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1.  Gene-centric association signals for haemostasis and thrombosis traits identified with the HumanCVD BeadChip 
Thrombosis and haemostasis  2013;110(5):995-1003.
Coagulation phenotypes show strong intercorrelations, affect cardiovascular disease risk and are influenced by genetic variants. The objective of this study was to search for novel genetic variants influencing the following coagulation phenotypes: factor VII levels, fibrinogen levels, plasma viscosity and platelet count.
Methods and Results
We genotyped the British Women’s Heart and Health Study (n=3445) and the Whitehall II study (n=5059) using the Illumina HumanCVD BeadArray to investigate genetic associations and pleiotropy. In addition to previously reported associations (SH2B3, F7/F10, PROCR, GCKR, FGA/FGB/FGG, IL5), we identified novel associations at GRK5 (rs10128498, p=1.30×10−6), GCKR (rs1260326, p=1.63×10−6), ZNF259-APOA5 (rs651821, p=7.17×10−6) with plasma viscosity; and at CSF1 (rs333948, p=8.88×10−6) with platelet count. A pleiotropic effect was identified in GCKR which associated with factor VII (p=2.16×10−7) and plasma viscosity (p=1.63×10−6), and, to a lesser extent, ZNF259-APOA5 which associated with factor VII and fibrinogen (p<1.00×10−2) and additionally plasma viscosity (p<1.00×10−5). Triglyceride associated variants were overrepresented in Factor VII and plasma viscosity associations. Adjusting for triglyceride levels resulted in attenuation of associations at the GCKR and ZNF259-APOA5 loci.
In addition to confirming previously reported associations, we identified four SNPs associated with plasma viscosity and platelet count and found evidence of pleiotropic effects with SNPs in GCKR and ZNF259-APOA5. These triglyceride-associated, pleiotropic SNPs suggest a possible causal role for triglycerides in coagulation.
PMCID: PMC4067543  PMID: 24178511
Haemostasis; Thrombosis; HumanCVD; Clotting Factors; Genetic Association
2.  Metabolically healthy obesity: What is the role of sedentary behaviour?☆ 
Preventive Medicine  2014;62(100):35-37.
The role of sedentary behaviour in metabolically healthy obesity is unknown. We examined cross-sectional differences in television viewing time across metabolic and obesity phenotypes, hypothesizing that healthy obese individuals spend less time viewing television than their unhealthy counterparts.
A nationally representative sample of 4931 older adults in England (mean age 65.1; SD = 8.9 years) was drawn from the 2008/9 wave of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Average weekly television viewing time was derived from two questions about weekday and weekend viewing. Obesity was defined as body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2, and metabolically healthy as having < 2 metabolic abnormalities (low HDL-cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, hyperglycaemia, high inflammation).
After adjusting for covariates including chronic illness, functional limitations and physical activity, mean weekly viewing times were 4.7 (95% confidence interval 2.9, 6.5), 5.8 (2.5, 9.0) and 7.8 (5.7, 9.8) h higher in unhealthy non-obese, healthy obese, and unhealthy obese groups respectively, compared to the healthy non-obese group (p for heterogeneity < 0.001).
A common type of leisure-time sedentary behaviour varies across metabolic and obesity phenotypes. However, healthy obesity is not explained through differences in leisure-time sedentary behaviour.
PMCID: PMC3995089  PMID: 24513171
Sedentary behaviour; Television viewing; Obesity; Metabolic health
3.  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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3972487  PMID: 21592478
Lipoprotein(a); LPA; Illumina Human CVD bead chip; genetic association
4.  Influence of common genetic variation on blood lipid levels, cardiovascular risk, and coronary events in two British prospective cohort studies 
European Heart Journal  2012;34(13):972-981.
The aim of this study was to quantify the collective effect of common lipid-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on blood lipid levels, cardiovascular risk, use of lipid-lowering medication, and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events.
Methods and results
Analysis was performed in two prospective cohorts: Whitehall II (WHII; N = 5059) and the British Women’s Heart and Health Study (BWHHS; N = 3414). For each participant, scores were calculated based on the cumulative effect of multiple genetic variants influencing total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and triglycerides (TG). Compared with the bottom quintile, individuals in the top quintile of the LDL-C genetic score distribution had higher LDL-C {mean difference of 0.85 [95% confidence interval, (CI) = 0.76–0.94] and 0.63 [95% CI = 0.50–0.76] mmol/l in WHII and BWHHS, respectively}. They also tended to have greater odds of having ‘high-risk’ status (Framingham 10-year cardiovascular disease risk >20%) [WHII: odds ratio (OR) = 1.36 (0.93–1.98), BWHHS: OR = 1.49 (1.14–1.94)]; receiving lipid-lowering treatment [WHII: OR = 2.38 (1.57–3.59), BWHHS: OR = 2.24 (1.52–3.29)]; and CHD events [WHII: OR = 1.43 (1.02–2.00), BWHHS: OR = 1.31 (0.99–1.72)]. Similar associations were observed for the TC score in both studies. The TG score was associated with high-risk status and medication use in both studies. Neither HDL nor TG scores were associated with the risk of coronary events. The genetic scores did not improve discrimination over the Framingham risk score.
