Prevalence rates of overweight and obesity have increased in German children and adolescents in the last three decades. Adolescents with extreme obesity represent a distinct risk group. On the basis of data obtained by the German Child and Youth Survey (KiGGS) and the German district military offices we estimate that the group of extremely obese adolescents (BMI ≥ 35 kg/m2) currently encompasses approximately 200.000 adolescents aged 14 to 21 yrs. Conventional approaches focusing on weight reduction have largely proven futile for them. In addition, only a small percentage of adolescents with extreme obesity seek actively treatment for obesity while contributing disproportionately strong to health care costs. Because of somatic and psychiatric co-morbidities and social problems adolescents with extreme obesity require special attention within the medical care system.
We have initiated the project “Medical and psychosocial implications of adolescents with extreme obesity - acceptance and effects of structured care, short: ‘Youths with Extreme Obesity Study (YES)’”, which aims at improving the medical care and social support structures for youths with extreme obesity in Germany.
We focus on identification of these subjects (baseline examination) and their acceptance of diagnostic and subsequent treatment procedures. In a randomized controlled trial (RCT) we will investigate the effectiveness of a low key group intervention not focusing on weight loss but aimed at the provision of obesity related information, alleviation of social isolation, school and vocational integration and improvement of self-esteem in comparison to a control group treated in a conventional way with focus on weight loss. Interested individuals who fulfill current recommended criteria for weight loss surgery will be provided with a structured preparation and follow-up programs. All subjects will be monitored within a long-term observational study to elucidate medical and psychosocial outcomes. Our aim is to evaluate realistic treatment options. Therefore inclusion and exclusion criteria are minimized.
We will recruit adolescents (age range 14–21 years) with extreme obesity (BMI ≥ 35 kg/m2) (extreme group) within 24 months (120 per centre, 5 centres) as well as obese adolescents being at risk for developing extreme obesity (BMI ≥ 30 – 34.9 kg/m2) (at risk group). Follow-up evalutations will be performed biannually after inclusion for several years depending on additional funding. In sum, we aim at establishing evaluated health care structures for extremely obese adolescents.
The results of YES will be of importance for a frequently neglected group of individuals, for whom current medicine has little to offer in terms of structured access to empirically evaluated therapeutic programs. Thus, the results will be both a help for the adolescents within the study and for others in the future given that the trial will lead to a positive finding. Moreover, it will help practitioners and therapists to deal with this neglected group of individuals.
Project registration numbers for each subproject: 1.) ClinicalTrials.gov:
NCT01632098; 2.) Germanctr.de:
Adolescents with extreme obesity; Bariatric surgery; Social isolation; School and vocational integration
Episodic cluster headache (ECH) is a primary headache disorder that severely impairs patient’s quality of life. First-line therapy in the initiation of a prophylactic treatment is verapamil. Due to its delayed onset of efficacy and the necessary slow titration of dosage for tolerability reasons prednisone is frequently added by clinicians to the initial prophylactic treatment of a cluster episode. This treatment strategy is thought to effectively reduce the number and intensity of cluster attacks in the beginning of a cluster episode (before verapamil is effective). This study will assess the efficacy and safety of oral prednisone as an add-on therapy to verapamil and compare it to a monotherapy with verapamil in the initial prophylactic treatment of a cluster episode.
Methods and design
PredCH is a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with parallel study arms. Eligible patients with episodic cluster headache will be randomized to a treatment intervention with prednisone or a placebo arm. The multi-center trial will be conducted in eight German headache clinics that specialize in the treatment of ECH.
PredCH is designed to assess whether oral prednisone added to first-line agent verapamil helps reduce the number and intensity of cluster attacks in the beginning of a cluster episode as compared to monotherapy with verapamil.
German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00004716
Episodic cluster headache; Prednisone; Verapamil; Prophylactic treatment; Clinical trial; Prospective study; Study protocol
Selective inhibition of mutant BRAF by using class I RAF inhibitors in patients with metastatic melanoma has resulted in impressive clinical activity. However, there is also evidence that RAF inhibitors might induce carcinogenesis or promote tumor progression via stimulation of MAPK signaling in RAF wild-type cells. We analyzed melanocytic lesions arising under class I RAF inhibitor treatment for dignity, specific genetic mutations, or expression of signal transduction molecules.
Patients and Methods
In all, 22 cutaneous melanocytic lesions that had either developed or considerably changed in morphology in 19 patients undergoing treatment with selective BRAF inhibitors for BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma at seven international melanoma centers within clinical trials in 2010 and 2011 were analyzed for mutations in BRAF and NRAS genes and immunohistologically assessed for expression of various signal transduction molecules in comparison with 22 common nevi of 21 patients with no history of BRAF inhibitor treatment.
