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1.  Association of relative telomere length with progression of chronic kidney disease in two cohorts: effect modification by smoking and diabetes 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11887.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a highly progressive disease. We studied the association between relative telomere length (RTL) and CKD progression and tested whether this association is modified by smoking and diabetes mellitus. RTL was measured by qPCR in two prospective cohort studies, the MMKD-Study (n = 166) and the CRISIS-Study (n = 889) with a median follow-up of 4.5 and 2.8 years, respectively. Progression was defined as doubling of baseline serum creatinine (MMKD-Study) and/or end stage renal disease (both studies). 59 and 105 of the patients from MMKD and CRISIS experienced a progression of CKD. Mean standardized pooled RTL was 0.74 ± 0.29. In the meta-analysis shorter RTL at baseline showed a borderline association with CKD progression (HR = 1.07 [95%CI 1.00–1.15]; p = 0.06). We observed an effect modification of RTL and CKD progression by smoking and diabetes (p-values of interaction p = 0.02 and p = 0.09, respectively). Each 0.1 unit shorter RTL was significantly associated with an increased hazard for CKD progression in active-smokers by 44% (HR = 1.44 [1.16–1.81]; p = 0.001) and in patients with diabetes mellitus by 16% (HR = 1.16 [1.01–1.34]; p = 0.03). Estimates were adjusted for baseline age, sex, proteinuria and GFR. This study in two independent cohorts reinforces that RTL is a marker and potentially a pathogenetic factor for CKD progression.
doi:10.1038/srep11887
PMCID: PMC4493689  PMID: 26149682
3.  Development and validation of a predictive mortality risk score from a European hemodialysis cohort 
Kidney International  2015;87(5):996-1008.
Although mortality risk scores for chronic hemodialysis (HD) patients should have an important role in clinical decision-making, those currently available have limited applicability, robustness, and generalizability. Here we applied a modified Framingham Heart Study approach to derive 1- and 2-year all-cause mortality risk scores using a 11,508 European incident HD patient database (AROii) recruited between 2007 and 2009. This scoring model was validated externally using similar-sized Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Survey (DOPPS) data. For AROii, the observed 1- and 2-year mortality rates were 13.0 (95% confidence interval (CI; 12.3–13.8)) and 11.2 (10.4–12.1)/100 patient years, respectively. Increasing age, low body mass index, history of cardiovascular disease or cancer, and use of a vascular access catheter during baseline were consistent predictors of mortality. Among baseline laboratory markers, hemoglobin, ferritin, C-reactive protein, serum albumin, and creatinine predicted death within 1 and 2 years. When applied to the DOPPS population, the predictive risk score models were highly discriminatory, and generalizability remained high when restricted by incidence/prevalence and geographic location (C-statistics 0.68–0.79). This new model offers improved predictive power over age/comorbidity-based models and also predicted early mortality (C-statistic 0.71). Our new model delivers a robust and reproducible mortality risk score, based on readily available clinical and laboratory data.
doi:10.1038/ki.2014.419
PMCID: PMC4424813  PMID: 25651366
epidemiology and outcomes; ESRD; hemodialysis; mortality risk; risk factors
4.  Heart Failure in a Cohort of Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease: The GCKD Study 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0122552.
Background and Aims
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a risk factor for development and progression of heart failure (HF). CKD and HF share common risk factors, but few data exist on the prevalence, signs and symptoms as well as correlates of HF in populations with CKD of moderate severity. We therefore aimed to examine the prevalence and correlates of HF in the German Chronic Kidney Disease (GCKD) study, a large observational prospective study.
Methods and Results
We analyzed data from 5,015 GCKD patients aged 18–74 years with an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of <60 ml/min/1.73m² or with an eGFR ≥60 and overt proteinuria (>500 mg/d). We evaluated a definition of HF based on the Gothenburg score, a clinical HF score used in epidemiological studies (Gothenburg HF), and self-reported HF. Factors associated with HF were identified using multivariable adjusted logistic regression. The prevalence of Gothenburg HF was 43% (ranging from 24% in those with eGFR >90 to 59% in those with eGFR<30 ml/min/1.73m2). The corresponding estimate for self-reported HF was 18% (range 5%-24%). Lower eGFR was significantly and independently associated with the Gothenburg definition of HF (p-trend <0.001). Additional significantly associated correlates included older age, female gender, higher BMI, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, valvular heart disease, anemia, sleep apnea, and lower educational status.
Conclusions
The burden of self-reported and Gothenburg HF among patients with CKD is high. The proportion of patients who meet the criteria for Gothenburg HF in a European cohort of patients with moderate CKD is more than twice as high as the prevalence of self-reported HF. However, because of the shared signs, symptoms and medications of HF and CKD, the Gothenburg score cannot be used to reliably define HF in CKD patients. Our results emphasize the need for early screening for HF in patients with CKD.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122552
PMCID: PMC4395150  PMID: 25874373
5.  Genetic association study of QT interval highlights role for calcium signaling pathways in myocardial repolarization 
