Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is characterized by reduced blood flow to the limbs, usually as a consequence of atherosclerosis, and affects ≈12 million Americans. It is a common cause of cardiovascular morbidity and an independent predictor of cardiovascular mortality. Similar to other atherosclerotic diseases, such as coronary artery disease, PAD is the result of the complex interplay between injurious environmental stimuli and genetic predisposing factors of the host. Genetic susceptibility to PAD is likely contributed by sequence variants in multiple genes, each with modest effects. Although many of these variants probably alter susceptibility both to PAD and to coronary artery disease, it is likely that there exists a set of variants specifically to alter susceptibility to PAD. Despite the prevalence of PAD and its high societal burden, relatively little is known about such genetic variants. This review summarizes our limited present knowledge and gives an overview of recent, more powerful approaches to elucidating the genetic basis of PAD. We discuss the advantages and limitations of genetic studies and highlight the need for collaborative networks of PAD investigators for shedding light on this dark corner of vascular biology.
peripheral vascular disease; genetics; epidemiology; atherosclerosis
Under pathophysiological conditions in adults, endothelial cells (ECs) sprout from pre-existing blood vessels to form new ones by a process termed angiogenesis. During embryonic development, Apelin (APLN) is robustly expressed in vascular ECs. In adult mice, however, APLN expression in the vasculature is significantly reduced. Here we show that APLN expression is reactivated in adult ECs after ischaemia insults. In models of both injury ischaemia and tumor angiogenesis, we find that Apln-CreER genetically labels sprouting but not quiescent vasculature. By leveraging this specific activity, we demonstrate that abolishment of the VEGF–VEGFR2 signalling pathway as well as ablation of sprouting ECs diminished tumour vascularization and growth without compromising vascular homeostasis in other organs. Collectively, we show that Apln-CreER distinguishes sprouting vessels from stabilized vessels in multiple pathological settings. The Apln-CreER line described here will greatly aid future mechanistic studies in both vascular developmental biology and adult vascular diseases.
Apelin expression is robust in embryonic but not in adult endothelial cells (ECs), where it can be reactivated by hypoxia. Liu et al. show that apelin-driven expression of Cre recombinase in mice can be used for labelling of, or gene ablation in, sprouting but not quiescent ECs in pathologies characterized by hypoxia.
Congenital coronary artery anomalies produce serious events that include syncope, arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, or sudden death. Studying the mechanism of coronary development will contribute to the understanding of the disease and help design new diagnostic or therapeutic strategies. Here, we characterized a new calcineurin–NFAT signalling which specifically functions in the epicardium to regulate the development of smooth muscle wall of the coronary arteries.
Methods and results
Using tissue-specific gene deletion, we found that calcineurin–NFAT signals in the embryonic epicardium to direct coronary smooth muscle cell development. The smooth muscle wall of coronary arteries fails to mature in mice with epicardial deletion of calcineurin B1 (Cnb1), and accordingly these mutant mice develop cardiac dysfunction with reduced exercise capacity. Inhibition of calcineurin at various developmental windows shows that calcineurin–NFAT signals within a narrow time window at embryonic Day 12.5–13.5 to regulate coronary smooth muscle cell development. Within the epicardium, NFAT transcriptionally activates the expression of Smad2, whose gene product is critical for transducing transforming growth factor β (TGFβ)–Alk5 signalling to control coronary development.
Our findings demonstrate new spatiotemporal and molecular actions of calcineurin–NFAT that dictate coronary arterial wall development and a new mechanism by which calcineurin–NFAT integrates with TGFβ signalling during embryonic development.
Epicardial; Calcineurin–NFAT; Coronary artery; Smooth muscle cell Differentiation; Smad2
Current coronary heart disease (CHD) risk assessments inadequately assess intermediate-risk patients, leaving many undertreated and vulnerable to heart attacks. A novel CHD risk-assessment (CHDRA) tool was developed for intermediate-risk stratification using biomarkers and established risk factors to significantly improve CHD risk discrimination.
Physicians will change their treatment plan in response to more information about a patient’s CHD risk level provided by the CHDRA test.
A Web-based survey of cardiology, internal medicine, family practice, and obstetrics/gynecology physicians (n = 206) was conducted to assess the CHDRA clinical impact. Each physician was shown 3 clinical vignettes representing community-based cohort participants randomly selected from 8 total vignettes. For each, the physicians assessed the individual’s CHD risk and selected preferred therapies based on the individual’s comorbidities, physical examination, and laboratory results. The individual’s CHDRA score was then provided and the physicians were queried for changes to their initial treatment plans.