Twelve newly detected primary melanomas were confirmed in 11 patients within 27 weeks of selective BRAF blockade. In addition, 10 nevi developed of which nine were dysplastic. All melanocytic lesions were BRAF wild type. Explorations revealed that expression of cyclin D1 and pAKT was increased in newly developed primary melanomas compared with nevi (P = .01 and P = .03, respectively). There was no NRAS mutation in common nevi, but BRAF mutations were frequent.
Malignant melanocytic tumors might develop with increased frequency in patients treated with selective BRAF inhibitors supporting a mechanism of BRAF therapy–induced growth and tumorigenesis. Careful surveillance of melanocytic lesions in patients receiving class I RAF inhibitors seems warranted.
There are hints of an altered mitochondrial function in obesity. Nuclear-encoded genes are relevant for mitochondrial function (3 gene sets of known relevant pathways: (1) 16 nuclear regulators of mitochondrial genes, (2) 91 genes for oxidative phosphorylation and (3) 966 nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes). Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) showed no association with type 2 diabetes mellitus in these gene sets. Here we performed a GSEA for the same gene sets for obesity. Genome wide association study (GWAS) data from a case-control approach on 453 extremely obese children and adolescents and 435 lean adult controls were used for GSEA. For independent confirmation, we analyzed 705 obesity GWAS trios (extremely obese child and both biological parents) and a population-based GWAS sample (KORA F4, n = 1,743). A meta-analysis was performed on all three samples. In each sample, the distribution of significance levels between the respective gene set and those of all genes was compared using the leading-edge-fraction-comparison test (cut-offs between the 50th and 95th percentile of the set of all gene-wise corrected p-values) as implemented in the MAGENTA software. In the case-control sample, significant enrichment of associations with obesity was observed above the 50th percentile for the set of the 16 nuclear regulators of mitochondrial genes (pGSEA,50 = 0.0103). This finding was not confirmed in the trios (pGSEA,50 = 0.5991), but in KORA (pGSEA,50 = 0.0398). The meta-analysis again indicated a trend for enrichment (pMAGENTA,50 = 0.1052, pMAGENTA,75 = 0.0251). The GSEA revealed that weak association signals for obesity might be enriched in the gene set of 16 nuclear regulators of mitochondrial genes.
Atherosclerosis is the primary cause of coronary heart disease (CHD), preceding the onset of cardiovascular disease by decades in most cases. Here we examine the association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) integrated on Metabochip and coronary artery calcification (CAC), a valid risk factor for CHD, in an unselected, population-based German cohort.
The Metabochip is a custom iSELECT array containing >195,000 SNPs that was designed to support large-scale follow-up of putative associations for metabolic and cardiovascular-associated traits. We used generalized linear regression models to explore the impact of Metabochip SNPs on quantitative CAC in 4,329 participants.
The 9p21 variant, rs1537373, was most strongly associated (Beta = 0.30; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.21-0.39; p = 4.05x10-11) with quantitative CAC. The second strongest association with CAC was with rs9349379 in the phosphatase and actin regulator 1 gene, PHACTR1, (Beta = 0.30; 95% CI = 0.22-0.40; p = 4.67x10-11). Both SNPs remained nominally significant in dichotomized analyses for the presence of any CAC (odds ratiors1537373 (OR) = 1.19; 95% CI = 1.07-1.31; p = 0.001 and ORrs9349379 = 1.26; 95% CI = 1.14-1.40); p = 1.5x10-5). Fine mapping of the 9p21 and PHACTR1 gene region revealed several other SNPs that were strongly associated with CAC.
We demonstrate that SNPs near 9p21 and in PHACTR1 that have previously been shown to be associated with CHD are strongly associated with CAC in the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study cohort. Our findings suggest that the 9p21 and 6q24 loci might be involved in cardiac outcome via promoting development of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries.
Coronary heart disease; Coronary artery calcification; Cohort study; Polymorphism; Metabochip
The SH2B1 gene (Src-homology 2B adaptor protein 1 gene) is a solid candidate gene for obesity. Large scale GWAS studies depicted markers in the vicinity of the gene; animal models suggest a potential relevance for human body weight regulation.
We performed a mutation screen for variants in the SH2B1 coding sequence in 95 extremely obese children and adolescents. Detected variants were genotyped in independent childhood and adult study groups (up to 11,406 obese or overweight individuals and 4,568 controls). Functional implications on STAT3 mediated leptin signalling of the detected variants were analyzed in vitro.
We identified two new rare mutations and five known SNPs (rs147094247, rs7498665, rs60604881, rs62037368 and rs62037369) in SH2B1. Mutation g.9483C/T leads to a non-synonymous, non-conservative exchange in the beta (βThr656Ile) and gamma (γPro674Ser) splice variants of SH2B1. It was additionally detected in two of 11,206 (extremely) obese or overweight children, adolescents and adults, but not in 4,506 population-based normal-weight or lean controls. The non-coding mutation g.10182C/A at the 3’ end of SH2B1 was only detected in three obese individuals. For the non-synonymous SNP rs7498665 (Thr484Ala) we observed nominal over-transmission of the previously described risk allele in 705 obesity trios (nominal p = 0.009, OR = 1.23) and an increased frequency of the same allele in 359 cases compared to 429 controls (nominal p = 0.042, OR = 1.23). The obesity risk-alleles at Thr484Ala and βThr656Ile/γPro674Ser had no effect on STAT3 mediated leptin receptor signalling in splice variants β and γ.
