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1.  Differential Associations of Oral Glucose Tolerance Test–Derived Measures of Insulin Sensitivity and Pancreatic β-Cell Function With Coronary Artery Calcification and Microalbuminuria in Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2013;37(1):124-133.
We evaluated relationships of oral glucose tolerance testing (OGTT)–derived measures of insulin sensitivity and pancreatic β-cell function with indices of diabetes complications in a cross-sectional study of patients with type 2 diabetes who are free of overt cardiovascular or renal disease.
A subset of participants from the Penn Diabetes Heart Study (n = 672; mean age 59 ± 8 years; 67% male; 60% Caucasian) underwent a standard 2-h, 75-g OGTT. Insulin sensitivity was estimated using the Matsuda Insulin Sensitivity Index (ISI), and β-cell function was estimated using the Insulinogenic Index. Multivariable modeling was used to analyze associations between quartiles of each index with coronary artery calcification (CAC) and microalbuminuria.
The Insulinogenic Index and Matsuda ISI had distinct associations with cardiometabolic risk factors. The top quartile of the Matsuda ISI had a negative association with CAC that remained significant after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors (Tobit ratio −0.78 [95% CI −1.51 to −0.05]; P = 0.035), but the Insulinogenic Index was not associated with CAC. Conversely, the highest quartile of the Insulinogenic Index, but not the Matsuda ISI, was associated with lower odds of microalbuminuria (OR 0.52 [95% CI 0.30–0.91]; P = 0.022); however, this association was attenuated in models that included duration of diabetes.
Lower β-cell function is associated with microalbuminuria, a microvascular complication, while impaired insulin sensitivity is associated with higher CAC, a predictor of macrovascular complications. Despite these pathophysiological insights, the Matsuda ISI and Insulinogenic Index are unlikely to be translated into clinical use in type 2 diabetes beyond established clinical variables, such as obesity or duration of diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3867998  PMID: 23949560
2.  Candidate Gene Association Study of Coronary Artery Calcification in Chronic Kidney Disease: Findings from the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study 
To identify loci for coronary artery calcification (CAC) in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
CKD is associated with increased CAC and subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD) but the mechanisms remain poorly defined. Genetic studies of CAC in CKD may provide a useful strategy for identifying novel pathways in CHD.
We performed a candidate gene study (~2,100 genes; ~50,000 SNPs) of CAC within the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Study (n=1,509; 57% European, 43% African ancestry). SNPs with preliminary evidence of association with CAC in CRIC were examined for association with CAC in PennCAC (n=2,560) and Amish Family Calcification Study (AFCS; n=784) samples. SNPs with suggestive replication were further analyzed for association with myocardial infarction (MI) in the Pakistan Risk of Myocardial Infarction study (PROMIS) (n=14,885).
Of 268 SNPs reaching P <5×10−4 for CAC in CRIC, 28 SNPs in 23 loci had nominal support (P <0.05 and in same direction) for CAC in PennCAC or AFCS. Besides chr9p21 and COL4A1, known loci for CHD, these included SNPs having reported GWAS association with hypertension (e.g., ATP2B1). In PROMIS, four of the 23 suggestive CAC loci (chr9p21, COL4A1, ATP2B1 and ABCA4) had significant associations with MI consistent with their direction of effect on CAC.
We identified several loci associated with CAC in CKD that also relate to MI in a general population sample. CKD imparts a high risk of CHD and may provide a useful setting for discovery of novel CHD genes and pathways.
PMCID: PMC3953823  PMID: 23727086
Coronary artery calcification (CAC); chronic kidney disease (CKD); Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study (CRIC); myocardial infarction (MI); risk factors; candidate genes; single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)
3.  PennSeq: accurate isoform-specific gene expression quantification in RNA-Seq by modeling non-uniform read distribution 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(3):e20.