Arking, Dan E. | Pulit, Sara L. | Crotti, Lia | van der Harst, Pim | Munroe, Patricia B. | Koopmann, Tamara T. | Sotoodehnia, Nona | Rossin, Elizabeth J. | Morley, Michael | Wang, Xinchen | Johnson, Andrew D. | Lundby, Alicia | Gudbjartsson, Daníel F. | Noseworthy, Peter A. | Eijgelsheim, Mark | Bradford, Yuki | Tarasov, Kirill V. | Dörr, Marcus | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Lahtinen, Annukka M. | Nolte, Ilja M. | Smith, Albert Vernon | Bis, Joshua C. | Isaacs, Aaron | Newhouse, Stephen J. | Evans, Daniel S. | Post, Wendy S. | Waggott, Daryl | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Hicks, Andrew A. | Eisele, Lewin | Ellinghaus, David | Hayward, Caroline | Navarro, Pau | Ulivi, Sheila | Tanaka, Toshiko | Tester, David J. | Chatel, Stéphanie | Gustafsson, Stefan | Kumari, Meena | Morris, Richard W. | Naluai, Åsa T. | Padmanabhan, Sandosh | Kluttig, Alexander | Strohmer, Bernhard | Panayiotou, Andrie G. | Torres, Maria | Knoflach, Michael | Hubacek, Jaroslav A. | Slowikowski, Kamil | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | Kumar, Runjun D. | Harris, Tamara B. | Launer, Lenore J. | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Alonso, Alvaro | Bader, Joel S. | Ehret, Georg | Huang, Hailiang | Kao, W.H. Linda | Strait, James B. | Macfarlane, Peter W. | Brown, Morris | Caulfield, Mark J. | Samani, Nilesh J. | Kronenberg, Florian | Willeit, Johann | Smith, J. Gustav | Greiser, Karin H. | zu Schwabedissen, Henriette Meyer | Werdan, Karl | Carella, Massimo | Zelante, Leopoldo | Heckbert, Susan R. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Kolcic, Ivana | Polašek, Ozren | Wright, Alan F. | Griffin, Maura | Daly, Mark J. | Arnar, David O. | Hólm, Hilma | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Denny, Joshua C. | Roden, Dan M. | Zuvich, Rebecca L. | Emilsson, Valur | Plump, Andrew S. | Larson, Martin G. | O'Donnell, Christopher J. | Yin, Xiaoyan | Bobbo, Marco | D'Adamo, Adamo P. | Iorio, Annamaria | Sinagra, Gianfranco | Carracedo, Angel | Cummings, Steven R. | Nalls, Michael A. | Jula, Antti | Kontula, Kimmo K. | Marjamaa, Annukka | Oikarinen, Lasse | Perola, Markus | Porthan, Kimmo | Erbel, Raimund | Hoffmann, Per | Jöckel, Karl-Heinz | Kälsch, Hagen | Nöthen, Markus M. | consortium, HRGEN | den Hoed, Marcel | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Thelle, Dag S. | Gieger, Christian | Meitinger, Thomas | Perz, Siegfried | Peters, Annette | Prucha, Hanna | Sinner, Moritz F. | Waldenberger, Melanie | de Boer, Rudolf A. | Franke, Lude | van der Vleuten, Pieter A. | Beckmann, Britt Maria | Martens, Eimo | Bardai, Abdennasser | Hofman, Nynke | Wilde, Arthur A.M. | Behr, Elijah R. | Dalageorgou, Chrysoula | Giudicessi, John R. | Medeiros-Domingo, Argelia | Barc, Julien | Kyndt, Florence | Probst, Vincent | Ghidoni, Alice | Insolia, Roberto | Hamilton, Robert M. | Scherer, Stephen W. | Brandimarto, Jeffrey | Margulies, Kenneth | Moravec, Christine E. | Fabiola Del, Greco M. | Fuchsberger, Christian | O'Connell, Jeffrey R. | Lee, Wai K. | Watt, Graham C.M. | Campbell, Harry | Wild, Sarah H. | El Mokhtari, Nour E. | Frey, Norbert | Asselbergs, Folkert W. | Leach, Irene Mateo | Navis, Gerjan | van den Berg, Maarten P. | van Veldhuisen, Dirk J. | Kellis, Manolis | Krijthe, Bouwe P. | Franco, Oscar H. | Hofman, Albert | Kors, Jan A. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Witteman, Jacqueline C.M. | Kedenko, Lyudmyla | Lamina, Claudia | Oostra, Ben A. | Abecasis, Gonçalo R. | Lakatta, Edward G. | Mulas, Antonella | Orrú, Marco | Schlessinger, David | Uda, Manuela | Markus, Marcello R.P. | Völker, Uwe | Snieder, Harold | Spector, Timothy D. | Ärnlöv, Johan | Lind, Lars | Sundström, Johan | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Kivimaki, Mika | Kähönen, Mika | Mononen, Nina | Raitakari, Olli T. | Viikari, Jorma S. | Adamkova, Vera | Kiechl, Stefan | Brion, Maria | Nicolaides, Andrew N. | Paulweber, Bernhard | Haerting, Johannes | Dominiczak, Anna F. | Nyberg, Fredrik | Whincup, Peter H. | Hingorani, Aroon | Schott, Jean-Jacques | Bezzina, Connie R. | Ingelsson, Erik | Ferrucci, Luigi | Gasparini, Paolo | Wilson, James F. | Rudan, Igor | Franke, Andre | Mühleisen, Thomas W. | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Lehtimäki, Terho J. | Paterson, Andrew D. | Parsa, Afshin | Liu, Yongmei | van Duijn, Cornelia | Siscovick, David S. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Jamshidi, Yalda | Salomaa, Veikko | Felix, Stephan B. | Sanna, Serena | Ritchie, Marylyn D. | Stricker, Bruno H. | Stefansson, Kari | Boyer, Laurie A. | Cappola, Thomas P. | Olsen, Jesper V. | Lage, Kasper | Schwartz, Peter J. | Kääb, Stefan | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Ackerman, Michael J. | Pfeufer, Arne | de Bakker, Paul I.W. | Newton-Cheh, Christopher
Nature genetics  2014;46(8):826-836.
The QT interval, an electrocardiographic measure reflecting myocardial repolarization, is a heritable trait. QT prolongation is a risk factor for ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD) and could indicate the presence of the potentially lethal Mendelian Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). Using a genome-wide association and replication study in up to 100,000 individuals we identified 35 common variant QT interval loci, that collectively explain ∼8-10% of QT variation and highlight the importance of calcium regulation in myocardial repolarization. Rare variant analysis of 6 novel QT loci in 298 unrelated LQTS probands identified coding variants not found in controls but of uncertain causality and therefore requiring validation. Several newly identified loci encode for proteins that physically interact with other recognized repolarization proteins. Our integration of common variant association, expression and orthogonal protein-protein interaction screens provides new insights into cardiac electrophysiology and identifies novel candidate genes for ventricular arrhythmias, LQTS,and SCD.
doi:10.1038/ng.3014
PMCID: PMC4124521  PMID: 24952745
genome-wide association study; QT interval; Long QT Syndrome; sudden cardiac death; myocardial repolarization; arrhythmias
6.  Modification of the Association between PM10 and Lung Function Decline by Cadherin 13 Polymorphisms in the SAPALDIA Cohort: A Genome-Wide Interaction Analysis 
Background: Both air pollution and genetic variation have been shown to affect lung function. Their interaction has not been studied on a genome-wide scale to date.
Objectives: We aimed to identify, in an agnostic fashion, genes that modify the association between long-term air pollution exposure and annual lung function decline in an adult population-based sample.
Methods: A two-stage genome-wide interaction study was performed. The discovery (n = 763) and replication (n = 3,896) samples were derived from the multi-center SAPALDIA cohort (Swiss Cohort Study on Air Pollution and Lung Disease in Adults). Annual rate of decline in the forced mid-expiratory flow (FEF25–75%) was the main end point. Multivariate linear regression analyses were used to identify potential multiplicative interactions between genotypes and 11-year cumulative PM10 exposure.
Results: We identified a cluster of variants intronic to the CDH13 gene as the only locus with genome-wide significant interactions. The strongest interaction was observed for rs2325934 (p = 8.8 × 10–10). Replication of the interaction between this CDH13 variant and cumulative PM10 exposure on annual decline in FEF25–75% was successful (p = 0.008). The interaction was not sensitive to adjustment for smoking or body weight.
Conclusions: CDH13 is functionally linked to the adipokine adiponectin, an inflammatory regulator. Future studies need to confirm the interaction and assess how the result relates to previously observed interactions between air pollution and obesity on respiratory function.
