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1.  Identification of lung cancer histology-specific variants applying Bayesian framework variant prioritization approaches within the TRICL and ILCCO consortia 
Brenner, Darren R. | Amos, Christopher I. | Brhane, Yonathan | Timofeeva, Maria N. | Caporaso, Neil | Wang, Yufei | Christiani, David C. | Bickeböller, Heike | Yang, Ping | Albanes, Demetrius | Stevens, Victoria L. | Gapstur, Susan | McKay, James | Boffetta, Paolo | Zaridze, David | Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonilia | Lissowska, Jolanta | Rudnai, Peter | Fabianova, Eleonora | Mates, Dana | Bencko, Vladimir | Foretova, Lenka | Janout, Vladimir | Krokan, Hans E. | Skorpen, Frank | Gabrielsen, Maiken E. | Vatten, Lars | Njølstad, Inger | Chen, Chu | Goodman, Gary | Lathrop, Mark | Vooder, Tõnu | Välk, Kristjan | Nelis, Mari | Metspalu, Andres | Broderick, Peter | Eisen, Timothy | Wu, Xifeng | Zhang, Di | Chen, Wei | Spitz, Margaret R. | Wei, Yongyue | Su, Li | Xie, Dong | She, Jun | Matsuo, Keitaro | Matsuda, Fumihiko | Ito, Hidemi | Risch, Angela | Heinrich, Joachim | Rosenberger, Albert | Muley, Thomas | Dienemann, Hendrik | Field, John K. | Raji, Olaide | Chen, Ying | Gosney, John | Liloglou, Triantafillos | Davies, Michael P.A. | Marcus, Michael | McLaughlin, John | Orlow, Irene | Han, Younghun | Li, Yafang | Zong, Xuchen | Johansson, Mattias | Liu, Geoffrey | Tworoger, Shelley S. | Le Marchand, Loic | Henderson, Brian E. | Wilkens, Lynne R. | Dai, Juncheng | Shen, Hongbing | Houlston, Richard S. | Landi, Maria T. | Brennan, Paul | Hung, Rayjean J.
Carcinogenesis  2015;36(11):1314-1326.
Using information including variant physical and functional properties, we applied multiple variant prioritization techniques in 13 lung cancer genomic studies. We identified and validated novel regions highlighting the utility of using prioritization analyses to search for robust signals.
Large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have likely uncovered all common variants at the GWAS significance level. Additional variants within the suggestive range (0.0001> P > 5×10−8) are, however, still of interest for identifying causal associations. This analysis aimed to apply novel variant prioritization approaches to identify additional lung cancer variants that may not reach the GWAS level. Effects were combined across studies with a total of 33456 controls and 6756 adenocarcinoma (AC; 13 studies), 5061 squamous cell carcinoma (SCC; 12 studies) and 2216 small cell lung cancer cases (9 studies). Based on prior information such as variant physical properties and functional significance, we applied stratified false discovery rates, hierarchical modeling and Bayesian false discovery probabilities for variant prioritization. We conducted a fine mapping analysis as validation of our methods by examining top-ranking novel variants in six independent populations with a total of 3128 cases and 2966 controls. Three novel loci in the suggestive range were identified based on our Bayesian framework analyses: KCNIP4 at 4p15.2 (rs6448050, P = 4.6×10−7) and MTMR2 at 11q21 (rs10501831, P = 3.1×10−6) with SCC, as well as GAREM at 18q12.1 (rs11662168, P = 3.4×10−7) with AC. Use of our prioritization methods validated two of the top three loci associated with SCC (P = 1.05×10−4 for KCNIP4, represented by rs9799795) and AC (P = 2.16×10−4 for GAREM, represented by rs3786309) in the independent fine mapping populations. This study highlights the utility of using prior functional data for sequence variants in prioritization analyses to search for robust signals in the suggestive range.
PMCID: PMC4635669  PMID: 26363033
2.  Cross Cancer Genomic Investigation of Inflammation Pathway for Five Common Cancers: Lung, Ovary, Prostate, Breast, and Colorectal Cancer 
Inflammation has been hypothesized to increase the risk of cancer development as an initiator or promoter, yet no large-scale study of inherited variation across cancer sites has been conducted.
We conducted a cross-cancer genomic analysis for the inflammation pathway based on 48 genome-wide association studies within the National Cancer Institute GAME-ON Network across five common cancer sites, with a total of 64 591 cancer patients and 74 467 control patients. Subset-based meta-analysis was used to account for possible disease heterogeneity, and hierarchical modeling was employed to estimate the effect of the subcomponents within the inflammation pathway. The network was visualized by enrichment map. All statistical tests were two-sided.
We identified three pleiotropic loci within the inflammation pathway, including one novel locus in Ch12q24 encoding SH2B3 (rs3184504), which reached GWAS significance with a P value of 1.78 x 10–8, and it showed an association with lung cancer (P = 2.01 x 10–6), colorectal cancer (GECCO P = 6.72x10-6; CORECT P = 3.32x10-5), and breast cancer (P = .009). We also identified five key subpathway components with genetic variants that are relevant for the risk of these five cancer sites: inflammatory response for colorectal cancer (P = .006), inflammation related cell cycle gene for lung cancer (P = 1.35x10-6), and activation of immune response for ovarian cancer (P = .009). In addition, sequence variations in immune system development played a role in breast cancer etiology (P = .001) and innate immune response was involved in the risk of both colorectal (P = .022) and ovarian cancer (P = .003).
Genetic variations in inflammation and its related subpathway components are keys to the development of lung, colorectal, ovary, and breast cancer, including SH2B3, which is associated with lung, colorectal, and breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4675100  PMID: 26319099
3.  Association between Adult Height and Risk of Colorectal, Lung, and Prostate Cancer: Results from Meta-analyses of Prospective Studies and Mendelian Randomization Analyses 
PLoS Medicine  2016;13(9):e1002118.
Observational studies examining associations between adult height and risk of colorectal, prostate, and lung cancers have generated mixed results. We conducted meta-analyses using data from prospective cohort studies and further carried out Mendelian randomization analyses, using height-associated genetic variants identified in a genome-wide association study (GWAS), to evaluate the association of adult height with these cancers.