Correctly estimating isoform-specific gene expression is important for understanding complicated biological mechanisms and for mapping disease susceptibility genes. However, estimating isoform-specific gene expression is challenging because various biases present in RNA-Seq (RNA sequencing) data complicate the analysis, and if not appropriately corrected, can affect isoform expression estimation and downstream analysis. In this article, we present PennSeq, a statistical method that allows each isoform to have its own non-uniform read distribution. Instead of making parametric assumptions, we give adequate weight to the underlying data by the use of a non-parametric approach. Our rationale is that regardless what factors lead to non-uniformity, whether it is due to hexamer priming bias, local sequence bias, positional bias, RNA degradation, mapping bias or other unknown reasons, the probability that a fragment is sampled from a particular region will be reflected in the aligned data. This empirical approach thus maximally reflects the true underlying non-uniform read distribution. We evaluate the performance of PennSeq using both simulated data with known ground truth, and using two real Illumina RNA-Seq data sets including one with quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction measurements. Our results indicate superior performance of PennSeq over existing methods, particularly for isoforms demonstrating severe non-uniformity. PennSeq is freely available for download at
PMCID: PMC3919567  PMID: 24362841
4.  Genetics of coronary artery calcification among African Americans, a meta-analysis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:75.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the major cause of death in the United States. Coronary artery calcification (CAC) scores are independent predictors of CHD. African Americans (AA) have higher rates of CHD but are less well-studied in genomic studies. We assembled the largest AA data resource currently available with measured CAC to identify associated genetic variants.
We analyzed log transformed CAC quantity (ln(CAC + 1)), for association with ~2.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and performed an inverse-variance weighted meta-analysis on results for 5,823 AA from 8 studies. Heritability was calculated using family studies. The most significant SNPs among AAs were evaluated in European Ancestry (EA) CAC data; conversely, the significance of published SNPs for CAC/CHD in EA was queried within our AA meta-analysis.
Heritability of CAC was lower in AA (~30%) than previously reported for EA (~50%). No SNP reached genome wide significance (p < 5E-08). Of 67 SNPs with p < 1E-05 in AA there was no evidence of association in EA CAC data. Four SNPs in regions previously implicated in CAC/CHD (at 9p21 and PHACTR1) in EA reached nominal significance for CAC in AA, with concordant direction. Among AA, rs16905644 (p = 4.08E-05) had the strongest association in the 9p21 region.
While we observed substantial heritability for CAC in AA, we failed to identify loci for CAC at genome-wide significant levels despite having adequate power to detect alleles with moderate to large effects. Although suggestive signals in AA were apparent at 9p21 and additional CAC and CAD EA loci, overall the data suggest that even larger samples and an ethnic specific focus will be required for GWAS discoveries for CAC in AA populations.
PMCID: PMC3733595  PMID: 23870195
Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery calcium; Genetics; Meta-analysis; African-American
5.  Evaluating the Impact of Sequencing Depth on Transcriptome Profiling in Human Adipose 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66883.
Recent advances in RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) have enabled the discovery of novel transcriptomic variations that are not possible with traditional microarray-based methods. Tissue and cell specific transcriptome changes during pathophysiological stress in disease cases versus controls and in response to therapies are of particular interest to investigators studying cardiometabolic diseases. Thus, knowledge on the relationships between sequencing depth and detection of transcriptomic variation is needed for designing RNA-Seq experiments and for interpreting results of analyses. Using deeply sequenced Illumina HiSeq 2000 101 bp paired-end RNA-Seq data derived from adipose of a healthy individual before and after systemic administration of endotoxin (LPS), we investigated the sequencing depths needed for studies of gene expression and alternative splicing (AS). In order to detect expressed genes and AS events, we found that ∼100 to 150 million (M) filtered reads were needed. However, the requirement on sequencing depth for the detection of LPS modulated differential expression (DE) and differential alternative splicing (DAS) was much higher. To detect 80% of events, ∼300 M filtered reads were needed for DE analysis whereas at least 400 M filtered reads were necessary for detecting DAS. Although the majority of expressed genes and AS events can be detected with modest sequencing depths (∼100 M filtered reads), the estimated gene expression levels and exon/intron inclusion levels were less accurate. We report the first study that evaluates the relationship between RNA-Seq depth and the ability to detect DE and DAS in human adipose. Our results suggest that a much higher sequencing depth is needed to reliably identify DAS events than for DE genes.
PMCID: PMC3691247  PMID: 23826166
6.  Genetic determinants of the ankle-brachial index: A meta-analysis of a cardiovascular candidate gene 50K SNP panel in the candidate gene association resource (CARe) consortium 
Atherosclerosis  2012;222(1):138-147.
Candidate gene association studies for peripheral artery disease (PAD), including subclinical disease assessed with the ankle-brachial index (ABI), have been limited by the modest number of genes examined. We conducted a two stage meta-analysis of ~50,000 SNPs across ~2100 candidate genes to identify genetic variants for ABI.