At the population level, common SNPs associated with LDL-C and TC contribute to blood lipid variation, cardiovascular risk, use of lipid-lowering medications and coronary events. However, their effects are too small to discriminate future lipid-lowering medication requirements or coronary events.
PMCID: PMC3612774  PMID: 22977227
Lipid genetic score; Lipid medication; Framingham
5.  Apolipoprotein E genotype, cardiovascular biomarkers and risk of stroke: Systematic review and meta-analysis of 14 015 stroke cases and pooled analysis of primary biomarker data from up to 60 883 individuals 
Background At the APOE gene, encoding apolipoprotein E, genotypes of the ε2/ε3/ε4 alleles associated with higher LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) levels are also associated with higher coronary risk. However, the association of APOE genotype with other cardiovascular biomarkers and risk of ischaemic stroke is less clear. We evaluated the association of APOE genotype with risk of ischaemic stroke and assessed whether the observed effect was consistent with the effects of APOE genotype on LDL-C or other lipids and biomarkers of cardiovascular risk.
Methods We conducted a systematic review of published and unpublished studies reporting on APOE genotype and ischaemic stroke. We pooled 41 studies (with a total of 9027 cases and 61 730 controls) using a Bayesian meta-analysis to calculate the odds ratios (ORs) for ischaemic stroke with APOE genotype. To better evaluate potential mechanisms for any observed effect, we also conducted a pooled analysis of primary data using 16 studies (up to 60 883 individuals) of European ancestry. We evaluated the association of APOE genotype with lipids, other circulating biomarkers of cardiovascular risk and carotid intima-media thickness (C-IMT).
Results The ORs for association of APOE genotypes with ischaemic stroke were: 1.09 (95% credible intervals (CrI): 0.84–1.43) for ε2/ε2; 0.85 (95% CrI: 0.78–0.92) for ε2/ε3; 1.05 (95% CrI: 0.89–1.24) for ε2/ε4; 1.05 (95% CrI: 0.99–1.12) for ε3/ε4; and 1.12 (95% CrI: 0.94–1.33) for ε4/ε4 using the ε3/ε3 genotype as the reference group. A regression analysis that investigated the effect of LDL-C (using APOE as the instrument) on ischaemic stroke showed a positive dose-response association with an OR of 1.33 (95% CrI: 1.17, 1.52) per 1 mmol/l increase in LDL-C. In the separate pooled analysis, APOE genotype was linearly and positively associated with levels of LDL-C (P-trend: 2 × 10−152), apolipoprotein B (P-trend: 8.7 × 10−06) and C-IMT (P-trend: 0.001), and negatively and linearly associated with apolipoprotein E (P-trend: 6 × 10−26) and HDL-C (P-trend: 1.6 × 10−12). Associations with lipoprotein(a), C-reactive protein and triglycerides were non-linear.
Conclusions In people of European ancestry, APOE genotype showed a positive dose-response association with LDL-C, C-IMT and ischaemic stroke. However, the association of APOE ε2/ε2 genotype with ischaemic stroke requires further investigation. This cross-domain concordance supports a causal role of LDL-C on ischaemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC3619955  PMID: 23569189
Stroke; lipids; apolipoprotein E; cardiovascular disease; systematic review; meta-analysis; biomarkers
6.  A non-exercise testing method for estimating cardiorespiratory fitness: associations with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in a pooled analysis of eight population-based cohorts 
European Heart Journal  2012;34(10):750-758.
Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is a key predictor of chronic disease, particularly cardiovascular disease (CVD), but its assessment usually requires exercise testing which is impractical and costly in most health-care settings. Non-exercise testing cardiorespiratory fitness (NET-F)-estimating methods are a less resource-demanding alternative, but their predictive capacity for CVD and total mortality has yet to be tested. The objective of this study is to examine the association of a validated NET-F algorithm with all-cause and CVD mortality.
Methods and results
The participants were 32 319 adults (14 650 men) aged 35–70 years who took part in eight Health Survey for England and Scottish Health Survey studies between 1994 and 2003. Non-exercise testing cardiorespiratory fitness (a metabolic equivalent of VO2max) was calculated using age, sex, body mass index (BMI), resting heart rate, and self-reported physical activity. We followed participants for mortality until 2008. Two thousand one hundred and sixty-five participants died (460 cardiovascular deaths) during a mean 9.0 [standard deviation (SD) = 3.6] year follow-up. After adjusting for potential confounders including diabetes, hypertension, smoking, social class, alcohol, and depression, a higher fitness score according to the NET-F was associated with a lower risk of mortality from all-causes (hazard ratio per SD increase in NET-F 0.85, 95% confidence interval: 0.78–0.93 in men; 0.88, 0.80–0.98 in women) and CVD (men: 0.75, 0.63–0.90; women: 0.73, 0.60–0.92). Non-exercise testing cardiorespiratory fitness had a better discriminative ability than any of its components (CVD mortality c-statistic: NET-F = 0.70–0.74; BMI = 0.45–0.59; physical activity = 0.60–0.64; resting heart rate = 0.57–0.61). The sensitivity of the NET-F algorithm to predict events occurring in the highest risk quintile was better for CVD (0.49 in both sexes) than all-cause mortality (0.44 and 0.40 for men and women, respectively). The specificity for all-cause and CVD mortality ranged between 0.80 and 0.82. The net reclassification improvement of CVD mortality risk (vs. a standardized aggregate score of the modifiable components of NET-F) was 27.2 and 21.0% for men and women, respectively.
