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1.  An EPID-based method for comprehensive verification of gantry, EPID and the MLC carriage positional accuracy in Varian linacs during arc treatments 
In modern radiotherapy, it is crucial to monitor the performance of all linac components including gantry, collimation system and electronic portal imaging device (EPID) during arc deliveries. In this study, a simple EPID-based measurement method has been introduced in conjunction with an algorithm to investigate the stability of these systems during arc treatments with the aim of ensuring the accuracy of linac mechanical performance.
The Varian EPID sag, gantry sag, changes in source-to-detector distance (SDD), EPID and collimator skewness, EPID tilt, and the sag in MLC carriages as a result of linac rotation were separately investigated by acquisition of EPID images of a simple phantom comprised of 5 ball-bearings during arc delivery. A fast and robust software package was developed for automated analysis of image data. Twelve Varian linacs of different models were investigated.
The average EPID sag was within 1 mm for all tested linacs. All machines showed less than 1 mm gantry sag. Changes in SDD values were within 1.7 mm except for three linacs of one centre which were within 9 mm. Values of EPID skewness and tilt were negligible in all tested linacs. The maximum sag in MLC leaf bank assemblies was around 1 mm. The EPID sag showed a considerable improvement in TrueBeam linacs.
The methodology and software developed in this study provide a simple tool for effective investigation of the behaviour of linac components with gantry rotation. It is reproducible and accurate and can be easily performed as a routine test in clinics.
PMCID: PMC4252011  PMID: 25424471
Linac; Varian; Sag; Gantry; EPID; MLC; Collimator; Quality assurance; Arc
2.  Understanding and Predicting Social Media Use Among Community Health Center Patients: A Cross-Sectional Survey 
The use of social media by health care organizations is growing and provides Web-based tools to connect patients, caregivers, and providers.
The aim was to determine the use and factors predicting the use of social media for health care–related purposes among medically underserved primary care patients.
A cross-sectional survey was administered to 444 patients of a federally qualified community health center.
Community health center patients preferred that their providers use email, cell phones for texting, and Facebook and cell phone apps for sharing health information. Significantly more Hispanic than white patients believed their providers should use Facebook (P=.001), YouTube (P=.01), and Twitter (P=.04) for sharing health information. Use and intentions to use social media for health-related purposes were significantly higher for those patients with higher subjective norm scores.
Understanding use and factors predicting use can increase adoption and utilization of social media for health care–related purposes among underserved patients in community health centers.
PMCID: PMC4260084  PMID: 25427823
social media; community health centers; medically underserved area
3.  Pharmacogenetic meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of LDL cholesterol response to statins 
Postmus, Iris | Trompet, Stella | Deshmukh, Harshal A. | Barnes, Michael R. | Li, Xiaohui | Warren, Helen R. | Chasman, Daniel I. | Zhou, Kaixin | Arsenault, Benoit J. | Donnelly, Louise A. | Wiggins, Kerri L. | Avery, Christy L. | Griffin, Paula | Feng, QiPing | Taylor, Kent D. | Li, Guo | Evans, Daniel S. | Smith, Albert V. | de Keyser, Catherine E. | Johnson, Andrew D. | de Craen, Anton J. M. | Stott, David J. | Buckley, Brendan M. | Ford, Ian | Westendorp, Rudi G. J. | Eline Slagboom, P. | Sattar, Naveed | Munroe, Patricia B. | Sever, Peter | Poulter, Neil | Stanton, Alice | Shields, Denis C. | O’Brien, Eoin | Shaw-Hawkins, Sue | Ida Chen, Y.-D. | Nickerson, Deborah A. | Smith, Joshua D. | Pierre Dubé, Marie | Matthijs Boekholdt, S. | Kees Hovingh, G. | Kastelein, John J. P. | McKeigue, Paul M. | Betteridge, John | Neil, Andrew | Durrington, Paul N. | Doney, Alex | Carr, Fiona | Morris, Andrew | McCarthy, Mark I. | Groop, Leif | Ahlqvist, Emma | Bis, Joshua C. | Rice, Kenneth | Smith, Nicholas L. | Lumley, Thomas | Whitsel, Eric A. | Stürmer, Til | Boerwinkle, Eric | Ngwa, Julius S. | O’Donnell, Christopher J. | Vasan, Ramachandran S. | Wei, Wei-Qi | Wilke, Russell A. | Liu, Ching-Ti | Sun, Fangui | Guo, Xiuqing | Heckbert, Susan R | Post, Wendy | Sotoodehnia, Nona | Arnold, Alice M. | Stafford, Jeanette M. | Ding, Jingzhong | Herrington, David M. | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Launer, Leonore J. | Harris, Tamara B. | Chu, Audrey Y. | Giulianini, Franco | MacFadyen, Jean G. | Barratt, Bryan J. | Nyberg, Fredrik | Stricker, Bruno H. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Hofman, Albert | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Emilsson, Valur | Franco, Oscar H. | Ridker, Paul M. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Liu, Yongmei | Denny, Joshua C. | Ballantyne, Christie M. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Adrienne Cupples, L. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Palmer, Colin N. A. | Tardif, Jean-Claude | Colhoun, Helen M. | Hitman, Graham | Krauss, Ronald M. | Wouter Jukema, J | Caulfield, Mark J.