Methods and results
We studied subjects of European ancestry from 8 studies (n = 21,547, 55% women, mean age 44–73 years) and African American ancestry from 5 studies (n = 7267, 60% women, mean age 41–73 years) involved in the candidate gene association resource (CARe) consortium. In each ethnic group, additive genetic models were used (with each additional copy of the minor allele corresponding to the given beta) to test each SNP for association with continuous ABI (excluding ABI > 1.40) and PAD (defined as ABI < 0.90) using linear or logistic regression with adjustment for known PAD risk factors and population stratification. We then conducted a fixed-effects inverse-variance weighted meta-analyses considering a p < 2 × 10−6 to denote statistical significance.
In the European ancestry discovery meta-analyses, rs2171209 in SYTL3 (β = −0.007, p = 6.02 × 10−7) and rs290481 in TCF7L2 (β = −0.008, p = 7.01 × 10−7) were significantly associated with ABI. None of the SNP associations for PAD were significant, though a SNP in CYP2B6 (p = 4.99 × 10−5) was among the strongest associations. These 3 genes are linked to key PAD risk factors (lipoprotein(a), type 2 diabetes, and smoking behavior, respectively). We sought replication in 6 population-based and 3 clinical samples (n = 15,440) for rs290481 and rs2171209. However, in the replication stage (rs2171209, p = 0.75; rs290481, p = 0.19) and in the combined discovery and replication analysis the SNP–ABI associations were no longer significant (rs2171209, p = 1.14 × 10−3; rs290481, p = 8.88 × 10−5). In African Americans, none of the SNP associations for ABI or PAD achieved an experiment-wide level of significance.
Genetic determinants of ABI and PAD remain elusive. Follow-up of these preliminary findings may uncover important biology given the known gene-risk factor associations. New and more powerful approaches to PAD gene discovery are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3596171  PMID: 22361517
Ankle brachial index; Peripheral artery disease; Genetics; Candidate gene array; Meta-analysis; Ethnicity
7.  Analytic performance studies and clinical reproducibility of a real-time PCR assay for the detection of epidermal growth factor receptor gene mutations in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue specimens of non-small cell lung cancer 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:210.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations identify patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have a high likelihood of benefiting from treatment with anti-EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Sanger sequencing is widely used for mutation detection but can be technically challenging, resulting in longer turn-around-time, with limited sensitivity for low levels of mutations. This manuscript details the technical performance verification studies and external clinical reproducibility studies of the cobas EGFR Mutation Test, a rapid multiplex real-time PCR assay designed to detect 41 mutations in exons 18, 19, 20 and 21.
The assay’s limit of detection was determined using 25 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue (FFPET)-derived and plasmid DNA blends. Assay performance for a panel of 201 specimens was compared against Sanger sequencing with resolution of discordant specimens by quantitative massively parallel pyrosequencing (MPP). Internal and external reproducibility was assessed using specimens tested in duplicate by different operators, using different reagent lots, instruments and at different sites. The effects on the performance of the cobas EGFR test of endogenous substances and nine therapeutic drugs were evaluated in ten FFPET specimens. Other tests included an evaluation of the effects of necrosis, micro-organisms and homologous DNA sequences on assay performance, and the inclusivity of the assay for less frequent mutations.
A >95% hit rate was obtained in blends with >5% mutant alleles, as determined by MPP analysis, at a total DNA input of 150 ng. The overall percent agreement between Sanger sequencing and the cobas test was 96.7% (negative percent agreement 97.5%; positive percent agreement 95.8%). Assay repeatability was 98% when tested with two operators, instruments, and reagent lots. In the external reproducibility study, the agreement was > 99% across all sites, all operators and all reagent lots for 11/12 tumors tested. Test performance was not compromised by endogenous substances, therapeutic drugs, necrosis up to 85%, and common micro-organisms. All of the assessed less common mutations except one (exon 19 deletion mutation 2236_2248 > AGAC) were detected at a similar DNA input level as that for the corresponding predominant mutation.
The cobas EGFR Mutation Test is a sensitive, accurate, rapid, and reproducible assay.
PMCID: PMC3660201  PMID: 23621958
EGFR mutation testing; Molecular diagnostics; Companion diagnostics; Non-small cell lung cancer; Analytical validation; Reproducibility
8.  Race and gender variation in response to evoked inflammation 
Race- and gender-variation in innate immunity may contribute to demographic differences in inflammatory and cardiometabolic disease; yet their influence on dynamic responses during inflammatory stress is poorly understood. Our objective was to examine race and gender influence on the response to experimental endotoxemia.
The Genetics of Evoked Responses to Niacin and Endotoxemia (GENE) study was designed to investigate regulation of inflammatory and metabolic responses during low-grade endotoxemia (LPS 1 ng/kg intravenously) in healthy individuals (median age 24, IQR=7) of European (EA; n=193, 47% female) and African ancestry (AA; n=101, 59% female).