Methods and Findings
A systematic review of prospective studies was conducted using the PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science databases. Using meta-analyses, results obtained from 62 studies were summarized for the association of a 10-cm increase in height with cancer risk. Mendelian randomization analyses were conducted using summary statistics obtained for 423 genetic variants identified from a recent GWAS of adult height and from a cancer genetics consortium study of multiple cancers that included 47,800 cases and 81,353 controls. For a 10-cm increase in height, the summary relative risks derived from the meta-analyses of prospective studies were 1.12 (95% CI 1.10, 1.15), 1.07 (95% CI 1.05, 1.10), and 1.06 (95% CI 1.02, 1.11) for colorectal, prostate, and lung cancers, respectively. Mendelian randomization analyses showed increased risks of colorectal (odds ratio [OR] = 1.58, 95% CI 1.14, 2.18) and lung cancer (OR = 1.10, 95% CI 1.00, 1.22) associated with each 10-cm increase in genetically predicted height. No association was observed for prostate cancer (OR = 1.03, 95% CI 0.92, 1.15). Our meta-analysis was limited to published studies. The sample size for the Mendelian randomization analysis of colorectal cancer was relatively small, thus affecting the precision of the point estimate.
Our study provides evidence for a potential causal association of adult height with the risk of colorectal and lung cancers and suggests that certain genetic factors and biological pathways affecting adult height may also affect the risk of these cancers.
In a Mendelian randomisation study Pierce and colleagues show a genetic association between adult height and increased risk of colorectal and lung cancer.
Author Summary
Why Was This Study Done?
Several previous observational studies have examined the association between adult height and risk of cancers of the lung, colon/rectum, and prostate; however, it remains unclear whether adult height is indeed related to the risk of these cancers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies that examined the association between adult height and the risk of colorectal, lung, and prostate cancers.
To overcome inherent limitations of observational study designs, we conducted Mendelian randomization analyses using genetic data generated from a large multi-center consortium study including 47,800 cases and 81,353 controls.
In the meta-analysis of the prospective observational studies, we found a 12% increased risk of colorectal cancer, a 7% increased risk of prostate cancer, and a 6% increased risk of lung cancer for every ten-centimeter increase in height, and this increased risk was corroborated in the Mendelian randomization analyses for colorectal (58%) and lung cancer (10%).
What Do These Findings Mean?
Our study provides strong evidence for an association between adult height and risk of colorectal and lung cancer, and suggests that certain genetic and biological factors that affect height may also affect the risk of these cancers.
However, our meta-analysis was limited to published studies, and the sample size for the Mendelian randomization analysis for colorectal cancer was relatively small, affecting the precision of the risk estimate.
PMCID: PMC5012582  PMID: 27598322
4.  Genetic Risk Can Be Decreased: Quitting Smoking Decreases and Delays Lung Cancer for Smokers With High and Low CHRNA5 Risk Genotypes — A Meta-Analysis 
EBioMedicine  2016;11:219-226.
Recent meta-analyses show that individuals with high risk variants in CHRNA5 on chromosome 15q25 are likely to develop lung cancer earlier than those with low-risk genotypes. The same high-risk genetic variants also predict nicotine dependence and delayed smoking cessation. It is unclear whether smoking cessation confers the same benefits in terms of lung cancer risk reduction for those who possess CHRNA5 risk variants versus those who do not.
Meta-analyses examined the association between smoking cessation and lung cancer risk in 15 studies of individuals with European ancestry who possessed varying rs16969968 genotypes (N = 12,690 ever smokers, including 6988 cases of lung cancer and 5702 controls) in the International Lung Cancer Consortium.
Smoking cessation (former vs. current smokers) was associated with a lower likelihood of lung cancer (OR = 0.48, 95%CI = 0.30–0.75, p = 0.0015). Among lung cancer patients, smoking cessation was associated with a 7-year delay in median age of lung cancer diagnosis (HR = 0.68, 95%CI = 0.61–0.77, p = 4.9 ∗ 10–10). The CHRNA5 rs16969968 risk genotype (AA) was associated with increased risk and earlier diagnosis for lung cancer, but the beneficial effects of smoking cessation were very similar in those with and without the risk genotype.
We demonstrate that quitting smoking is highly beneficial in reducing lung cancer risks for smokers regardless of their CHRNA5 rs16969968 genetic risk status. Smokers with high-risk CHRNA5 genotypes, on average, can largely eliminate their elevated genetic risk for lung cancer by quitting smoking- cutting their risk of lung cancer in half and delaying its onset by 7 years for those who develop it. These results: 1) underscore the potential value of smoking cessation for all smokers, 2) suggest that CHRNA5 rs16969968 genotype affects lung cancer diagnosis through its effects on smoking, and 3) have potential value for framing preventive interventions for those who smoke.
•CHRNA5 rs16969968 confers risk for earlier lung cancer diagnosis, but quitting produces benefit regardless of genotype.•Smokers can cut their risk of lung cancer in half and delay its onset by 7 years among those diagnosed.•Precision prevention allows clinicians to provide personalized health benefits of smoking cessation.
This is a report on whether smoking cessation confers the same benefits in terms of lung cancer risk reduction for those who possess CHRNA5 risk variants versus those who do not. We determined that quitting smoking is highly beneficial in reducing lung cancer risk levels for smokers regardless of their CHRNA5 rs16969968 genetic risk status. Although CHRNA5 rs16969968 increases risk for earlier lung cancer by 4 years, quitting produces essentially the same benefit for smokers with either high or low genetic risks. Smokers can cut their risk of lung cancer in half and delay its onset by 7 years among those diagnosed. These results are important for smokers to prevent cancer. On average, smokers at all genetic risk levels can largely eliminate their elevated risk for lung cancer by quitting smoking.