Citation: Imboden M, Kumar A, Curjuric I, Adam M, Thun GA, Haun M, Tsai MY, Pons M, Bettschart R, Turk A, Rochat T, Künzli N, Schindler C, Kronenberg F, Probst-Hensch NM. 2015. Modification of the association between PM10 and lung function decline by cadherin 13 polymorphisms in the SAPALDIA cohort: a genome-wide interaction analysis. Environ Health Perspect 123:72–79; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1307398
doi:10.1289/ehp.1307398
PMCID: PMC4286270  PMID: 25127211
7.  Iron Supplementation and Mortality in Incident Dialysis Patients: An Observational Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114144.
Background
Studies on the association between iron supplementation and mortality in dialysis patients are rare and conflicting.
Methods
In our observational single-center cohort study (INVOR study) we prospectively studied 235 incident dialysis patients. Time-dependent Cox proportional hazards models using all measured laboratory values for up to 7.6 years were applied to study the association between iron supplementation and all-cause mortality, cardiovascular and sepsis-related mortality. Furthermore, the time-dependent association of ferritin levels with mortality in patients with normal C-reactive protein (CRP) levels (<0.5 mg/dL) and elevated CRP levels (≧0.5 mg/dL) was evaluated by using non-linear P-splines to allow flexible modeling of the association.
Results
One hundred and ninety-one (81.3%) patients received intravenous iron, 13 (5.5%) patients oral iron, whereas 31 (13.2%) patients were never supplemented with iron throughout the observation period. Eighty-two (35%) patients died during a median follow-up of 34 months, 38 patients due to cardiovascular events and 21 patients from sepsis. Baseline CRP levels were not different between patients with and without iron supplementation. However, baseline serum ferritin levels were lower in patients receiving iron during follow up (median 93 vs 251 ng/mL, p<0.001). Iron supplementation was associated with a significantly reduced all-cause mortality [HR (95%CI): 0.22 (0.08–0.58); p = 0.002] and a reduced cardiovascular and sepsis-related mortality [HR (95%CI): 0.31 (0.09–1.04); p = 0.06]. Increasing ferritin concentrations in patients with normal CRP were associated with a decreasing mortality, whereas in patients with elevated CRP values ferritin levels>800 ng/mL were linked with increased mortality.
Conclusions
Iron supplementation is associated with reduced all-cause mortality in incident dialysis patients. While serum ferritin levels up to 800 ng/mL appear to be safe, higher ferritin levels are associated with increased mortality in the setting of concomitant inflammation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114144
PMCID: PMC4252084  PMID: 25462819
8.  Leucocyte Telomere Length and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: New Prospective Cohort Study and Literature-Based Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112483.
Background
Short telomeres have been linked to various age-related diseases. We aimed to assess the association of telomere length with incident type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in prospective cohort studies.
Methods
Leucocyte relative telomere length (RTL) was measured using quantitative polymerase chain reaction in 684 participants of the prospective population-based Bruneck Study (1995 baseline), with repeat RTL measurements performed in 2005 (n = 558) and 2010 (n = 479). Hazard ratios for T2DM were calculated across quartiles of baseline RTL using Cox regression models adjusted for age, sex, body-mass index, smoking, socio-economic status, physical activity, alcohol consumption, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, log high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and waist-hip ratio. Separate analyses corrected hazard ratios for within-person variability using multivariate regression calibration of repeated measurements. To contextualise findings, we systematically sought PubMed, Web of Science and EMBASE for relevant articles and pooled results using random-effects meta-analysis.
Results
Over 15 years of follow-up, 44 out of 606 participants free of diabetes at baseline developed incident T2DM. The adjusted hazard ratio for T2DM comparing the bottom vs. the top quartile of baseline RTL (i.e. shortest vs. longest) was 2.00 (95% confidence interval: 0.90 to 4.49; P = 0.091), and 2.31 comparing the bottom quartile vs. the remainder (1.21 to 4.41; P = 0.011). The corresponding hazard ratios corrected for within-person RTL variability were 3.22 (1.27 to 8.14; P = 0.014) and 2.86 (1.45 to 5.65; P = 0.003). In a random-effects meta-analysis of three prospective cohort studies involving 6,991 participants and 2,011 incident T2DM events, the pooled relative risk was 1.31 (1.07 to 1.60; P = 0.010; I2 = 69%).
Conclusions/Interpretation
Low RTL is independently associated with the risk of incident T2DM. To avoid regression dilution biases in observed associations of RTL with disease risk, future studies should implement methods correcting for within-person variability in RTL. The causal role of short telomeres in T2DM development remains to be determined.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112483
PMCID: PMC4229188  PMID: 25390655
9.  Genetic polymorphisms at SIRT1 and FOXO1 are associated with carotid atherosclerosis in the SAPHIR cohort 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:112.
Background
SIRT1 and FOXO1 interact with each other in multiple pathways regulating aging, metabolism and resistance to oxidative stress and control different pathways involved in atherosclerotic process. It is not known, if genetic polymorphisms (SNPs) at the SIRT1 and FOXO1 have an influence on carotid atherosclerosis.
Methods
Intima-media thickness (IMT) was measured on the common and internal carotid arteries. Morphological alterations of the carotid arteries and size of these alterations were included in the B-score grading on a five point scale. Eleven SNPs at SIRT1 and FOXO1 gene loci were genotyped in the SAPHIR cohort (n = 1742). The association of each SNP with common carotid IMT, internal carotid IMT and B-score was analyzed using linear regression models.
Results
A significant association was found between common carotid IMT and two SNPs at FOXO1 - rs10507486, rs2297627 (beta = -0.00168, p = 0.0007 and beta = -0.00144, p = 0.0008 respectively) and at least a trend for rs12413112 at SIRT1 (beta = 0.00177, p = 0.0157) using an additive model adjusting for age and sex. Additional adjustment for traditional cardiovascular risk factors and markers (BMI, smoking status, hypertension, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, hsCRP) even improved the strength of this association (p = 0.0037 for SIRT1 and p = 0.0002 for both SNPs at FOXO1). Analysis for internal carotis IMT and B-score did not reveal any significant association. One haplotype in FOXO1 showed a moderate effect on common carotid IMT and B-score in comparison to the reference haplotype of this gene. Several SNPs within SIRT1 showed differential effects for men and women with higher effect sizes for women: rs3740051 on all three investigated phenotypes (interaction p-value < 0.0069); rs2236319 on common and internal carotid IMT (interaction p-value < 0.0083), rs10823108, rs2273773 on common carotid IMT and rs1467568 on B-score (interaction p-value = 0.0007). The latter was significant in women only (betawomen = 0.111, pwomen = 0.00008; betamen = -0.009, pmen = 0.6464).