Nature Communications  2014;5:5068.
Statins effectively lower LDL cholesterol levels in large studies and the observed interindividual response variability may be partially explained by genetic variation. Here we perform a pharmacogenetic meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in studies addressing the LDL cholesterol response to statins, including up to 18,596 statin-treated subjects. We validate the most promising signals in a further 22,318 statin recipients and identify two loci, SORT1/CELSR2/PSRC1 and SLCO1B1, not previously identified in GWAS. Moreover, we confirm the previously described associations with APOE and LPA. Our findings advance the understanding of the pharmacogenetic architecture of statin response.
Statins are effectively used to prevent and manage cardiovascular disease, but patient response to these drugs is highly variable. Here, the authors identify two new genes associated with the response of LDL cholesterol to statins and advance our understanding of the genetic basis of drug response.
PMCID: PMC4220464  PMID: 25350695
4.  A Bayesian Method to Incorporate Hundreds of Functional Characteristics with Association Evidence to Improve Variant Prioritization 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98122.
The increasing quantity and quality of functional genomic information motivate the assessment and integration of these data with association data, including data originating from genome-wide association studies (GWAS). We used previously described GWAS signals (“hits”) to train a regularized logistic model in order to predict SNP causality on the basis of a large multivariate functional dataset. We show how this model can be used to derive Bayes factors for integrating functional and association data into a combined Bayesian analysis. Functional characteristics were obtained from the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE), from published expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL), and from other sources of genome-wide characteristics. We trained the model using all GWAS signals combined, and also using phenotype specific signals for autoimmune, brain-related, cancer, and cardiovascular disorders. The non-phenotype specific and the autoimmune GWAS signals gave the most reliable results. We found SNPs with higher probabilities of causality from functional characteristics showed an enrichment of more significant p-values compared to all GWAS SNPs in three large GWAS studies of complex traits. We investigated the ability of our Bayesian method to improve the identification of true causal signals in a psoriasis GWAS dataset and found that combining functional data with association data improves the ability to prioritise novel hits. We used the predictions from the penalized logistic regression model to calculate Bayes factors relating to functional characteristics and supply these online alongside resources to integrate these data with association data.
PMCID: PMC4028284  PMID: 24844982
5.  Mutational Analysis Reveals the Origin and Therapy-driven Evolution of Recurrent Glioma 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;343(6167):189-193.
Tumor recurrence is a leading cause of cancer mortality. Therapies for recurrent disease may fail, at least in part, because the genomic alterations driving the growth of recurrences are distinct from those in the initial tumor. To explore this hypothesis, we sequenced the exomes of 23 initial low-grade gliomas and recurrent tumors resected from the same patients. In 43% of cases, at least half of the mutations in the initial tumor were undetected at recurrence, including driver mutations in TP53, ATRX, SMARCA4, and BRAF, suggesting recurrent tumors are often seeded by cells derived from the initial tumor at a very early stage of their evolution. Notably, tumors from 6 of 10 patients treated with the chemotherapeutic drug temozolomide (TMZ) followed an alternative evolutionary path to high-grade glioma. At recurrence, these tumors were hypermutated and harbored driver mutations in the RB and AKT-mTOR pathways that bore the signature of TMZ-induced mutagenesis.
PMCID: PMC3998672  PMID: 24336570
6.  Genome Wide Association Analysis of Copy Number Variation in Recurrent Depressive Disorder 
Molecular psychiatry  2011;18(2):183-189.