PMCID: PMC5049934  PMID: 27543155
Smoking cessation; Genetics; Meta-analysis; Lung cancer
5.  CHRNA5 Risk Variant Predicts Delayed Smoking Cessation and Earlier Lung Cancer Diagnosis—A Meta-Analysis 
Recent meta-analyses show strong evidence of associations among genetic variants in CHRNA5 on chromosome 15q25, smoking quantity, and lung cancer. This meta-analysis tests whether the CHRNA5 variant rs16969968 predicts age of smoking cessation and age of lung cancer diagnosis.
Meta-analyses examined associations between rs16969968, age of quitting smoking, and age of lung cancer diagnosis in 24 studies of European ancestry (n = 29 072). In each dataset, we used Cox regression models to evaluate the association between rs16969968 and the two primary phenotypes (age of smoking cessation among ever smokers and age of lung cancer diagnosis among lung cancer case patients) and the secondary phenotype of smoking duration. Heterogeneity across studies was assessed with the Cochran Q test. All statistical tests were two-sided.
The rs16969968 allele (A) was associated with a lower likelihood of smoking cessation (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.95, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.91 to 0.98, P = .0042), and the AA genotype was associated with a four-year delay in median age of quitting compared with the GG genotype. Among smokers with lung cancer diagnoses, the rs16969968 genotype (AA) was associated with a four-year earlier median age of diagnosis compared with the low-risk genotype (GG) (HR = 1.08, 95% CI = 1.04 to 1.12, P = 1.1*10–5).
These data support the clinical significance of the CHRNA5 variant rs16969968. It predicts delayed smoking cessation and an earlier age of lung cancer diagnosis in this meta-analysis. Given the existing evidence that this CHRNA5 variant predicts favorable response to cessation pharmacotherapy, these findings underscore the potential clinical and public health importance of rs16969968 in CHRNA5 in relation to smoking cessation success and lung cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC4822525  PMID: 25873736
6.  The MICA-129 dimorphism affects NKG2D signaling and outcome of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2015;7(11):1480-1502.
The MHC class I chain-related molecule A (MICA) is a highly polymorphic ligand for the activating natural killer (NK)-cell receptor NKG2D. A single nucleotide polymorphism causes a valine to methionine exchange at position 129. Presence of a MICA-129Met allele in patients (n = 452) undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) increased the chance of overall survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.77, P = 0.0445) and reduced the risk to die due to acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) (odds ratio [OR] = 0.57, P = 0.0400) although homozygous carriers had an increased risk to experience this complication (OR = 1.92, P = 0.0371). Overall survival of MICA-129Val/Val genotype carriers was improved when treated with anti-thymocyte globulin (HR = 0.54, P = 0.0166). Functionally, the MICA-129Met isoform was characterized by stronger NKG2D signaling, triggering more NK-cell cytotoxicity and interferon-γ release, and faster co-stimulation of CD8+ T cells. The MICA-129Met variant also induced a faster and stronger down-regulation of NKG2D on NK and CD8+ T cells than the MICA-129Val isoform. The reduced cell surface expression of NKG2D in response to engagement by MICA-129Met variants appeared to reduce the severity of aGVHD.
PMCID: PMC4644379  PMID: 26483398
cytotoxic T cells; graft-versus-host disease; NK-cell receptors; NK cells; single nucleotide polymorphism
7.  META-GSA: Combining Findings from Gene-Set Analyses across Several Genome-Wide Association Studies 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0140179.
Gene-set analysis (GSA) methods are used as complementary approaches to genome-wide association studies (GWASs). The single marker association estimates of a predefined set of genes are either contrasted with those of all remaining genes or with a null non-associated background. To pool the p-values from several GSAs, it is important to take into account the concordance of the observed patterns resulting from single marker association point estimates across any given gene set. Here we propose an enhanced version of Fisher’s inverse χ2-method META-GSA, however weighting each study to account for imperfect correlation between association patterns.
Simulation and Power
We investigated the performance of META-GSA by simulating GWASs with 500 cases and 500 controls at 100 diallelic markers in 20 different scenarios, simulating different relative risks between 1 and 1.5 in gene sets of 10 genes. Wilcoxon’s rank sum test was applied as GSA for each study. We found that META-GSA has greater power to discover truly associated gene sets than simple pooling of the p-values, by e.g. 59% versus 37%, when the true relative risk for 5 of 10 genes was assume to be 1.5. Under the null hypothesis of no difference in the true association pattern between the gene set of interest and the set of remaining genes, the results of both approaches are almost uncorrelated. We recommend not relying on p-values alone when combining the results of independent GSAs.
We applied META-GSA to pool the results of four case-control GWASs of lung cancer risk (Central European Study and Toronto/Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute Study; German Lung Cancer Study and MD Anderson Cancer Center Study), which had already been analyzed separately with four different GSA methods (EASE; SLAT, mSUMSTAT and GenGen). This application revealed the pathway GO0015291 “transmembrane transporter activity” as significantly enriched with associated genes (GSA-method: EASE, p = 0.0315 corrected for multiple testing). Similar results were found for GO0015464 “acetylcholine receptor activity” but only when not corrected for multiple testing (all GSA-methods applied; p≈0.02).
PMCID: PMC4621033  PMID: 26501144
8.  Controversial association results for INSIG2 on body mass index may be explained by interactions with age and with MC4R 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2014;22(10):1217-1224.
Among the single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) previously reported to be associated with body mass index (BMI) and obesity, we focus on a common risk variant rs7566605 upstream of the insulin-induced gene 2 (INSIG2) gene and a rare protective variant rs2229616 on the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) gene. INSIG2 is involved in adipogenesis and MC4R effects hormonal appetite control in response to the amount of adipose tissue. The influence of rs2229616 (MC4R) on BMI and obesity has been confirmed repeatedly and insight into the underlying mechanism provided. However, a main effect of rs7566605 (INSIG2) is under debate because of inconsistent replications of association. Interaction of rs7566605 with age may offer an explanation. SNP–age and SNP–SNP interaction models were tested on independent individuals from three population-based longitudinal cohorts, restricting the analysis to an observed age of 25–74 years. KORA S3/F3, KORA S4/F4 (Augsburg, Germany, 1994–2005, 1999–2008), and Framingham-Offspring data (Framingham, USA, 1971–2001) were analysed, with a total sample size of N=6926 in the joint analysis. The effect of interaction between rs7566605 and age on BMI and obesity status is significant and consistent across studies. This new evidence for rs7566605 (INSIG2) complements previous research. In addition, the interaction effect of rs7566605 with the MC4R variant rs2229616 on BMI was observed. This effect size was three times larger than that in a previously reported single-locus main effect of rs2229616. This leads to the conclusion that SNP–age or SNP–SNP interactions can mask genetic effects for complex diseases if left unaccounted for.