After obtaining the CHDRA result, 70% of the physician responses indicated a change to the patient’s treatment plan. The revised lipid-management plans agreed more often (74.6% of the time) with the current Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines than did the original plans (57.6% of the time). Most physicians (71.3%) agreed with the statement that the CHDRA result provided information that would impact their current treatment decisions.
The CHDRA test provided additional information to which physicians responded by more often applying appropriate therapy and actions aligned with guidelines, thus demonstrating the clinical utility of the test.
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) have been highly enriched using combinations of 12–14 surface markers. Genes specifically expressed by HSC as compared to other multipotent progenitors may yield new stem cell enrichment markers, as well as elucidate self-renewal and differentiation mechanisms. We previously reported that multiple cell surface molecules are enriched on mouse HSC compared to more differentiated progeny. Here, we present a definitive expression profile of the cell adhesion molecule Esam1 in hematopoietic cells using RT-qPCR and flow cytometry studies. We found Esam1 highly and selectively expressed by HSC from mouse bone marrow. Esam1 is also a viable positive HSC marker in fetal, young and aged mice, as well as in mice of several different strains. In addition, we find robust levels of Esam1 transcripts in purified human HSC. Esam1−/− mice do not exhibit severe hematopoietic defects, however, Esam1−/− BM has an increased frequency of HSC and fewer T cells. HSC from Esam1−/− mice give rise to more granulocyte/monocytes in culture and a higher T cell:B cell ratio upon transplantation into congenic mice. These studies identify Esam1 as a novel, widely applicable HSC-selective marker and suggest that Esam1 may play roles in both HSC proliferation and lineage decisions.
Hematopoietic stem cell; engraftment; bone marrow transplantation; adhesion molecules; cell surface markers; blood cell development
Adiponectin is strongly inversely associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, but its causal role remains controversial. We used a Mendelian randomization approach to test the hypothesis that adiponectin causally influences insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. We used genetic variants at the ADIPOQ gene as instruments to calculate a regression slope between adiponectin levels and metabolic traits (up to 31,000 individuals) and a combination of instrumental variables and summary statistics–based genetic risk scores to test the associations with gold-standard measures of insulin sensitivity (2,969 individuals) and type 2 diabetes (15,960 case subjects and 64,731 control subjects). In conventional regression analyses, a 1-SD decrease in adiponectin levels was correlated with a 0.31-SD (95% CI 0.26–0.35) increase in fasting insulin, a 0.34-SD (0.30–0.38) decrease in insulin sensitivity, and a type 2 diabetes odds ratio (OR) of 1.75 (1.47–2.13). The instrumental variable analysis revealed no evidence of a causal association between genetically lower circulating adiponectin and higher fasting insulin (0.02 SD; 95% CI −0.07 to 0.11; N = 29,771), nominal evidence of a causal relationship with lower insulin sensitivity (−0.20 SD; 95% CI −0.38 to −0.02; N = 1,860), and no evidence of a relationship with type 2 diabetes (OR 0.94; 95% CI 0.75–1.19; N = 2,777 case subjects and 13,011 control subjects). Using the ADIPOQ summary statistics genetic risk scores, we found no evidence of an association between adiponectin-lowering alleles and insulin sensitivity (effect per weighted adiponectin-lowering allele: −0.03 SD; 95% CI −0.07 to 0.01; N = 2,969) or type 2 diabetes (OR per weighted adiponectin-lowering allele: 0.99; 95% CI 0.95–1.04; 15,960 case subjects vs. 64,731 control subjects). These results do not provide any consistent evidence that interventions aimed at increasing adiponectin levels will improve insulin sensitivity or risk of type 2 diabetes.
Although the function of resistin in human biology is unclear, some evidence suggests resistin gene variants influence insulin resistance, and insulin resistance-related hypertension. We searched for associations between common resistin gene variants and factors related to insulin resistance in Asian individuals with high or low blood pressure.
Non-diabetic Chinese or Japanese sibling pairs were included if one had extreme hypertension and the other was either hypertensive or hypotensive. Four common, non-coding single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified by sequencing the resistin gene in 24 hypertensive probands. Generalized estimating equations-based regressions were then performed to test for SNP associations using the entire study population (n=1556).