Large, rare copy number variants (CNV) have been implicated in a variety of psychiatric disorders, but the role of CNVs in recurrent depression is unclear. We performed a genome-wide analysis of large, rare CNVs in 3,106 cases of recurrent depression, 459 controls screened for lifetime-absence of psychiatric disorder and 5,619 unscreened controls from phase 2 of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC2). We compared the frequency of cases with CNVs against the frequency observed in each control group, analysing CNVs over the whole genome, genic, intergenic, intronic and exonic regions. We found that deletion CNVs were associated with recurrent depression while duplications were not. The effect was significant when comparing cases to WTCCC2 controls (p=7.7×10−6, OR =1.25 (95% CI 1.13 - 1.37)) and to screened controls (p=5.6×10−4, OR=1.52 (95% CI 1.20 - 1.93). Further analysis showed that CNVs deleting protein coding regions were largely responsible for the association. Within an analysis of regions previously implicated in schizophrenia, we found an overall enrichment of CNVs in our cases when compared to screened controls (p=0.019). We observe an ordered increase of samples with deletion CNVs, with the lowest proportion seen in screened controls, the next highest in unscreened controls and the highest in cases. This may suggest that the absence of deletion CNVs, especially in genes, is associated with resilience to recurrent depression.
PMCID: PMC3939438  PMID: 22042228
7.  Follistatin-like Protein 1 and the Ferritin/Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate Ratio Are Potential Biomarkers for Dysregulated Gene Expression and Macrophage Activation Syndrome in Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis 
The Journal of rheumatology  2013;40(7):10.3899/jrheum.121131.
Follistatin-like protein 1 (FSTL-1) is a secreted glycoprotein overexpressed in certain inflammatory diseases. Our objective was to correlate FSTL-1 levels with gene expression, known biomarkers, and measures of disease activity in systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA), including macrophage activation syndrome (MAS).
FSTL-1 serum levels were measured by ELISA in 28 patients with sJIA, including 7 patients who developed MAS, and 30 healthy controls. Levels were correlated with erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), ferritin, and soluble interleukin-2 receptor-α (sIL-2Rα). Gene expression based on FSTL-1 levels was analyzed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC).
Serum levels of FSTL-1 were elevated at time of presentation of sJIA (mean 200.7 ng/ml) and decreased to normal (mean 133.7 ng/ml) over 24 months (p < 0.01). FSTL-1 levels were markedly elevated during acute MAS (mean 279.8 ng/ml) and decreased to normal following treatment (p < 0.001). FSTL-1 levels correlated with serum markers of inflammation, including sIL-2Rα and ferritin. Ferritin/ESR ratio was superior to ferritin, sIL-2Rα, and FSTL-1 in discriminating MAS from new-onset sJIA. PBMC from patients with FSTL-1 levels > 200 ng/ml showed altered expression of genes related to innate immunity, erythropoiesis, and natural killer cell dysfunction. Two patients with the highest FSTL-1 levels at disease onset (> 300 ng/ml) ultimately developed MAS.
Elevated pretreatment serum FSTL-1 levels in sJIA are associated with dysregulated gene expression suggestive of occult MAS, and may have utility in predicting progression to overt MAS. Ferritin/ESR ratio may be superior to ferritin alone in discriminating overt MAS from new-onset sJIA. (First Release May 15 2013; J Rheumatol 2013;40:1191–9; doi:10.3899/jrheum.121131)
PMCID: PMC3885333  PMID: 23678162
8.  The superiority of conservative resection and adjuvant radiation for craniopharyngiomas 
Journal of neuro-oncology  2012;108(1):10.1007/s11060-012-0806-7.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the roles of resection extent and adjuvant radiation in the treatment of craniopharyngiomas. We reviewed the records of 122 patients ages 11–52 years who received primary treatment for craniopharyngioma between 1980 and 2009 at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Primary endpoints were progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Secondary endpoints were development of panhypopituitarism, diabetes insipidus (DI), and visual field defects. Of 122 patients, 30 (24%) were treated with gross total resection (GTR) without radiation therapy (RT), 3 (3%) with GTR + RT, 41 (33.6%) with subtotal resection (STR) without RT, and 48 (39.3%) with STR + RT. Median age at diagnosis was 30 years, with 46 patients 18 years or younger. Median follow-up for all patients was 56.4 months (interquartile range 18.9–144.2 months) and 47 months (interquartile range 12.3–121.8 months) for the 60 patients without progression. Fifty six patients progressed, 10 have died, 6 without progression. Median PFS was 61.1 months for all patients. PFS rate at 2 years was 61.5% (95% CI: 52.1–70.9). OS rate at 10 years was 91.1% (95% CI 84.3–97.9). There was no significant difference in PFS and OS between patients treated with GTR vs. STR + XRT (PFS; p = 0.544, OS; p = 0.735), but STR alone resulted in significantly shortened PFS compared to STR + RT or GTR (p < 0.001 for both). STR was associated with significantly shortened OS compared to STR + RT (p = 0.050) and trended to shorter OS compared to GTR (p = 0.066). GTR was associated with significantly greater risk of developing DI (56.3 vs. 13.3% with STR + XRT, p < 0.001) and panhypopituitarism (54.8 vs. 26.7% with STR + XRT, p = 0.014). In conclusion, for patients with craniopharyngioma, STR + RT may provide superior clinical outcome, achieving better disease control than STR and limiting side effects associated with aggressive surgical resection.