PMCID: PMC4169541  PMID: 24518831
age dependence; body mass; cohort studies; genetic epistasis; longitudinal studies; obesity
9.  Informed Genome-Wide Association Analysis With Family History As a Secondary Phenotype Identifies Novel Loci of Lung Cancer 
Genetic epidemiology  2015;39(3):197-206.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Although several genetic variants associated with lung cancer have been identified in the past, stringent selection criteria of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) can lead to missed variants. The objective of this study was to uncover missed variants by using the known association between lung cancer and first-degree family history of lung cancer to enrich the variant prioritization for lung cancer susceptibility regions. In this two-stage GWAS study, we first selected a list of variants associated with both lung cancer and family history of lung cancer in four GWAS (3,953 cases, 4,730 controls), then replicated our findings for 30 variants in a meta-analysis of four additional studies (7,510 cases, 7,476 controls). The top ranked genetic variant rs12415204 in chr10q23.33 encoding FFAR4 in the Discovery set was validated in the Replication set with an overall OR of 1.09 (95% CI = 1.04, 1.14, P = 1.63 × 10−4). When combining the two stages of the study, the strongest association was found in rs1158970 at Ch4p15.2 encoding KCNIP4 with an OR of 0.89 (95% CI = 0.85, 0.94, P = 9.64 × 10−6). We performed a stratified analysis of rs12415204 and rs1158970 across all eight studies by age, gender, smoking status, and histology, and found consistent results across strata. Four of the 30 replicated variants act as expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) sites in 1,111 nontumor lung tissues and meet the genome-wide 10% FDR threshold.
PMCID: PMC4554719  PMID: 25644374
lung cancer; family history; secondary phenotype; genetic susceptibility; genome-wide association studies; eQTL
10.  Genetic determinants of telomere length and risk of common cancers: a Mendelian randomization study 
Human Molecular Genetics  2015;24(18):5356-5366.
Epidemiological studies have reported inconsistent associations between telomere length (TL) and risk for various cancers. These inconsistencies are likely attributable, in part, to biases that arise due to post-diagnostic and post-treatment TL measurement. To avoid such biases, we used a Mendelian randomization approach and estimated associations between nine TL-associated SNPs and risk for five common cancer types (breast, lung, colorectal, ovarian and prostate cancer, including subtypes) using data on 51 725 cases and 62 035 controls. We then used an inverse-variance weighted average of the SNP-specific associations to estimate the association between a genetic score representing long TL and cancer risk. The long TL genetic score was significantly associated with increased risk of lung adenocarcinoma (P = 6.3 × 10−15), even after exclusion of a SNP residing in a known lung cancer susceptibility region (TERT-CLPTM1L) P = 6.6 × 10−6). Under Mendelian randomization assumptions, the association estimate [odds ratio (OR) = 2.78] is interpreted as the OR for lung adenocarcinoma corresponding to a 1000 bp increase in TL. The weighted TL SNP score was not associated with other cancer types or subtypes. Our finding that genetic determinants of long TL increase lung adenocarcinoma risk avoids issues with reverse causality and residual confounding that arise in observational studies of TL and disease risk. Under Mendelian randomization assumptions, our finding suggests that longer TL increases lung adenocarcinoma risk. However, caution regarding this causal interpretation is warranted in light of the potential issue of pleiotropy, and a more general interpretation is that SNPs influencing telomere biology are also implicated in lung adenocarcinoma risk.
PMCID: PMC4550826  PMID: 26138067
11.  A Network-Based Kernel Machine Test for the Identification of Risk Pathways in Genome-Wide Association Studies 
Human heredity  2014;76(2):64-75.
Biological pathways provide rich information and biological context on the genetic causes of complex diseases. The logistic kernel machine test integrates prior knowledge on pathways in order to analyze data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Here, the kernel converts genomic information of two individuals to a quantitative value reflecting their genetic similarity. With the selection of the kernel one implicitly chooses a genetic effect model. Like many other pathway methods, none of the available kernels accounts for topological structure of the pathway or gene-gene interaction types. However, evidence indicates that connectivity and neighborhood of genes are crucial in the context of GWAS, because genes associated with a disease often interact. Thus, we propose a novel kernel that incorporates the topology of pathways and information on interactions. Using simulation studies, we demonstrate that the proposed method maintains the type I error correctly and can be more effective in the identification of pathways associated with a disease than non-network-based methods. We apply our approach to genome-wide association case control data on lung cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. We identify some promising new pathways associated with these diseases, which may improve our current understanding of the genetic mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4026009  PMID: 24434848
Kernel Machine Test; Pathways; Networks; Gene-Gene Interactions; Score Test; Generalized Linear Model; Lung Cancer; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Disease Association; Genetic Association Studies
12.  Empirical Hierarchical Bayes Approach to Gene-Environment Interactions: Development and Application to Genome-Wide Association Studies of Lung Cancer in TRICL 
Genetic epidemiology  2013;37(6):551-559.
The analysis of gene-environment (GxE) interactions remains one of the greatest challenges in the post-genome-wide-association-studies (GWAS) era. Recent methods constitute a compromise between the robust but underpowered case-control and powerful case-only methods. Inferences of the latter are biased when the assumption of gene-environment (G-E) independence fails. We propose a novel empirical hierarchical Bayes approach to GxE interaction (EHB-GE), which benefits from greater power while accounting for population-based G-E dependence. Building on Lewinger et al.'s ([2007] Genet Epidemiol 31:871-882) hierarchical Bayes prioritization approach, the method utilizes posterior G-E association estimates in controls based on G-E information across the genome to adjust for it in resulting test statistics. These posteriori estimates are subtracted from the corresponding G-E association coefficients within cases.