Of 72 tests, only one was significant at the 0.05 level; 3.5 significant tests were expected by chance alone. High variability in insulin and triglyceride levels created wide confidence intervals, thus the negative results are not conclusive for these phenotypes. However, the large sample size resulted in narrow confidence intervals for BMI, fasting and 120 minute post-load glucose, and high and low density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Factors associated with insulin resistance are not likely influenced by the resistin gene in non-diabetic Asian individuals with high and low blood pressure.
resistin; hypertension; Asian population; insulin resistance; single nucleotide polymorphisms
The hereditability of insulin resistance has been demonstrated in both familial and twin studies. The effects of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system gene polymorphisms on insulin resistance remain inconclusive.
This is a sibling-based association study. Polymorphisms of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system genes were examined in 1113 hypertension and 676 normotension siblings from Chinese and Japanese hypertensive families. The generalized estimation equations method was used to compare the differences in metabolic variables between hypertension and normotensive siblings.
For the G-6A polymorphism of AGT, GG siblings had lower 2-h insulin than siblings carrying the A allele (p=0.006). Siblings with different variants of the angiotensin II type 1 receptor A1166C had no difference in metabolic variables. Siblings carrying the D allele of the angiotensin converting enzyme gene had higher levels of fasting glucose, fasting insulin, area under the curve of insulin levels and the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance than II siblings (all p<0.05). Lower levels of fasting glucose and 2-h glucose were observed in siblings with the T allele than their CC homozygotes for the C-344T polymorphism of CYP11B2 (p<0.05). Siblings carrying three high-risk genotypes of the angiotensin converting enzyme, angiotensinogen and CYP11B2 had higher fasting glucose level than siblings carrying no high-risk genotypes (p=0.011).
Our comprehensive analysis of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system gene polymorphisms demonstrates that the angiotensin converting enzyme and CYP11B2 gene polymorphisms are associated with insulin resistance in hypertensive families.
Insulin resistance; angiotensin converting enzyme; genes; renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system; family study; polymorphism
The majority of the heritability of coronary artery disease (CAD) remains unexplained, despite recent successes of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in identifying novel susceptibility loci. Integrating functional genomic data from a variety of sources with a large-scale meta-analysis of CAD GWAS may facilitate the identification of novel biological processes and genes involved in CAD, as well as clarify the causal relationships of established processes. Towards this end, we integrated 14 GWAS from the CARDIoGRAM Consortium and two additional GWAS from the Ottawa Heart Institute (25,491 cases and 66,819 controls) with 1) genetics of gene expression studies of CAD-relevant tissues in humans, 2) metabolic and signaling pathways from public databases, and 3) data-driven, tissue-specific gene networks from a multitude of human and mouse experiments. We not only detected CAD-associated gene networks of lipid metabolism, coagulation, immunity, and additional networks with no clear functional annotation, but also revealed key driver genes for each CAD network based on the topology of the gene regulatory networks. In particular, we found a gene network involved in antigen processing to be strongly associated with CAD. The key driver genes of this network included glyoxalase I (GLO1) and peptidylprolyl isomerase I (PPIL1), which we verified as regulatory by siRNA experiments in human aortic endothelial cells. Our results suggest genetic influences on a diverse set of both known and novel biological processes that contribute to CAD risk. The key driver genes for these networks highlight potential novel targets for further mechanistic studies and therapeutic interventions.
Sudden death due to heart attack ranks among the top causes of death in the world, and family studies have shown that genetics has a substantial effect on heart disease risk. Recent studies suggest that multiple genetic factors each with modest effects are necessary for the development of CAD, but the genes and molecular processes involved remain poorly understood. We conducted an integrative genomics study where we used the information of gene-gene interactions to capture groups of genes that are most likely to increase heart disease risk. We not only confirmed the importance of several known CAD risk processes such as the metabolism and transport of cholesterol, immune response, and blood coagulation, but also revealed many novel processes such as neuroprotection, cell cycle, and proteolysis that were not previously implicated in CAD. In particular, we highlight several genes such as GLO1 with key regulatory roles within these processes not detected by the first wave of genetic analyses. These results highlight the value of integrating population genetic data with diverse resources that functionally annotate the human genome. Such integration facilitates the identification of novel molecular processes involved in the pathogenesis of CAD as well as potential novel targets for the development of efficacious therapeutic interventions.
