A | El Mokhtari, Nour Eddine | Rubin, Diana | Schrezenmeir, Jürgen | Schreiber, Stefan | Schäfer, Arne | Danesh, John | Blankenberg, Stefan | Roberts, Robert | McPherson, Ruth | Watkins, Hugh | Hall, Alistair S | Overvad, Kim | Rimm, Eric | Boerwinkle, Eric | Tybjaerg-Hansen, Anne | Cupples, L Adrienne | Reilly, Muredach P | Melander, Olle | Mannucci, Pier M | Ardissino, Diego | Siscovick, David | Elosua, Roberto | Stefansson, Kari | O'Donnell, Christopher J | Salomaa, Veikko | Rader, Daniel J | Peltonen, Leena | Schwartz, Stephen M | Altshuler, David | Kathiresan, Sekar
Lancet  2012;380(9841):572-580.
Summary
Background
High plasma HDL cholesterol is associated with reduced risk of myocardial infarction, but whether this association is causal is unclear. Exploiting the fact that genotypes are randomly assigned at meiosis, are independent of non-genetic confounding, and are unmodified by disease processes, mendelian randomisation can be used to test the hypothesis that the association of a plasma biomarker with disease is causal.
Methods
We performed two mendelian randomisation analyses. First, we used as an instrument a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the endothelial lipase gene (LIPG Asn396Ser) and tested this SNP in 20 studies (20 913 myocardial infarction cases, 95 407 controls). Second, we used as an instrument a genetic score consisting of 14 common SNPs that exclusively associate with HDL cholesterol and tested this score in up to 12 482 cases of myocardial infarction and 41 331 controls. As a positive control, we also tested a genetic score of 13 common SNPs exclusively associated with LDL cholesterol.
Findings
Carriers of the LIPG 396Ser allele (2·6% frequency) had higher HDL cholesterol (0·14 mmol/L higher, p=8×10−13) but similar levels of other lipid and non-lipid risk factors for myocardial infarction compared with non-carriers. This difference in HDL cholesterol is expected to decrease risk of myocardial infarction by 13% (odds ratio [OR] 0·87, 95% CI 0·84–0·91). However, we noted that the 396Ser allele was not associated with risk of myocardial infarction (OR 0·99, 95% CI 0·88–1·11, p=0·85). From observational epidemiology, an increase of 1 SD in HDL cholesterol was associated with reduced risk of myocardial infarction (OR 0·62, 95% CI 0·58–0·66). However, a 1 SD increase in HDL cholesterol due to genetic score was not associated with risk of myocardial infarction (OR 0·93, 95% CI 0·68–1·26, p=0·63). For LDL cholesterol, the estimate from observational epidemiology (a 1 SD increase in LDL cholesterol associated with OR 1·54, 95% CI 1·45–1·63) was concordant with that from genetic score (OR 2·13, 95% CI 1·69–2·69, p=2×10−10).
Interpretation
Some genetic mechanisms that raise plasma HDL cholesterol do not seem to lower risk of myocardial infarction. These data challenge the concept that raising of plasma HDL cholesterol will uniformly translate into reductions in risk of myocardial infarction.
Funding
US National Institutes of Health, The Wellcome Trust, European Union, British Heart Foundation, and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60312-2
PMCID: PMC3419820  PMID: 22607825
21.  A Genome Wide Association Study for Coronary Artery Disease Identifies a Novel Susceptibility Locus in the Major Histocompatibility Complex 
Background
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several novel loci that reproducibly associate with CAD and/or MI risk. However, known common CAD risk variants explain only 10% of the predicted genetic heritability of the disease, suggesting that important genetic signals remain to be discovered.
Methods and Results
We performed a discovery meta-analysis of 5 GWASs involving 13,949 subjects (7123 cases, 6826 controls) imputed at approximately 5 million SNPs using pilot 1000 Genomes based haplotypes. Promising loci were followed up in an additional 5 studies with 11,032 subjects (5211 cases, 5821 controls). A novel CAD locus on chromosome 6p21.3 in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) between HCG27 and HLA-C was identified and achieved genome wide significance in the combined analysis (rs3869109; pdiscovery=3.3×10−7, preplication=5.3×10−4 pcombined=1.12×10−9). A sub-analysis combining discovery GWASs showed an attenuation of significance when stringent corrections for European population structure were employed (p=4.1×10-10 versus 3.2×10-7) suggesting the observed signal is partly confounded due to population stratification. This gene dense region plays an important role in inflammation, immunity and self cell recognition. To determine whether the underlying association was driven by MHC class I alleles, we statistically imputed common HLA alleles into the discovery subjects; however, no single common HLA type contributed significantly or fully explained the observed association.
