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1.  Diagnostic Performance of Magnetic Resonance Elastography in Staging Liver Fibrosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Individual Participant Data 
Background & Aims
Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is a non-invasive tool for staging liver fibrosis. We conducted a meta-analysis of individual participant data collected from published studies to assess the diagnostic accuracy of MRE and for staging liver fibrosis in patients with chronic liver diseases (CLD).
Methods
Through a systematic literature search of multiple databases (2003–2013), we identified studies on diagnostic performance of MRE for staging liver fibrosis in patients with CLD with native anatomy, using liver biopsy as the standard. We contacted study authors to collect data on each participant’s age, sex, body mass index (BMI), liver stiffness (measured by MRE), fibrosis stage, staging system used, degree of inflammation, etiology of CLD, and interval between MRE and biopsy. Through pooled analysis, we calculated the cluster-adjusted area under receiver-operating curve (AUROC), sensitivity, and specificity of MRE for any fibrosis (≥stage 1), significant fibrosis (≥stage 2), advanced fibrosis (≥stage 3), and cirrhosis (stage 4)
Results
We analyzed data from 12 retrospective studies, comprising 697 patients (mean age, 55±13 years; 59.4% male; mean BMI, 26.9±6.7 kg/m2; 92.1% with <1 year interval between MRE and biopsy; hepatitis C in 47.1%). Participants had fibrosis stages 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 (19.5%, 19.4%, 15.5%, 15.9% and 29.7%, respectively). Mean AUROC values (and 95% confidence intervals) for diagnosis of any (≥stage 1), significant (≥stage 2), or advanced fibrosis (≥stage 3), and cirrhosis, were 0.84 (0.76–0.92), 0.88 (0.84–0.91), 0.93 (0.90–0.95), and 0.92 (0.90–0.94), respectively. Similar diagnostic performance was observed in stratified analysis based on sex, obesity, and etiology of CLD. The overall rate of failure of MRE was 4.3%.
Conclusion
Based on pooled analysis of data from individual participants, MRE has high accuracy for diagnosis of significant or advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis, independent of BMI and etiology of CLD. Prospective studies are warranted to better understand the diagnostic performance of MRE.
doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2014.09.046
PMCID: PMC4333001  PMID: 25305349
IPD; non-invasive; elastography; diagnostic performance; pooled analysis
2.  IREB2 and GALC Are Associated with Pulmonary Artery Enlargement in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Pulmonary hypertension is associated with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), although pulmonary vascular changes occur early in the course of the disease. Pulmonary artery (PA) enlargement (PAE) measured by computed tomography correlates with pulmonary hypertension and COPD exacerbation frequency. Genome-wide association studies of PAE in subjects with COPD have not been reported. To investigate whether genetic variants are associated with PAE within subjects with COPD, we investigated data from current and former smokers from the COPDGene Study and the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints study. The ratio of the diameter of the PA to the diameter of the aorta (A) was measured using computed tomography. PAE was defined as PA/A greater than 1. A genome-wide association study for COPD with PAE was performed using subjects with COPD without PAE (PA/A ≤ 1) as a control group. A secondary analysis used smokers with normal spirometry as a control group. Genotyping was performed on Illumina platforms. The results were summarized using fixed-effect meta-analysis. Both meta-analyses revealed a genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 15q25.1 in IREB2 (COPD with versus without PAE, rs7181486; odds ratio [OR] = 1.32; P = 2.10 × 10−8; versus smoking control subjects, rs2009746; OR = 1.42; P = 1.32 × 10−9). PAE was also associated with a region on 14q31.3 near the GALC gene (rs7140285; OR = 1.55; P = 3.75 × 10−8). Genetic variants near IREB2 and GALC likely contribute to genetic susceptibility to PAE associated with COPD. This study provides evidence for genetic heterogeneity associated with a clinically important COPD vascular subtype.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2014-0210OC
PMCID: PMC4370263  PMID: 25101718
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genome-wide association; pulmonary hypertension; subtyping
3.  General review of magnetic resonance elastography 
World Journal of Radiology  2016;8(1):59-72.
Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is an innovative imaging technique for the non-invasive quantification of the biomechanical properties of soft tissues via the direct visualization of propagating shear waves in vivo using a modified phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequence. Fundamentally, MRE employs the same physical property that physicians utilize when performing manual palpation - that healthy and diseased tissues can be differentiated on the basis of widely differing mechanical stiffness. By performing “virtual palpation”, MRE is able to provide information that is beyond the capabilities of conventional morphologic imaging modalities. In an era of increasing adoption of multi-parametric imaging approaches for solving complex problems, MRE can be seamlessly incorporated into a standard MRI examination to provide a rapid, reliable and comprehensive imaging evaluation at a single patient appointment. Originally described by the Mayo Clinic in 1995, the technique represents the most accurate non-invasive method for the detection and staging of liver fibrosis and is currently performed in more than 100 centers worldwide. In this general review, the mechanical properties of soft tissues, principles of MRE, clinical applications of MRE in the liver and beyond, and limitations and future directions of this discipline -are discussed. Selected diagrams and images are provided for illustration.
doi:10.4329/wjr.v8.i1.59
PMCID: PMC4731349  PMID: 26834944
Magnetic resonance elastography; Elasticity imaging techniques; Liver disease; Fibrosis; Emerging applications
4.  A genome-wide association study identifies risk loci for spirometric measures among smokers of European and African ancestry 
BMC Genetics  2015;16:138.