The peptide ligand apelin and its receptor APJ constitute a signaling pathway with numerous effects on the cardiovascular system, including cardiovascular development in model organisms such as xenopus and zebrafish.
This study aimed to characterize the embryonic lethal phenotype of the Apj−/− mice and define the involved downstream signaling targets.
Methods and Results
We report the first characterization of the embryonic lethality of the Apj−/− mice. Greater than half of the expected Apj−/− embryos died in utero due to cardiovascular developmental defects. Those succumbing to early embryonic death had markedly deformed vasculature of the yolk sac and the embryo, as well as poorly looped hearts with aberrantly formed right ventricles and defective atrioventricular cushion formation. Apj−/− embryos surviving to later stages demonstrated incomplete vascular maturation due to a deficiency of vascular smooth muscle cells, and impaired myocardial trabeculation and ventricular wall development. The molecular mechanism implicates a novel, non-canonical signaling pathway downstream of apelin-APJ involving Gα13, which induces histone deacetylase (HDAC) 4 and HDAC5 phosphorylation and cytoplasmic translocation, resulting in activation of MEF2 (myocyte enhancer factor 2). Apj−/− mice have greater endocardial Hdac4 and Hdac5 nuclear localization, and reduced expression of the MEF2 transcriptional target Klf2. We identify a number of commonly shared transcriptional targets among apelin-APJ, Gα13, and MEF2 in endothelial cells, which are significantly decreased in the Apj−/− embryos and endothelial cells.
Our results demonstrate a novel role for apelin-APJ signaling as a potent regulator of endothelial MEF2 function in the developing cardiovascular system.
Apelin; APJ; Gα13; HDAC4; HDAC5; MEF2A; MEF2C; developmental biology; G proteins
In this paper we try to define insulin resistance (IR) precisely for a group of Chinese women. Our definition deliberately does not depend upon body mass index (BMI) or age, although in other studies, with particular random effects models quite different from models used here, BMI accounts for a large part of the variability in IR. We accomplish our goal through application of Gauss mixture vector quantization (GMVQ), a technique for clustering that was developed for application to lossy data compression. Defining data come from measurements that play major roles in medical practice. A precise statement of what the data are is in Section 1. Their family structures are described in detail. They concern levels of lipids and the results of an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). We apply GMVQ to residuals obtained from regressions of outcomes of an OGTT and lipids on functions of age and BMI that are inferred from the data. A bootstrap procedure developed for our family data supplemented by insights from other approaches leads us to believe that two clusters are appropriate for defining IR precisely. One cluster consists of women who are IR, and the other of women who seem not to be. Genes and other features are used to predict cluster membership. We argue that prediction with “main effects” is not satisfactory, but prediction that includes interactions may be.
Elevated resting heart rate is associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. In a 2-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in up to 181,171 individuals, we identified 14 new loci associated with heart rate and confirmed associations with all 7 previously established loci. Experimental downregulation of gene expression in Drosophila melanogaster and Danio rerio identified 20 genes at 11 loci that are relevant for heart rate regulation and highlight a role for genes involved in signal transmission, embryonic cardiac development and the pathophysiology of dilated cardiomyopathy, congenital heart failure and/or sudden cardiac death. In addition, genetic susceptibility to increased heart rate is associated with altered cardiac conduction and reduced risk of sick sinus syndrome, and both heart rate–increasing and heart rate–decreasing variants associate with risk of atrial fibrillation. Our findings provide fresh insights into the mechanisms regulating heart rate and identify new therapeutic targets.
Circulating metabolites associated with insulin sensitivity may represent useful biomarkers, but their causal role in insulin sensitivity and diabetes is less certain. We previously identified novel metabolites correlated with insulin sensitivity measured by the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. The top-ranking metabolites were in the glutathione and glycine biosynthesis pathways. We aimed to identify common genetic variants associated with metabolites in these pathways and test their role in insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes. With 1,004 nondiabetic individuals from the RISC study, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 14 insulin sensitivity–related metabolites and one metabolite ratio. We replicated our results in the Botnia study (n = 342). We assessed the association of these variants with diabetes-related traits in GWAS meta-analyses (GENESIS [including RISC, EUGENE2, and Stanford], MAGIC, and DIAGRAM). We identified four associations with three metabolites—glycine (rs715 at CPS1), serine (rs478093 at PHGDH), and betaine (rs499368 at SLC6A12; rs17823642 at BHMT)—and one association signal with glycine-to-serine ratio (rs1107366 at ALDH1L1). There was no robust evidence for association between these variants and insulin resistance or diabetes. Genetic variants associated with genes in the glycine biosynthesis pathways do not provide consistent evidence for a role of glycine in diabetes-related traits.