The rare coding mutation βThr656Ile/γPro674Ser (g.9483C/T) in SH2B1 was exclusively detected in overweight or obese individuals. Functional analyzes did not reveal impairments in leptin signalling for the mutated SH2B1.
SH2B1; Obesity; BMI; rs7498665; Mutation screen
Multiple genetic variants have been associated with adult obesity and a few with severe obesity in childhood; however, less progress has been made to establish genetic influences on common early-onset obesity. We performed a North American-Australian-European collaborative meta-analysis of fourteen studies consisting of 5,530 cases (≥95th percentile of body mass index (BMI)) and 8,318 controls (<50th percentile of BMI) of European ancestry. Taking forward the eight novel signals yielding association with P < 5×10−6 in to nine independent datasets (n = 2,818 cases and 4,083 controls) we observed two loci that yielded a genome wide significant combined P-value, namely near OLFM4 on 13q14 (rs9568856; P=1.82×10−9; OR=1.22) and within HOXB5 on 17q21 (rs9299; P=3.54×10−9; OR=1.14). Both loci continued to show association when including two extreme childhood obesity cohorts (n = 2,214 cases and 2,674 controls). Finally, these two loci yielded directionally consistent associations in the GIANT meta-analysis of adult BMI1.
Doublecortin and calmodulin like kinase 1 (DCLK1) is implicated in synaptic plasticity and neurodevelopment. Genetic variants in DCLK1 are associated with cognitive traits, specifically verbal memory and general cognition. We investigated the role of DCLK1 variants in three psychiatric disorders that have neuro-cognitive dysfunctions: schizophrenia (SCZ), bipolar affective disorder (BP) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We mined six genome wide association studies (GWASs) that were available publically or through collaboration; three for BP, two for SCZ and one for ADHD. We also genotyped the DCLK1 region in additional samples of cases with SCZ, BP or ADHD and controls that had not been whole-genome typed. In total, 9895 subjects were analysed, including 5308 normal controls and 4,587 patients (1,125 with SCZ, 2,496 with BP and 966 with ADHD). Several DCLK1 variants were associated with disease phenotypes in the different samples. The main effect was observed for rs7989807 in intron 3, which was strongly associated with SCZ alone and even more so when cases with SCZ and ADHD were combined (P-value = 4×10−5 and 4×10−6, respectively). Associations were also observed with additional markers in intron 3 (combination of SCZ, ADHD and BP), intron 19 (SCZ+BP) and the 3′UTR (SCZ+BP). Our results suggest that genetic variants in DCLK1 are associated with SCZ and, to a lesser extent, with ADHD and BP. Interestingly the association is strongest when SCZ and ADHD are considered together, suggesting common genetic susceptibility. Given that DCLK1 variants were previously found to be associated with cognitive traits, these results are consistent with the role of DCLK1 in neurodevelopment and synaptic plasticity.
This trial was performed to test the efficacy and safety of an extended-release formulation of methylphenidate (MPH ER).
A total of 162 adults with ADHD according to DSM-IV were treated for 8 weeks with either two daily individually body weight-adjusted doses of MPH ER up to 1 mg/kg per day (N = 84) or placebo (N = 78). The primary efficacy outcome was the Wender-Reimherr Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Scale (WRAADDS) 8 weeks after randomization. Secondary efficacy measures were the ADHD Diagnostic Checklist (ADHD-DC), the Conners Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Scale (CAARS-S:L), the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) and the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS).
At week 8 a significantly higher decline of the total WRAADDS score was found in the MPH ER group as compared to the placebo group (P = 0.0003). The rates of responders were 50% in the MPH ER and 18% in the placebo group (P < 0.0001). Furthermore, similar effects were observed for the secondary efficacy variable: ADHD-DC score (P = 0.004), CAARS-S:L score (P = 0.008) and the SDS score (P = 0.017). 50% of the MPH ER group and 24.4% of the placebo group were improved “much” or “very much” according to the CGI rating (P = 0.0001). MPH ER treatment was well tolerated. At week 2 also the mean heart rate was significantly higher in the MPH ER group as compared to the placebo group (P = 0.01). No differences between the study groups were observed regarding mean blood pressure at any visit.
This clinical trial demonstrated statistically significant and clinical relevant effects of MPH ER in adults with ADHD for several self- and investigator-rated ADHD psychopathology and also functional efficacy measures.