PMCID: PMC3879154  PMID: 22350375
Craniopharyngioma; Surgical resection; Radiation therapy; Adult; Pediatric
9.  Challenges in creating an opt-in biobank with a registrar-based consent process and a commercial EHR 
Residual clinical samples represent a very appealing source of biomaterial for translational and clinical research. We describe the implementation of an opt-in biobank, with consent being obtained at the time of registration and the decision stored in our electronic health record, Epic. Information on that decision, along with laboratory data, is transferred to an application that signals to biobank staff whether a given sample can be kept for research. Investigators can search for samples using our i2b2 data warehouse. Patient participation has been overwhelmingly positive and much higher than anticipated. Over 86% of patients provided consent and almost 83% requested to be notified of any incidental research findings. In 6 months, we obtained decisions from over 18 000 patients and processed 8000 blood samples for storage in our research biobank. However, commercial electronic health records like Epic lack key functionality required by a registrar-based consent process, although workarounds exist.
PMCID: PMC3486732  PMID: 22878682
Biological specimen banks; biorepository; informed consent; electronic health records; medical informatics
11.  Multiple juvenile idiopathic arthritis subtypes demonstrate pro-inflammatory IgG glycosylation 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(9):3025-3033.
Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with an excess of hypogalactosylated (G0) IgG that is considered relatively pro-inflammatory. Assessment of this association in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is complicated by age-dependent IgG glycan variation. We undertook the first large-scale survey of IgG glycans in normal children and in patients with JIA, with a focus on early childhood, the time of peak JIA incidence.
IgG glycans from healthy children and DMARD-naïve JIA patients were characterized using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Pro-inflammatory G0 glycans were quantitated with reference to monogalactosylated (G1) species. Associations were sought between G0/G1 and disease characteristics.
Among healthy children aged 9 months-16 years (n=165), G0/G1 was highly age-dependent, peaking in children <3 years old at 1.19 and declining to a nadir of 0.83 after age 10 years (Spearman ρ=0.60, p<0.0001). In patients with JIA (n=141), G0/G1 was elevated compared with controls (G0/G1 1.32 vs. 1.02, p<0.0001). Corrected for age, G0/G1 was abnormally high in all JIA subtypes (enthesitis-related arthritis not assessed), most strikingly in systemic JIA. Glycosylation aberrancy was comparable in patients with or without ANA and in both early- and late-onset disease, and exhibited at most a weak correlation with inflammatory markers.
IgG glycosylation is skewed toward pro-inflammatory G0 variants in healthy children, in particular during the first few years of life. This deviation is exaggerated in patients with JIA. The role for IgG glycan variation in immune function in children, including the predilection of JIA for early childhood, remains to be defined.
PMCID: PMC3429730  PMID: 22549726
12.  Two Variants of the C-Reactive Protein Gene Are Associated with Risk of Pre-Eclampsia in an American Indian Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71231.
The etiology of pre-eclampsia (PE) is unknown; but it is accepted that normal pregnancy represents a distinctive challenge to the maternal immune system. C-reactive protein is a prominent component of the innate immune system; and we previously reported an association between PE and the CRP polymorphism, rs1205. Our aim was to explore the effects of additional CRP variants. The IBC (Cardiochip) genotyping microarray focuses on candidate genes and pathways related to the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease.
This study recruited 140 cases of PE and 270 matched controls, of which 95 cases met criteria as severe PE, from an American Indian community. IBC array genotypes from 10 suitable CRP SNPs were analyzed. A replication sample of 178 cases and 427 controls of European ancestry was also genotyped.
A nominally significant difference (p value <0.05) was seen in the distribution of discordant matched pairs for rs3093068; and Bonferroni corrected differences (P<0.005) were seen for rs876538, rs2794521, and rs3091244. Univariate conditional logistic regression odds ratios (OR) were nominally significant for rs3093068 and rs876538 models only. Multivariate logistic models with adjustment for mother's age, nulliparity and BMI attenuated the effect (OR 1.58, P = 0.066, 95% CI 0.97–2.58) for rs876538 and (OR 2.59, P = 0.050, 95% CI 1.00–6.68) for rs3093068. An additive risk score of the above two risk genotypes shows a multivariate adjusted OR of 2.04 (P = 0.013, 95% CI 1.16–3.56). The replication sample also demonstrated significant association between PE and the rs876538 allele (OR = 1.55, P = 0.01, 95% CI 2.16–1.10). We also show putative functionality for the rs876538 and rs3093068 CRP variants.