Background
Pulmonary function decline is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality among smokers. Post bronchodilator FEV1 and FEV1/FVC ratio are considered the standard assessment of airflow obstruction. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 9919 current and former smokers in the COPDGene study (6659 non-Hispanic Whites [NHW] and 3260 African Americans [AA]) to identify associations with spirometric measures (post-bronchodilator FEV1 and FEV1/FVC). We also conducted meta-analysis of FEV1 and FEV1/FVC GWAS in the COPDGene, ECLIPSE, and GenKOLS cohorts (total n = 13,532).
Results
Among NHW in the COPDGene cohort, both measures of pulmonary function were significantly associated with SNPs at the 15q25 locus [containing CHRNA3/5, AGPHD1, IREB2, CHRNB4] (lowest p-value = 2.17 × 10−11), and FEV1/FVC was associated with a genomic region on chromosome 4 [upstream of HHIP] (lowest p-value = 5.94 × 10−10); both regions have been previously associated with COPD. For the meta-analysis, in addition to confirming associations to the regions near CHRNA3/5 and HHIP, genome-wide significant associations were identified for FEV1 on chromosome 1 [TGFB2] (p-value = 8.99 × 10−9), 9 [DBH] (p-value = 9.69 × 10−9) and 19 [CYP2A6/7] (p-value = 3.49 × 10−8) and for FEV1/FVC on chromosome 1 [TGFB2] (p-value = 8.99 × 10−9), 4 [FAM13A] (p-value = 3.88 × 10−12), 11 [MMP3/12] (p-value = 3.29 × 10−10) and 14 [RIN3] (p-value = 5.64 × 10−9).
Conclusions
In a large genome-wide association study of lung function in smokers, we found genome-wide significant associations at several previously described loci with lung function or COPD. We additionally identified a novel genome-wide significant locus with FEV1 on chromosome 9 [DBH] in a meta-analysis of three study populations.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12863-015-0299-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12863-015-0299-4
PMCID: PMC4668640  PMID: 26634245
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; DBH; FEV1; FEV1/FVC; Genome-wide association study; Spirometry
5.  Renal impairment in cirrhosis unrelated to hepatorenal syndrome 
Regardless of etiology, the development of renal impairment in patients with cirrhosis generally leads to poor outcomes. Although hepatorenal syndrome represents the most serious complication of cirrhosis and is associated with a prognosis of weeks to months, this review focuses on other prerenal, intrinsic and postrenal causes of impairment, and acute kidney injury. The article also presents a simplified diagnostic algorithm for clinical workup for renal impairment in patients with cirrhosis.
Renal impairment is common in liver disease and may occur as a consequence of the pathophysiological changes that underpin cirrhosis or secondary to a pre-existing unrelated insult. Nevertheless, the onset of renal impairment often portends a worsening prognosis. Hepatorenal syndrome remains one of the most recognized and reported causes of renal impairment in cirrhosis. However, other causes of renal impairment occur and can be classified into prerenal, intrinsic or postrenal, which are the subjects of the present review.
PMCID: PMC4467485  PMID: 25874649
Acute kidney injury; Cirrhosis; Intrinsic renal impairment; Postrenal impairment; Prerenal impairment
6.  Common Genetic Variants Associated with Resting Oxygenation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Hypoxemia is a major complication of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that correlates with disease prognosis. Identifying genetic variants associated with oxygenation may provide clues for deciphering the heterogeneity in prognosis among patients with COPD. However, previous genetic studies have been restricted to investigating COPD candidate genes for association with hypoxemia. To report results from the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of resting oxygen saturation (as measured by pulse oximetry [Spo2]) in subjects with COPD, we performed a GWAS of Spo2 in two large, well characterized COPD populations: COPDGene, including both the non-Hispanic white (NHW) and African American (AA) groups, and Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE). We identified several suggestive loci (P < 1 × 10−5) associated with Spo2 in COPDGene in the NHW (n = 2810) and ECLIPSE (n = 1758) groups, and two loci on chromosomes 14 and 15 in the AA group (n = 820) from COPDGene achieving a level of genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8). The chromosome 14 single-nucleotide polymorphism, rs6576132, located in an intergenic region, was nominally replicated (P < 0.05) in the NHW group from COPDGene. The chromosome 15 single-nucleotide polymorphisms were rare in subjects of European ancestry, so the results could not be replicated. The chromosome 15 region contains several genes, including TICRR and KIF7, and is proximal to RHCG (Rh family C glyocoprotein gene). We have identified two loci associated with resting oxygen saturation in AA subjects with COPD, and several suggestive regions in subjects of European descent with COPD. Our study highlights the importance of investigating the genetics of complex traits in different racial groups.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2014-0135OC
PMCID: PMC4224086  PMID: 24825563
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; hypoxemia; pulse oximetry; genome-wide association study; oxygen saturation
7.  An integrative approach combining ion mobility mass spectrometry, X-ray crystallography, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study the conformational dynamics of α1-antitrypsin upon ligand binding 
Native mass spectrometry (MS) methods permit the study of multiple protein species within solution equilibria, whereas ion mobility (IM)-MS can report on conformational behavior of specific states. We used IM-MS to study a conformationally labile protein (α1-antitrypsin) that undergoes pathological polymerization in the context of point mutations. The folded, native state of the Z-variant remains highly polymerogenic in physiological conditions despite only minor thermodynamic destabilization relative to the wild-type variant. Various data implicate kinetic instability (conformational lability within a native state ensemble) as the basis of Z α1-antitrypsin polymerogenicity. We show the ability of IM-MS to track such disease-relevant conformational behavior in detail by studying the effects of peptide binding on α1-antitrypsin conformation and dynamics. IM-MS is, therefore, an ideal platform for the screening of compounds that result in therapeutically beneficial kinetic stabilization of native α1-antitrypsin. Our findings are confirmed with high-resolution X-ray crystallographic and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic studies of the same event, which together dissect structural changes from dynamic effects caused by peptide binding at a residue-specific level. IM-MS methods, therefore, have great potential for further study of biologically relevant thermodynamic and kinetic instability of proteins and provide rapid and multidimensional characterization of ligand interactions of therapeutic interest.