The CRF-estimating method NET-F that does not involve exercise testing showed consistent associations with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, and it had good discrimination and excellent risk reclassification improvement. As such, it merits further attention as a practical and potentially and useful risk prediction tool.
PMCID: PMC3590456  PMID: 22555215
Epidemiology; Non-exercise testing; Cardiorespiratory fitness; Cardiovascular disease; Physical activity; Health Survey for England
7.  Genetics of cortisol secretion and depressive symptoms: A candidate gene and genome wide association approach 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2011;36(7):1053-1061.
Depressive patients often have altered cortisol secretion, but few studies have investigated genetic variants in relation to both cortisol secretion and depression. To identify genes related to both these conditions, we (1) tested the association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis (HPA-axis) candidate genes with a summary measure of total cortisol secretion during the day (cortisolAUC) (2) performed a genome wide association study (GWAS) of cortisolAUC; and (3) tested the association of identified cortisol-related SNPs with depressive symptoms.
We analyzed data on candidate SNPs for the HPA-axis, genome-wide scans, cortisol secretion (n=1711) and depressive symptoms (the Centre for Epidemiology Studies Depression Scale, CES-D) (n=2928) in elderly persons of the Rotterdam Study. We used data from the Whitehall II study (n=2836) to replicate the GWAS findings.
Of the 1456 SNPs in 33 candidate genes, minor alleles of 4 SNPs (rs9470080, rs9394309, rs7748266 and rs1360780) in the FKBP5 gene were associated with a decreased cortisolAUC (p<1 × 10(−4) after correction for multiple testing using permutations). These SNPs were also associated with an increased risk of depressive symptoms (rs9470080: OR 1.19 (95%CI 1.0; 1.4). The GWAS for cortisol yielded 2 SNPs with p-values of 1×10(−06) (rs8062512, rs2252459), but these associations could not be replicated.
These results suggest that variation in the FKBP5 gene is associated with both cortisolAUC and the likelihood of depressive symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3940151  PMID: 21316860
salivary cortisol; candidate gene; GWAS; FKBP5; depressive symptoms
8.  Trajectories of the Framingham general cardiovascular risk profile in midlife and poor motor function later in life: The Whitehall II study☆☆☆ 
Vascular risk factors are associated with increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, but their association with motor function, another key feature of aging, has received little research attention. We examined the association between trajectories of the Framingham general cardiovascular disease risk score (FRS) over midlife and motor function later in life.
A total of 5376 participants of the Whitehall II cohort study (29% women) who had up to four repeat measures of FRS between 1991–1993 (mean age = 48.6 years) and 2007–2009 (mean age = 65.4 years) and without history of stroke or coronary heart disease in 2007–2009 were included. Motor function was assessed in 2007–2009 through objective tests (walking speed, chair rises, balance, finger tapping, grip strength). We used age- and sex-adjusted linear mixed models.
Participants with poorer performances for walking speed, chair rises, and balance in 2007–2009 had higher FRS concurrently and also in 1991–1993, on average 16 years earlier. These associations were robust to adjustment for cognition, socio-economic status, height, and BMI, and not explained by incident mobility limitation prior to motor assessment. No association was found with finger tapping and grip strength.
Cardiovascular risk early in midlife is associated with poor motor performances later in life. Vascular risk factors play an important and under-recognized role in motor function, independently of their impact on cognition, and suggest that better control of vascular risk factors in midlife may prevent physical impairment and disability in the elderly.
PMCID: PMC3991855  PMID: 24461963
CVD, cardiovascular disease; FRS, Framingham general cardiovascular disease risk score; SES, socioeconomic status; BMI, body mass index; SD, standard deviation; Cardiovascular risk score; Motor function; Aging; Stroke; Cohort study
9.  Low Conscientiousness and Risk of All-Cause, Cardiovascular and Cancer Mortality over 17 Years: Whitehall II Cohort Study 
To examine the personality trait conscientiousness as a risk factor for mortality and to identify candidate explanatory mechanisms.
Participants in the Whitehall II cohort study (N = 6800, aged 34 to 55 at recruitment in 1985) completed two self-reported items measuring conscientiousness in 1991–1993 (‘I am overly conscientious’ and ‘I am overly perfectionistic’, Cronbach's α = .72), the baseline for this study. Age, socio-economic status (SES), social support, health behaviours, physiological variables and minor psychiatric morbidity were also recorded at baseline. The vital status of participants was then monitored for a mean of 17 years. All-cause and cause-specific mortality was ascertained through linkage to a national mortality register until January 2010.
Each 1 standard deviation decrease in conscientiousness was associated with a 10% increase in all-cause (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.10, 95% CI 1.003, 1.20) mortality. Patterns were similar for cardiovascular (HR = 1.17, 95% CI 0.98, 1.39) and cancer mortality (HR = 1.10, 95% CI 0.96, 1.25), not reaching statistical significance. The association with all-cause mortality was attenuated by 5% after adjustment for SES, 13% for health behaviours, 14% for cardiovascular risk factors, 5% for minor psychiatric morbidity, 29% for all variables. Repeating analyses with each item separately and excluding participants who died within five years of personality assessment did not change the results materially.