Genetic polymorphisms may affect the balance between coagulation and fibrinolysis and thereby affect individual vulnerability to acute myocardial infarction (MI) among patients with underlying coronary atherosclerosis.
We enrolled 1375 patients with an initial clinical presentation of coronary disease. We genotyped 49 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 9 coagulation system genes and compared patients who had an initial acute MI with patients who presented with stable exertional angina.
An SNP in CD36 (rs3211956) was significantly (P = .04) more common among patients who presented with acute MI (minor allele frequency 10.5%) than patients with stable exertional angina (minor allele frequency 8.0%). This association became marginally significant, however, after adjustment for conventional cardiac risk factors in an additive genetic model (odds ratio 1.34, CI 1.00-1.88, P = .053). An SNP in ITGB3 (Leu59Pro, rs5918) was slightly, but not significantly (P = .083), more common among patients with acute MI (minor allele frequency 14.5%) than among patients with stable exertional angina (minor allele frequency 12.0%). Two linked SNPs in THBD (Ala473Val, rs1042579; and rs3176123) were slightly, but not significantly (P = .079 and 0.052, respectively), less common among patients with acute MI (minor allele frequency 16.1%) than among patients with stable exertional angina (18.7% and 19.0%, respectively).
Four SNPs in platelet glycoprotein and hemostatic genes were nominally associated with acute MI rather than stable exertional angina as the initial clinical presentation of coronary artery disease. These findings are suggestive but require independent confirmation in larger studies.
Recent human genetic studies suggest that allelic variants of leukotriene pathway genes influence the risk of clinical and subclinical atherosclerosis. We sequenced the promoter, exonic, and splice site regions of ALOX5 and ALOX5AP and then genotyped 7 SNPs in ALOX5 and 6 SNPs in ALOX5AP in 1,552 cases with clinically significant coronary artery disease (CAD) and 1,583 controls from Kaiser Permanente including a subset of participants of the coronary artery risk development in young adults study. A nominally significant association was detected between a promoter SNP in ALOX5 (rs12762303) and CAD in our subset of white/European subjects (adjusted odds ratio per minor allele, log-additive model, 1.32; P = 0.002). In this race/ethnic group, rs12762303 has a minor allele frequency of 15% and is tightly linked to variation at the SP1 variable tandem repeat promoter polymorphism. However, the association between CAD and rs12762303 could not be reproduced in the atherosclerosis risk in communities study (hazard rate ratio per minor allele; 1.08, P = 0.1). Assuming a recessive mode of inheritance, the association was not significant in either population study but our power to detect modest effects was limited. No significant associations were observed between all other SNPs and the risk of CAD. Overall, our findings do not support a link between common allelic variation in or near ALOX5 or ALOX5AP and the risk of CAD. However, additional studies are needed to exclude modest effects of promoter variation in ALOX5 on the risk of CAD assuming a recessive mode of inheritance.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol are heritable, modifiable, risk factors for coronary artery disease. To identify new loci and refine known loci influencing these lipids, we examined 188,578 individuals using genome-wide and custom genotyping arrays. We identify and annotate 157 loci associated with lipid levels at P < 5×10−8, including 62 loci not previously associated with lipid levels in humans. Using dense genotyping in individuals of European, East Asian, South Asian, and African ancestry, we narrow association signals in 12 loci. We find that loci associated with blood lipids are often associated with cardiovascular and metabolic traits including coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, waist-hip ratio, and body mass index. Our results illustrate the value of genetic data from individuals of diverse ancestries and provide insights into biological mechanisms regulating blood lipids to guide future genetic, biological, and therapeutic research.