PDB Code(s): 4PYW
doi:10.1002/pro.2706
PMCID: PMC4534181  PMID: 26011795
ion mobility mass spectrometry; protein dynamics; drug discovery; α1-antitrypsin; protein unfolding; mass spectrometry/methods; nuclear magnetic resonance; biomolecular; X-ray crystallography
9.  An antibody raised against a pathogenic serpin variant induces mutant-like behaviour in the wild-type protein 
Biochemical Journal  2015;468(Pt 1):99-108.
A monoclonal antibody (mAb) that binds to a transient intermediate may act as a catalyst for the corresponding reaction; here we show this principle can extend on a macro molecular scale to the induction of mutant-like oligomerization in a wild-type protein. Using the common pathogenic E342K (Z) variant of α1-antitrypsin as antigen–whose native state is susceptible to the formation of a proto-oligomeric intermediate–we have produced a mAb (5E3) that increases the rate of oligomerization of the wild-type (M) variant. Employing ELISA, gel shift, thermal stability and FRET time-course experiments, we show that mAb5E3 does not bind to the native state of α1-antitrypsin, but recognizes a cryptic epitope in the vicinity of the post-helix A loop and strand 4C that is revealed upon transition to the polymerization intermediate, and which persists in the ensuing oligomer. This epitope is not shared by loop-inserted monomeric conformations. We show the increased amenity to polymerization by either the pathogenic E342K mutation or the binding of mAb5E3 occurs without affecting the energetic barrier to polymerization. As mAb5E3 also does not alter the relative stability of the monomer to intermediate, it acts in a manner similar to the E342K mutant, by facilitating the conformational interchange between these two states.
We show that a monoclonal antibody can act as a ‘molecular template’ in aberrant protein oligomerization, and the transient intermediate of α1-antitrypsin, a key to the molecular mechanism of disease pathogenesis, expresses a cryptic epitope also present in the oligomer.
doi:10.1042/BJ20141569
PMCID: PMC4422257  PMID: 25738741
aggregation; antibody; α1-antitrypsin; polymerization; protein stability; AF488, Alexa Fluor 488 dye; AF594, Alexa Fluor 594 dye; AT, α1-antitrypsin; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; H/D exchange, hydrogen/deuterium exchange; HRP, horseradish peroxidase; mAb, monoclonal antibody; PBS, phosphate-buffered saline
10.  Emergence of a Stage-Dependent Human Liver Disease Signature with Directed Differentiation of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin-Deficient iPS Cells 
Stem Cell Reports  2015;4(5):873-885.
Summary
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) provide an inexhaustible source of cells for modeling disease and testing drugs. Here we develop a bioinformatic approach to detect differences between the genomic programs of iPSCs derived from diseased versus normal human cohorts as they emerge during in vitro directed differentiation. Using iPSCs generated from a cohort carrying mutations (PiZZ) in the gene responsible for alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency, we find that the global transcriptomes of PiZZ iPSCs diverge from normal controls upon differentiation to hepatic cells. Expression of 135 genes distinguishes PiZZ iPSC-hepatic cells, providing potential clues to liver disease pathogenesis. The disease-specific cells display intracellular accumulation of mutant AAT protein, resulting in increased autophagic flux. Furthermore, we detect beneficial responses to the drug carbamazepine, which further augments autophagic flux, but adverse responses to known hepatotoxic drugs. Our findings support the utility of iPSCs as tools for drug development or prediction of toxicity.