Adult ADHD; methylphenidate; stimulants; treatment; randomized clinical trial
The comparison of the efficacy of Medikinet® retard and Concerta® trial was a multisite, randomized, double-blind, crossover trial that aimed at comparing the effects of two different modified release methylphenidate preparations (Medikinet retard: 50% immediate release (IR); Concerta: 22% IR) in a natural setting across the day in 113 randomized children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (age range 6–16 years). The duration of the study per patient was 3 weeks.
The primary outcome variable was the German version of the “Swanson, Kotkin, Agler, M-Flynn, and Pelham scale” in the first 3 hours of school as assessed by teachers.
Medikinet retard with a higher IR component than Concerta (and an equivalent daily dose) was superior to Concerta (p=0.0009), and Medikinet retard with similar IR components in the morning as Concerta (but a lower daily dose) was noninferior to Concerta with regard to the primary outcome. Further, exploratory analyses on teacher and parent ratings on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and on externalizing symptoms during the day revealed no evidence for the superiority of Concerta over Medikinet retard in an equivalent daily dosage throughout the day.
Children and adolescents may be treated with a lower daily dose of Medikinet retard (which has a similar IR component as Concerta) without resulting in a clinically relevant worse effect during school time.
Chronic inflammation plays an important role in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). This study addresses the impact of two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) Asp299Gly and Thr399Ile of the toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 gene on the clinical outcome while accounting for the influence of adjuvant systemic therapy in a large cohort of HNSCC patients.
Genotype analysis was done using DNA from tissue samples from 188 patients with HNSCC; TLR4 protein expression was assessed immunohistochemically in tissue microarrays. Classical survival models were used for statistical analyses.
Ten percent of patients with HNSCC presented with the TLR4 299Gly and 17% with the TLR4 399Ile allele. Patients with the heterozygous genotype TLR4 Asp299Gly had a significantly reduced disease-free and overall survival. Also, patients with the heterozygous genotype TLR4 Thr399Ile had a reduced disease-free survival. Notably, these associations seem to be attributable to relatively poor therapy response as e.g. reflected in a significantly shorter DFS among HNSCC patients carrying the Asp299Gly variant and receiving adjuvant systemic therapy.
According to this study, TLR4 299Gly und 399Ile alleles may serve as markers for prognosis of head and neck cancer in patients with adjuvant systemic therapy, particularly chemotherapy, and might indicate therapy resistance.
Toll-like receptor 4; Single-nucleotide polymorphism; HNSCC
African mole-rats (Bathyergidae, Rodentia) contain several social, cooperatively breeding species with low extrinsic mortality and unusually high longevity. All social bathyergids live in multigenerational families where reproduction is skewed towards a few breeding individuals. Most of their offspring remain as reproductively inactive “helpers” in their natal families, often for several years. This “reproductive subdivision” of mole-rat societies might be of interest for ageing research, as in at least one social bathyergid (Ansell's mole-rats Fukomys anselli), breeders have been shown to age significantly slower than non-breeders. These animals thus provide excellent conditions for studying the epigenetics of senescence by comparing divergent longevities within the same genotypes without the inescapable short-comings of inter-species comparisons. It has been claimed that many if not all social mole-rat species may have evolved similar ageing patterns, too. However, this remains unclear on account of the scarcity of reliable datasets on the subject. We therefore analyzed a 20-year breeding record of Giant mole-rats Fukomys mechowii, another social bathyergid species. We found that breeders indeed lived significantly longer than helpers (ca. 1.5–2.2fold depending on the sex), irrespective of social rank or other potentially confounding factors. Considering the phylogenetic positions of F. mechowii and F. anselli and unpublished data on a third Fukomys-species (F. damarensis) showing essentially the same pattern, it seems probable that the reversal of the classic trade-off between somatic maintenance and sexual reproduction is characteristic of the whole genus and hence of the vast majority of social mole-rats.
Heritability of obesity is substantial and recent meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have been successful in detecting several robustly associated genomic regions for obesity using single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). However, taken together, the SNPs explain only a small proportion of the overall heritability. Copy number variations (CNVs) might contribute to the ‘missing heritability’. We searched genome-wide for association between common CNVs and early-onset extreme obesity. Four hundred and twenty-four case-parents obesity trios and an independent sample of 453 extremely obese children and adolescents and 435 normal-weight and lean adult controls were genotyped by the Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0. We detected 20 common copy number variable regions (CNVRs) which were associated with obesity. The most promising CNVRs were followed-up in an independent sample of 365 obesity trios, confirming the association for two candidate CNVRs. We identified a common CNVR exclusively covering the three olfactory receptor genes OR4P4, OR4S2 and OR4C6 to be associated with obesity (combined P-value = 0.015 in a total of 789 families; odds ratio for the obesity effect allele = 1.19; 95% confidence interval = 1.016–1.394). We also replicated two common deletions (near NEGR1 and at chromosome 10q11.22) that have previously been reported to be associated with body weight. Additionally, we support a rare CNV on chromosome 16 that has recently been reported by two independent groups. However, rare CNVs had not been the focus of our study. We conclude that common CNVs are unlikely to contribute substantially to the genetic basis of early-onset extreme obesity.