Conclusions
We have identified a novel locus in the MHC associated with CAD. MHC genes regulate inflammation and T cell responses that contribute importantly to the initiation and propagation of atherosclerosis. Further laboratory studies will be required to understand the biological basis of this association and identify the causative allele(s).
doi:10.1161/CIRCGENETICS.111.961243
PMCID: PMC3335297  PMID: 22319020
coronary artery disease; myocardial infarction; meta-analysis; genetics
22.  A Genome Wide Association Study for Coronary Artery Disease Identifies a Novel Susceptibility Locus in the Major Histocompatibility Complex 
Background
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several novel loci that reproducibly associate with CAD and/or MI risk. However, known common CAD risk variants explain only 10% of the predicted genetic heritability of the disease, suggesting that important genetic signals remain to be discovered.
Methods and Results
We performed a discovery meta-analysis of 5 GWASs involving 13,949 subjects (7123 cases, 6826 controls) imputed at approximately 5 million SNPs using pilot 1000 Genomes based haplotypes. Promising loci were followed up in an additional 5 studies with 11,032 subjects (5211 cases, 5821 controls). A novel CAD locus on chromosome 6p21.3 in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) between HCG27 and HLA-C was identified and achieved genome wide significance in the combined analysis (rs3869109; pdiscovery=3.3×10−7, preplication=5.3×10−4 pcombined=1.12×10−9). A sub-analysis combining discovery GWASs showed an attenuation of significance when stringent corrections for European population structure were employed (p=4.1×10−10 versus 3.2×10−7) suggesting the observed signal is partly confounded due to population stratification. This gene dense region plays an important role in inflammation, immunity and self cell recognition. To determine whether the underlying association was driven by MHC class I alleles, we statistically imputed common HLA alleles into the discovery subjects; however, no single common HLA type contributed significantly or fully explained the observed association.
Conclusion
We have identified a novel locus in the MHC associated with CAD. MHC genes regulate inflammation and T cell responses that contribute importantly to the initiation and propagation of atherosclerosis. Further laboratory studies will be required to understand the biological basis of this association and identify the causative allele(s).
doi:10.1161/CIRCGENETICS.111.961243
PMCID: PMC3335297  PMID: 22319020
Coronary Artery Disease; Myocardial Infarction; Meta-Analysis; Genetics
23.  Correction: Galactose Enhances Oxidative Metabolism and Reveals Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Human Primary Muscle Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):10.1371/annotation/4a3c143c-7338-4ed3-8fc4-a21526fd05a6.
doi:10.1371/annotation/4a3c143c-7338-4ed3-8fc4-a21526fd05a6
PMCID: PMC3267805
24.  Correction: Galactose Enhances Oxidative Metabolism and Reveals Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Human Primary Muscle Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):10.1371/annotation/eb51f7a7-a8fd-45a3-9df0-e6080c47fe06.
doi:10.1371/annotation/eb51f7a7-a8fd-45a3-9df0-e6080c47fe06
PMCID: PMC3267806
25.  Galactose Enhances Oxidative Metabolism and Reveals Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Human Primary Muscle Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28536.
Background
Human primary myotubes are highly glycolytic when cultured in high glucose medium rendering it difficult to study mitochondrial dysfunction. Galactose is known to enhance mitochondrial metabolism and could be an excellent model to study mitochondrial dysfunction in human primary myotubes. The aim of the present study was to 1) characterize the effect of differentiating healthy human myoblasts in galactose on oxidative metabolism and 2) determine whether galactose can pinpoint a mitochondrial malfunction in post-diabetic myotubes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Oxygen consumption rate (OCR), lactate levels, mitochondrial content, citrate synthase and cytochrome C oxidase activities, and AMPK phosphorylation were determined in healthy myotubes differentiated in different sources/concentrations of carbohydrates: 25 mM glucose (high glucose (HG)), 5 mM glucose (low glucose (LG)) or 10 mM galactose (GAL). Effect of carbohydrates on OCR was also determined in myotubes derived from post-diabetic patients and matched obese non-diabetic subjects. OCR was significantly increased whereas anaerobic glycolysis was significantly decreased in GAL myotubes compared to LG or HG myotubes. This increased OCR in GAL myotubes occurred in conjunction with increased cytochrome C oxidase activity and expression, as well as increased AMPK phosphorylation. OCR of post-diabetic myotubes was not different than that of obese non-diabetic myotubes when differentiated in LG or HG. However, whereas GAL increased OCR in obese non-diabetic myotubes, it did not affect OCR in post-diabetic myotubes, leading to a significant difference in OCR between groups. The lack of an increase in OCR in post-diabetic myotubes differentiated in GAL was in relation with unaltered cytochrome C oxidase activity levels or AMPK phosphorylation.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results indicate that differentiating human primary myoblasts in GAL enhances aerobic metabolism. Because this cell culture model elicited an abnormal response in cells from post-diabetic patients, it may be useful in further studies of the molecular mechanisms of mitochondrial dysfunction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028536
PMCID: PMC3240634  PMID: 22194845

Results 1-25 (57)