The CRP variants, rs876538 and rs3093068, previously associated with other cardiovascular disease phenotypes, show suggestive association with PE in this American Indian population, further supporting a possible role for CRP in PE.
PMCID: PMC3733916  PMID: 23940726
13.  Genome-wide association analysis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis identifies a new susceptibility locus at chromosomal region 3q13 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(8):2781-2791.
We have conducted a GWAS in a Caucasian cohort of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) patients and have previously published findings limited to autoimmune loci shared with other diseases. The goal of this study was to identify novel JIA predisposing loci using genome-wide approaches.
The Discovery cohort consisted of Caucasian JIA cases (814) and local controls (658) genotyped on the Affymetrix SNP 6.0 Array along with 2400 out-of-study controls. A replication study consisted of 10 SNPs genotyped in 1744 cases and 7010 controls from the US and Europe.
Analysis within the Discovery cohort provided evidence of associations at 3q13 within C3orf1 and near CD80 (rs4688011, OR=1.37, P=1.88×10−6), and 10q21 near the gene JMJD1C [rs6479891, odds ratio (OR) =1.59, P=6.1×10−8; rs12411988, OR=1.57, P=1.16×10−7 and rs10995450, OR = 1.31, P=6.74×10−5]. Meta-analysis continued to provide evidence for association for these 4 SNPs (rs4688011, P=3.6×10−7, rs6479891, P=4.33×10−5; rs12411988, P=2.71×10−5; and rs10995450, 5.39×10−5;). Gene expression data from 68 JIA cases and 23 local controls showed cis eQTL associations for C3orf1 SNP rs4688011 (P=0.024 or P=0.034, depending on probe set) and the JMJD1C SNPs rs6479891 and rs12411988 (P=0.01 and P=0.008, respectively). A variance component liability model estimated that common SNP variation accounts for ~1/3 of JIA susceptibility.
Genetic association results and correlated gene expression findings provide evidence of association at 3q13 and 10q21 for JIA and offer novel genes as plausible candidates in disease pathology.
PMCID: PMC3366043  PMID: 22354554
14.  Loss of immunological tolerance in Gimap5-deficient mice is associated with loss of Foxo in CD4+ T cells 
Previously, we reported the abrogation of quiescence and reduced survival in lymphocytes from Gimap5sph/sph mice, an ENU germline mutant with a missense mutation in the GTPase of immunity-associated nucleotide binding protein 5 (Gimap5). These mice showed a progressive loss of peripheral lymphocyte populations and developed spontaneous colitis, resulting in early mortality. Here, we identify the molecular pathways that contribute to the onset of colitis in Gimap5sph/sph mice. We show that CD4+ T cells become Th1/Th17-polarized and are critically important for the development of colitis. Concomitantly, Treg cells become reduced in frequency in the peripheral tissues and their immune-suppressive capacity becomes impaired. Most importantly, these progressive changes in CD4+ T cells are associated with the loss of Foxo1, Foxo3 and Foxo4 expression. Our data establish a novel link between Gimap5 and Foxo expression and provide evidence for a regulatory mechanism that controls Foxo protein expression and may help maintain immunological tolerance.
PMCID: PMC3258489  PMID: 22106000
15.  Cost-Effectiveness of Treating Upper Limb Spasticity Due to Stroke with Botulinum Toxin Type A: Results from the Botulinum Toxin for the Upper Limb after Stroke (BoTULS) Trial  
Toxins  2012;4(12):1415-1426.
Stroke imposes significant burdens on health services and society, and as such there is a growing need to assess the cost-effectiveness of stroke treatment to ensure maximum benefit is derived from limited resources. This study compared the cost-effectiveness of treating post-stroke upper limb spasticity with botulinum toxin type A plus an upper limb therapy programme against the therapy programme alone. Data on resource use and health outcomes were prospectively collected for 333 patients with post-stroke upper limb spasticity taking part in a randomized trial and combined to estimate the incremental cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained of botulinum toxin type A plus therapy relative to therapy alone. The base case incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of botulinum toxin type A plus therapy was £93,500 per QALY gained. The probability of botulinum toxin type A plus therapy being cost-effective at the England and Wales cost-effectiveness threshold value of £20,000 per QALY was 0.36. The point estimates of the ICER remained above £20,000 per QALY for a range of sensitivity analyses, and the probability of botulinum toxin type A plus therapy being cost-effective at the threshold value did not exceed 0.39, regardless of the assumptions made.