Conclusions
This study demonstrated associations of genetic variations at the SIRT1 and FOXO1 loci with carotid atherosclerosis and highlighted the need for further investigation by functional studies.
doi:10.1186/s12881-014-0112-7
PMCID: PMC4411770  PMID: 25273948
10.  Mendelian Randomization Studies Do Not Support a Causal Role for Reduced Circulating Adiponectin Levels in Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes 
Yaghootkar, Hanieh | Lamina, Claudia | Scott, Robert A. | Dastani, Zari | Hivert, Marie-France | Warren, Liling L. | Stancáková, Alena | Buxbaum, Sarah G. | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Henneman, Peter | Wu, Ying | Cheung, Chloe Y.Y. | Pankow, James S. | Jackson, Anne U. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Zhao, Jing Hua | Ballantyne, Christie M. | Xie, Weijia | Bergman, Richard N. | Boehnke, Michael | el Bouazzaoui, Fatiha | Collins, Francis S. | Dunn, Sandra H. | Dupuis, Josee | Forouhi, Nita G. | Gillson, Christopher | Hattersley, Andrew T. | Hong, Jaeyoung | Kähönen, Mika | Kuusisto, Johanna | Kedenko, Lyudmyla | Kronenberg, Florian | Doria, Alessandro | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Ferrannini, Ele | Hansen, Torben | Hao, Ke | Häring, Hans | Knowles, Joshua W. | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Nolan, John J. | Paananen, Jussi | Pedersen, Oluf | Quertermous, Thomas | Smith, Ulf | Lehtimäki, Terho | Liu, Ching-Ti | Loos, Ruth J.F. | McCarthy, Mark I. | Morris, Andrew D. | Vasan, Ramachandran S. | Spector, Tim D. | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | van Dijk, Ko Willems | Viikari, Jorma S. | Zhu, Na | Langenberg, Claudia | Ingelsson, Erik | Semple, Robert K. | Sinaiko, Alan R. | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Walker, Mark | Lam, Karen S.L. | Paulweber, Bernhard | Mohlke, Karen L. | van Duijn, Cornelia | Raitakari, Olli T. | Bidulescu, Aurelian | Wareham, Nick J. | Laakso, Markku | Waterworth, Dawn M. | Lawlor, Debbie A. | Meigs, James B. | Richards, J. Brent | Frayling, Timothy M.
Diabetes  2013;62(10):3589-3598.
Adiponectin is strongly inversely associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, but its causal role remains controversial. We used a Mendelian randomization approach to test the hypothesis that adiponectin causally influences insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. We used genetic variants at the ADIPOQ gene as instruments to calculate a regression slope between adiponectin levels and metabolic traits (up to 31,000 individuals) and a combination of instrumental variables and summary statistics–based genetic risk scores to test the associations with gold-standard measures of insulin sensitivity (2,969 individuals) and type 2 diabetes (15,960 case subjects and 64,731 control subjects). In conventional regression analyses, a 1-SD decrease in adiponectin levels was correlated with a 0.31-SD (95% CI 0.26–0.35) increase in fasting insulin, a 0.34-SD (0.30–0.38) decrease in insulin sensitivity, and a type 2 diabetes odds ratio (OR) of 1.75 (1.47–2.13). The instrumental variable analysis revealed no evidence of a causal association between genetically lower circulating adiponectin and higher fasting insulin (0.02 SD; 95% CI −0.07 to 0.11; N = 29,771), nominal evidence of a causal relationship with lower insulin sensitivity (−0.20 SD; 95% CI −0.38 to −0.02; N = 1,860), and no evidence of a relationship with type 2 diabetes (OR 0.94; 95% CI 0.75–1.19; N = 2,777 case subjects and 13,011 control subjects). Using the ADIPOQ summary statistics genetic risk scores, we found no evidence of an association between adiponectin-lowering alleles and insulin sensitivity (effect per weighted adiponectin-lowering allele: −0.03 SD; 95% CI −0.07 to 0.01; N = 2,969) or type 2 diabetes (OR per weighted adiponectin-lowering allele: 0.99; 95% CI 0.95–1.04; 15,960 case subjects vs. 64,731 control subjects). These results do not provide any consistent evidence that interventions aimed at increasing adiponectin levels will improve insulin sensitivity or risk of type 2 diabetes.
doi:10.2337/db13-0128
PMCID: PMC3781444  PMID: 23835345
11.  Modifying Effect of a Common Polymorphism in the Interleukin-6 Promoter on the Relationship between Long-Term Exposure to Traffic-Related Particulate Matter and Heart Rate Variability 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104978.
Background
Exposure to particulate matter (PM) has been associated with an increase in many inflammatory markers, including interleukin 6 (IL6). Air pollution exposure has also been suggested to induce an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system (ANS), such as a decrease in heart rate variability (HRV). In this study we aimed to investigate the modifying effect of polymorphisms in a major proinflammatory marker gene, interleukin 6 (IL6), on the relationship between long-term exposure to traffic-related PM10 (TPM10) and HRV.
Methods
For this cross-sectional study we analysed 1552 participants of the SAPALDIA cohort aged 50 years and older. Included were persons with valid genotype data, who underwent ambulatory 24-hr electrocardiogram monitoring, and reported on medical history and lifestyle. Main effects of annual average TPM10 and IL6 gene variants (rs1800795; rs2069827; rs2069840; rs10242595) on HRV indices and their interaction with average annual exposure to TPM10 were tested, applying a multivariable mixed linear model.
Results
No overall association of TPM10 on HRV was found. Carriers of two proinflammatory G-alleles of the functional IL6 -174 G/C (rs1800795) polymorphism exhibited lower HRV. An inverse association between a 1 µg/m3 increment in yearly averaged TPM10 and HRV was restricted to GG genotypes at this locus with a standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals (SDNN) (GG-carriers: −1.8%; 95% confidence interval −3.5 to 0.01; pinteraction(additive) = 0.028); and low frequency power (LF) (GG-carriers: −5.7%; 95%CI: −10.4 to −0.8; pinteraction(dominant) = 0.049).
Conclusions
Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that traffic-related air pollution decreases heart rate variability through inflammatory mechanisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104978
PMCID: PMC4136824  PMID: 25133672
12.  A Systematic Evaluation of Short Tandem Repeats in Lipid Candidate Genes: Riding on the SNP-Wave 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102113.
Structural genetic variants as short tandem repeats (STRs) are not targeted in SNP-based association studies and thus, their possible association signals are missed. We systematically searched for STRs in gene regions known to contribute to total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in two independent studies (KORA F4, n = 2553 and SAPHIR, n = 1648), resulting in 16 STRs that were finally evaluated. In a combined dataset of both studies, the sum of STR alleles was regressed on each phenotype, adjusted for age and sex. The association analyses were repeated for SNPs in a 200 kb region surrounding the respective STRs in the KORA F4 Study. Three STRs were significantly associated with total cholesterol (within LDLR, the APOA1/C3/A4/A5/BUD13 gene region and ABCG5/8), five with HDL cholesterol (3 within CETP, one in LPL and one inAPOA1/C3/A4/A5/BUD13), three with LDL cholesterol (LDLR, ABCG5/8 and CETP) and two with triglycerides (APOA1/C3/A4/A5/BUD13 and LPL). None of the investigated STRs, however, showed a significant association after adjusting for the lead or adjacent SNPs within that gene region. The evaluated STRs were found to be well tagged by the lead SNP within the respective gene regions. Therefore, the STRs reflect the association signals based on surrounding SNPs. In conclusion, none of the STRs contributed additionally to the SNP-based association signals identified in GWAS on lipid traits.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102113
PMCID: PMC4106801  PMID: 25050552
13.  Haptoglobin 2‐2 Genotype is Not Associated With Cardiovascular Risk in Subjects With Elevated Glycohemoglobin—Results From the Bruneck Study 
Background
Haptoglobin (Hp) is an abundant plasma protein with antioxidant properties. The Hp 2‐2 genotype has previously been linked to coronary heart disease risk in individuals with elevated glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c). We investigated the association of Hp and HbA1c with cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the longitudinal, population‐based Bruneck Study.