Baseline clinical, metabolic, and inflammatory biomarkers by race and gender were consistent with epidemiological literature; pre-LPS cytokines (e.g. median (IQR) IL-6, 2.7 (2) vs.2.1 (2) pg/ml, P=0.001) were higher in AA than EA. In contrast, acute cytokine responses during endotoxemia were lower in AA than EA (e.g. median (IQR) peak IL-1RA, 30 (38) vs.43 (45) ng/ml P=0.002) as was the induction of hepatic acute-phase proteins (e.g. median (IQR) peak CRP 12.9 (9) vs.17.4 (12) mg/L P=0.005). Further, baseline levels of cytokines were only weakly correlated with peak inflammatory responses (all rs <0.2) both in AA and in EA. There were less pronounced and less consistent differences in the response by gender, with males having a higher AUC for CRP response compared to females (median (IQR) AUC: 185 (112) vs. 155 (118), P=0.02).
We observed lower levels of evoked inflammation in response to endotoxin in AA compared with EA, despite similar or higher baseline levels of inflammatory markers in AA. Our data also suggest that levels of inflammatory biomarkers measured in epidemiological settings might not predict the degree of acute stress-response or risk of diseases characterized by activation of innate immunity.
Trial registration
FDA registration number NCT00953667
PMCID: PMC3636014  PMID: 23497455
9.  Translational studies of lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 in inflammation and atherosclerosis 
To examine the role of lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2/PLA2G7) in human inflammation and coronary atherosclerosis.
Lp-PLA2 has emerged as a potential therapeutic target in coronary heart disease (CHD). Data supporting Lp-PLA2 are indirect and confounded by species differences; whether Lp-PLA2 is causal in CHD remains in question.
We examined inflammatory regulation of Lp-PLA2 during experimental endotoxemia in human, probed the source of Lp-PLA2 in human leukocytes under inflammatory conditions, and assessed the relationship of variation in PLA2G7, the gene encoding Lp-PLA2, with coronary artery calcification (CAC).
In contrast to circulating TNFα and CRP, blood and monocyte Lp-PLA2 mRNA decreased transiently, and plasma Lp-PLA2 mass declined modestly during endotoxemia. In vitro, Lp-PLA2 expression increased dramatically during human monocyte to macrophage differentiation and further in inflammatory macrophages and foam like-cells. Despite only a marginal association of SNPs in PLA2G7 with Lp-PLA2 activity or mass, numerous PLA2G7 SNPs were associated with CAC. In contrast, several SNPs in CRP were significantly associated with plasma CRP levels but had no relation with CAC.
Circulating Lp-PLA2 did not increase during acute phase response in human, while inflammatory macrophages and foam cells, but not circulating monocytes, are major leukocyte sources of Lp-PLA2. Common genetic variation in PLA2G7 is associated with sub-clinical coronary atherosclerosis. These data link Lp-PLA2 to atherosclerosis in human while highlighting the challenge in using circulating Lp-PLA2 as a biomarker of Lp-PLA2 actions in the vasculature.
PMCID: PMC3285416  PMID: 22340269
10.  Mixed Modeling of Meta-Analysis P-Values (MixMAP) Suggests Multiple Novel Gene Loci for Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e54812.
Informing missing heritability for complex disease will likely require leveraging information across multiple SNPs within a gene region simultaneously to characterize gene and locus-level contributions to disease phenotypes. To this aim, we introduce a novel strategy, termed Mixed modeling of Meta-Analysis P-values (MixMAP), that draws on a principled statistical modeling framework and the vast array of summary data now available from genetic association studies, to test formally for locus level association. The primary inputs to this approach are: (a) single SNP level p-values for tests of association; and (b) the mapping of SNPs to genomic regions. The output of MixMAP is comprised of locus level estimates and tests of association. In application of MixMAP to summary data from the Global Lipids Gene Consortium, we suggest twelve new loci (PKN, FN1, UGT1A1, PPARG, DMDGH, PPARD, CDK6, VPS13B, GAD2, GAB2, APOH and NPC1) for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), a causal risk factor for cardiovascular disease and we also demonstrate the potential utility of MixMAP in small data settings. Overall, MixMAP offers novel and complementary information as compared to SNP-based analysis approaches and is straightforward to implement with existing open-source statistical software tools.
PMCID: PMC3566142  PMID: 23405096
11.  Resource Needs for Adolescent Friendly Health Services: Estimates for 74 Low- and Middle-Income Countries 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51420.
In order to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6, it is essential to address adolescents’ health.