Graphical Abstract
Highlights
•Patient iPSC-hepatic cells model disease features that normalize with gene editing•Disease-specific transcriptomic signature emerges only upon hepatic differentiation•Patient iPSC-hepatic cells are used to test response to drugs or toxicity in vitro
In this report, Kotton and colleagues examine the global transcriptomic and epigenomic programs of iPSCs derived from diseased (AAT-deficient PiZZ) or normal human cohorts during directed differentiation. The PiZZ transcriptome diverges from controls upon reaching hepatic stage, when AAT is first expressed, providing potential clues to liver disease pathogenesis. PiZZ iPSC-hepatic cells model key liver disease features and demonstrate both therapeutic drug responsiveness and sensitivity to toxic agents.
doi:10.1016/j.stemcr.2015.02.021
PMCID: PMC4437473  PMID: 25843048
11.  Myxomaviral Anti-Inflammatory Serpin Reduces Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells and Human Pancreatic Cancer Cell Growth in Mice 
Modification of the tumor microenvironment by inflammatory cells represents a newly recognized driving force in cancer with critical roles in tumor invasion, growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis. Increased thrombolytic cascade serine proteases, specifically urokinase-type plasminogen activator and its receptor, correlate with inflammatory cell migration, pancreatic cancer growth, invasion and unfavorable outcomes. Inflammation in pancreatic cancer is linked with myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) activity and cancer progression. Myxomavirus is a complex DNA virus encoding highly potent immune modulators. Serp-1 and M-T7 are two such secreted anti-inflammatory myxomaviral proteins. Serp-1 inhibits uPA, plasmin and coagulation factor X while M-T7 inhibits C, CC, and CXC chemokines. We have explored the potential use of these viral proteins for treatment of a range of human cancer isolates engrafted in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice. Engrafted tumors were treated with either Serp-1, neuroserpin, a related mammalian serpin that inhibits thrombolytic proteases, or M-T7. Serp-1 and neuroserpin inhibited growth of the pancreatic cancer cell line Hs766t (P=0.03 and P=0.01, respectively) at 4 weeks after implantation. Serp-1 also inhibited growth of a second pancreatic cancer cell line MIA PaCa-2 in mice (P=0.02). Growth of the human breast cancer line MDA231 was not inhibited by Serp-1. M-T7, in contrast, did not alter growth of any of the cancer cell lines tested after implant into SCID mice. Serpin inhibition of pancreatic tumor growth was associated with a significant decrease in splenocyte MDSC counts by flow cytometry (P=0.009), without detected change in other splenocyte subpopulations. Serp-1 and NSP treatment also significantly reduced macrophage infiltration in tumors (P=0.001). In summary two anti-inflammatory serpins reduced inflammatory macrophage invasion and pancreatic tumor cell growth, suggesting potential therapeutic efficacy.
doi:10.4172/1948-5956.1000219
PMCID: PMC4367486  PMID: 25798214
Serpin; Serp-1; Pancreatic cancer; Myeloid-derived suppressor cell; Tumor-associated macrophage
12.  A single-chain variable fragment intrabody prevents intracellular polymerization of Z α1-antitrypsin while allowing its antiproteinase activity 
The FASEB Journal  2015;29(6):2667-2678.
Mutant Z α1-antitrypsin (E342K) accumulates as polymers within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of hepatocytes predisposing to liver disease, whereas low levels of circulating Z α1-antitrypsin lead to emphysema by loss of inhibition of neutrophil elastase. The ideal therapy should prevent polymer formation while preserving inhibitory activity. Here we used mAb technology to identify interactors with Z α1-antitrypsin that comply with both requirements. We report the generation of an mAb (4B12) that blocked α1-antitrypsin polymerization in vitro at a 1:1 molar ratio, causing a small increase of the stoichiometry of inhibition for neutrophil elastase. A single-chain variable fragment (scFv) intrabody was generated based on the sequence of mAb4B12. The expression of scFv4B12 within the ER (scFv4B12KDEL) and along the secretory pathway (scFv4B12) reduced the intracellular polymerization of Z α1-antitrypsin by 60%. The scFv4B12 intrabody also increased the secretion of Z α1-antitrypsin that retained inhibitory activity against neutrophil elastase. MAb4B12 recognized a discontinuous epitope probably located in the region of helices A/C/G/H/I and seems to act by altering protein dynamics rather than binding preferentially to the native state. This novel approach could reveal new target sites for small-molecule intervention that may block the transition to aberrant polymers without compromising the inhibitory activity of Z α1-antitrypsin.—Ordóñez, A., Pérez, J., Tan, L., Dickens, J. A., Motamedi-Shad, N., Irving, J. A., Haq, I., Ekeowa, U., Marciniak, S. J., Miranda, E., Lomas, D. A. A single-chain variable fragment intrabody prevents intracellular polymerization of Z α1-antitrypsin while allowing its antiproteinase activity.
doi:10.1096/fj.14-267351
PMCID: PMC4548814  PMID: 25757566
monoclonal antibody; scFv intrabody; serpin polymer; liver disease
13.  Quantitative Computed Tomography Measures of Pectoralis Muscle Area and Disease Severity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. A Cross-Sectional Study 
Rationale: Muscle wasting in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with a poor prognosis and is not readily assessed by measures of body mass index (BMI). BMI does not discriminate between relative proportions of adipose tissue and lean muscle and may be insensitive to early pathologic changes in body composition. Computed tomography (CT)–based assessments of the pectoralis muscles may provide insight into the clinical significance of skeletal muscles in smokers.
Objectives: We hypothesized that objective assessment of the pectoralis muscle area on chest CT scans provides information that is clinically relevant and independent of BMI.
Methods: Data from the ECLIPSE (Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints) Study (n = 73) were used to assess the relationship between pectoralis muscle area and fat-free mass. We then used data in a subset (n = 966) of a larger cohort, the COPDGene (COPD Genetic Epidemiology) Study, to explore the relationship between pectoralis muscle area and COPD-related traits.