Methods and Results
Hp genotype was determined by polymerase chain reaction according to standard procedures and HbA1c concentration by a Diabetes Control and Complications Trial‐aligned assay. HbA1c was measured in 1995, 2000, and 2005. Occurrence of the combined CVD endpoint of myocardial infarction or stroke was recorded between 1995 and 2010. Outcome analyses employed the Cox proportional hazards model with HbA1c category as time‐varying covariate. At baseline in 1995, 806 subjects (male sex, 49.3%; age, mean±standard deviation, 62.70±11.08 years) were included. During follow‐up, 123 subjects experienced at least 1 CVD event (48 suffered myocardial infarction, 68 stroke, and 7 both). Among subjects with HbA1c≥6.5% (≥48 mmol/mol), those with the Hp 2‐2 genotype did not show an elevated risk of incident CVD compared with those with other genotypes (age‐ and sex‐adjusted hazard ratio [95% CI], 0.47 [0.19, 1.13], P=0.092) and a null association was also observed in subjects with HbA1c<6.5% (1.10 [0.75, 1.62], P=0.629) (P for interaction=0.082).
Conclusions
Subjects with the Hp 2‐2 genotype and elevated HbA1c compared with subjects with other Hp genotypes and elevated HbA1c did not show increased CVD risk.
doi:10.1161/JAHA.113.000732
PMCID: PMC4309057  PMID: 24837587
cardiovascular diseases; diabetes mellitus; genetics
14.  Lipoprotein (a) concentrations, apolipoprotein (a) phenotypes, and peripheral arterial disease in three independent cohorts 
Cardiovascular Research  2014;103(1):28-36.
Aims
The relevance of lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] concentrations and low-molecular-weight (LMW) apo(a) phenotypes in peripheral arterial disease (PAD) has only been investigated by few studies. Therefore, we analysed this association in three independent cohorts and performed a Mendelian Randomization approach using instrumental variable regression.
Methods and results
Lp(a) concentrations, apo(a) phenotypes, and one SNP in the LPA gene (rs10455872) were measured in the CAVASIC study, including 241 male patients with intermittent claudication and 246 age- and diabetes-matched controls as well as in the two population-based studies KORA F3 (n = 3184) and KORA F4 (n = 3080). In KORA F3/F4, 109/80 persons suffered from intermittent claudication, 200/144 from PAD, and 128/103 showed an ankle–brachial index (ABI) <0.9. In CAVASIC, adjusted logistic regression analyses revealed significant associations between an increase of log-Lp(a) per one standard deviation (SD) (OR = 1.28, P = 0.02) as well as LMW apo(a) phenotypes and symptomatic PAD (OR = 1.65, P = 0.03). Linear regression models with continuous ABI showed a significant association in the combined analyses of KORA F3/F4: an increase in log-Lp(a) per one SD (β = −0.006, P = 0.005) and the presence of LMW apo(a) phenotypes (β = −0.011, P = 0.02) or the minor allele of rs10455872 (ß = −0.016, P = 0.03) were associated with a decrease in ABI in the fully adjusted linear and instrumental variable regression models.
Conclusion
Analyses in three independent populations showed significant associations of Lp(a) concentrations, LMW apo(a) phenotypes, and rs10455872 with PAD. This points to a causal relationship between Lp(a) and PAD since the genetically determined apo(a) phenotypes and SNP alleles are indeed associated with PAD.
doi:10.1093/cvr/cvu107
PMCID: PMC4065111  PMID: 24760552
Lp(a) concentrations; Apolipoprotein(a) phenotypes; Peripheral arterial disease; Ankle-brachial index; Mendelian randomization; Causality
15.  Meta analysis of candidate gene variants outside the LPA locus with Lp(a) plasma levels in 14,500 participants of six White European cohorts 
Atherosclerosis  2011;217(2):447-451.
Background
Both genome-wide association studies and candidate gene studies have reported that the major determinant of plasma levels of the Lipoprotein (a) [Lp(a)] reside within the LPA locus on chromosome 6. We have used data from the Human CVD bead chip to explore the contribution of other candidate genes determining Lp(a) levels.
Methods
48,032 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the Illumina Human CVD bead chip were genotyped in 5,059 participants of the Whitehall II study (WHII) of randomly ascertained healthy men and women. SNPs showing association with Lp(a) levels of p< 10−4 outside the LPA locus were selected for replication in a total of an additional 9,463 participants of five European based studies (EAS, EPIC-Norfolk, NPHSII, PROCARDIS, and SAPHIR)
Results
In Whitehall II, apart from the LPA locus (where p values for several SNPs were < 10−30) there was significant association at four loci GALNT2, FABP1, PPARGC1A and TNFRSFF11A. However, a meta-analysis of the six studies did not confirm any of these findings.