Low conscientiousness in midlife is a risk factor for all-cause mortality. This association is only partly explained by health behaviours, SES, cardiovascular disease risk factors and minor psychiatric morbidity in midlife.
PMCID: PMC3936113  PMID: 22789411
cohort study; conscientiousness; mortality; perfectionism; personality traits; socio-economic status
10.  Association Between Questionnaire- and Accelerometer-Assessed Physical Activity: The Role of Sociodemographic Factors 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2014;179(6):781-790.
The correlation between objective and self-reported measures of physical activity varies between studies. We examined this association and whether it differed by demographic factors or socioeconomic status (SES). Data were from 3,975 Whitehall II (United Kingdom, 2012–2013) participants aged 60–83 years, who completed a physical activity questionnaire and wore an accelerometer on their wrist for 9 days. There was a moderate correlation between questionnaire- and accelerometer-assessed physical activity (Spearman's r = 0.33, 95% confidence interval: 0.30, 0.36). The correlations were higher in high-SES groups than in low-SES groups (P 's = 0.02), as defined by education (r = 0.38 vs. r = 0.30) or occupational position (r = 0.37 vs. r = 0.29), but did not differ by age, sex, or marital status. Of the self-reported physical activity, 68.3% came from mild activities, 25% from moderate activities, and only 6.7% from vigorous activities, but their correlations with accelerometer-assessed total physical activity were comparable (range of r 's, 0.21–0.25). Self-reported physical activity from more energetic activities was more strongly associated with accelerometer data (for sports, r = 0.22; for gardening, r = 0.16; for housework, r = 0.09). High-SES persons reported more energetic activities, producing stronger accelerometer associations in these groups. Future studies should identify the aspects of physical activity that are most critical for health; this involves better understanding of the instruments being used.
PMCID: PMC3939851  PMID: 24500862
accelerometry; cohort studies; elderly; epidemiologic methods; physical activity; questionnaires
11.  Alcohol consumption and cognitive decline in early old age 
Neurology  2014;82(4):332-339.
To examine the association between alcohol consumption in midlife and subsequent cognitive decline.
Data are from 5,054 men and 2,099 women from the Whitehall II cohort study with a mean age of 56 years (range 44–69 years) at first cognitive assessment. Alcohol consumption was assessed 3 times in the 10 years preceding the first cognitive assessment (1997–1999). Cognitive tests were repeated in 2002–2004 and 2007–2009. The cognitive test battery included 4 tests assessing memory and executive function; a global cognitive score summarized performances across these tests. Linear mixed models were used to assess the association between alcohol consumption and cognitive decline, expressed as z scores (mean = 0, SD = 1).
In men, there were no differences in cognitive decline among alcohol abstainers, quitters, and light or moderate alcohol drinkers (<20 g/d). However, alcohol consumption ≥36 g/d was associated with faster decline in all cognitive domains compared with consumption between 0.1 and 19.9 g/d: mean difference (95% confidence interval) in 10-year decline in the global cognitive score = −0.10 (−0.16, −0.04), executive function = −0.06 (−0.12, 0.00), and memory = −0.16 (−0.26, −0.05). In women, compared with those drinking 0.1 to 9.9 g/d of alcohol, 10-year abstainers showed faster decline in the global cognitive score (−0.21 [−0.37, −0.04]) and executive function (−0.17 [−0.32, −0.01]).
Excessive alcohol consumption in men (≥36 g/d) was associated with faster cognitive decline compared with light to moderate alcohol consumption.
PMCID: PMC3929201  PMID: 24431298
12.  Physical activity and inflammatory markers over 10 years follow up in men and women from the Whitehall II cohort study 
Circulation  2012;126(8):928-933.
Inflammatory processes are putative mechanisms underlying the cardio-protective effects of physical activity. An inverse association between physical activity and inflammation has been demonstrated but no long-term prospective data are available. We therefore examined the association between physical activity and inflammatory markers over a 10-year follow-up period.
Methods and Results
Participants were 4289 men and women (mean age 49.2 years) from the Whitehall II cohort study. Self-reported physical activity and inflammatory markers (serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein [CRP] and interleukin-6 [IL-6]) were measured at baseline (1991) and follow-up (2002). Forty-nine percent of the participants adhered to standard physical activity recommendations for cardiovascular health (2.5 hours per week moderate to vigorous physical activity) across all assessments. Physically active participants at baseline had lower CRP and IL6 levels and this difference remained stable over time. In comparison to participants that rarely adhered to physical activity guidelines over the 10 years follow-up, the high adherence group displayed lower logeCRP (β=−0.07, 95% CI, −0.12, −0.02) and logeIL-6 (β=−0.07, 95% CI, −0.10, −0.03) at follow up after adjustment for a range of covariates. Compared to participants that remained stable, those that reported an increase in physical activity of at least 2.5 hours/wk displayed lower loge CRP (B coefficient =−0.05, 95% CI, −0.10, −0.001) and loge IL-6 (B coefficient =−0.06, 95% CI, −0.09, −0.03) at follow up.
Regular physical activity is associated with lower markers of inflammation over 10 years of follow-up and thus may be important in preventing the pro-inflammatory state seen with ageing.