Measurements and Main Results: We first investigated the correlation between pectoralis muscle area and fat-free mass, using data from a subset of participants in the ECLIPSE Study. We then further investigated pectoralis muscle area in COPDGene Study participants and found that higher pectoralis muscle area values were associated with greater height, male sex, and younger age. On subsequent clinical correlation, compared with BMI, pectoralis muscle area was more significantly associated with COPD-related traits, including spirometric measures, dyspnea, and 6-minute-walk distance (6MWD). For example, on average, each 10-cm2 increase in pectoralis muscle area was associated with a 0.8-unit decrease in the BODE (Body mass index, Obstruction, Dyspnea, Exercise) index (95% confidence interval, –1.0 to –0.6; P < 0.001). Furthermore, statistically significant associations between pectoralis muscle area and COPD-related traits remained even after adjustment for BMI.
Conclusions: CT-derived pectoralis muscle area provides relevant indices of COPD morbidity that may be more predictive of important COPD-related traits than BMI. However, the relationship with clinically relevant outcomes such as hospitalization and death requires additional investigation. Pectoralis muscle area is a convenient measure that can be collected in the clinical setting in addition to BMI.
doi:10.1513/AnnalsATS.201307-229OC
PMCID: PMC4028743  PMID: 24558953
COPD; wasting; pectoral muscle area; imaging
14.  Risk loci for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis 
The Lancet. Respiratory medicine  2014;2(3):214-225.
Background
The genetic risk factors for susceptibility to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are still largely unknown. Additional genetic variants are likely to be identified by genome-wide association studies in larger cohorts or specific subgroups.
Methods
Genome-wide association analysis in COPDGene (non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans) was combined with existing data from the ECLIPSE, NETT/NAS, and GenKOLS (Norway) studies. Analyses were performed both using all moderate-to-severe cases and the subset of severe cases. Top loci not previously described as genome-wide significant were genotyped in the ICGN study, and results combined in a joint meta-analysis.
Findings
Analysis of a total of 6,633 moderate-to-severe cases and 5,704 controls confirmed association at three known loci: CHRNA3/CHRNA5/IREB2, FAM13A, and HHIP (10−12 < P < 10−14), and also showed significant evidence of association at a novel locus near RIN3 (overall P, including ICGN = 5•4×10−9). In the severe COPD analysis (n=3,497), the effects at two of three previously described loci were significantly stronger; we also identified two additional loci previously reported to affect gene expression of MMP12 and TGFB2 (overall P = 2•6x10−9 and 8•3×10−9). RIN3 and TGFB2 expression levels were reduced in a set of Lung Tissue Research Consortium COPD lung tissue samples compared with controls.
Interpretation
In a genome-wide study of COPD, we confirmed associations at three known loci and found additional genome-wide significant associations with moderate-to-severe COPD near RIN3 and with severe COPD near MMP12 and TGFB2. Genetic variants, apart from alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, increase the risk of COPD. Our analysis of severe COPD suggests additional genetic variants may be identified by focusing on this subgroup.
Funding
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the COPD Foundation through contributions from AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, and Sepracor; GlaxoSmithKline; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; US Department of Veterans Affairs.
doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(14)70002-5
PMCID: PMC4176924  PMID: 24621683
15.  Plasma Fibrinogen as a Biomarker for Mortality and Hospitalized Exacerbations in People with COPD 
Background
In 2010 the COPD Foundation established the COPD Biomarkers Qualification Consortium (CBQC) as a partnership between the Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the pharmaceutical industry to pool publicly-funded and industry data to develop innovative tools to facilitate the development and approval of new therapies for COPD. We present data from the initial project seeking regulatory qualification of fibrinogen as a biomarker for the stratification of COPD patients into clinical trials.
Methods
This analysis pooled data from 4 publicly-funded studies and 1 industry study into a common database resulting in 6376 individuals with spirometric evidence of COPD. We used a threshold of 350 mg/dL to determine high vs. low fibrinogen, and determined the subsequent risk of hospitalizations from exacerbations and death using Cox proportional hazards models.
Results
High fibrinogen levels at baseline were present in 2853 (44.7%) of individuals with COPD. High fibrinogen was associated with an increased risk of hospitalized COPD exacerbations within 12 months (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.64; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.39–1.93) among participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC), the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), and the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE) study. High fibrinogen was associated with an increased risk of death within 36 months (HR: 1.94; 95% CI: 1.62–2.31) among all participants.
Conclusions
Fibrinogen levels ≥ 350 mg/dL identify COPD individuals at an increased risk of exacerbations and death and could be a useful biomarker for enriching clinical trials in the COPD population.
doi:10.15326/jcopdf.2.1.2014.0138
PMCID: PMC4326107  PMID: 25685850
fibrinogen; COPD; biomarker
16.  The use of error-category mapping in pharmacokinetic model analysis of dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI data 
Magnetic Resonance Imaging  2015;33(2):246-251.
This study introduces the use of ‘error-category mapping’ in the interpretation of pharmacokinetic (PK) model parameter results derived from dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE-) MRI data.
