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1.  Late-Onset Alzheimer Risk Variants in Memory Decline, Incident Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer Disease 
Neurobiology of aging  2014;36(1):60-67.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) identified risk variants. We assessed the association of nine variants with memory and progression to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or LOAD (MCI/LOAD).
Older Caucasians, cognitively normal at baseline and longitudinally evaluated at Mayo Clinic Rochester and Jacksonville, were assessed for associations of genetic variants with memory decline (n=2,262) using linear mixed models and for incident MCI/LOAD (n=2,674) with Cox proportional hazards models. Each variant was tested both individually and collectively using a single weighted risk score.
APOE-ε4 was significantly associated with worse memory at baseline (β=-0.88, p=2.78E-03) and increased rate of 5-year decline (β=-1.43, p=3.71E-06) with highly significant overall effect on memory (p=3.88E-09). CLU-locus risk allele rs11136000-G was associated with worse memory at baseline (β=-0.51, p=0.012), but not with increased rate of decline. CLU allele was also associated with incident MCI/LOAD (hazard ratio=HR=1.14, p=0.049) in sensitivity analysis. MS4A6A-locus risk allele rs610932-C was associated with increased incident MCI/LOAD in primary analysis (HR=1.17, p=0.016) and had suggestive association with lower baseline memory (β=-0.35, p=0.08). PICALM-locus risk allele rs3851179-G had nominally significant HR in both primary and sensitivity analysis, but with a protective estimate. LOAD risk alleles ABCA7-rs3764650-C and EPHA1-rs11767557-A associated with increased rates of memory decline in the subset of subjects with a final diagnosis of MCI/LOAD. Risk scores excluding APOE were not significant, whereas APOE-inclusive risk scores associated with worse memory and incident MCI/LOAD.
The collective influence of the nine top LOAD GWAS variants on memory decline and progression to MCI/LOAD appears limited. Given the significant associations observed with APOE-ε4, discovery of the biologically functional variants at these loci may uncover stronger effects on memory and incident disease.
PMCID: PMC4268433  PMID: 25189118
Alzheimer's disease; memory; mild cognitive impairment; genetic risk; association; cognitive decline
2.  Use of endoscopic distal attachment cap to enhance image stabilization in probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy in colorectal lesions*  
Endoscopy International Open  2015;3(5):E516-E522.
Background and study aims: Colorectal cancer can be prevented through the use of colonoscopy with polypectomy. Most colon polyps are benign or low grade adenomas. However, currently all lesions need histopathologic analysis, which increases diagnostic costs and delays the final diagnosis. Confocal laser endomicroscopy (CLE) is a new technology that enables real-time endomicroscopy. However, there are challenges to maintaining a stable image with currently available systems. We conducted a small study to obtain a preliminary assessment of whether the use of an endoscopic distal attachment cap may enhance image quality of CLE in comparison with images obtained with free-hand acquisition.
Patients and methods: Forty outpatients underwent colonoscopy for evaluation of colon polyps in a single academic medical center. Patients were assigned randomly to 1 of 2 study arms on the basis of whether an endoscopic distal attachment cap was used (n = 21, Cap Used) or not used (n = 19, No Cap) in the procedure. The quality of confocal images and probe stabilization was summarized.
Results: A total of 81 polyps were identified. The proportion of polyps with images of high quality was 74 % (28/38) in the Cap Used group and 79 % (30/38) in the No Cap arm. Image stability was also similar with and without a cap. Diagnostic accuracy was estimated to be slightly higher in the Cap Used group for probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE; 78 % vs 70 %). This was also true for white-light and narrow-band imaging.
Conclusions: This preliminary study did not yield any evidence to support that the use of an endoscopic distal attachment cap improves the quality of images obtained during CLE.
PMCID: PMC4612228  PMID: 26528511
3.  Cerebellar c9RAN proteins associate with clinical and neuropathological characteristics of C9ORF72 repeat expansion carriers 
Acta Neuropathologica  2015;130(4):559-573.