We compared EHB-GE with rival methods using simulation. EHB-GE has similar or greater rank power to detect GxE interactions in the presence of large numbers of G-E associations with weak to strong effects or only a low number of such associations with large effect. When there are no or only a few weak G-E associations, Murcray et al.'s method ([2009] Am J Epidemiol 169:219-226) identifies markers with low GxE interaction effects better. We applied EHB-GE and competing methods to four lung cancer case-control GWAS from the TRICL/ILCCO consortium with smoking as environmental factor. Genes identified by the EHB-GE approach are reasonable candidates, suggesting usefulness of the method.
PMCID: PMC4082246  PMID: 23893921
population G-E association; GWAS; rank power; lung cancer
13.  Kernel score statistic for dependent data 
BMC Proceedings  2014;8(Suppl 1):S41.
The kernel score statistic is a global covariance component test over a set of genetic markers. It provides a flexible modeling framework and does not collapse marker information. We generalize the kernel score statistic to allow for familial dependencies and to adjust for random confounder effects. With this extension, we adjust our analysis of real and simulated baseline systolic blood pressure for polygenic familial background. We find that the kernel score test gains appreciably in power through the use of sequencing compared to tag-single-nucleotide polymorphisms for very rare single nucleotide polymorphisms with <1% minor allele frequency.
PMCID: PMC4143755  PMID: 25519324
14.  Genetic Analysis Workshop 18: Methods and strategies for analyzing human sequence and phenotype data in members of extended pedigrees 
BMC Proceedings  2014;8(Suppl 1):S1.
Genetic Analysis Workshop 18 provided a platform for developing and evaluating statistical methods to analyze whole-genome sequence data from a pedigree-based sample. In this article we present an overview of the data sets and the contributions that analyzed these data. The family data, donated by the Type 2 Diabetes Genetic Exploration by Next-Generation Sequencing in Ethnic Samples Consortium, included sequence-level genotypes based on sequencing and imputation, genome-wide association genotypes from prior genotyping arrays, and phenotypes from longitudinal assessments. The contributions from individual research groups were extensively discussed before, during, and after the workshop in theme-based discussion groups before being submitted for publication.
PMCID: PMC4143625  PMID: 25519310
15.  Hierarchical modeling identifies novel lung cancer susceptibility variants in inflammation pathways among 10,140 cases and 11,012 controls 
Human genetics  2013;132(5):579-589.
Recent evidence suggests that inflammation plays a pivotal role in the development of lung cancer. In this study, we used a two-stage approach to investigate associations between genetic variants in inflammation pathways and lung cancer risk based on genome-wide association study (GWAS) data. A total of 7,650 sequence variants from 720 genes relevant to inflammation pathways were identified using keyword and pathway searches from Gene Cards and Gene Ontology databases. In Stage 1, six GWAS datasets from the International Lung Cancer Consortium were pooled (4,441 cases and 5,094 controls of European ancestry), and a hierarchical modeling (HM) approach was used to incorporate prior information for each of the variants into the analysis. The prior matrix was constructed using (1) role of genes in the inflammation and immune pathways; (2) physical properties of the variants including the location of the variants, their conservation scores and amino acid coding; (3) LD with other functional variants and (4) measures of heterogeneity across the studies. HM affected the priority ranking of variants particularly among those having low prior weights, imprecise estimates and/or heterogeneity across studies. In Stage 2, we used an independent NCI lung cancer GWAS study (5,699 cases and 5,818 controls) for in silico replication. We identified one novel variant at the level corrected for multiple comparisons (rs2741354 in EPHX2 at 8q21.1 with p value = 7.4 × 10−6), and confirmed the associations between TERT (rs2736100) and the HLA region and lung cancer risk. HM allows for prior knowledge such as from bioinformatic sources to be incorporated into the analysis systematically, and it represents a complementary analytical approach to the conventional GWAS analysis.
PMCID: PMC3628758  PMID: 23370545
16.  A Novel Kernel for Correcting Size Bias in the Logistic Kernel Machine Test with an Application to Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Human heredity  2013;74(2):97-108.
The logistic kernel machine test (LKMT) is a testing procedure tailored towards high-dimensional genetic data. Its use in pathway analyses of GWA case-control studies results from its computational efficiency and flexibility of incorporating additional information via the kernel. The kernel can be any positive definite function; unfortunately its form strongly influences the power and bias. Most authors have recommended the use of the simple linear kernel. We demonstrate via a simulation that the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis of no association just by chance increases with the number of SNPs or genes in the pathway when applying this kernel.
We propose a novel kernel that includes an appropriate standardization, in order to protect against any inflation of false positive results. Moreover, our novel kernel contains information on gene membership of SNPs in the pathway.
In an application to data from the NARAC Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium, we find that even this basic genomic structure can improve the ability of the LKMT to identify meaningful associations. We also demonstrate that the standardization effectively eliminates problems with size bias.
We recommend the use of our standardized kernel and urge caution when using non-adjusted kernels in the LKMT to conduct pathway analysis.
PMCID: PMC3779069  PMID: 23466369
Logistic Kernel Machine Regression; Size Bias; Pathway Analysis; GWAS; Rheumatoid Arthritis
17.  Previous Lung Diseases and Lung Cancer Risk: A Pooled Analysis From the International Lung Cancer Consortium 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;176(7):573-585.