Eleven patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma were enrolled in a multiparametric study of the treatment effects of bevacizumab. For the purposes of the present analysis, DCE-MRI data from two identical pre-treatment examinations were analysed by application of the extended Tofts model (eTM), using in turn a model arterial input function (AIF), an individually-measured AIF and a sample-average AIF. PK model parameter maps were calculated. Errors in the signal-to-gadolinium concentration ([Gd]) conversion process and the model-fitting process itself were assigned to category codes on a voxel-by-voxel basis, thereby forming a colour-coded ‘error-category map’ for each imaged slice.
These maps were found to be repeatable between patient visits and showed that the eTM converged adequately in the majority of voxels in all the tumours studied. However, the maps also clearly indicated sub-regions of low Gd uptake and of non-convergence of the model in nearly all tumours. The non-physical condition ve ≥ 1 was the most frequently indicated error category and appeared sensitive to the form of AIF used.
This simple method for visualisation of errors in DCE-MRI could be used as a routine quality-control technique and also has the potential to reveal otherwise hidden patterns of failure in PK model applications.
doi:10.1016/j.mri.2014.10.010
PMCID: PMC4728188  PMID: 25460333
PK, pharmacokinetic; DCE-MRI, dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging; eTM, extended Tofts model; AIF, arterial input function; AIC, Akaike information criterion; mRCC, metastatic renal cell carcinoma; MFA, multiple flip angles; ROI, region of interest; DCE-MRI; pharamacokinetic modeling; error analysis; metastatic renal cell carcinoma; repeatability
17.  Characterising the association of latency with α1-antitrypsin polymerisation using a novel monoclonal antibody 
α1-Antitrypsin is primarily synthesised in the liver, circulates to the lung and protects pulmonary tissues from proteolytic damage. The Z mutant (Glu342Lys) undergoes inactivating conformational change and polymerises. Polymers are retained within the hepatocyte endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in homozygous (PiZZ) individuals, predisposing the individuals to hepatic cirrhosis and emphysema. Latency is an analogous process of inactivating, intra-molecular conformational change and may co-occur with polymerisation. However, the relationship between latency and polymerisation remained unexplored in the absence of a suitable probe. We have developed a novel monoclonal antibody specific for latent α1-antitrypsin and used it in combination with a polymer-specific antibody, to assess the association of both conformers in vitro, in disease and during augmentation therapy. In vitro kinetics analysis showed polymerisation dominated the pathway but latency could be promoted by stabilising monomeric α1-antitrypsin. Polymers were extensively produced in hepatocytes and a cell line expressing Z α1-antitrypsin but the latent protein was not detected despite manipulation of the secretory pathway. However, α1-antitrypsin augmentation therapy contains latent α1-antitrypsin, as did the plasma of 63/274 PiZZ individuals treated with augmentation therapy but 0/264 who were not receiving this medication (p < 10−14). We conclude that latent α1-antitrypsin is a by-product of the polymerisation pathway, that the intracellular folding environment is resistant to formation of the latent conformer but that augmentation therapy introduces latent α1-antitrypsin into the circulation. A suite of monoclonal antibodies and methodologies developed in this study can characterise α1-antitrypsin folding and conformational transitions, and screen methods to improve augmentation therapy.
doi:10.1016/j.biocel.2014.11.005
PMCID: PMC4305080  PMID: 25462157
α1-Antitrypsin; Latency; Polymerisation; Monoclonal antibodies; Augmentation therapy
18.  Interactive neonatal gastrointestinal magnetic resonance imaging using fruit juice as an oral contrast media 
BMC Medical Imaging  2014;14:33.
Background
The objective was to evaluate the use of fruit juice with an interactive inversion recovery (IR) MR pulse sequence to visualise the gastrointestinal tract.
Methods
We investigated the relaxation properties of 12 different natural fruit juices in vitro, to identify which could be used as oral contrast. We then describe our initial experience using an interactive MR pulse sequence to allow optimal visualisation after administering pineapple juice orally, and suppressing pre-existing bowel fluid contents, with variable TI in three adult and one child volunteer.
Results
Pineapple juice (PJ) had both the shortest T1 (243 ms) and shortest T2 (48 ms) of the fruit juices tested. Optimal signal differentiation between pre-existing bowel contents and oral PJ administration was obtained with TIs of between 900 and 1100 ms.
Conclusion
The use of an inversion recovery preparation allowed long T1 pre-existing bowel contents to be suppressed whilst the short T1 of fruit juice acts as a positive contrast medium. Pineapple juice could be used as oral contrast agent for neonatal gastrointestinal magnetic resonance imaging.
doi:10.1186/1471-2342-14-33
PMCID: PMC4186814  PMID: 25245815
Neonatal; MRI; Bowel; Fruit juice
19.  Genetic susceptibility for chronic bronchitis in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):113.
Background
Chronic bronchitis (CB) is one of the classic phenotypes of COPD. The aims of our study were to investigate genetic variants associated with COPD subjects with CB relative to smokers with normal spirometry, and to assess for genetic differences between subjects with CB and without CB within the COPD population.
Methods
We analyzed data from current and former smokers from three cohorts: the COPDGene Study; GenKOLS (Bergen, Norway); and the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE). CB was defined as having a cough productive of phlegm on most days for at least 3 consecutive months per year for at least 2 consecutive years. CB COPD cases were defined as having both CB and at least moderate COPD based on spirometry. Our primary analysis used smokers with normal spirometry as controls; secondary analysis was performed using COPD subjects without CB as controls. Genotyping was performed on Illumina platforms; results were summarized using fixed-effect meta-analysis.