Clinical and neuropathological characteristics associated with G4C2 repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72), the most common genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia, are highly variable. To gain insight on the molecular basis for the heterogeneity among C9ORF72 mutation carriers, we evaluated associations between features of disease and levels of two abundantly expressed “c9RAN proteins” produced by repeat-associated non-ATG (RAN) translation of the expanded repeat. For these studies, we took a departure from traditional immunohistochemical approaches and instead employed immunoassays to quantitatively measure poly(GP) and poly(GA) levels in cerebellum, frontal cortex, motor cortex, and/or hippocampus from 55 C9ORF72 mutation carriers [12 patients with ALS, 24 with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and 19 with FTLD with motor neuron disease (FTLD-MND)]. We additionally investigated associations between levels of poly(GP) or poly(GA) and cognitive impairment in 15 C9ORF72 ALS patients for whom neuropsychological data were available. Among the neuroanatomical regions investigated, poly(GP) levels were highest in the cerebellum. In this same region, associations between poly(GP) and both neuropathological and clinical features were detected. Specifically, cerebellar poly(GP) levels were significantly lower in patients with ALS compared to patients with FTLD or FTLD-MND. Furthermore, cerebellar poly(GP) associated with cognitive score in our cohort of 15 patients. In the cerebellum, poly(GA) levels similarly trended lower in the ALS subgroup compared to FTLD or FTLD-MND subgroups, but no association between cerebellar poly(GA) and cognitive score was detected. Both cerebellar poly(GP) and poly(GA) associated with C9ORF72 variant 3 mRNA expression, but not variant 1 expression, repeat size, disease onset, or survival after onset. Overall, these data indicate that cerebellar abnormalities, as evidenced by poly(GP) accumulation, associate with neuropathological and clinical phenotypes, in particular cognitive impairment, of C9ORF72 mutation carriers.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-015-1474-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4575385  PMID: 26350237
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72 repeat expansion; c9RAN proteins; Cognition; Dipeptide repeat proteins; Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Neuropathological diagnosis; Repeat-associated non-ATG translation
4.  Late-onset Alzheimer disease risk variants mark brain regulatory loci 
Neurology: Genetics  2015;1(2):e15.
To investigate the top late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) risk loci detected or confirmed by the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project for association with brain gene expression levels to identify variants that influence Alzheimer disease (AD) risk through gene expression regulation.
Expression levels from the cerebellum (CER) and temporal cortex (TCX) were obtained using Illumina whole-genome cDNA-mediated annealing, selection, extension, and ligation assay (WG-DASL) for ∼400 autopsied patients (∼200 with AD and ∼200 with non-AD pathologies). We tested 12 significant LOAD genome-wide association study (GWAS) index single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for cis association with levels of 34 genes within ±100 kb. We also evaluated brain levels of 14 LOAD GWAS candidate genes for association with 1,899 cis-SNPs. Significant associations were validated in a subset of TCX samples using next-generation RNA sequencing (RNAseq).
We identified strong associations of brain CR1, HLA-DRB1, and PILRB levels with LOAD GWAS index SNPs. We also detected other strong cis-SNPs for LOAD candidate genes MEF2C, ZCWPW1, and SLC24A4. MEF2C and SLC24A4, but not ZCWPW1 cis-SNPs, also associate with LOAD risk, independent of the index SNPs. The TCX expression associations could be validated with RNAseq for CR1, HLA-DRB1, ZCWPW1, and SLC24A4.
Our results suggest that some LOAD GWAS variants mark brain regulatory loci, nominate genes under regulation by LOAD risk variants, and annotate these variants for their brain regulatory effects.
PMCID: PMC4807909  PMID: 27066552
5.  Genome-wide association study of corticobasal degeneration identifies risk variants shared with progressive supranuclear palsy 
Nature communications  2015;6:7247.