Triglycerides are transported in plasma by specific triglyceride-rich lipoproteins; in epidemiologic studies, increased triglyceride levels correlate with higher risk for coronary artery disease (CAD). However, it is unclear whether this association reflects causal processes. We used 185 common variants recently mapped for plasma lipids (P<5×10−8 for each) to examine the role of triglycerides on risk for CAD. First, we highlight loci associated with both low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides, and show that the direction and magnitude of both are factors in determining CAD risk. Second, we consider loci with only a strong magnitude of association with triglycerides and show that these loci are also associated with CAD. Finally, in a model accounting for effects on LDL-C and/or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, a polymorphism's strength of effect on triglycerides is correlated with the magnitude of its effect on CAD risk. These results suggest that triglyceride-rich lipoproteins causally influence risk for CAD.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified chromosomal loci that affect risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) independent of classical risk factors. One such association signal has been identified at 6q23.2 in both Caucasians and East Asians. The lead CHD-associated polymorphism in this region, rs12190287, resides in the 3′ untranslated region (3′-UTR) of TCF21, a basic-helix-loop-helix transcription factor, and is predicted to alter the seed binding sequence for miR-224. Allelic imbalance studies in circulating leukocytes and human coronary artery smooth muscle cells (HCASMC) showed significant imbalance of the TCF21 transcript that correlated with genotype at rs12190287, consistent with this variant contributing to allele-specific expression differences. 3′ UTR reporter gene transfection studies in HCASMC showed that the disease-associated C allele has reduced expression compared to the protective G allele. Kinetic analyses in vitro revealed faster RNA-RNA complex formation and greater binding of miR-224 with the TCF21 C allelic transcript. In addition, in vitro probing with Pb2+ and RNase T1 revealed structural differences between the TCF21 variants in proximity of the rs12190287 variant, which are predicted to provide greater access to the C allele for miR-224 binding. miR-224 and TCF21 expression levels were anti-correlated in HCASMC, and miR-224 modulates the transcriptional response of TCF21 to transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) signaling in an allele-specific manner. Lastly, miR-224 and TCF21 were localized in human coronary artery lesions and anti-correlated during atherosclerosis. Together, these data suggest that miR-224 interaction with the TCF21 transcript contributes to allelic imbalance of this gene, thus partly explaining the genetic risk for coronary heart disease associated at 6q23.2. These studies implicating rs12190287 in the miRNA-dependent regulation of TCF21, in conjunction with previous studies showing that this variant modulates transcriptional regulation through activator protein 1 (AP-1), suggests a unique bimodal level of complexity previously unreported for disease-associated variants.
Both genetic and environmental factors cumulatively contribute to coronary heart disease risk in human populations. Large-scale meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies have now leveraged common genetic variation to identify multiple sites of disease susceptibility; however, the causal mechanisms for these associations largely remain elusive. One of these disease-associated variants, rs12190287, resides in the 3′untranslated region of the vascular developmental transcription factor, TCF21. Intriguingly, this variant is shown to disrupt the seed binding sequence for microRNA-224, and through altered RNA secondary structure and binding kinetics, leads to dysregulated TCF21 gene expression in response to disease-relevant stimuli. Importantly TCF21 and miR-224 expression levels were perturbed in human atherosclerotic lesions. Along with our previous reports on the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms altered by this variant, these studies shed new light on the complex heritable mechanisms of coronary heart disease risk that are amenable to therapeutic intervention.
Two direct measurements of peripheral insulin sensitivity are the M value derived from the euglycemic, hyperinsulinemic clamp (EC) and the steady-state plasma glucose (SSPG) concentration derived from the insulin suppression test (IST). Prior work suggests that these measures are highly correlated, but the agreement between them is unknown. To determine the agreement between SSPG and M and to develop transformation equations to convert SSPG to M and vice versa, we directly compared these two measurements in the same individuals.
A total of 15 nondiabetic subjects (9 women and 6 men) underwent both an EC and a modified version of the IST within a median interval of 5 days. We performed standard correlation metrics of the two measures and developed transformation regression equations for the two measures.
The mean ± SD age of the subjects was 57 ± 7 years and body mass index, 27.7 ± 3.9 kg/m2. The median (interquartile range) SSPG concentration was 6.7 (5.1, 9.8) mmol/L and M value, 49.6 (28.9, 64.2) μmol/min/kg-LBM. There was a highly significant correlation between SSPG and M (r = −0.87, P <0.001). The relationship was best fit by regression models with exponential/logarithmic functions (R2 = 0.85). Bland-Altman plots demonstrated an excellent agreement between these measures of insulin action.