PMCID: PMC3528253  PMID: 23342679
botulinum toxin type A; stroke; upper limb spasticity; cost-effectiveness
16.  "Right Time, Right Place" Health Communication on Twitter: Value and Accuracy of Location Information 
Twitter provides various types of location data, including exact Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates, which could be used for infoveillance and infodemiology (ie, the study and monitoring of online health information), health communication, and interventions. Despite its potential, Twitter location information is not well understood or well documented, limiting its public health utility.
The objective of this study was to document and describe the various types of location information available in Twitter. The different types of location data that can be ascertained from Twitter users are described. This information is key to informing future research on the availability, usability, and limitations of such location data.
Location data was gathered directly from Twitter using its application programming interface (API). The maximum tweets allowed by Twitter were gathered (1% of the total tweets) over 2 separate weeks in October and November 2011. The final dataset consisted of 23.8 million tweets from 9.5 million unique users. Frequencies for each of the location options were calculated to determine the prevalence of the various location data options by region of the world, time zone, and state within the United States. Data from the US Census Bureau were also compiled to determine population proportions in each state, and Pearson correlation coefficients were used to compare each state’s population with the number of Twitter users who enable the GPS location option.
The GPS location data could be ascertained for 2.02% of tweets and 2.70% of unique users. Using a simple text-matching approach, 17.13% of user profiles in the 4 continental US time zones were able to be used to determine the user’s city and state. Agreement between GPS data and data from the text-matching approach was high (87.69%). Furthermore, there was a significant correlation between the number of Twitter users per state and the 2010 US Census state populations (r ≥ 0.97, P < .001).
Health researchers exploring ways to use Twitter data for disease surveillance should be aware that the majority of tweets are not currently associated with an identifiable geographic location. Location can be identified for approximately 4 times the number of tweets using a straightforward text-matching process compared to using the GPS location information available in Twitter. Given the strong correlation between both data gathering methods, future research may consider using more qualitative approaches with higher yields, such as text mining, to acquire information about Twitter users’ geographical location.
PMCID: PMC3510712  PMID: 23154246
Twitter; GPS Location; Infodemiology; Surveillance; Intervention; Social Media
17.  ENU-induced phenovariance in mice: inferences from 587 mutations 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:577.
We present a compendium of N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU)-induced mouse mutations, identified in our laboratory over a period of 10 years either on the basis of phenotype or whole genome and/or whole exome sequencing, and archived in the Mutagenetix database. Our purpose is threefold: 1) to formally describe many point mutations, including those that were not previously disclosed in peer-reviewed publications; 2) to assess the characteristics of these mutations; and 3) to estimate the likelihood that a missense mutation induced by ENU will create a detectable phenotype.
In the context of an ENU mutagenesis program for C57BL/6J mice, a total of 185 phenotypes were tracked to mutations in 129 genes. In addition, 402 incidental mutations were identified and predicted to affect 390 genes. As previously reported, ENU shows strand asymmetry in its induction of mutations, particularly favoring T to A rather than A to T in the sense strand of coding regions and splice junctions. Some amino acid substitutions are far more likely to be damaging than others, and some are far more likely to be observed. Indeed, from among a total of 494 non-synonymous coding mutations, ENU was observed to create only 114 of the 182 possible amino acid substitutions that single base changes can achieve. Based on differences in overt null allele frequencies observed in phenotypic vs. non-phenotypic mutation sets, we infer that ENU-induced missense mutations create detectable phenotype only about 1 in 4.7 times. While the remaining mutations may not be functionally neutral, they are, on average, beneath the limits of detection of the phenotypic assays we applied.
Collectively, these mutations add to our understanding of the chemical specificity of ENU, the types of amino acid substitutions it creates, and its efficiency in causing phenovariance. Our data support the validity of computational algorithms for the prediction of damage caused by amino acid substitutions, and may lead to refined predictions as to whether specific amino acid changes are responsible for observed phenotypes. These data form the basis for closer in silico estimations of the number of genes mutated to a state of phenovariance by ENU within a population of G3 mice.
PMCID: PMC3532239  PMID: 23095377
N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea; Mouse; C57BL/6J; Mutagenesis; Genetic screen; PolyPhen-2; Strand asymmetry; Phenotype
19.  There’s an App for That: Content Analysis of Paid Health and Fitness Apps 
The introduction of Apple’s iPhone provided a platform for developers to design third-party apps, which greatly expanded the functionality and utility of mobile devices for public health.