Independent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) showed an obesogenic effect of two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP; rs12970134 and rs17782313) more than 150 kb downstream of the melanocortin 4 receptor gene (MC4R). It is unclear if the SNPs directly influence MC4R function or expression, or if the SNPs are on a haplotype that predisposes to obesity or includes functionally relevant genetic variation (synthetic association). As both exist, functionally relevant mutations and polymorphisms in the MC4R coding region and a robust association downstream of the gene, MC4R is an ideal model to explore synthetic association.
We analyzed a genomic region (364.9 kb) encompassing the MC4R in GWAS data of 424 obesity trios (extremely obese child/adolescent and both parents). SNP rs12970134 showed the lowest p-value (p = 0.004; relative risk for the obesity effect allele: 1.37); conditional analyses on this SNP revealed that 7 of 78 analyzed SNPs provided independent signals (p≤0.05). These 8 SNPs were used to derive two-marker haplotypes. The three best (according to p-value) haplotype combinations were chosen for confirmation in 363 independent obesity trios. The confirmed obesity effect haplotype includes SNPs 3′ and 5′ of the MC4R. Including MC4R coding variants in a joint model had almost no impact on the effect size estimators expected under synthetic association.
A haplotype reaching from a region 5′ of the MC4R to a region at least 150 kb from the 3′ end of the gene showed a stronger association to obesity than single SNPs. Synthetic association analyses revealed that MC4R coding variants had almost no impact on the association signal. Carriers of the haplotype should be enriched for relevant mutations outside the MC4R coding region and could thus be used for re-sequencing approaches. Our data also underscore the problems underlying the identification of relevant mutations depicted by GWAS derived SNPs.
Meta-analyses of population-based genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in adults have recently led to the detection of new genetic loci for obesity. Here we aimed to discover additional obesity loci in extremely obese children and adolescents. We also investigated if these results generalize by estimating the effects of these obesity loci in adults and in population-based samples including both children and adults. We jointly analysed two GWAS of 2,258 individuals and followed-up the best, according to lowest p-values, 44 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) from 21 genomic regions in 3,141 individuals. After this DISCOVERY step, we explored if the findings derived from the extremely obese children and adolescents (10 SNPs from 5 genomic regions) generalized to (i) the population level and (ii) to adults by genotyping another 31,182 individuals (GENERALIZATION step). Apart from previously identified FTO, MC4R, and TMEM18, we detected two new loci for obesity: one in SDCCAG8 (serologically defined colon cancer antigen 8 gene; p = 1.85×10−8 in the DISCOVERY step) and one between TNKS (tankyrase, TRF1-interacting ankyrin-related ADP-ribose polymerase gene) and MSRA (methionine sulfoxide reductase A gene; p = 4.84×10−7), the latter finding being limited to children and adolescents as demonstrated in the GENERALIZATION step. The odds ratios for early-onset obesity were estimated at ∼1.10 per risk allele for both loci. Interestingly, the TNKS/MSRA locus has recently been found to be associated with adult waist circumference. In summary, we have completed a meta-analysis of two GWAS which both focus on extremely obese children and adolescents and replicated our findings in a large followed-up data set. We observed that genetic variants in or near FTO, MC4R, TMEM18, SDCCAG8, and TNKS/MSRA were robustly associated with early-onset obesity. We conclude that the currently known major common variants related to obesity overlap to a substantial degree between children and adults.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have successfully contributed to the detection of genetic variants involved in body-weight regulation. We jointly analysed two GWAS for early-onset extreme obesity in 2,258 individuals of European origin and followed-up the findings in 3,141 individuals. Evidence for association of markers in two new genetic loci was shown (SDCCAG8 on chromosome 1q43–q44 and between TNKS/MSRA on chromosome 8p23.1). We also re-identified variants in or near FTO, MC4R, and TMEM18 to be associated with extreme obesity. In addition, we assessed the effect of the markers in 31,182 obese, lean, normal weight, and unselected individuals from population-based samples and showed that the variants near FTO, MC4R, TMEM18, and SDCCAG8 were consistently associated with obesity. For variants of TNKS/MSRA, the obesity association was limited to children and adolescents. In summary, we detected two new obesity loci and confirmed that the currently known major common variants related to obesity overlap to a substantial degree between children and adults.
The polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common endocrine disorder in women of child-bearing age, mainly characterised by chronic anovulation and hyperandrogenism, is often associated with insulin resistance (IR) and obesity. Its etiology and the role of IR and obesity in PCOS are not fully understood. We examined the influence of validated genetic variants conferring susceptibility to obesity and/or type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) on metabolic and PCOS-specific traits in patients with PCOS.