Results
For CB COPD relative to smoking controls, we identified a new genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 11p15.5 (rs34391416, OR = 1.93, P = 4.99 × 10-8) as well as significant associations of known COPD SNPs within FAM13A. In addition, a GWAS of CB relative to those without CB within COPD subjects showed suggestive evidence for association on 1q23.3 (rs114931935, OR = 1.88, P = 4.99 × 10-7).
Conclusions
We found genome-wide significant associations with CB COPD on 4q22.1 (FAM13A) and 11p15.5 (EFCAB4A, CHID1 and AP2A2), and a locus associated with CB within COPD subjects on 1q23.3 (RPL31P11 and ATF6). This study provides further evidence that genetic variants may contribute to phenotypic heterogeneity of COPD.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00608764, NCT00292552
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-014-0113-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12931-014-0113-2
PMCID: PMC4190389  PMID: 25241909
Pulmonary disease; Chronic obstructive; Chronic bronchitis; Genome-wide association study
20.  The role of bronchial epithelial cells in the pathogenesis of COPD in Z-alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):112.
Background
Alpha-1 antitrypsin is the main inhibitor of neutrophil elastase in the lung. Although it is principally synthesized by hepatocytes, alpha-1 antitrypsin is also secreted by bronchial epithelial cells. Gene mutations can lead to alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, with the Z variant being the most clinically relevant due to its propensity to polymerize. The ability of bronchial epithelial cells to produce Z-variant protein and its polymers is unknown.
We investigated the expression, accumulation, and secretion of Z-alpha-1 antitrypsin and its polymers in cultures of transfected cells and in cells originating from alpha-1 antitrypsin-deficient patients.
Methods
Experiments using a conformation-specific antibody were carried out on M- and Z-variant–transfected 16HBE cells and on bronchial biopsies and ex vivo bronchial epithelial cells from Z and M homozygous patients. In addition, the effect of an inflammatory stimulus on Z-variant polymer formation, elicited by Oncostatin M, was investigated. Comparisons of groups were performed using t-test or ANOVA. Non-normally distributed data were assessed by Mann–Whitney U test or the Kruskal-Wallis test, where appropriate. A P value of < 0.05 was considered to be significant.
Results
Alpha-1 antitrypsin polymers were found at a higher concentration in the culture medium of ex vivo bronchial epithelial cells from Z-variant homozygotes, compared with M-variant homozygotes (P < 0.01), and detected in the bronchial epithelial cells and submucosa of patient biopsies. Oncostatin M significantly increased the expression of alpha-1 antitrypsin mRNA and protein (P < 0.05), and the presence of Z-variant polymers in ex vivo cells (P < 0.01).
Conclusions
Polymers of Z-alpha-1 antitrypsin form in bronchial epithelial cells, suggesting that these cells may be involved in the pathogenesis of lung emphysema and in bronchial epithelial cell dysfunction.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-014-0112-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12931-014-0112-3
PMCID: PMC4177581  PMID: 25218041
Z-AAT polymers; Bronchial epithelial cells; Pathogenesis of COPD; Bronchial epithelial cell dysfunction
21.  DNAH5 is associated with total lung capacity in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):97.
Background
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by expiratory flow limitation, causing air trapping and lung hyperinflation. Hyperinflation leads to reduced exercise tolerance and poor quality of life in COPD patients. Total lung capacity (TLC) is an indicator of hyperinflation particularly in subjects with moderate-to-severe airflow obstruction. The aim of our study was to identify genetic variants associated with TLC in COPD.
Methods
We performed genome-wide association studies (GWASs) in white subjects from three cohorts: the COPDGene Study; the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE); and GenKOLS (Bergen, Norway). All subjects were current or ex-smokers with at least moderate airflow obstruction, defined by a ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 second to forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC) <0.7 and FEV1 < 80% predicted on post-bronchodilator spirometry. TLC was calculated by using volumetric computed tomography scans at full inspiration (TLCCT). Genotyping in each cohort was completed, with statistical imputation of additional markers. To find genetic variants associated with TLCCT, linear regression models were used, with adjustment for age, sex, pack-years of smoking, height, and principal components for genetic ancestry. Results were summarized using fixed-effect meta-analysis.
Results
Analysis of a total of 4,543 COPD subjects identified one genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 5p15.2 (rs114929486, β = 0.42L, P = 4.66 × 10−8).
Conclusions
In COPD, TLCCT was associated with a SNP in dynein, axonemal, heavy chain 5 (DNAH5), a gene in which genetic variants can cause primary ciliary dyskinesia. DNAH5 could have an effect on hyperinflation in COPD.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-014-0097-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12931-014-0097-y
PMCID: PMC4169636  PMID: 25134640
Pulmonary disease; Chronic obstructive; Hyperinflation; Genome-wide association analysis; Total lung capacity; DNAH5
22.  The TRiC/CCT Chaperone Is Implicated in Alzheimer's Disease Based on Patient GWAS and an RNAi Screen in Aβ-Expressing Caenorhabditis elegans 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102985.