The SSPG and M are highly related measures of insulin sensitivity and the results provide the means to directly compare the two measurements.
Insulin resistance; Euglycemic, hyperinsulinemic clamp; Insulin suppression test
Genome wide association studies have implicated allelic variation at 9p21.3 in multiple forms of vascular disease, including atherosclerotic coronary heart disease and abdominal aortic aneurysm. As for other genes at 9p21.3, human eQTL studies have associated expression of the tumor suppressor gene CDKN2B with the risk haplotype, but its potential role in vascular pathobiology remains unclear.
Methods and Results
Here we employed vascular injury models and found that Cdkn2b knockout mice displayed the expected increase in proliferation after injury, but developed reduced neointimal lesions and larger aortic aneurysms. In situ and in vitro studies suggested that these effects were due to increased smooth muscle cell apoptosis. Adoptive bone marrow transplant studies confirmed that the observed effects of Cdkn2b were mediated through intrinsic vascular cells and were not dependent on bone marrow-derived inflammatory cells. Mechanistic studies suggested that the observed increase in apoptosis was due to a reduction in MDM2 and an increase in p53 signaling, possibly due in part to compensation by other genes at the 9p21.3 locus. Dual inhibition of both Cdkn2b and p53 led to a reversal of the vascular phenotype in each model.
These results suggest that reduced CDKN2B expression and increased SMC apoptosis may be one mechanism underlying the 9p21.3 association with aneurysmal disease.
CDKN2B; apoptosis; smooth muscle; remodeling; abdominal aortic aneurysm; genome wide association studies; p53
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a powerful pro-inflammatory cytokine and immuno-regulatory molecule, and modulates susceptibility to musculoskeletal diseases. Several meta-analyses and replicated association studies have implicated the minor ‘A’ variant within the TNF promoter single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs361525 (-238A/G) as a risk allele in joint related disorders, including psoriatic and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and osteolysis after joint arthroplasty. Here we characterized the effect of this variant on TNF promoter function. A transcriptional reporter, encoding the -238A variant of the TNF promoter, resulted in 2.2 to 2.8 times greater transcriptional activation versus the ‘G’ variant in murine macrophages when stimulated with pro-inflammatory stimuli. Bioinformatic analysis predicted a putative binding site for thyroid hormone receptor (TR) for the -238A but not the -238G allele. Overexpression of TR-α induced promoter expression 1.8-fold in the presence of the ‘A’ allele only. TR-α expression both potentiated and sensitized the -238A response to LPS or a titanium particulate stimulus, whilst siRNA knockdown of either THRA or THRB impaired transcriptional activation for the -238A variant only. This effect was independent of receptor-ligand binding of triiodothyronine. Immunohistochemical analysis of osteolysis interface membranes from patients undergoing revision surgery confirmed expression of TR-α within osteoclast nuclei at the resorption surface. The ‘A’ allele at rs361525 confers increased transcriptional activation of the TNF promoter and influences susceptibility to several arthritic conditions. This effect is modulated, at least in part, by binding of TR, which both sensitizes and potentiates transcriptional activation of the ‘A’ variant independent of its endogenous ligand.
Candidate gene and genome-wide association studies have identified ∼60 susceptibility loci for type 2 diabetes. A majority of these loci have been discovered and tested only in European populations. The aim of this study was to assess the presence and extent of trans-ethnic effects of these loci in an East Asian population.
A total of 9,335 unrelated Chinese Han individuals, including 4,535 with type 2 diabetes and 4,800 non-diabetic ethnically matched controls, were genotyped using the Illumina 200K Metabochip. We tested 50 established loci for type 2 diabetes and related traits (fasting glucose, fasting insulin, 2 h glucose). Disease association with the additive model of inheritance was analysed with logistic regression.
We found that 14 loci significantly transferred to the Chinese population, with two loci (p = 5.7 × 10−12 for KCNQ1; p = 5.0 × 10−8 for CDKN2A/B-CDKN2BAS) reaching independent genome-wide statistical significance. Five of these 14 loci had similar lead single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) as were found in the European studies while the other nine were different. Further stepwise conditional analysis identified a total of seven secondary signals and an independent novel locus at the 3′ end of CDKAL1.