PMCID: PMC3890998  PMID: 22891048
Ageing; C-reactive protein; exercise; physical activity; inflammation
13.  Work Characteristics and Personal Social Support as Determinants of Subjective Well-Being 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81115.
Well-being is an important health outcome and a potential national indicator of policy success. There is a need for longitudinal epidemiological surveys to understand determinants of well-being. This study examines the role of personal social support and psychosocial work environment as predictors of well-being in an occupational cohort study.
Social support and work characteristics were measured by questionnaire in 5182 United Kingdom civil servants from phase 1 of the Whitehall II study and were used to predict subjective well-being assessed using the Affect Balance Scale (range -15 to 15, SD = 4.2) at phase 2. External assessments of job control and demands were provided by personnel managers.
Higher levels of well-being were predicted by high levels of confiding/emotional support (difference in mean from the reference group with low levels of confiding/emotional support  =  0.63, 95%CI 0.38–0.89, ptrend<0.001), high control at work (0.57, 95%CI 0.31–0.83, ptrend<0.001; reference low control) and low levels of job strain (0.60, 95%CI 0.31–0.88; reference high job strain), after adjusting for a range of confounding factors and affect balance score at baseline. Higher externally assessed work pace was also associated with greater well-being.
Our results suggest that the psychosocial work environment and personal relationships have independent effects on subjective well-being. Policies designed to increase national well-being should take account of the quality of working conditions and factors that facilitate positive personal relationships. Policies designed to improve workplaces should focus not only on minimising negative aspects of work but also on increasing the positive aspects of work.
PMCID: PMC3834222  PMID: 24260545
14.  Influence of maternal and paternal IQ on offspring health and health behaviours: evidence for some trans-generational effects using the 1958 British birth cohort study 
Individuals scoring poorly on tests of intelligence (IQ) have been reported as having increased risk of morbidity, premature mortality, and risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, poor diet, alcohol and cigarette consumption. Very little is known about the impact of parental IQ on the health and health behaviours of their offspring.
We explored associations of maternal and paternal IQ scores with offspring television viewing, injuries, hospitalisations, long standing illness, height and BMI at ages 4 to 18 using data from the National Child Development Study (1958 birth cohort).
Data were available for 1,446 mother-offspring and 822 father-offspring pairs. After adjusting for potential confounding/mediating factors, the children of higher IQ parents were less likely to watch TV (odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for watching 3+ vs. <3 hours per week associated with a standard deviation increase in maternal or paternal IQ: 0.75 (0.64, 0.88) or 0.78 (0.64, 0.95) respectively) and less likely to have one or more injuries requiring hospitalisation (0.77 (0.66, 0.90) or 0.72 (0.56, 0.91) respectively for maternal or paternal IQ).
Children whose parents have low IQ scores may have poorer selected health and health behaviours. Health education might usefully be targeted at these families.
PMCID: PMC3696866  PMID: 22541368
Intelligence; Life course; Birth cohort; Trans-generational
15.  Population Genomics of Cardiometabolic Traits: Design of the University College London-London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine-Edinburgh-Bristol (UCLEB) Consortium 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71345.
Substantial advances have been made in identifying common genetic variants influencing cardiometabolic traits and disease outcomes through genome wide association studies. Nevertheless, gaps in knowledge remain and new questions have arisen regarding the population relevance, mechanisms, and applications for healthcare. Using a new high-resolution custom single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array (Metabochip) incorporating dense coverage of genomic regions linked to cardiometabolic disease, the University College-London School-Edinburgh-Bristol (UCLEB) consortium of highly-phenotyped population-based prospective studies, aims to: (1) fine map functionally relevant SNPs; (2) precisely estimate individual absolute and population attributable risks based on individual SNPs and their combination; (3) investigate mechanisms leading to altered risk factor profiles and CVD events; and (4) use Mendelian randomisation to undertake studies of the causal role in CVD of a range of cardiovascular biomarkers to inform public health policy and help develop new preventative therapies.
PMCID: PMC3748096  PMID: 23977022
16.  Vascular Risk Status as a Predictor of Later-life Depressive Symptoms: A Cohort Study 
Biological psychiatry  2012;72(4):324-330.
Common etiology of vascular diseases and later-life depression may provide important synergies for prevention. We examined whether standard clinical risk profiles developed for vascular diseases also predict depressive symptoms in older adults.
Data were drawn from the Whitehall II cohort study with baseline examination in 1991/93, follow-up screenings in 1997/99, 2003/04 and 2008/09, and additional disease ascertainment from hospital data and registry linkage, on 5318 participants (mean age 54.8 years, 31% women) without depressive symptoms at baseline. Vascular risk was assessed with the Framingham Cardiovascular, Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke Risk Scores. New depressive symptoms at each follow-up screening were identified by General Health Questionnaire caseness, a Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) score ≥ 16, and use of antidepressant medication.
Diagnosed vascular disease (that is, coronary heart disease or stroke) was associated with an increased risk for depressive symptoms, age- and sex-adjusted odds ratios from 1.5 (95% confidence interval 1.0–2.2) to 2.0 (1.4–3.0) depending on the indicator of depressive symptoms. Among participants without manifest vascular disease at baseline, the Stroke Risk Score was associated with CES-D depressive symptoms before age 65 [age- and sex-adjusted odds ratio per 10% absolute change in the score =3.1 (1.5–6.5)], but none of the risk scores predicted new-onset depressive symptoms in those aged ≥ 65 (odds ratios from 0.8 to 1.2).