To estimate the additional resources required to scale up adolescent friendly health service interventions with the objective to reduce mortality and morbidity among individuals aged 10 to 19 years in 74 low- and middle- income countries.
A costing model was developed to estimate the financial resources needed to scale-up delivery of a set of interventions including contraception, maternity care, management of sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing and counseling, safe abortion services, HIV harm reduction, HIV care and treatment and care of injuries due to intimate partner physical and sexual violence. Financial costs were estimated for each intervention, country and year using a bottom-up ingredients approach, defining costs at different levels of delivery (i.e., community, health centre, and hospital level). Programme activity costs to improve quality of care were also estimated, including activities undertaken at national-, district- and facility level in order to improve adolescents’ use of health services (i.e., to render health services adolescent friendly).
Costs of achieving universal coverage are estimated at an additional US$ 15.41 billion for the period 2011–2015, increasing from US$ 1.86 billion in 2011 to US$ 4,31 billion in 2015. This corresponds to approximately US$ 1.02 per adolescent in 2011, increasing to 4.70 in 2015. On average, for all 74 countries, an annual additional expenditure per capita ranging from of US$ 0.38 in 2011 to US$ 0.82 in 2015, would be required to support the scale-up of key adolescent friendly health services.
The estimated costs show a substantial investment gap and are indicative of the additional investments required to scale up health service delivery to adolescents towards universal coverage by 2015.
PMCID: PMC3531400  PMID: 23300548
12.  Ridge Regression for Longitudinal Biomarker Data 
Technological advances facilitating the acquisition of large arrays of biomarker data have led to new opportunities to understand and characterize disease progression over time. This creates an analytical challenge, however, due to the large numbers of potentially informative markers, the high degrees of correlation among them, and the time-dependent trajectories of association. We propose a mixed ridge estimator, which integrates ridge regression into the mixed effects modeling framework in order to account for both the correlation induced by repeatedly measuring an outcome on each individual over time, as well as the potentially high degree of correlation among possible predictor variables. An expectation-maximization algorithm is described to account for unknown variance and covariance parameters. Model performance is demonstrated through a simulation study and an application of the mixed ridge approach to data arising from a study of cardiometabolic biomarker responses to evoked inflammation induced by experimental low-dose endotoxemia.
PMCID: PMC3202941  PMID: 22049265
biomarkers; cardiovascular disease (CVD); mixed effects; repeated measures; ridge regression
13.  Peroxisome Proliferator–Activated Receptor-α Agonism With Fenofibrate Does Not Suppress Inflammatory Responses to Evoked Endotoxemia 
Data conflict with regard to whether peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-α agonism suppresses inflammation in humans. We hypothesized that in healthy adults peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-α agonism with fenofibrate would blunt the induced immune responses to endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide [LPS]), an in vivo model for the study of cardiometabolic inflammation.
Methods and Results
In the Fenofibrate and omega-3 Fatty Acid Modulation of Endotoxemia (FFAME) trial, 36 healthy volunteers (mean age 26±7 years, mean body mass index 24±3 kg/m2, 44% female, 72% white) were randomized to fenofibrate 145 mg or placebo daily. After 6 to 8 weeks of treatment, subjects underwent a low-dose LPS challenge. Clinical and blood measurements were collected at randomization, before LPS administration, and serially for 24 hours after LPS administration. We examined area under the curve for evoked responses by treatment group. Compared to placebo, but before LPS challenge, fenofibrate reduced total cholesterol and tended to decrease triglycerides, consistent with achieved therapeutic plasma levels of fenofibric acid. In the placebo group, LPS induced a modest inflammatory response with increased cytokines and chemokines (2- to 4-hour post-LPS 8-fold increase in tumor necrosis factor-α, 9-fold increase in interleukin-6, 9-fold increase in interleukin-10, and 10-fold increase in monocyte chemotactic protein-1; all P<0.001) and acute-phase reactants (24-hour post-LPS 15-fold increase in serum amyloid A and 9-fold increase in C-reactive protein; both P<0.001). Compared to placebo, however, fenofibrate did not significantly attenuate LPS-induced levels of plasma cytokines, chemokines, or acute-phase proteins.
These data suggest a lack of systemic antiinflammatory properties of fenofibrate at clinically relevant dosing in humans.
Clinical Trial Registration
URL: Unique identifier: NCT01048502. (J Am Heart Assoc. 2012;1:e002923 doi: 10.1161/JAHA.112.002923.)