These results suggest that many loci associated with type 2 diabetes are commonly shared between European and Chinese populations. Identification of population-specific SNPs may increase our understanding of the genetic architecture underlying type 2 diabetes in different ethnic populations.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-013-3047-1) contains peer-reviewed but unedited supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
Ethnic difference; Genetic association; Type 2 diabetes
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of mortality in both developed and developing countries worldwide. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have now identified 46 independent susceptibility loci for CHD, however, the biological and disease-relevant mechanisms for these associations remain elusive. The large-scale meta-analysis of GWAS recently identified in Caucasians a CHD-associated locus at chromosome 6q23.2, a region containing the transcription factor TCF21 gene. TCF21 (Capsulin/Pod1/Epicardin) is a member of the basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor family, and regulates cell fate decisions and differentiation in the developing coronary vasculature. Herein, we characterize a cis-regulatory mechanism by which the lead polymorphism rs12190287 disrupts an atypical activator protein 1 (AP-1) element, as demonstrated by allele-specific transcriptional regulation, transcription factor binding, and chromatin organization, leading to altered TCF21 expression. Further, this element is shown to mediate signaling through platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta (PDGFR-β) and Wilms tumor 1 (WT1) pathways. A second disease allele identified in East Asians also appears to disrupt an AP-1-like element. Thus, both disease-related growth factor and embryonic signaling pathways may regulate CHD risk through two independent alleles at TCF21.
As much as half of the risk of developing coronary heart disease is genetically predetermined. Genome-wide association studies in human populations have now uncovered multiple sites of common genetic variation associated with heart disease. However, the biological mechanisms responsible for linking the disease associations with changes in gene expression are still underexplored. One of these variants occurs within the vascular developmental factor, TCF21, leading to dysregulated gene expression. Using various in silico and molecular approaches, we identify an intricate allele-specific regulatory mechanism underlying altered expression of TCF21. Notably, we observe that two apparently independent risk alleles identified in distinct populations function through a similar regulatory mechanism. Together these data suggest that conserved upstream pathways may organize the complex genetic etiology of coronary heart disease and potentially lead to new treatment opportunities.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified ∼100 loci associated with blood lipid levels, but much of the trait heritability remains unexplained, and at most loci the identities of the trait-influencing variants remain unknown. We conducted a trans-ethnic fine-mapping study at 18, 22, and 18 GWAS loci on the Metabochip for their association with triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), respectively, in individuals of African American (n = 6,832), East Asian (n = 9,449), and European (n = 10,829) ancestry. We aimed to identify the variants with strongest association at each locus, identify additional and population-specific signals, refine association signals, and assess the relative significance of previously described functional variants. Among the 58 loci, 33 exhibited evidence of association at P<1×10−4 in at least one ancestry group. Sequential conditional analyses revealed that ten, nine, and four loci in African Americans, Europeans, and East Asians, respectively, exhibited two or more signals. At these loci, accounting for all signals led to a 1.3- to 1.8-fold increase in the explained phenotypic variance compared to the strongest signals. Distinct signals across ancestry groups were identified at PCSK9 and APOA5. Trans-ethnic analyses narrowed the signals to smaller sets of variants at GCKR, PPP1R3B, ABO, LCAT, and ABCA1. Of 27 variants reported previously to have functional effects, 74% exhibited the strongest association at the respective signal. In conclusion, trans-ethnic high-density genotyping and analysis confirm the presence of allelic heterogeneity, allow the identification of population-specific variants, and limit the number of candidate SNPs for functional studies.
Lipid traits are heritable, but many of the DNA variants that influence lipid levels remain unknown. In a genomic region, more than one variant may affect gene expression or function, and the frequencies of these variants can differ across populations. Genotyping densely spaced variants in individuals with different ancestries may increase the chance of identifying variants that affect gene expression or function. We analyzed high-density genotyped variants for association with TG, HDL-C, and LDL-C in African Americans, East Asians, and Europeans. At several genomic regions, we provide evidence that two or more variants can influence lipid traits; across loci, these additional signals increase the proportion of trait variation that can be explained by genes. At some association signals shared across populations, combining data from individuals of different ancestries narrowed the set of likely functional variants. At PCSK9 and APOA5, the data suggest that different variants influence trait levels in different populations. Variants previously reported to alter gene expression or function frequently exhibited the strongest association at those signals. The multiple signals and population-specific characteristics of the loci described here may be shared by genetic loci for other complex traits.