These data suggest that public health measures to improve vascular risk status will influence the incidence of later-life depressive symptoms via reduced rates of manifest vascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3539141  PMID: 22425413
Depressive symptoms; vascular depression; late-onset depression; cardiovascular risk factors; risk prediction; aging
17.  Evaluation of common genetic variants identified by GWAS for early onset and morbid obesity in population-based samples 
Meta-analysis of case-control genome wide association studies (GWAS) for early onset and morbid obesity identified four variants in/near the PRL, PTER, MAF and NPC1 genes.
We aimed to validate association of these variants with obesity-related traits in population-based samples.
Genotypes and anthropometric traits were available in up to 31 083 adults from the Fenland, EPIC-Norfolk, Whitehall II, Ely and Hertfordshire studies and in 2 042 children and adolescents from the European Youth Heart Study. In each study, we tested associations of rs4712652 (near-PRL), rs10508503 (near-PTER), rs1424233 (near-MAF) and rs1805081 (NPC1), or proxy variants (r2>0.8), with the odds of being overweight and obese, as well as with BMI, percentage body fat (%BF) and waist circumference (WC). Associations were adjusted for sex, age and age2 in adults and for sex, age, age-group, country and maturity in children and adolescents. Summary statistics were combined using fixed effects meta-analysis methods.
We had 80% power to detect ORs of 1.046 to 1.092 for overweight and 1.067 to 1.136 for obesity. Variants near PRL, PTER and MAF were not associated with the odds of being overweight or obese, or with BMI, %BF or WC after meta-analysis (P > 0.15). The NPC1 variant rs1805081 showed some evidence of association with %BF (beta=0.013 SD/allele, P =0.040), but not with any of the remaining obesity-related traits (P >0.3).
Overall, these variants, which were identified in a GWAS for early onset and morbid obesity, do not seem to influence obesity-related traits in the general population.
PMCID: PMC3680864  PMID: 22430306
Obesity-susceptibility loci; genome-wide association; morbid; early-onset; anthropometric traits; children and adolescents; population-based
18.  Associations between a Polymorphism in the Pleiotropic GCKR and Age-Related Phenotypes: The HALCyon Programme 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70045.
The glucokinase regulatory protein encoded by GCKR plays an important role in glucose metabolism and a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1260326 (P446L) in the gene has been associated with several age-related biomarkers, including triglycerides, glucose, insulin and apolipoproteins. However, associations between SNPs in the gene and other ageing phenotypes such as cognitive and physical capability have not been reported.
As part of the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) collaborative research programme, men and women from five UK cohorts aged between 44 and 90+ years were genotyped for rs1260326. Meta-analysis was used to pool within-study genotypic associations between the SNP and several age-related phenotypes, including body mass index (BMI), blood lipid levels, lung function, and cognitive and physical capability.
We confirm the associations between the minor allele of the SNP and higher triglycerides and lower glucose levels. We also observed a triglyceride-independent association between the minor allele and lower BMI (pooled beta on z-score = −0.04, p-value = 0.0001, n = 16,251). Furthermore, there was some evidence for gene-environment interactions, including physical activity attenuating the effects on triglycerides. However, no associations were observed with measures of cognitive and physical capability.
Findings from middle-aged to older adults confirm associations between rs1260326 GCKR and triglycerides and glucose, suggest possible gene-environment interactions, but do not provide evidence that its relevance extends to cognitive and physical capability.
PMCID: PMC3720952  PMID: 23894584
19.  Measures of frailty in population-based studies: an overview 
BMC Geriatrics  2013;13:64.
Although research productivity in the field of frailty has risen exponentially in recent years, there remains a lack of consensus regarding the measurement of this syndrome. This overview offers three services: first, we provide a comprehensive catalogue of current frailty measures; second, we evaluate their reliability and validity; third, we report on their popularity of use.
In order to identify relevant publications, we searched MEDLINE (from its inception in 1948 to May 2011); scrutinized the reference sections of the retrieved articles; and consulted our own files. An indicator of the frequency of use of each frailty instrument was based on the number of times it had been utilized by investigators other than the originators.
Of the initially retrieved 2,166 papers, 27 original articles described separate frailty scales. The number (range: 1 to 38) and type of items (range of domains: physical functioning, disability, disease, sensory impairment, cognition, nutrition, mood, and social support) included in the frailty instruments varied widely. Reliability and validity had been examined in only 26% (7/27) of the instruments. The predictive validity of these scales for mortality varied: for instance, hazard ratios/odds ratios (95% confidence interval) for mortality risk for frail relative to non-frail people ranged from 1.21 (0.78; 1.87) to 6.03 (3.00; 12.08) for the Phenotype of Frailty and 1.57 (1.41; 1.74) to 10.53 (7.06; 15.70) for the Frailty Index. Among the 150 papers which we found to have used at least one of the 27 frailty instruments, 69% (n = 104) reported on the Phenotype of Frailty, 12% (n = 18) on the Frailty Index, and 19% (n = 28) on one of the remaining 25 instruments.
Although there are numerous frailty scales currently in use, reliability and validity have rarely been examined. The most evaluated and frequently used measure is the Phenotype of Frailty.