We conducted an association study in 386 patients with PCOS (defined by the Rotterdam-criteria) using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in or in proximity to the fat mass and obesity associated gene (FTO), insulin-induced gene-2 (INSIG2), transcription factor 7-like 2 gene (TCF7L2) and melanocortin 4 receptor gene (MC4R). To compare the effect of FTO obesity risk alleles on BMI in patients with PCOS to unselected females of the same age range we genotyped 1,971 females from the population-based KORA-S4 study (Kooperative Gesundheitsforschung im Raum Augsburg, Survey 4).
The FTO risk allele was associated with IR traits and measures of increased body weight. In addition, the TCF7L2 SNP was associated with body weight traits. For the SNPs in the vicinity of INSIG2 and MC4R and for the other examined phenotypes there was no evidence for an association. In PCOS the observed per risk allele effect of FTO intron 1 SNP rs9939609 on BMI was +1.56 kg/m2, whereas it was +0.46 kg/m2 in females of the same age range from the general population as shown previously.
The stronger effect on body weight of the FTO SNP in PCOS might well have implications for the etiology of the disease.
The orexigenic effects of cannabinoids are limited by activation of the endocannabinoid degrading enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). The aim of this study was to analyse whether FAAH alleles are associated with early and late onset obesity.
We initially assessed association of five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in FAAH with early onset extreme obesity in up to 521 German obese children and both parents. SNPs with nominal p-values ≤ 0.1 were subsequently analysed in 235 independent German obesity families. SNPs associated with childhood obesity (p-values ≤ 0.05) were further analysed in 8,491 adult individuals of a population-based cohort (KORA) for association with adult obesity. One SNP was further analysed in 985 German obese adults and 588 normal and underweight controls. In parallel, we screened the FAAH coding region for novel sequence variants in 92 extremely obese children using single-stranded-conformation-polymorphism-analysis and denaturing HPLC and assessed the implication of the identified new variants for childhood obesity.
The trio analysis revealed some evidence for an association of three SNPs in FAAH (rs324420 rs324419 and rs873978) with childhood obesity (two-sided p-values between 0.06 and 0.10). Although analyses of these variants in 235 independent obesity families did not result in statistically significant effects (two-sided p-values between 0.14 and 0.75), the combined analysis of all 603 obesity families supported the idea of an association of two SNPs in FAAH (rs324420 and rs2295632) with early onset extreme obesity (p-values between 0.02 and 0.03). No association was, however, found between these variants and adult obesity. The mutation screen revealed four novel variants, which were not associated with early onset obesity (p > 0.05).
As we observed some evidence for an association of the FAAH variants rs2295632 rs324420 with early onset but not adult obesity, we conclude that the FAAH variants analyzed here at least do not seem to play a major role in the etiology of obesity within our samples.
Previous studies have suggested that a variant in the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) gene is important in protecting against common obesity. Larger studies are needed, however, to confirm this relation.
We assessed the association between the V103I polymorphism in the MC4R gene and obesity in three UK population based cohort studies, totalling 8,304 individuals. We also did a meta-analysis of relevant studies, involving 10,975 cases and 18,588 controls, to place our findings in context.
In an analysis of all studies, individuals carrying the isoleucine allele had an 18% (95% CI 4-30%, p=0·015) lower risk of obesity compared with noncarriers. There was no heterogeneity among studies and no apparent publication bias.
This study confirms that the V103I polymorphism protects against human obesity at a population level. As such it provides proof of principle that specific gene variants may, at least in part, explain susceptibility and resistance to common forms of human obesity. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying this association will help determine whether changes in MC4R activity have therapeutic potential.
Gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP) is postulated to be involved in type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. It exerts its function through its receptor, GIPR. We genotyped three GIPR SNPs (rs8111428, rs2302382 and rs1800437) in German families with at least one obese index patient, two case-control studies and two cross-sectional population-based studies.
Genotyping was performed by MALDI-TOF, ARMS-PCR and RFLP. The family-study: 761 German families with at least one extremely obese child or adolescent (n = 1,041) and both parents (n = 1,522). Case-control study: (a) German obese children (n = 333) and (b) obese adults (n = 987) in comparison to 588 adult lean controls. The two cross-sectional population-based studies: KORA (n = 8,269) and SHIP (n = 4,310).
We detected over-transmission of the A-allele of rs2302382 in the German families (pTDT-Test = 0.0089). In the combined case-control sample, we estimated an odd ratio of 1.54 (95%CI 1.09;2.19, pCA-Test = 0.014) for homozygotes of the rs2302382 A-allele compared to individuals with no A-allele. A similar trend was found in KORA where the rs2302382 A-allele led to an increase of 0.12 BMI units (p = 0.136). In SHIP, however, the A-allele of rs2302382 was estimated to contribute an average decrease of 0.27 BMI units (p-value = 0.031).
Our data suggest a potential relevance of GIPR variants for obesity. However, additional studies are warranted in light of the conflicting results obtained in one of the two population-based studies.
