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1.  A genetic variant in the LDLR promoter is responsible for part of the LDL-cholesterol variability in primary hypercholesterolemia 
BMC Medical Genomics  2014;7:17.
GWAS have consistently revealed that LDLR locus variability influences LDL-cholesterol in general population. Severe LDLR mutations are responsible for familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). However, most primary hypercholesterolemias are polygenic diseases. Although Cis-regulatory regions might be the cause of LDL-cholesterol variability; an extensive analysis of the LDLR distal promoter has not yet been performed. We hypothesized that genetic variants in this region are responsible for the LDLR association with LDL-cholesterol found in GWAS.
Four-hundred seventy-seven unrelated subjects with polygenic hypercholesterolemia (PH) and without causative FH-mutations and 525 normolipemic subjects were selected. A 3103 pb from LDLR (-625 to +2468) was sequenced in 125 subjects with PH. All subjects were genotyped for 4 SNPs (rs17242346, rs17242739, rs17248720 and rs17249120) predicted to be potentially involved in transcription regulation by in silico analysis. EMSA and luciferase assays were carried out for the rs17248720 variant. Multivariable linear regression analysis using LDL-cholesterol levels as the dependent variable were done in order to find out the variables that were independently associated with LDL-cholesterol.
The sequencing of the 125 PH subjects did not show variants with minor allele frequency ≥ 10%. The T-allele from g.3131C > T (rs17248720) had frequencies of 9% (PH) and 16.4% (normolipemic), p < 0.00001. Studies of this variant with EMSA and luciferase assays showed a higher affinity for transcription factors and an increase of 2.5 times in LDLR transcriptional activity (T-allele vs C-allele). At multivariate analysis, this polymorphism with the lipoprotein(a) and age explained ≈ 10% of LDL-cholesterol variability.
Our results suggest that the T-allele at the g.3131 T > C SNP is associated with LDL-cholesterol levels, and explains part of the LDL-cholesterol variability. As a plausible cause, the T-allele produces an increase in LDLR transcriptional activity and lower LDL-cholesterol levels.
PMCID: PMC4021749  PMID: 24708769
LDL-cholesterol; Hypercholesterolemia; Variant; Gene regulation; Polygenic; LDLR
2.  Aragon workers’ health study – design and cohort description 
Spain, a Mediterranean country with relatively low rates of coronary heart disease, has a high prevalence of traditional cardiovascular risk factors and is experiencing a severe epidemic of overweight/obesity. We designed the Aragon Workers’ Health Study (AWHS) to characterize the factors associated with metabolic abnormalities and subclinical atherosclerosis in a middle aged population in Spain free of clinical cardiovascular disease. The objective of this paper is to describe the study design, aims and baseline characteristics of participants in the AWHS.
Longitudinal cohort study based on the annual health exams of 5,400 workers of a car assembly plant in Figueruelas (Zaragoza, Spain). Study participants were recruited during a standardized clinical exam in 2009–2010 (participation rate 95.6%). Study participants will undergo annual clinical exams and laboratory assays, and baseline and triennial collection of biological materials for biobanking and cardiovascular imaging exams (carotid, femoral and abdominal ultrasonography, coronary calcium score, and ankle-arm blood pressure index). Participants will be followed-up for 10 years.
The average (SD) age, body mass index, and waist circumference were 49.3 (8.7) years, 27.7 (3.6) kg/m2 and 97.2 (9.9) cm, respectively, among males (N = 5,048), and 40.8 (11.6) years, 24.4 (3.8) kg/m2, and 81.9 (9.9) cm, among females (N = 351). The prevalence of overweight, obesity, current smoking, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes were 55.0, 23.1, 37.1, 40.3, 75.0, and 7.4%, respectively, among males, and 23.7, 8.3, 45.0, 12.1, 59.5, and 0.6%, respectively, among females. In the initial 587 study participants who completed all imaging exams (94.5% male), the prevalence of carotid plaque, femoral plaque, coronary calcium score >1 to 100, and coronary calcium score >100 was 30.3, 56.9, 27.0, and 8.8%, respectively. 67.7% of study participants had at least one plaque in the carotid or femoral arteries.
Baseline data from the AWHS show a high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and of sublinical atherosclerosis. Follow-up of this cohort will allow the assessment of subclinical atherosclerosis progression and the link of disease progression to traditional and emergent risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3439398  PMID: 22712826
3.  Do Young Heroin Users in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville have Sufficient Knowledge of the Risk Factors for Unintentional Opioid Overdose? 
To identify the self-perceived reasons for unintentional opioid overdose of young heroin users in three Spanish cities and their agreement with objective risk factors for overdose. Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI) were held with 991 street-recruited current heroin users aged 18–30. The general reasons for overdose and the reasons for the last overdose suffered were explored with open-ended (OEQs) and pre-coded questions (PCQs). Limited knowledge of overdose risk factors was defined as mention of fewer than two objective risk factors for unintentional overdose in the OEQ. Univariate, bivariate, and logistic regression methods were used. 77.8% (Seville), 64.9% (Madrid) and 57.2% (Barcelona) of participants have limited knowledge of overdose risk factors. Residence in Seville and not having attended courses or meetings on overdoses were significantly associated with limited knowledge, after adjusting for other factors. The most frequently identified general reasons in OEQ or PCQ were using heroin in large amounts (66.8%), together with tranquilizers (62.0%), adulterated (60.7%), or purer than usual (57.6%). Most reasons were selected more frequently in PCQ than in OEQ, especially rapid injection of the entire dose and using heroin shortly after using tranquilizers or alcohol, by injection, or after a period of abstinence. The results were similar for overdoses suffered by participants. Most young heroin users do not have sufficient knowledge of overdose risk factors, especially the use of heroin by injection, after a period of abstinence, or together with alcohol or methadone. Specific informational or educational programs adapted to the local context are critically needed.
PMCID: PMC2527200  PMID: 16739049
Heroin; Opioid overdose; Self-perceived reasons

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