Conclusion
Results from this meta analysis of 14,522 participants revealed no candidate genes from the Human CVD bead chip outside the LPA locus to have an effect on Lp(a) levels. Further studies with genome-wide and denser SNP coverage are required to confirm or refute this finding.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.04.015
PMCID: PMC3972487  PMID: 21592478
Lipoprotein(a); LPA; Illumina Human CVD bead chip; genetic association
16.  Integration of genome-wide association studies with biological knowledge identifies six novel genes related to kidney function 
Chasman, Daniel I. | Fuchsberger, Christian | Pattaro, Cristian | Teumer, Alexander | Böger, Carsten A. | Endlich, Karlhans | Olden, Matthias | Chen, Ming-Huei | Tin, Adrienne | Taliun, Daniel | Li, Man | Gao, Xiaoyi | Gorski, Mathias | Yang, Qiong | Hundertmark, Claudia | Foster, Meredith C. | O'Seaghdha, Conall M. | Glazer, Nicole | Isaacs, Aaron | Liu, Ching-Ti | Smith, Albert V. | O'Connell, Jeffrey R. | Struchalin, Maksim | Tanaka, Toshiko | Li, Guo | Johnson, Andrew D. | Gierman, Hinco J. | Feitosa, Mary F. | Hwang, Shih-Jen | Atkinson, Elizabeth J. | Lohman, Kurt | Cornelis, Marilyn C. | Johansson, Åsa | Tönjes, Anke | Dehghan, Abbas | Lambert, Jean-Charles | Holliday, Elizabeth G. | Sorice, Rossella | Kutalik, Zoltan | Lehtimäki, Terho | Esko, Tõnu | Deshmukh, Harshal | Ulivi, Sheila | Chu, Audrey Y. | Murgia, Federico | Trompet, Stella | Imboden, Medea | Coassin, Stefan | Pistis, Giorgio | Harris, Tamara B. | Launer, Lenore J. | Aspelund, Thor | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Schmidt, Helena | Cavalieri, Margherita | Rao, Madhumathi | Hu, Frank | Demirkan, Ayse | Oostra, Ben A. | de Andrade, Mariza | Turner, Stephen T. | Ding, Jingzhong | Andrews, Jeanette S. | Freedman, Barry I. | Giulianini, Franco | Koenig, Wolfgang | Illig, Thomas | Meisinger, Christa | Gieger, Christian | Zgaga, Lina | Zemunik, Tatijana | Boban, Mladen | Minelli, Cosetta | Wheeler, Heather E. | Igl, Wilmar | Zaboli, Ghazal | Wild, Sarah H. | Wright, Alan F. | Campbell, Harry | Ellinghaus, David | Nöthlings, Ute | Jacobs, Gunnar | Biffar, Reiner | Ernst, Florian | Homuth, Georg | Kroemer, Heyo K. | Nauck, Matthias | Stracke, Sylvia | Völker, Uwe | Völzke, Henry | Kovacs, Peter | Stumvoll, Michael | Mägi, Reedik | Hofman, Albert | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Aulchenko, Yurii S. | Polasek, Ozren | Hastie, Nick | Vitart, Veronique | Helmer, Catherine | Wang, Jie Jin | Stengel, Bénédicte | Ruggiero, Daniela | Bergmann, Sven | Kähönen, Mika | Viikari, Jorma | Nikopensius, Tiit | Province, Michael | Ketkar, Shamika | Colhoun, Helen | Doney, Alex | Robino, Antonietta | Krämer, Bernhard K. | Portas, Laura | Ford, Ian | Buckley, Brendan M. | Adam, Martin | Thun, Gian-Andri | Paulweber, Bernhard | Haun, Margot | Sala, Cinzia | Mitchell, Paul | Ciullo, Marina | Kim, Stuart K. | Vollenweider, Peter | Raitakari, Olli | Metspalu, Andres | Palmer, Colin | Gasparini, Paolo | Pirastu, Mario | Jukema, J. Wouter | Probst-Hensch, Nicole M. | Kronenberg, Florian | Toniolo, Daniela | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Coresh, Josef | Schmidt, Reinhold | Ferrucci, Luigi | Siscovick, David S. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Kardia, Sharon L.R. | Liu, Yongmei | Curhan, Gary C. | Rudan, Igor | Gyllensten, Ulf | Wilson, James F. | Franke, Andre | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Rettig, Rainer | Prokopenko, Inga | Witteman, Jacqueline | Hayward, Caroline | Ridker, Paul M | Parsa, Afshin | Bochud, Murielle | Heid, Iris M. | Kao, W.H. Linda | Fox, Caroline S. | Köttgen, Anna
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(24):5329-5343.
In conducting genome-wide association studies (GWAS), analytical approaches leveraging biological information may further understanding of the pathophysiology of clinical traits. To discover novel associations with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a measure of kidney function, we developed a strategy for integrating prior biological knowledge into the existing GWAS data for eGFR from the CKDGen Consortium. Our strategy focuses on single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) in genes that are connected by functional evidence, determined by literature mining and gene ontology (GO) hierarchies, to genes near previously validated eGFR associations. It then requires association thresholds consistent with multiple testing, and finally evaluates novel candidates by independent replication. Among the samples of European ancestry, we identified a genome-wide significant SNP in FBXL20 (P = 5.6 × 10−9) in meta-analysis of all available data, and additional SNPs at the INHBC, LRP2, PLEKHA1, SLC3A2 and SLC7A6 genes meeting multiple-testing corrected significance for replication and overall P-values of 4.5 × 10−4–2.2 × 10−7. Neither the novel PLEKHA1 nor FBXL20 associations, both further supported by association with eGFR among African Americans and with transcript abundance, would have been implicated by eGFR candidate gene approaches. LRP2, encoding the megalin receptor, was identified through connection with the previously known eGFR gene DAB2 and extends understanding of the megalin system in kidney function. These findings highlight integration of existing genome-wide association data with independent biological knowledge to uncover novel candidate eGFR associations, including candidates lacking known connections to kidney-specific pathways. The strategy may also be applicable to other clinical phenotypes, although more testing will be needed to assess its potential for discovery in general.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds369
PMCID: PMC3607468  PMID: 22962313
17.  Human metabolic individuality in biomedical and pharmaceutical research 
Nature  2011;477(7362):10.1038/nature10354.
SUMMARY
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many risk loci for complex diseases, but effect sizes are typically small and information on the underlying biological processes is often lacking. Associations with metabolic traits as functional intermediates can overcome these problems and potentially inform individualized therapy. Here we report a comprehensive analysis of genotype-dependent metabolic phenotypes using a GWAS with non-targeted metabolomics. We identified 37 genetic loci associated with blood metabolite concentrations, of which 25 exhibit effect sizes that are unusually high for GWAS and account for 10-60% of metabolite levels per allele copy. Our associations provide new functional insights for many disease-related associations that have been reported in previous studies, including cardiovascular and kidney disorders, type 2 diabetes, cancer, gout, venous thromboembolism, and Crohn’s disease. Taken together our study advances our knowledge of the genetic basis of metabolic individuality in humans and generates many new hypotheses for biomedical and pharmaceutical research.
doi:10.1038/nature10354
PMCID: PMC3832838  PMID: 21886157
18.  Joint Analysis of Individual Participants’ Data from 17 Studies on the Association of the IL6 Variant -174G>C with Circulating Glucose Levels, Interleukin-6 Levels, and Body-Mass Index 
Annals of medicine  2009;41(2):128-138.
Background
Several studies have investigated associations between the -174G>C polymorphism (rs1800795) of the IL6-gene, but presented inconsistent results.
Aims
This joint analysis aimed to clarify whether IL6 -174G>C was associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) related quantitative phenotypes.
Methods
Individual-level data from all studies of the IL6-T2DM consortium on Caucasian subjects with available BMI were collected. As study-specific estimates did not show heterogeneity (P>0.1), they were combined by using the inverse-variance fixed-effect model.
Results
The main analysis included 9440, 7398, 24,117, or 5659 nondiabetic and manifest T2DM subjects for fasting glucose, 2-hour glucose, BMI or circulating interleukin-6 levels, respectively. IL6 -174 C-allele carriers had significantly lower fasting glucose (−0.091mmol/L, P=0.014). There was no evidence for association between IL6 -174G>C and BMI or interleukin-6. In an additional analysis of 641 subjects known to develop T2DM later on, the IL6 -174 CC-genotype was associated with higher baseline interleukin-6 (+0.75pg/mL, P=0.004), which was consistent with higher interleukin-6 in the 966 manifest T2DM subjects (+0.50pg/mL, P=0.044).