PMCID: PMC3710231  PMID: 23786540
Frailty; Frail elderly; Measure; Overview; Reliability; Validity
20.  Impact of smoking on cognitive decline in early old age: the Whitehall II cohort study 
Archives of General Psychiatry  2012;69(6):627-635.
Smoking is a possible risk factor for dementia although its impact may have been underestimated in elderly populations due to the shorter lifespan of smokers.
To examine the association between smoking history and cognitive decline in the transition from midlife to old age.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Data are from 5099 men and 2137 women in the Whitehall II study, mean age 56 years (range=44–69 years) at the first cognitive assessment (1997–1999), repeated over 2002–2004 and 2007–2009.
Main Outcome Measures
The cognitive test battery was composed of tests of memory, vocabulary, executive function (composed of one reasoning and two fluency tests), and a global cognitive score summarising performance across all five tests. Smoking status was assessed over the entire study period. Linear mixed models were used to assess the association between smoking history and 10-year cognitive decline, expressed as z-scores.
In men, 10-year cognitive decline in all tests except vocabulary among never smokers ranged from a quarter to a third of the baseline standard deviation. Faster cognitive decline was observed among current smokers compared to never smokers in men [mean difference in 10-year decline in global cognition=−0.09 (95%CI:−0.15;−0.03) and executive function=−0.11 (−0.17;−0.05)]. Recent ex-smokers had greater decline in executive function (−0.08 (−0.14;−0.02)) while the decline in long-term ex-smokers was similar to that among never smokers. In analyses that additionally took drop-out and death into account, these differences were 1.2 to 1.5 times larger. In women, cognitive decline did not vary as a function of smoking status.
Compared to never smokers, middle-aged male smokers experienced faster cognitive decline in global cognition and executive function. In ex-smokers with at least 10-year cessation there were no adverse effects on cognitive decline.
PMCID: PMC3675806  PMID: 22309970
Adult; Aged; Cognition Disorders; etiology; physiopathology; Cohort Studies; Female; Great Britain; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Neuropsychological Tests; Smoking; adverse effects; Time Factors
21.  Bidirectional Association Between Depression and Metabolic Syndrome 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(5):1171-1180.
Epidemiological studies have repeatedly investigated the association between depression and metabolic syndrome (MetS). However, the results have been inconsistent. This meta-analysis aimed to summarize the current evidence from cross-sectional and prospective cohort studies that evaluated this association.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO databases were searched for articles published up to January 2012. Cross-sectional and cohort studies that reported an association between the two conditions in adults were included. Data on prevalence, incidence, unadjusted or adjusted odds ratio (OR), and 95% CI were extracted or provided by the authors. The pooled OR was calculated separately for cross-sectional and cohort studies using random-effects models. The I2 statistic was used to assess heterogeneity.
The search yielded 29 cross-sectional studies (n = 155,333): 27 studies reported unadjusted OR with a pooled estimate of 1.42 (95% CI 1.28–1.57; I2 = 55.1%); 11 studies reported adjusted OR with depression as the outcome (1.27 [1.07–1.57]; I2 = 60.9%), and 12 studies reported adjusted OR with MetS as the outcome (1.34 [1.18–1.51]; I2 = 0%). Eleven cohort studies were found (2 studies reported both directions): 9 studies (n = 26,936 with 2,316 new-onset depression case subjects) reported adjusted OR with depression as the outcome (1.49 [1.19–1.87]; I2 = 56.8%), 4 studies (n = 3,834 with 350 MetS case subjects) reported adjusted OR with MetS as the outcome (1.52 [1.20–1.91]; I2 = 0%).
Our results indicate a bidirectional association between depression and MetS. These results support early detection and management of depression among patients with MetS and vice versa.
PMCID: PMC3329841  PMID: 22517938
22.  Does Overall Diet in Midlife Predict Future Aging Phenotypes? A Cohort Study 
The American Journal of Medicine  2013;126(5):411-419.e3.
The impact of diet on specific age-related diseases has been studied extensively, but few investigations have adopted a more holistic approach to determine the association of diet with overall health at older ages. We examined whether diet, assessed in midlife, using dietary patterns and adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), is associated with aging phenotypes, identified after a mean 16-year follow-up.
Data were drawn from the Whitehall II cohort study of 5350 adults (age 51.3 ± 5.3 years, 29.4% women). Diet was assessed at baseline (1991-1993). Mortality, chronic diseases, and functioning were ascertained from hospital data, register linkage, and screenings every 5 years and were used to create 5 outcomes at follow-up: ideal aging (free of chronic conditions and high performance in physical, mental, and cognitive functioning tests; 4%), nonfatal cardiovascular event (7.3%), cardiovascular death (2.8%), noncardiovascular death (12.7%), and normal aging (73.2%).
Low adherence to the AHEI was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and noncardiovascular death. In addition, participants with a “Western-type” diet (characterized by high intakes of fried and sweet food, processed food and red meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products) had lower odds of ideal aging (odds ratio for top vs bottom tertile: 0.58; 95% confidence interval, 0.36-0.94; P = .02), independently of other health behaviors.