A recent genome-wide association (GWA) study of U.S. Caucasians suggested that eight single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in CTNNBL1 are associated with obesity and increased fat mass. We analysed the respective SNPs in data from our previously published GWA for early onset obesity (case-control design), in GWA data from a population-based cohort of adults, and in an independent family-based obesity study. We investigated whether variants in CTNNBL1 (including rs6013029) and in three other genes (SH3PXD2B, SLIT3 and FLJ42133,) were associated with obesity.
The GWA studies were carried out using Affymetrix® SNP Chips with approximately 500,000 markers each. In the families, SNP rs6013029 was genotyped using the TaqMan® allelic discrimination assay. The German case-control GWA included 487 extremely obese children and adolescents and 442 healthy lean individuals. The adult GWA included 1,644 individuals from a German population-based study (KORA). The 775 independent German families consisted of extremely obese children and adolescents and their parents.
We found no evidence for an association of the reported variants in CTNNBL1 with early onset obesity or increased BMI. Further, in our family-based study we found no evidence for over-transmission of the rs6013029 risk-allele T to obese children. Additionally, we found no evidence for an association of SH3PXD2B, SLIT3 and FLJ42133 variants in our two GWA samples.
We detected no confirmation of the recent association of variants in CTNNBL1 with obesity in a population of Central European ancestry.
Several lines of evidence indicate that the central cannabinoid receptor 1 (CNR1) as well as the major endocannabinoid degrading enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), N-acylethanolamine-hydrolyzing acid amidase (NAAA) and monoglyceride lipase (MGLL) are implicated in mediating the orexigenic effects of cannabinoids. The aim of this study was to analyse whether nucleotide sequence variations in the CNR1, FAAH, NAAA and MGLL genes are associated with anorexia nervosa (AN).
We analysed the association of a previously described (AAT)n repeat in the 3' flanking region of CNR1 as well as a total of 15 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) representative of regions with restricted haplotype diversity in CNR1, FAAH, NAAA or MGLL in up to 91 German AN trios (patient with AN and both biological parents) using the transmission-disequilibrium-test (TDT). One SNP was additionally analysed in an independent case-control study comprising 113 patients with AN and 178 normal weight controls. Genotyping was performed using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry, ARMS-PCR or using 3730xl capillary sequencers.
The TDT revealed no evidence for association for any of the SNPs or the (AAT)n repeat with AN (all two-sided uncorrected p-values > 0.05). The lowest p-value of 0.11 was detected for the A-allele of the CNR1 SNP rs1049353 for which the transmission rate was 59% (95% confidence interval 47%...70%). Further genotyping of rs1049353 in 113 additional independent patients with AN and 178 normal weight controls could not substantiate the initial trend for association (p = 1.00).
As we found no evidence for an association of genetic variation in CNR1, FAAH, NAAA and MGLL with AN, we conclude that genetic variations in these genes do not play a major role in the etiology of AN in our study groups.
We have previously identified strong association of six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in FTO (fat mass and obesity associated gene) to early onset extreme obesity within the first genome wide association study (GWA) for this phenotype. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the obesity risk allele of one of these SNPs (rs9939609) is associated with weight loss in a lifestyle intervention program. Additionally, we tested for association of rs9939609 alleles with fasting blood parameters indicative of glucose and lipid metabolism.
We initially analysed rs9939609 in a case-control study comprising 519 German overweight and obese children and adolescents and 178 normal weight adults. In 207 of the obese individuals who took part in the outpatient obesity intervention program 'Obeldicks' we further analysed whether carrier status of the obesity risk A-allele of rs9939609 has a differential influence on weight loss after the intervention program. Additionally, we investigated in 480 of the overweight and obese patients whether rs9939609 is associated with fasting blood levels of glucose, triglycerides and HDL and LDL-cholesterol. Genotyping was performed using allele specific polymerase chain reaction (ARMS-PCR). For the association study (case-control approach), the Cochran-Armitage trend test was applied. Blood parameters were analysed using commercially available test kits and the log10-transformed blood parameters and changes in BMI-standard deviation scores (BMI-SDS) were analysed by linear regression with sex and age as covariates under an additive mode of inheritance with the rs9939609 A-allele as risk allele.
We confirmed the association of the risk A-allele of rs9939609 with overweight and early onset obesity (one sided p = 0.036). However, we observed no association of rs9939609 alleles with weight loss or fasting levels of blood glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol.
We confirmed the rs9939609 A-allele as a risk factor for early onset obesity whereas its impact on weight loss or on serum levels of glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol could not be detected in our samples.
This study is registered at clinicaltrials.gov (NCT00435734).