To clarify the role of previous lung diseases (chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, and tuberculosis) in the development of lung cancer, the authors conducted a pooled analysis of studies in the International Lung Cancer Consortium. Seventeen studies including 24,607 cases and 81,829 controls (noncases), mainly conducted in Europe and North America, were included (1984–2011). Using self-reported data on previous diagnoses of lung diseases, the authors derived study-specific effect estimates by means of logistic regression models or Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, sex, and cumulative tobacco smoking. Estimates were pooled using random-effects models. Analyses stratified by smoking status and histology were also conducted. A history of emphysema conferred a 2.44-fold increased risk of lung cancer (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.64, 3.62 (16 studies)). A history of chronic bronchitis conferred a relative risk of 1.47 (95% CI: 1.29, 1.68 (13 studies)). Tuberculosis (relative risk = 1.48, 95% CI: 1.17, 1.87 (16 studies)) and pneumonia (relative risk = 1.57, 95% CI: 1.22, 2.01 (12 studies)) were also associated with lung cancer risk. Among never smokers, elevated risks were observed for emphysema, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. These results suggest that previous lung diseases influence lung cancer risk independently of tobacco use and that these diseases are important for assessing individual risk.
PMCID: PMC3530374  PMID: 22986146
bronchitis; chronic; emphysema; lung diseases; lung neoplasms; meta-analysis; pneumonia; pulmonary disease; chronic obstructive; tuberculosis
18.  Increased risk of lung cancer in individuals with a family history of the disease: A pooled analysis from the International Lung Cancer Consortium 
Background and Methods
Familial aggregation of lung cancer exists after accounting for cigarette smoking. However, the extent to which family history affects risk by smoking status, histology, relative type and ethnicity is not well described. This pooled analysis included 24 case-control studies in the International Lung Cancer Consortium. Each study collected age of onset/interview, gender, race/ethnicity, cigarette smoking, histology and first-degree family history of lung cancer. Data from 24,380 lung cancer cases and 23,305 healthy controls were analyzed. Unconditional logistic regression models and generalized estimating equations were used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.
Individuals with a first-degree relative with lung cancer had a 1.51-fold increase in risk of lung cancer, after adjustment for smoking and other potential confounders(95% CI: 1.39, 1.63). The association was strongest for those with a family history in a sibling, after adjustment (OR=1.82, 95% CI: 1.62, 2.05). No modifying effect by histologic type was found. Never smokers showed a lower association with positive familial history of lung cancer (OR=1.25, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.52), slightly stronger for those with an affected sibling (OR=1.44, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.93), after adjustment.
The increased risk among never smokers and similar magnitudes of the effect of family history on lung cancer risk across histological types suggests familial aggregation of lung cancer is independent of those associated with cigarette smoking. While the role of genetic variation in the etiology of lung cancer remains to be fully characterized, family history assessment is immediately available and those with a positive history represent a higher risk group.
PMCID: PMC3445438  PMID: 22436981
19.  Odor naming and interpretation performance in 881 schizophrenia subjects: association with clinical parameters 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:218.
Olfactory function tests are sensitive tools for assessing sensory-cognitive processing in schizophrenia. However, associations of central olfactory measures with clinical outcome parameters have not been simultaneously studied in large samples of schizophrenia patients.
In the framework of the comprehensive phenotyping of the GRAS (Göttingen Research Association for Schizophrenia) cohort, we modified and extended existing odor naming (active memory retrieval) and interpretation (attribute assignment) tasks to evaluate them in 881 schizophrenia patients and 102 healthy controls matched for age, gender and smoking behavior. Associations with emotional processing, neuropsychological test performance and disease outcome were studied.
Schizophrenia patients underperformed controls in both olfactory tasks. Odor naming deficits were primarily associated with compromised cognition, interpretation deficits with positive symptom severity and general alertness. Contrasting schizophrenia extreme performers of odor interpretation (best versus worst percentile; N=88 each) and healthy individuals (N=102) underscores the obvious relationship between impaired odor interpretation and psychopathology, cognitive dysfunctioning, and emotional processing (all p<0.004).
The strong association of performance in higher olfactory measures, odor naming and interpretation, with lead symptoms of schizophrenia and determinants of disease severity highlights their clinical and scientific significance. Based on the results obtained here in an exploratory fashion in a large patient sample, the development of an easy-to-use clinical test with improved psychometric properties may be encouraged.
PMCID: PMC3765908  PMID: 24229413
Odor naming; Higher olfactory processing; Odor interpretation; Positive symptoms; Cognition
20.  Increased Genetic Vulnerability to Smoking at CHRNA5 in Early-Onset Smokers 
Hartz, Sarah M. | Short, Susan E. | Saccone, Nancy L. | Culverhouse, Robert | Chen, LiShiun | Schwantes-An, Tae-Hwi | Coon, Hilary | Han, Younghun | Stephens, Sarah H. | Sun, Juzhong | Chen, Xiangning | Ducci, Francesca | Dueker, Nicole | Franceschini, Nora | Frank, Josef | Geller, Frank | Guđbjartsson, Daniel | Hansel, Nadia N. | Jiang, Chenhui | Keskitalo-Vuokko, Kaisu | Liu, Zhen | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Michel, Martha | Rawal, Rajesh | Hum, Sc | Rosenberger, Albert | Scheet, Paul | Shaffer, John R. | Teumer, Alexander | Thompson, John R. | Vink, Jacqueline M. | Vogelzangs, Nicole | Wenzlaff, Angela S. | Wheeler, William | Xiao, Xiangjun | Yang, Bao-Zhu | Aggen, Steven H. | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Baumeister, Sebastian E. | Beaty, Terri | Bennett, Siiri | Bergen, Andrew W. | Boyd, Heather A. | Broms, Ulla | Campbell, Harry | Chatterjee, Nilanjan | Chen, Jingchun | Cheng, Yu-Ching | Cichon, Sven | Couper, David | Cucca, Francesco | Dick, Danielle M. | Foroud, Tatiana | Furberg, Helena | Giegling, Ina | Gu, Fangyi | Hall, Alistair S. | Hällfors, Jenni | Han, Shizhong | Hartmann, Annette M. | Hayward, Caroline | Heikkilä, Kauko | Lic, Phil | Hewitt, John K. | Hottenga, Jouke Jan | Jensen, Majken K. | Jousilahti, Pekka | Kaakinen, Marika | Kittner, Steven J. | Konte, Bettina | Korhonen, Tellervo | Landi, Maria-Teresa | Laatikainen, Tiina | Leppert, Mark | Levy, Steven M. | Mathias, Rasika A. | McNeil, Daniel W. | Medland, Sarah E. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Muley, Thomas | Murray, Tanda | Nauck, Matthias | North, Kari | Pergadia, Michele | Polasek, Ozren | Ramos, Erin M. | Ripatti, Samuli | Risch, Angela | Ruczinski, Ingo | Rudan, Igor | Salomaa, Veikko | Schlessinger, David | Styrkársdóttir, Unnur | Terracciano, Antonio | Uda, Manuela | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wu, Xifeng | Abecasis, Goncalo | Barnes, Kathleen | Bickeböller, Heike | Boerwinkle, Eric | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Caporaso, Neil | Duan, Jubao | Edenberg, Howard J. | Francks, Clyde | Gejman, Pablo V. | Gelernter, Joel | Grabe, Hans Jörgen | Hops, Hyman | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Viikari, Jorma | Kähönen, Mika | Kendler, Kenneth S. | Lehtimäki, Terho | Levinson, Douglas F. | Marazita, Mary L. | Marchini, Jonathan | Melbye, Mads | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Murray, Jeffrey C. | Nöthen, Markus M. | Penninx, Brenda W. | Raitakari, Olli | Rietschel, Marcella | Rujescu, Dan | Samani, Nilesh J. | Sanders, Alan R. | Schwartz, Ann G. | Shete, Sanjay | Shi, Jianxin | Spitz, Margaret | Stefansson, Kari | Swan, Gary E. | Thorgeirsson, Thorgeir | Völzke, Henry | Wei, Qingyi | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Amos, Christopher I. | Breslau, Naomi | Cannon, Dale S. | Ehringer, Marissa | Grucza, Richard | Hatsukami, Dorothy | Heath, Andrew | Johnson, Eric O. | Kaprio, Jaakko | Madden, Pamela | Martin, Nicholas G. | Stevens, Victoria L. | Stitzel, Jerry A. | Weiss, Robert B. | Kraft, Peter | Bierut, Laura J.
Archives of general psychiatry  2012;69(8):854-860.
Recent studies have shown an association between cigarettes per day (CPD) and a nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphism in CHRNA5, rs16969968.
To determine whether the association between rs16969968 and smoking is modified by age at onset of regular smoking.
Data Sources
Primary data.
Study Selection
Available genetic studies containing measures of CPD and the genotype of rs16969968 or its proxy.
Data Extraction
Uniform statistical analysis scripts were run locally. Starting with 94 050 ever-smokers from 43 studies, we extracted the heavy smokers (CPD >20) and light smokers (CPD ≤10) with age-at-onset information, reducing the sample size to 33 348. Each study was stratified into early-onset smokers (age at onset ≤16 years) and late-onset smokers (age at onset >16 years), and a logistic regression of heavy vs light smoking with the rs16969968 genotype was computed for each stratum. Meta-analysis was performed within each age-at-onset stratum.
Data Synthesis
Individuals with 1 risk allele at rs16969968 who were early-onset smokers were significantly more likely to be heavy smokers in adulthood (odds ratio [OR]=1.45; 95% CI, 1.36–1.55; n=13 843) than were carriers of the risk allele who were late-onset smokers (OR = 1.27; 95% CI, 1.21–1.33, n = 19 505) (P = .01).
These results highlight an increased genetic vulnerability to smoking in early-onset smokers.
PMCID: PMC3482121  PMID: 22868939
21.  Asthma and lung cancer risk: a systematic investigation by the International Lung Cancer Consortium 
Carcinogenesis  2011;33(3):587-597.
Asthma has been hypothesized to be associated with lung cancer (LC) risk. We conducted a pooled analysis of 16 studies in the International Lung Cancer Consortium (ILCCO) to quantitatively assess this association and compared the results with 36 previously published studies. In total, information from 585 444 individuals was used. Study-specific measures were combined using random effects models. A meta-regression and subgroup meta-analyses were performed to identify sources of heterogeneity. The overall LC relative risk (RR) associated with asthma was 1.28 [95% confidence intervals (CIs) = 1.16–1.41] but with large heterogeneity (I2 = 73%, P < 0.001) between studies. Among ILCCO studies, an increased risk was found for squamous cell (RR = 1.69, 95%, CI = 1.26–2.26) and for small-cell carcinoma (RR = 1.71, 95% CI = 0.99–2.95) but was weaker for adenocarcinoma (RR = 1.09, 95% CI = 0.88–1.36). The increased LC risk was strongest in the 2 years after asthma diagnosis (RR = 2.13, 95% CI = 1.09–4.17) but subjects diagnosed with asthma over 10 years prior had no or little increased LC risk (RR = 1.10, 95% CI = 0.94–1.30). Because the increased incidence of LC was chiefly observed in small cell and squamous cell lung carcinomas, primarily within 2 years of asthma diagnosis and because the association was weak among never smokers, we conclude that the association may not reflect a causal effect of asthma on the risk of LC.
PMCID: PMC3291861  PMID: 22198214
22.  Informed Conditioning on Clinical Covariates Increases Power in Case-Control Association Studies 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(11):e1003032.
Genetic case-control association studies often include data on clinical covariates, such as body mass index (BMI), smoking status, or age, that may modify the underlying genetic risk of case or control samples. For example, in type 2 diabetes, odds ratios for established variants estimated from low–BMI cases are larger than those estimated from high–BMI cases. An unanswered question is how to use this information to maximize statistical power in case-control studies that ascertain individuals on the basis of phenotype (case-control ascertainment) or phenotype and clinical covariates (case-control-covariate ascertainment). While current approaches improve power in studies with random ascertainment, they often lose power under case-control ascertainment and fail to capture available power increases under case-control-covariate ascertainment. We show that an informed conditioning approach, based on the liability threshold model with parameters informed by external epidemiological information, fully accounts for disease prevalence and non-random ascertainment of phenotype as well as covariates and provides a substantial increase in power while maintaining a properly controlled false-positive rate. Our method outperforms standard case-control association tests with or without covariates, tests of gene x covariate interaction, and previously proposed tests for dealing with covariates in ascertained data, with especially large improvements in the case of case-control-covariate ascertainment. We investigate empirical case-control studies of type 2 diabetes, prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, age-related macular degeneration, and end-stage kidney disease over a total of 89,726 samples. In these datasets, informed conditioning outperforms logistic regression for 115 of the 157 known associated variants investigated (P-value = 1×10−9). The improvement varied across diseases with a 16% median increase in χ2 test statistics and a commensurate increase in power. This suggests that applying our method to existing and future association studies of these diseases may identify novel disease loci.