PMCID: PMC3487364  PMID: 23130172
clinical trials; cytokines; endotoxemia; fenofibrate; inflammation
14.  A human model of inflammatory cardio-metabolic dysfunction; a double blind placebo-controlled crossover trial 
Chronic inflammation may contribute to insulin resistance (IR), metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis although evidence of causality is lacking in humans. We hypothesized that very low-dose experimental endotoxemia would induce adipose tissue inflammation and systemic IR during a low-grade but asymptomatic inflammatory response and thus provide an experimental model for future tests of pharmacologic and genomic modulation of cardio-metabolic traits in humans.
Ten healthy, human volunteers (50% male, 90% Caucasian, mean age 22.7 ± 3.8) were randomized in a double-masked, placebo-controlled, crossover study to separate 36-hour inpatient visits (placebo versus intravenous-LPS 0.6 ng/kg). We measured clinical symptoms via the McGill pain questionnaire and serial vital signs. Plasma and serum were collected for measurement of cytokines, C-reactive protein, insulin and glucose, serial whole blood & subcutaneous adipose tissue mRNA expression were measured by real-time PCR. HOMA-IR, a well-validated measure of IR was calculated to estimate insulin resistance, and frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance testing (FSIGTT) was performed to confirm an insulin resistant state. We performed ANOVA and within subject ANOVA to understand the differences in cytokines, adipose tissue inflammation and IR before and after LPS or placebo.
There was no significant difference between placebo and LPS in clinical responses of symptom scores, body temperature or heart rate. However, low-dose endotoxemia induced a rapid and transient 25-fold induction of plasma TNF-alpha and 100-fold increase in plasma IL-6 (Figure 1B) (p < 0.001 for both) both peaking at two hours, followed by modest inflammation in adipose tissue with increases in mRNA levels of several inflammatory genes known to modulate adipose and systemic insulin resistance. Adipose tissue mRNA levels of IL-6 (peak 6-fold, ANOVA F = 27.5, p < 0.001) and TNF-alpha (peak 1.8-fold, F = 2.9, p = 0.01) increased with MCP-1 (peak 10-fold, F = 5.6, p < 0.01) and fractalkine (CX3CL1) (peak 15-fold, F = 13.3, p < 0.001). Finally, HOMA-IR was 32% higher following LPS compared to placebo (p < 0.01) and insulin sensitivity declined by 21% following LPS compared to placebo (p < 0.05).
We present a low dose human endotoxemia model of inflammation which induces adipose tissue inflammation and systemic insulin resistance in the absence of overt clinical response. Such a model has the potential for broad and safe application in the study of novel therapeutics and genomic influences in cardio-metabolic disease.
PMCID: PMC3477112  PMID: 22709547
Inflammation; Obesity; Atherosclerosis; Insulin resistance
15.  Fractalkine Is a Novel Human Adipochemokine Associated With Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes  2011;60(5):1512-1518.
Leukocyte infiltration of adipose is a critical determinant of obesity-related metabolic diseases. Fractalkine (CX3CL1) and its receptor (CX3CR1) comprise a chemokine system involved in leukocyte recruitment and adhesion in atherosclerosis, but its role in adipose inflammation and type 2 diabetes is unknown.
CX3CL1 mRNA and protein were quantified in subcutaneous adipose and blood during experimental human endotoxemia and in lean and obese human adipose. CX3CL1 cellular source was probed in human adipocytes, monocytes, and macrophages, and CX3CL1-blocking antibodies were used to assess its role in monocyte-adipocyte adhesion. The association of genetic variation in CX3CR1 with metabolic traits was determined in a community-based sample. Finally, plasma CX3CL1 levels were measured in a case-control study of type 2 diabetes.
Endotoxemia induced adipose CX3CL1 mRNA (32.7-fold, P < 1 × 10−5) and protein (43-fold, P = 0.006). Obese subjects had higher CX3CL1 levels in subcutaneous adipose compared with lean (0.420 ± 0.387 vs. 0.228 ± 0.187 ng/mL, P = 0.04). CX3CL1 was expressed and secreted by human adipocytes and stromal vascular cells. Inflammatory cytokine induction of CX3CL1 in human adipocytes (27.5-fold mRNA and threefold protein) was completely attenuated by pretreatment with a peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-γ agonist. A putative functional nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (rs3732378) in CX3CR1 was associated with adipose and metabolic traits, and plasma CX3CL1 levels were increased in patients with type 2 diabetes vs. nondiabetics (0.506 ± 0.262 vs. 0.422 ± 0.210 ng/mL, P < 0.0001).