By considering healthy aging as a composite of cardiovascular, metabolic, musculoskeletal, respiratory, mental, and cognitive function, the present study offers a new perspective on the impact of diet on aging phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3743043  PMID: 23582933
Aging; Cognitive functioning; Dietary patterns; Diet quality indices; Mortality; Nutritional epidemiology; Overall diet; Physical functioning
23.  Bidirectional Association between Depression and Obesity in Middle-aged and Older Women 
Although it has been hypothesized that the depression-obesity relation is bidirectional, few studies have addressed this hypothesis in a prospective setting. We aimed to examine the bidirectional relationship in middle-aged and elderly women.
A total of 65,955 women aged 54–79 years in the Nurses’ Health Study were prospective followed from 1996 to 2006 with updated information on body weight, depression status and various covariates every two years. Depression was defined as self-report of physician-diagnosed depression and/or antidepressant use. Obesity was defined as a body mass index ≥30.0 kg/m2. The first three waves (1996–2000) were used as the baseline period, and the last three waves (2002–2006) were used as the follow-up period.
After adjusting for baseline age, physical activity, comorbidities, body mass index (BMI) and other covariates, depression at the baseline period was associated with an increased risk of obesity at the follow-up period in all women (multivariate-adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.38; 95% CI, 1.24–1.53) and baseline non-obese women (OR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.36–1.67). In the opposite direction, after adjusting for baseline age, physical activity, comorbidities, depression status and other covariates, obese women at baseline had a moderately increased risk of depression at the follow-up period compared with normal weight women (OR, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.03–1.18); and this association was similar for new onset of depression (OR for obese vs. normal weight women, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.02–1.20).
Our results suggest a bidirectional association between depression and obesity in middle-aged and elderly women. Future studies are needed to confirm our findings in different populations, and investigate the potential mechanisms underlying this association. Our results underscore the importance of early detection and proper behavioral modifications to lower the burden of both conditions.
PMCID: PMC3233636  PMID: 21654630
obesity; depression; prospective cohort study
24.  Genetic Variants Influencing Biomarkers of Nutrition Are Not Associated with Cognitive Capability in Middle-Aged and Older Adults123 
The Journal of Nutrition  2013;143(5):606-612.
Several investigations have observed positive associations between good nutritional status, as indicated by micronutrients, and cognitive measures; however, these associations may not be causal. Genetic polymorphisms that affect nutritional biomarkers may be useful for providing evidence for associations between micronutrients and cognitive measures. As part of the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) program, men and women aged between 44 and 90 y from 6 UK cohorts were genotyped for polymorphisms associated with circulating concentrations of iron [rs4820268 transmembrane protease, serine 6 (TMPRSS6) and rs1800562 hemochromatosis (HFE)], vitamin B-12 [(rs492602 fucosyltransferase 2 (FUT2)], vitamin D ([rs2282679 group-specific component (GC)] and β-carotene ([rs6564851 beta-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase 1 (BCMO1)]. Meta-analysis was used to pool within-study effects of the associations between these polymorphisms and the following measures of cognitive capability: word recall, phonemic fluency, semantic fluency, and search speed. Among the several statistical tests conducted, we found little evidence for associations. We found the minor allele of rs1800562 was associated with poorer word recall scores [pooled β on Z-score for carriers vs. noncarriers: −0.05 (95% CI: −0.09, −0.004); P = 0.03, n = 14,105] and poorer word recall scores for the vitamin D–raising allele of rs2282679 [pooled β per T allele: −0.03 (95% CI: −0.05, −0.003); P = 0.03, n = 16,527]. However, there was no evidence for other associations. Our findings provide little evidence to support associations between these genotypes and cognitive capability in older adults. Further investigations are required to elucidate whether the previous positive associations from observational studies between circulating measures of these micronutrients and cognitive performance are due to confounding and reverse causality.
PMCID: PMC3738233  PMID: 23468552
25.  Risk of future depression in people who are obese but metabolically healthy: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing 
Molecular psychiatry  2012;17(9):940-945.
There is some evidence to suggest that obesity is a risk factor for the development of depression, although this is not a universal finding. This discordance might be ascribed to the existence of a ‘healthy obese phenotype’– that is, obesity in the absence of the associated burden of cardio-metabolic risk factors. We examined whether the association of obesity with depressive symptoms is dependent on the individual’s metabolic health. Participants were 3851 men and women (aged 63.0 ± 8.9 yrs, 45.1% men) from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a prospective study of community dwelling older adults. Obesity was defined as body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2. Based on blood pressure, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, glycated haemoglobin, and C-reactive protein, participants were classified as ‘metabolically healthy’ (0 or 1 metabolic abnormality) or ‘unhealthy’ (≥ 2 metabolic abnormalities). Depressive symptoms were assessed at baseline and at 2 years follow up using the 8-item Centre of Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) scale. Obesity prevalence was 27.5%, but 34.3% of this group was categorized as metabolically healthy at baseline. Relative to non-obese healthy participants, after adjustment for baseline CES-D score and other covariates, the metabolically unhealthy obese participants had elevated risk of depressive symptoms at follow-up (odds ratio [OR] = 1.50, 95% CI, 1.05–2.15), although the metabolically healthy obese did not (OR = 1.38, 95% CI, 0.88–2.17). The association between obesity and risk of depressive symptoms appears to be partly dependent on metabolic health, although further work is required to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC3428506  PMID: 22525487

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