The human Aβ peptide causes progressive paralysis when expressed in the muscles of the nematode worm, C. elegans. We have exploited this model of Aβ toxicity by carrying out an RNAi screen to identify genes whose reduced expression modifies the severity of this locomotor phenotype. Our initial finding was that none of the human orthologues of these worm genes is identical with the genome-wide significant GWAS genes reported to date (the “white zone”); moreover there was no identity between worm screen hits and the longer list of GWAS genes which included those with borderline levels of significance (the “grey zone”). This indicates that Aβ toxicity should not be considered as equivalent to sporadic AD. To increase the sensitivity of our analysis, we then considered the physical interactors (+1 interactome) of the products of the genes in both the worm and the white+grey zone lists. When we consider these worm and GWAS gene lists we find that 4 of the 60 worm genes have a +1 interactome overlap that is larger than expected by chance. Two of these genes form a chaperonin complex, the third is closely associated with this complex and the fourth gene codes for actin, the major substrate of the same chaperonin.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102985
PMCID: PMC4117641  PMID: 25080104
23.  On the Follow-Up of Genome-Wide Association Studies: An Overall Test for the Most Promising S.N.P.’s 
Genetic epidemiology  2011;35(5):303-309.
Even in large-scale genome-wide association studies, only a fraction of the true associations are detected at the genome-wide significance level. When few or no associations reach the significance threshold, one strategy is to follow-up on the most promising candidates, i.e. the single nucleotide polymorphisms with the smallest association-test p-values, by genotyping them in additional studies. In this communication, we propose an overall test for genome-wide association studies that analyzes the SNP’s with the most promising p-values simultaneously and thereby allows an early assessment of whether the follow- up of the selected SNP’s is likely promising. We theoretically derive the properties of the proposed overall test under the null hypothesis and assess its power based on simulation studies. An application to a GWAS for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease suggests that there are true association signals among the top SNPs and that an additional follow-up study is promising.
doi:10.1002/gepi.20578
PMCID: PMC4096304  PMID: 21374717
genome wide association studies; snps association tests; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; statistical genetics; multiple testing
24.  Gene expression analysis uncovers novel Hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP) effects in human bronchial epithelial cells 
Genomics  2013;101(5):263-272.
Hedgehog Interacting Protein (HHIP) was implicated in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by genome-wide association studies (GWAS). However, it remains unclear how HHIP contributes to COPD pathogenesis. To identify genes regulated by HHIP, we performed gene expression microarray analysis in a human bronchial epithelial cell line (Beas-2B) stably infected with HHIP shRNAs. HHIP silencing led to differential expression of 296 genes; enrichment for variants nominally associated with COPD was found. Eighteen of the differentially expressed genes were validated by real-time PCR in Beas-2B cells. Seven of 11 validated genes tested in human COPD and control lung tissues demonstrated significant gene expression differences. Functional annotation indicated enrichment for extracellular matrix and cell growth genes. Network modeling demonstrated that the extracellular matrix and cell proliferation genes influenced by HHIP tended to be interconnected. Thus, we identified potential HHIP targets in human bronchial epithelial cells that may contribute to COPD pathogenesis.
doi:10.1016/j.ygeno.2013.02.010
PMCID: PMC3659826  PMID: 23459001
Hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP); Gene expression profiling; COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); extracellular matrix (ECM); network modeling
25.  Altered native stability is the dominant basis for susceptibility of α1-antitrypsin mutants to polymerization 
Biochemical Journal  2014;460(Pt 1):103-115.
Serpins are protease inhibitors whose most stable state is achieved upon transition of a central 5-stranded β-sheet to a 6-stranded form. Mutations, low pH, denaturants and elevated temperatures promote this transition, which can result in a growing polymer chain of inactive molecules. Different types of polymer are possible, but, experimentally only heat has been shown to generate polymers in vitro consistent with ex vivo pathological specimens. Many mutations that alter the rate of heat-induced polymerization have been described, but interpretation is problematic because discrimination is lacking between the effect of global changes in native stability and specific effects on structural mechanism. We show that the temperature midpoint (Tm) of thermal denaturation reflects the transition of α1-antitrypsin to the polymerization intermediate, and determine the relationship with fixed-temperature polymerization half-times (t0.5) in the presence of stabilizing additives [TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide), sucrose and sodium sulfate], point mutations and disulfide bonds. Combined with a retrospective analysis of 31 mutants characterized in the literature, the results of the present study show that global changes to native state stability are the predominant basis for the effects of mutations and osmolytes on heat-induced polymerization, summarized by the equation: ln(t0.5,mutant/t0.5,wild-type)=0.34×ΔTm. It is deviations from this relationship that hold key information about the polymerization process.
Mutations in α1-antitrypsin increase or decrease its tendency to form pathogenic ordered polymer chains. The present study shows that these effects are primarily exerted through changes in native state stability, and seldom through direct effects on the polymerization mechanism.
doi:10.1042/BJ20131650
PMCID: PMC4080824  PMID: 24552432
cirrhosis; denaturation; disulfide; polymerization; serpin; stability; bis-ANS, 4,4′-dianilino-1,1′-binaphthyl-5,5′-disulfonic acid; HRP, horseradish peroxide; Ni-NTA, Ni2+-nitrilotriacetic acid; RCL, reactive centre loop; TMAO, trimethylamine N-oxide

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