CX3CL1-CX3CR1 is a novel inflammatory adipose chemokine system that modulates monocyte adhesion to adipocytes and is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. These data provide support for CX3CL1 as a diagnostic and therapeutic target in cardiometabolic disease.
PMCID: PMC3292325  PMID: 21525510
16.  A Genome Wide Association Study for Coronary Artery Disease Identifies a Novel Susceptibility Locus in the Major Histocompatibility Complex 
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several novel loci that reproducibly associate with CAD and/or MI risk. However, known common CAD risk variants explain only 10% of the predicted genetic heritability of the disease, suggesting that important genetic signals remain to be discovered.
Methods and Results
We performed a discovery meta-analysis of 5 GWASs involving 13,949 subjects (7123 cases, 6826 controls) imputed at approximately 5 million SNPs using pilot 1000 Genomes based haplotypes. Promising loci were followed up in an additional 5 studies with 11,032 subjects (5211 cases, 5821 controls). A novel CAD locus on chromosome 6p21.3 in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) between HCG27 and HLA-C was identified and achieved genome wide significance in the combined analysis (rs3869109; pdiscovery=3.3×10−7, preplication=5.3×10−4 pcombined=1.12×10−9). A sub-analysis combining discovery GWASs showed an attenuation of significance when stringent corrections for European population structure were employed (p=4.1×10-10 versus 3.2×10-7) suggesting the observed signal is partly confounded due to population stratification. This gene dense region plays an important role in inflammation, immunity and self cell recognition. To determine whether the underlying association was driven by MHC class I alleles, we statistically imputed common HLA alleles into the discovery subjects; however, no single common HLA type contributed significantly or fully explained the observed association.
We have identified a novel locus in the MHC associated with CAD. MHC genes regulate inflammation and T cell responses that contribute importantly to the initiation and propagation of atherosclerosis. Further laboratory studies will be required to understand the biological basis of this association and identify the causative allele(s).
PMCID: PMC3335297  PMID: 22319020
coronary artery disease; myocardial infarction; meta-analysis; genetics
17.  A Genome Wide Association Study for Coronary Artery Disease Identifies a Novel Susceptibility Locus in the Major Histocompatibility Complex 
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several novel loci that reproducibly associate with CAD and/or MI risk. However, known common CAD risk variants explain only 10% of the predicted genetic heritability of the disease, suggesting that important genetic signals remain to be discovered.
Methods and Results
We performed a discovery meta-analysis of 5 GWASs involving 13,949 subjects (7123 cases, 6826 controls) imputed at approximately 5 million SNPs using pilot 1000 Genomes based haplotypes. Promising loci were followed up in an additional 5 studies with 11,032 subjects (5211 cases, 5821 controls). A novel CAD locus on chromosome 6p21.3 in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) between HCG27 and HLA-C was identified and achieved genome wide significance in the combined analysis (rs3869109; pdiscovery=3.3×10−7, preplication=5.3×10−4 pcombined=1.12×10−9). A sub-analysis combining discovery GWASs showed an attenuation of significance when stringent corrections for European population structure were employed (p=4.1×10−10 versus 3.2×10−7) suggesting the observed signal is partly confounded due to population stratification. This gene dense region plays an important role in inflammation, immunity and self cell recognition. To determine whether the underlying association was driven by MHC class I alleles, we statistically imputed common HLA alleles into the discovery subjects; however, no single common HLA type contributed significantly or fully explained the observed association.
We have identified a novel locus in the MHC associated with CAD. MHC genes regulate inflammation and T cell responses that contribute importantly to the initiation and propagation of atherosclerosis. Further laboratory studies will be required to understand the biological basis of this association and identify the causative allele(s).
PMCID: PMC3335297  PMID: 22319020
Coronary Artery Disease; Myocardial Infarction; Meta-Analysis; Genetics
18.  The novel atherosclerosis locus at 10q11 regulates plasma CXCL12 levels 
European Heart Journal  2011;32(8):963-971.
Two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs1746048 and rs501120, from genome wide association studies of coronary artery disease (CAD) map to chromosome 10q11 ∼80 kb downstream of chemokine CXCL12. Therefore, we examined the relationship between these two SNPs and plasma CXCL12 levels.