Author Summary
This work describes a new methodology for analyzing genome-wide case-control association studies of diseases with strong correlations to clinical covariates, such as age in prostate cancer and body mass index in type 2 diabetes. Currently, researchers either ignore these clinical covariates or apply approaches that ignore the disease's prevalence and the study's ascertainment strategy. We take an alternative approach, leveraging external prevalence information from the epidemiological literature and constructing a statistic based on the classic liability threshold model of disease. Our approach not only improves the power of studies that ascertain individuals randomly or based on the disease phenotype, but also improves the power of studies that ascertain individuals based on both the disease phenotype and clinical covariates. We apply our statistic to seven datasets over six different diseases and a variety of clinical covariates. We found that there was a substantial improvement in test statistics relative to current approaches at known associated variants. This suggests that novel loci may be identified by applying our method to existing and future association studies of these diseases.
PMCID: PMC3493452  PMID: 23144628
23.  Influence of common genetic variation on lung cancer risk: meta-analysis of 14 900 cases and 29 485 controls 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(22):4980-4995.
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified common genetic variants at 5p15.33, 6p21–6p22 and 15q25.1 associated with lung cancer risk. Several other genetic regions including variants of CHEK2 (22q12), TP53BP1 (15q15) and RAD52 (12p13) have been demonstrated to influence lung cancer risk in candidate- or pathway-based analyses. To identify novel risk variants for lung cancer, we performed a meta-analysis of 16 GWASs, totaling 14 900 cases and 29 485 controls of European descent. Our data provided increased support for previously identified risk loci at 5p15 (P = 7.2 × 10−16), 6p21 (P = 2.3 × 10−14) and 15q25 (P = 2.2 × 10−63). Furthermore, we demonstrated histology-specific effects for 5p15, 6p21 and 12p13 loci but not for the 15q25 region. Subgroup analysis also identified a novel disease locus for squamous cell carcinoma at 9p21 (CDKN2A/p16INK4A/p14ARF/CDKN2B/p15INK4B/ANRIL; rs1333040, P = 3.0 × 10−7) which was replicated in a series of 5415 Han Chinese (P = 0.03; combined analysis, P = 2.3 × 10−8). This large analysis provides additional evidence for the role of inherited genetic susceptibility to lung cancer and insight into biological differences in the development of the different histological types of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3607485  PMID: 22899653
24.  Heritability of Radiation Response in Lung Cancer Families 
Genes  2012;3(2):248-260.
Radiation sensitivity is assumed to be a cancer susceptibility factor due to impaired DNA damage signalling and repair. Relevant genetic factors may also determine the observed familial aggregation of early onset lung cancer. We investigated the heritability of radiation sensitivity in families of 177 Caucasian cases of early onset lung cancer. In total 798 individuals were characterized for their radiation-induced DNA damage response. DNA damage analysis was performed by alkaline comet assay before and after in vitro irradiation of isolated lymphocytes. The cells were exposed to a dose of 4 Gy and allowed to repair induced DNA-damage up to 60 minutes. The primary outcome parameter Olive Tail Moment was the basis for heritability estimates. Heritability was highest for basal damage (without irradiation) 70% (95%-CI: 51%–88%) and initial damage (directly after irradiation) 65% (95%-CI: 47%–83%) and decreased to 20%–48% for the residual damage after different repair times. Hence our study supports the hypothesis that genomic instability represented by the basal DNA damage as well as radiation induced and repaired damage is highly heritable. Genes influencing genome instability and DNA repair are therefore of major interest for the etiology of lung cancer in the young. The comet assay represents a proper tool to investigate heritability of the radiation sensitive phenotype. Our results are in good agreement with other mutagen sensitivity assays.
PMCID: PMC3899950  PMID: 24704916
COMET Assay; DNA damage; familial aggregation; lung cancer
25.  Comparison of Pathway Analysis Approaches Using Lung Cancer GWAS Data Sets 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31816.
Pathway analysis has been proposed as a complement to single SNP analyses in GWAS. This study compared pathway analysis methods using two lung cancer GWAS data sets based on four studies: one a combined data set from Central Europe and Toronto (CETO); the other a combined data set from Germany and MD Anderson (GRMD). We searched the literature for pathway analysis methods that were widely used, representative of other methods, and had available software for performing analysis. We selected the programs EASE, which uses a modified Fishers Exact calculation to test for pathway associations, GenGen (a version of Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA)), which uses a Kolmogorov-Smirnov-like running sum statistic as the test statistic, and SLAT, which uses a p-value combination approach. We also included a modified version of the SUMSTAT method (mSUMSTAT), which tests for association by averaging χ2 statistics from genotype association tests. There were nearly 18000 genes available for analysis, following mapping of more than 300,000 SNPs from each data set. These were mapped to 421 GO level 4 gene sets for pathway analysis. Among the methods designed to be robust to biases related to gene size and pathway SNP correlation (GenGen, mSUMSTAT and SLAT), the mSUMSTAT approach identified the most significant pathways (8 in CETO and 1 in GRMD). This included a highly plausible association for the acetylcholine receptor activity pathway in both CETO (FDR≤0.001) and GRMD (FDR = 0.009), although two strong association signals at a single gene cluster (CHRNA3-CHRNA5-CHRNB4) drive this result, complicating its interpretation. Few other replicated associations were found using any of these methods. Difficulty in replicating associations hindered our comparison, but results suggest mSUMSTAT has advantages over the other approaches, and may be a useful pathway analysis tool to use alongside other methods such as the commonly used GSEA (GenGen) approach.
PMCID: PMC3283683  PMID: 22363742

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