This study provides an overview of the developers’ written descriptions of health and fitness apps and appraises each app’s potential for influencing behavior change.
Data for this study came from a content analysis of health and fitness app descriptions available on iTunes during February 2011. The Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) and the Precede-Proceed Model (PPM) were used as frameworks to guide the coding of 3336 paid apps.
Compared to apps with a cost less than US $0.99, apps exceeding US $0.99 were more likely to be scored as intending to promote health or prevent disease (92.55%, 1925/3336 vs 83.59%, 1411/3336; P<.001), to be credible or trustworthy (91.11%, 1895/3336 vs 86.14%, 1454/3349; P<.001), and more likely to be used personally or recommended to a health care client (72.93%, 1517/2644 vs 66.77%, 1127/2644; P<.001). Apps related to healthy eating, physical activity, and personal health and wellness were more common than apps for substance abuse, mental and emotional health, violence prevention and safety, and sexual and reproductive health. Reinforcing apps were less common than predisposing and enabling apps. Only 1.86% (62/3336) of apps included all 3 factors (ie, predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing).
Development efforts could target public health behaviors for which few apps currently exist. Furthermore, practitioners should be cautious when promoting the use of apps as it appears most provide health-related information (predisposing) or make attempts at enabling behavior, with almost none including all theoretical factors recommended for behavior change.
PMCID: PMC3799565  PMID: 22584372
mHealth; iPhone; app
20.  Decreased influenza-specific B cell responses in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with anti-tumor necrosis factor 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R209.
As a group, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients exhibit increased risk of infection, and those treated with anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy are at further risk. This increased susceptibility may result from a compromised humoral immune response. Therefore, we asked if short-term effector (d5-d10) and memory (1 month or later) B cell responses to antigen were compromised in RA patients treated with anti-TNF therapy.
Peripheral blood samples were obtained from RA patients, including a subset treated with anti-TNF, and from healthy controls to examine influenza-specific responses following seasonal influenza vaccination. Serum antibody was measured by hemagglutination inhibition assay. The frequency of influenza vaccine-specific antibody secreting cells and memory B cells was measured by EliSpot. Plasmablast (CD19+IgD-CD27hiCD38hi) induction was measured by flow cytometry.
Compared with healthy controls, RA patients treated with anti-TNF exhibited significantly decreased influenza-specific serum antibody and memory B cell responses throughout multiple years of the study. The short-term influenza-specific effector B cell response was also significantly decreased in RA patients treated with anti-TNF as compared with healthy controls, and correlated with decreased influenza-specific memory B cells and serum antibody present at one month following vaccination.
RA patients treated with anti-TNF exhibit a compromised immune response to influenza vaccine, consisting of impaired effector and consequently memory B cell and antibody responses. The results suggest that the increased incidence and severity of infection observed in this patient population could be a consequence of diminished antigen-responsiveness. Therefore, this patient population would likely benefit from repeat vaccination and from vaccines with enhanced immunogenicity.
PMCID: PMC3334662  PMID: 22177419
21.  Biologic similarities based on age at onset in oligoarticular and polyarticular subtypes of juvenile idiopathic arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(11):3249-3258.
To explore biologic correlates to age at onset in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) using peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) gene expression analysis.
PBMCs were isolated from 56 healthy controls and 104 patients with recent-onset JIA (39 with persistent oligoarticular JIA, 45 with rheumatoid factor–negative polyarticular JIA, and 20 with systemic JIA). RNA was amplified and labeled using NuGEN Ovation, and gene expression was assessed with Affymetrix HG-U133 Plus 2.0 GeneChips.
A total of 832 probe sets revealed gene expression differences (false discovery rate 5%) in PBMCs from children with oligoarticular JIA whose disease began before age 6 years (early-onset disease) compared with those whose disease began at or after age 6 years (late-onset disease). In patients with early-onset disease, there was greater expression of genes related to B cells and less expression of genes related to cells of the myeloid lineage. Support vector machine analyses identified samples from patients with early- or late-onset oligoarticular JIA (with 97% accuracy) or from patients with early- or late-onset polyarticular JIA (with 89% accuracy), but not from patients with systemic JIA or healthy controls. Principal components analysis showed that age at onset was the major classifier of samples from patients with oligoarticular JIA and patients with polyarticular JIA.
PBMC gene expression analysis reveals biologic differences between patients with early-and late-onset JIA, independent of classification based on the number of joints involved. These data suggest that age at onset may be an important parameter to consider in JIA classification. Furthermore, pathologic mechanisms may vary with age at onset, and understanding these processes may lead to improved treatment of JIA.