Methods and Results
We tested the association of two SNPs with plasma CXCL12 levels in a two-stage study (n= 2939): first in PennCath (n= 1182), a Caucasian, angiographic CAD case–control study, and second in PennCAC (n= 1757), a community-based study of CAD risk factors. Plasma CXCL12 levels increased with age and did not vary by gender. There was no linkage disequilibrium between these two SNPs and SNPs within CXCL12 gene. However, CAD risk alleles at rs1746048 (C allele, P= 0.034; CC 2.33 ± 0.49, CT 2.27 ± 0.46, and TT 2.21 ± 0.52 ng/mL) and rs501120 (T allele, P= 0.041; TT 2.34 ± 0.49, CT 2.28 ± 0.46, and CC 2.23 ± 0.53 ng/mL) were associated with higher plasma levels of CXCL12 in age and gender adjusted models. In Stage 2, we confirmed this association (rs501120, T allele, P= 0.007), and meta-analysis strengthened this finding (n= 2939, P= 6.0 × 10−4). Finally, in exploratory analysis, the rs1746048 risk allele tended to have higher transcript levels of CXCL12 in human natural killer cells and the liver.
Coronary artery disease risk alleles downstream of CXCL12 are associated with plasma protein levels of CXCL12 and appear to be related to CXCL12 transcript levels in two human cell lines. This implicates CXCL12 as potentially causal and supports CXCL12 as a potential therapeutic target for CAD.
PMCID: PMC3076669  PMID: 21415067
Myocardial infarction; Cardiovascular genomics; Chemokines; CXCL12; Inflammation
19.  Identification of ADAMTS7 as a novel locus for coronary atherosclerosis and association of ABO with myocardial infarction in the presence of coronary atherosclerosis: two genome-wide association studies 
Lancet  2011;377(9763):383-392.
We tested whether genetic factors distinctly contribute to either development of coronary atherosclerosis or, specifically, to myocardial infarction in existing coronary atherosclerosis.
We did two genome-wide association studies (GWAS) with coronary angiographic phenotyping in participants of European ancestry. To identify loci that predispose to angiographic coronary artery disease (CAD), we compared individuals who had this disorder (n=12 393) with those who did not (controls, n=7383). To identify loci that predispose to myocardial infarction, we compared patients who had angiographic CAD and myocardial infarction (n=5783) with those who had angiographic CAD but no myocardial infarction (n=3644).
In the comparison of patients with angiographic CAD versus controls, we identified a novel locus, ADAMTS7 (p=4·98×10−13). In the comparison of patients with angiographic CAD who had myocardial infarction versus those with angiographic CAD but no myocardial infarction, we identified a novel association at the ABO locus (p=7·62×10−9). The ABO association was attributable to the glycotransferase-deficient enzyme that encodes the ABO blood group O phenotype previously proposed to protect against myocardial infarction.
Our findings indicate that specific genetic predispositions promote the development of coronary atherosclerosis whereas others lead to myocardial infarction in the presence of coronary atherosclerosis. The relation to specific CAD phenotypes might modify how novel loci are applied in personalised risk assessment and used in the development of novel therapies for CAD.
The PennCath and MedStar studies were supported by the Cardiovascular Institute of the University of Pennsylvania, by the MedStar Health Research Institute at Washington Hospital Center and by a research grant from GlaxoSmithKline. The funding and support for the other cohorts contributing to the paper are described in the webappendix.
PMCID: PMC3297116  PMID: 21239051
20.  Association of the vitamin D metabolism gene CYP24A1 with coronary artery calcification 
The Vitamin D endocrine system is essential for calcium homeostasis, and low levels of vitamin D metabolites have been associated with cardiovascular disease risk. We hypothesized that DNA sequence variation in genes regulating vitamin D metabolism and signaling pathways might influence variation in coronary artery calcification (CAC).
Methods and Results
We genotyped single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in GC, CYP27B1, CYP24A1, and VDR and tested their association with CAC quantity, as measured by electron beam computed tomography. Initial association studies were carried out in a discovery sample comprised of 697 Amish subjects and SNPs nominally associated with CAC quantity (4 SNPs in CYP24A1, P = 0.008-0.00003) were then tested for association with CAC quantity in two independent cohorts of subjects of European Caucasian ancestry (Genetic Epidemiology Network of Arteriopathy (GENOA) Study (n = 916) and The Penn Coronary Artery Calcification (PennCAC) sample (n = 2,061)). One of the four SNPs, rs2762939, was associated with CAC quantity in both GENOA (P = 0.007) and PennCAC (P = 0.01). In all three populations the rs2762939 C allele was associated with lower CAC quantity. Meta-analysis for the association of this SNP with CAC quantity across all three studies yielded a P value of 2.9 × 10-6.
A common SNP in the CYP24A1 gene was associated with CAC quantity in three independent populations. This result suggests a role for vitamin D metabolism in the development of CAC quantity.
PMCID: PMC2988112  PMID: 20847308

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