Conclusions
Our data suggest association between IL6 -174G>C and quantitative glucose, and exploratory analysis indicated modulated interleukin-6 levels in pre-diabetic subjects, being in-line with this SNP’s previously reported T2DM association and a role of circulating interleukin-6 as intermediate phenotype.
doi:10.1080/07853890802337037
PMCID: PMC3801210  PMID: 18752089
blood glucose; body mass index; diabetes mellitus; type 2; epidemiology; molecular; genes; inflammation mediators; interleukin-6; intermediate phenotype; meta-analysis; polymorphism; single nucleotide
19.  Analytical characterization and clinical evaluation of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for measurement of afamin in human plasma☆ 
Background
Comparative proteomics has recently identified afamin, the newest member of the albumin gene family, as a potential biomarker for ovarian cancer. The aim of this study was the analytical and clinical evaluation of a sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the determination of afamin in human plasma.
Methods
We evaluated precision, linearity, and detection limit of the assay, analyte stability and biological variability, determined reference values and quantified afamin concentrations in various diseases.
Results
Within-run and total coefficients of variation were < 10%. The method was linear across the tested measurement range. Detection limit was 7 mg/L for the assay. The analyte was stable for 24 h at room temperature, for 48 h at 4 °C, and for at least one year at − 20 °C and − 80 °C. The reference change value for healthy individuals was 24%. Age- and sex-independent reference values in healthy blood donors were 45–99 mg/L (median 68 mg/L). In the clinical assay evaluation afamin plasma concentrations were modestly decreased in patients with heart failure. Patients with pneumonia or sepsis exhibited markedly decreased afamin plasma concentrations. However, patients with chronic renal disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease showed no difference in afamin plasma concentrations as compared to healthy individuals. Correlation analyses revealed an inverse association between afamin and inflammatory biomarkers.
Conclusions
The afamin assay meets quality specifications for laboratory medicine. The results of the clinical assay evaluation revealed novel insights with respect to afamin as a potential negative acute phase protein and should encourage further studies.
Highlights
•The aim of this study was the analytical and clinical evaluation of a human afamin ELISA.•The afamin assay meets the needs of quality specifications of laboratory medicine.•Afamin exerts a good in vitro stability which is important of preanalytical issues.•The RCV was 24% and reference values in healthy blood donors were 45–99 mg/L.•We revealed novel insights with respect to afamin as a potential negative acute phase protein.
doi:10.1016/j.cca.2013.08.016
PMCID: PMC3819992  PMID: 23981841
ELISA, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; CRP, C-reactive protein; PCT, procalcitonin; IL-6, interleukin-6; BNP, B-type natriuretic peptide; eGFR, estimated glomerular filtration rate; PBS, phosphate-buffered-saline; CLSI, Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute; RT, room temperature; CV, coefficient of variation; RCV, reference change value; HF, heart failure; COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Tumor marker; Diagnosis; C-reactive protein; Interleukin-6; Prognosis; Vitamin E
20.  Sex and age interaction with genetic association of atherogenic uric acid concentrations 
Atherosclerosis  2009;210(2):474-478.
Background
High serum uric acid levels are associated with gout, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Three genes (SLC2A9, ABCG2, and SLC17A3) were reported to be involved in the regulation of uric acid levels.
Research
Design and Methods: SNPs rs2231142 (ABCG2) and rs1165205 (SLC17A3) were genotyped in three cohorts (n = 4492) and combined with previously genotyped SNPs within SLC2A9 (rs6855911, rs7442295, rs6449213, rs12510549).
Results
Each copy of the minor allele decreased uric acid levels by 0.30–0.38 mg/dL for SLC2A9 (p values: 10−20–10−36) and increased levels by 0.34 mg/dL for ABCG2 (p = 1.1×10−16). SLC17A3 influenced uric acid levels only modestly. Together the SNPs showed graded associations with uric acid levels of 0.111 mg/dL per risk allele (p = 3.8×10−42). In addition, we observed a sex-specific interaction of age with the association of SLC2A9 SNPs with uric acid levels, where increasing age strengthened the association of SNPs in women and decreased the association in men.
Conclusions
Genetic variants within SLC2A9, ABCG2 and SLC17A3 show highly significant associations with uric acid levels, and for SNPs within SLC2A9 this association is strongly modified by age and sex.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.12.013
PMCID: PMC3793203  PMID: 20053405
Epidemiology; Genetics; Uric acid; Copy number variation; Sex-specific effect; Genetic risk score
21.  A genomewide perspective of genetic variation in human metabolism 
Nature genetics  2009;42(2):137-141.
Serum metabolite concentrations provide a direct readout of biological processes in the human body, and are associated with disorders such as cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Here we present a genome-wide association study with 163 metabolic traits using 1809 participants from the KORA population, followed up in the TwinsUK cohort with 422 participants. In eight out of nine replicated loci (FADS1, ELOVL2, ACADS, ACADM, ACADL, SPTLC3, ETFDH, SLC16A9) the genetic variant is located in or near enzyme or solute carrier coding genes, where the associating metabolic traits match the proteins’ function. Many of these loci are located in rate limiting steps of important enzymatic reactions. Use of metabolite concentration ratios as proxies for enzymatic reaction rates reduces the variance and yields robust statistical associations with p-values between 3×10−24 and 6.5×10−179. These loci explained 5.6% to 36.3% of the observed variance. For several loci, associations with clinically relevant parameters have previously been reported.
doi:10.1038/ng.507
PMCID: PMC3773904  PMID: 20037589
22.  A common variant in the adiponutrin gene influences liver enzyme levels 
Journal of medical genetics  2009;47(2):116-119.
Background
Two recent genome-wide association studies identified the liver-expressed transmembrane protein adiponutrin to be associated with liver-related phenotypes such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and liver function enzymes. These associations were not uniformly reported for various ethnicities. The aim of this study was to investigate a common nonsynonymous variant within adiponutrin (rs738409, exon 3) with parameters of liver function in three independent West-Eurasian study populations including a total of 4290 participants.
Methods
The study was performed in 1) the population-based Bruneck Study (n=783), 2) the SAPHIR Study from Austria based on a healthy working population (n=1705), and the Utah Obesity Case-Control Study including a group of 1019 severely obese individuals (average BMI 46.0 kg/m2) and 783 controls from the same geographical region of Utah. Liver enzymes measured were alanine-aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate-aminotransferase (AST) and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT).