At present pathogenic mechanisms of cancer cachexia are poorly understood. Previous evidence in animal models implicates the melanocortin-4 receptor gene (MC4R) in the development of cancer cachexia. In humans, MC4R mutations that lead to an impaired receptor function are associated with obesity; in contrast, the most frequent polymorphism (Val103Ile, rs2229616; heterozygote frequency approximately 2%) was shown to be negatively associated with obesity. We tested if cancer patients that are homo-/heterozygous for the Val103Ile polymorphism are more likely to develop cachexia and/or a loss of appetite than non-carriers of the 103Ile-allele.
BMI (body mass index in kg/m2) of 509 patients (295 males) with malignant neoplasms was determined; additionally patients were asked about premorbid/pretherapeutical changes of appetite and weight loss. Cachexia was defined as a weight loss of at least 5% prior to initiation of therapy; to fulfil this criterion this weight loss had to occur independently of other plausible reasons; in single cases weight loss was the initial reason for seeing a physician. The average age in years (± SD) was 59.0 ± 14.5 (males: 58.8 ± 14.0, females 59.2 ± 14.0). Blood samples were taken for genotyping of the Val103Ile by PCR- RFLP.
Most of the patients suffered from lymphoma, leukaemia and gastrointestinal tumours. 107 of the patients (21%) fulfilled our criteria for cancer cachexia. We did not detect association between the Val103Ile polymorphism and cancer cachexia. However, if we exploratively excluded the patients with early leucaemic stages, we detected a trend towards the opposite effect (p < 0.05); heterozygotes for the 103Ile-allele developed cancer cachexia less frequently in comparison to the rest of the study group. Changes of appetite were not associated with the 103Ile-allele carrier status (p > 0.39).
Heterozygotes for the 103Ile-allele are not more prone to develop cancer cachexia than patients without this allele; possibly, Ile103 carriers might be more resistant to cancer cachexia in patients with solid tumors. Further studies of the melanocortinergic system in cachexia of patients with solid tumors are warranted.
Obesity is a major health problem. Although heritability is substantial, genetic mechanisms predisposing to obesity are not very well understood. We have performed a genome wide association study (GWA) for early onset (extreme) obesity.
a) GWA (Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 5.0 comprising 440,794 single nucleotide polymorphisms) for early onset extreme obesity based on 487 extremely obese young German individuals and 442 healthy lean German controls; b) confirmatory analyses on 644 independent families with at least one obese offspring and both parents. We aimed to identify and subsequently confirm the 15 SNPs (minor allele frequency ≥10%) with the lowest p-values of the GWA by four genetic models: additive, recessive, dominant and allelic. Six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in FTO (fat mass and obesity associated gene) within one linkage disequilibrium (LD) block including the GWA SNP rendering the lowest p-value (rs1121980; log-additive model: nominal p = 1.13×10−7, corrected p = 0.0494; odds ratio (OR)CT 1.67, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.22–2.27; ORTT 2.76, 95% CI 1.88–4.03) belonged to the 15 SNPs showing the strongest evidence for association with obesity. For confirmation we genotyped 11 of these in the 644 independent families (of the six FTO SNPs we chose only two representing the LD bock). For both FTO SNPs the initial association was confirmed (both Bonferroni corrected p<0.01). However, none of the nine non-FTO SNPs revealed significant transmission disequilibrium.
Our GWA for extreme early onset obesity substantiates that variation in FTO strongly contributes to early onset obesity. This is a further proof of concept for GWA to detect genes relevant for highly complex phenotypes. We concurrently show that nine additional SNPs with initially low p-values in the GWA were not confirmed in our family study, thus suggesting that of the best 15 SNPs in the GWA only the FTO SNPs represent true positive findings.
Accounting for interactions with environmental factors in association studies may improve the power to detect genetic effects and may help identifying important environmental effect modifiers. The power of unphased genotype-versus haplotype-based methods in regions with high linkage disequilibrium (LD), as measured by D', for analyzing gene × environment (gene × sex) interactions was compared using the Genetic Analysis Workshop 15 (GAW15) simulated data on rheumatoid arthritis with prior knowledge of the answers. Stepwise and regular conditional logistic regression (CLR) was performed using a matched case-control sample for a HLA region interacting with sex. Haplotype-based analyses were performed using a haplotype-sharing-based Mantel statistic and a test for haplotype-trait association in a general linear model framework. A step-down minP algorithm was applied to derive adjusted p-values and to allow for power comparisons. These methods were also applied to the GAW15 real data set for PTPN22.
For markers in strong LD, stepwise CLR performed poorly because of the correlation/collinearity between the predictors in the model. The power was high for detecting genetic main effects using simple CLR models and haplotype-based methods and for detecting joint effects using CLR and Mantel statistics. Only the haplotype-trait association test had high power to detect the gene × sex interaction.
In the PTPN22 region with markers characterized by strong LD, all methods indicated a significant genotype × sex interaction in a sample of about 1000 subjects. The previously reported R620W single-nucleotide polymorphism was identified using logistic regression, but the haplotype-based methods did not provide any precise location information.