PMCID: PMC3018072  PMID: 20662067
22.  Gene Expression Profiles from Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells Are Sensitive to Short Processing Delays 
Biopreservation and biobanking  2010;8(3):153-162.
In the analysis of peripheral blood gene expression, timely processing of samples is essential to ensure that measurements reflect in vivo biology, rather than ex vivo sample processing variables. The effect of processing delays on global gene expression patterns in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was assessed by isolating and stabilizing PBMC-derived RNA from 3 individuals either immediately after phlebotomy or after a 4 h delay. RNA was labeled using NuGEN Ovation labeling and probed using the Affymetrix HG U133 Plus 2.0 GeneChip®. Comparison of gene expression levels (≥2-fold expression change and P < 0.05) identified 307 probe sets representing genes with increased expression and 46 indicating decreased expression after 4 h. These differentially expressed genes include many that are important to inflammatory, immunologic, and cancer pathways. Among others, CCR2, CCR5, TLR10, CD180, and IL-16 have decreased expression, whereas VEGF, IL8, SOCS2, SOCS3, CD69, and CD83 have increased expression after a 4 h processing delay. The trends in expression patterns associated with delayed processing were also apparent in an independent set of 276 arrays of RNA from human PBMC samples with varying processing times. These data indicate that the time between sample acquisition, initiation of processing, and when the RNA is stabilized should be a prime consideration when designing protocols for translational studies involving PBMC gene expression analysis.
PMCID: PMC3129811  PMID: 21743826
23.  Gene Expression Profiles from Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells Are Sensitive to Short Processing Delays 
Biopreservation and Biobanking  2010;8(3):153-162.
In the analysis of peripheral blood gene expression, timely processing of samples is essential to ensure that measurements reflect in vivo biology, rather than ex vivo sample processing variables. The effect of processing delays on global gene expression patterns in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was assessed by isolating and stabilizing PBMC-derived RNA from 3 individuals either immediately after phlebotomy or after a 4 h delay. RNA was labeled using NuGEN Ovation labeling and probed using the Affymetrix HG U133 Plus 2.0 GeneChip®. Comparison of gene expression levels (≥2-fold expression change and P < 0.05) identified 307 probe sets representing genes with increased expression and 46 indicating decreased expression after 4 h. These differentially expressed genes include many that are important to inflammatory, immunologic, and cancer pathways. Among others, CCR2, CCR5, TLR10, CD180, and IL-16 have decreased expression, whereas VEGF, IL8, SOCS2, SOCS3, CD69, and CD83 have increased expression after a 4 h processing delay. The trends in expression patterns associated with delayed processing were also apparent in an independent set of 276 arrays of RNA from human PBMC samples with varying processing times. These data indicate that the time between sample acquisition, initiation of processing, and when the RNA is stabilized should be a prime consideration when designing protocols for translational studies involving PBMC gene expression analysis.
PMCID: PMC3129811  PMID: 21743826
24.  Using Functional Annotation for the Empirical Determination of Bayes Factors for Genome-Wide Association Study Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e14808.
A genome wide association study (GWAS) typically results in a few highly significant ‘hits’ and a much larger set of suggestive signals (‘near-hits’). The latter group are expected to be a mixture of true and false associations. One promising strategy to help separate these is to use functional annotations for prioritisation of variants for follow-up. A key task is to determine which annotations might prove most valuable. We address this question by examining the functional annotations of previously published GWAS hits. We explore three annotation categories: non-synonymous SNPs (nsSNPs), promoter SNPs and cis expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) in open chromatin regions. We demonstrate that GWAS hit SNPs are enriched for these three functional categories, and that it would be appropriate to provide a higher weighting for such SNPs when performing Bayesian association analyses. For GWAS studies, our analyses suggest the use of a Bayes Factor of about 4 for cis eQTL SNPs within regions of open chromatin, 3 for nsSNPs and 2 for promoter SNPs.
PMCID: PMC3083387  PMID: 21556132
25.  Recognition-Mediated Assembly of Quantum Dot Polymer Conjugates with Controlled Morphology 
We have demonstrated a polymer mediated “bricks and mortar” method for the self-assembly of quantum dots (QDs). This strategy allows QDs to self-assemble into structured aggregates using complementary three-point hydrogen bonding. The resulting nanocomposites have distinct morphologies and inter-particle distances based on the ratio between QDs and polymer. Time resolved photoluminescence measurements showed that the optical properties of the QDs were retained after self-assembly.
PMCID: PMC3189788  PMID: 22016664
molecular recognition; nanoparticles; hydrogen bonding; self-assembly; nanocomposites; quantum dots

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