Results and Discussion
We found a strong recessive association of this polymorphism with age- and gender-adjusted ALT and AST levels: being homozygous for the minor allele resulted in a highly significant increase of ALT levels of 3.53 U/L (p=1.86×10−9) and of AST levels of 2.07 U/L (p=9.58×10−6), respectively. The associations were consistently found in all three study populations. In conclusion, the highly significant associations of this transversion polymorphism within the adiponutrin gene with increased ALT and AST levels support a role for adiponutrin as a susceptibility gene for hepatic dysfunction.
doi:10.1136/jmg.2009.066597
PMCID: PMC3759243  PMID: 19542081
PNPLA3; rs738409; genetic association; hepatic dysfunction
23.  Causal and Synthetic Associations of Variants in the SERPINA Gene Cluster with Alpha1-antitrypsin Serum Levels 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003585.
Several infrequent genetic polymorphisms in the SERPINA1 gene are known to substantially reduce concentration of alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood. Since low AAT serum levels fail to protect pulmonary tissue from enzymatic degradation, these polymorphisms also increase the risk for early onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The role of more common SERPINA1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in respiratory health remains poorly understood.
We present here an agnostic investigation of genetic determinants of circulating AAT levels in a general population sample by performing a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1392 individuals of the SAPALDIA cohort.
Five common SNPs, defined by showing minor allele frequencies (MAFs) >5%, reached genome-wide significance, all located in the SERPINA gene cluster at 14q32.13. The top-ranking genotyped SNP rs4905179 was associated with an estimated effect of β = −0.068 g/L per minor allele (P = 1.20*10−12). But denser SERPINA1 locus genotyping in 5569 participants with subsequent stepwise conditional analysis, as well as exon-sequencing in a subsample (N = 410), suggested that AAT serum level is causally determined at this locus by rare (MAF<1%) and low-frequent (MAF 1–5%) variants only, in particular by the well-documented protein inhibitor S and Z (PI S, PI Z) variants. Replication of the association of rs4905179 with AAT serum levels in the Copenhagen City Heart Study (N = 8273) was successful (P<0.0001), as was the replication of its synthetic nature (the effect disappeared after adjusting for PI S and Z, P = 0.57). Extending the analysis to lung function revealed a more complex situation. Only in individuals with severely compromised pulmonary health (N = 397), associations of common SNPs at this locus with lung function were driven by rarer PI S or Z variants. Overall, our meta-analysis of lung function in ever-smokers does not support a functional role of common SNPs in the SERPINA gene cluster in the general population.
Author Summary
Low levels of alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood are a well-established risk factor for accelerated loss in lung function and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. While a few infrequent genetic polymorphisms are known to influence the serum levels of this enzyme, the role of common genetic variants has not been examined so far. The present genome-wide scan for associated variants in approximately 1400 Swiss inhabitants revealed a chromosomal locus containing the functionally established variants of AAT deficiency and variants previously associated with lung function and emphysema. We used dense genotyping of this genetic region in more than 5500 individuals and subsequent conditional analyses to unravel which of these associated variants contribute independently to the phenotype's variability. All associations of common variants could be attributed to the rarer functionally established variants, a result which was then replicated in an independent population-based Danish cohort. Hence, this locus represents a textbook example of how a large part of a trait's heritability can be hidden in infrequent genetic polymorphisms. The attempt to transfer these results to lung function furthermore suggests that effects of common variants in this genetic region in ever-smokers may also be explained by rarer variants, but only in individuals with hampered pulmonary health.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003585
PMCID: PMC3749935  PMID: 23990791
24.  Homoarginine and Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease: Results from the Mild to Moderate Kidney Disease Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63560.
Background
Homoarginine is an amino acid derivative mainly synthesized in the kidney. It is suggested to increase nitric oxide availability, enhance endothelial function and to protect against cardiovascular diseases. We aimed to investigate the relation between homoarginine, kidney function and progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Methods
We measured plasma homoarginine concentrations in baseline samples of the Mild to Moderate Kidney Disease (MMKD) Study, a prospective cohort study of 227 patients with CKD in Europe. Homoarginine concentrations were available in 182 of the baseline samples and in 139 of the prospectively-followed patients. We correlated homoarginine concentrations to parameters of kidney function. The association between homoarginine and progression of CKD was assessed during a follow-up of up to seven years (median 4.45 years, interquartile range 2.54–5.19) using Cox regression analysis. Progression of CKD was defined as doubling of baseline serum creatinine and/or end-stage renal disease.
Results
Study participants were at baseline on average 47±13 years old and 65% were male. Mean±standard deviation of homoarginine concentrations were 2.5±1.1 µmol/L and concentrations were incrementally lower at lower levels of GFR with mean concentrations of 2.90±1.02 µmol/L (GFR>90 ml/min), 2.64±1.06 µmol/L (GFR 60–90 ml/min), 2.52±1.24 µmol/L (GFR 30–60 ml/min) and 2.05±0.78 µmol/L (GFR<30 ml/min), respectively (p = 0.002). The age- and sex-adjusted risk to reach the renal endpoint was significantly higher by 62% with each decrease by one standard deviation (1.1 µmol/L) of homoarginine (HR 1.62, 95% CI 1.16–2.27, p = 0.005). This association was independent of proteinuria (HR 1.56, 95% CI 1.11–2.20, p = 0.01), and was slightly attenuated when adjusting for GFR (HR 1.40 (95% CI 0.98–1.98, p = 0.06).
Conclusions
Homoarginine concentrations are directly correlated with kidney function and are significantly associated with the progression of CKD. Low homoarginine concentrations might be an early indicator of kidney failure and a potential target for the prevention of disease progression which needs further investigations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063560
PMCID: PMC3655120  PMID: 23691067
25.  Genome-wide association study of lung function decline in adults with and without asthma 
Background
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified determinants of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and lung function level, however none addressed decline in lung function.
Aim
We conducted the first GWAS on age-related decline in forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) and in its ratio to forced vital capacity (FVC) stratified a priori by asthma status.
Methods
Discovery cohorts included adults of European ancestry (1441 asthmatics, 2677 non-asthmatics; Epidemiological Study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA); Swiss Cohort Study on Air Pollution And Lung And Heart Disease In Adults (SAPALDIA); European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS)). The associations of FEV1 and FEV1/FVC decline with 2.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were estimated. Thirty loci were followed-up by in silico replication (1160 asthmatics, 10858 non-asthmatics: Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC); Framingham Heart Study (FHS); British 1958 Birth Cohort (B58C); Dutch asthma study).
Results
Main signals identified differed between asthmatics and non-asthmatics. None of the SNPs reached genome-wide significance. The association between the height related gene DLEU7 and FEV1 decline suggested for non-asthmatics in the discovery phase was replicated (discovery P=4.8×10−6; replication P=0.03) and additional sensitivity analyses point to a relation to growth. The top ranking signal, TUSC3, associated with FEV1/FVC decline in asthmatics (P=5.3×10−8) did not replicate. SNPs previously associated with cross-sectional lung function were not prominently associated with decline.
Conclusions
Genetic heterogeneity of lung function may be extensive. Our results suggest that genetic determinants of longitudinal and cross-sectional lung function differ and vary by asthma status.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.01.074
PMCID: PMC3340499  PMID: 22424883
Asthma; cohort studies; genome-wide association; lung function decline; heterogeneity

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