Corticobasal degeneration (CBD) is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting movement and cognition, definitively diagnosed only at autopsy. Here we conduct a GWAS in CBD cases (n = 152) and 3,311 controls, and 67 CBD cases and 439 controls in a replication stage. Associations with meta-analysis were 17q21 at MAPT (P = 1.42 × 10−12), 8p12 at lnc-KIF13B-1, a long non-coding RNA (rs643472; P = 3.41 × 10−8), and 2p22 at SOS1 (rs963731; P = 1.76 × 10−7). Testing for association of CBD with top PSP GWAS SNPs identified associations at MOBP (3p22; rs1768208; P = 2.07 × 10−7) and MAPT H1c (17q21; rs242557; P = 7.91 × 10−6). We previously reported SNP/transcript level associations with rs8070723/MAPT, rs242557/MAPT, and rs1768208/MOBP and herein identified association with rs963731/SOS1. We identify new CBD susceptibility loci and show that CBD and PSP share a genetic risk factor other than MAPT, at 3p22 MOBP (myelin-associated oligodendrocytic protein).
PMCID: PMC4469997  PMID: 26077951
6.  Genome-wide association study of corticobasal degeneration identifies risk variants shared with progressive supranuclear palsy 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7247.
Corticobasal degeneration (CBD) is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting movement and cognition, definitively diagnosed only at autopsy. Here, we conduct a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in CBD cases (n=152) and 3,311 controls, and 67 CBD cases and 439 controls in a replication stage. Associations with meta-analysis were 17q21 at MAPT (P=1.42 × 10−12), 8p12 at lnc-KIF13B-1, a long non-coding RNA (rs643472; P=3.41 × 10−8), and 2p22 at SOS1 (rs963731; P=1.76 × 10−7). Testing for association of CBD with top progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) GWAS single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified associations at MOBP (3p22; rs1768208; P=2.07 × 10−7) and MAPT H1c (17q21; rs242557; P=7.91 × 10−6). We previously reported SNP/transcript level associations with rs8070723/MAPT, rs242557/MAPT, and rs1768208/MOBP and herein identified association with rs963731/SOS1. We identify new CBD susceptibility loci and show that CBD and PSP share a genetic risk factor other than MAPT at 3p22 MOBP (myelin-associated oligodendrocyte basic protein).
Corticobasal degeneration is a rare neurodegenerative disorder that can only be definitively diagnosed by autopsy. Here, Kouri et al. conduct a genome-wide-association study and identify two genetic susceptibility loci 17q21 (MAPT) and 3p12 (MOBP), and a novel susceptibility locus at 8p12.
PMCID: PMC4469997  PMID: 26077951
7.  Evaluation of Memory Endophenotypes for Association with CLU, CR1 and PICALM variants in African-American and Caucasian Subjects 
Genetic variants at the CLU, CR1 and PICALM loci associate with risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). In this study, our aim was to determine whether the LOAD risk variants at these three loci influence memory endophenotypes in African-American and Caucasian subjects.
We pursued an association study between single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotypes at the CLU, CR1 and PICALM loci and memory endophenotypes. We assessed African-American subjects (AA: 44 with LOAD, 224 controls) recruited at Mayo Clinic Florida and Caucasians recruited at Mayo Clinic Minnesota (RS: 372 with LOAD, 1,690 controls) and Florida (JS: 60 with LOAD, 529 controls). SNPs at the LOAD risk loci CLU (rs11136000), CR1 (rs6656401, rs3818361) and PICALM (rs3851179) were genotyped and tested for association with Logical Memory immediate recall (LMIR), delayed recall (LMDR) and percent retention (LMPR) and Visual Reproduction (VRIR, VRDR, VRPR) scores from Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised, using multivariable linear regression analysis, adjusting for age-at-exam, sex, education and APOE ε4 dosage.
We identified nominally significant or suggestive associations between the LOAD risky CR1 variants and worse LMIR scores in the African-Americans (p=0.068 - 0.046, β= −2.7 to −1.2). The LOAD protective CLU variant is associated with better logical memory endophenotypes in the Caucasian subjects (p=0.099-0.027, β= 0.31 to 0.93). The CR1 associations persisted when the control subjects from the African-American series were assessed separately. The CLU associations appeared to be driven by one of the Caucasian series (RS) and were also observed when the control subset from RS was analyzed.
These results suggest for the first time that LOAD risk variants at CR1 may influence memory endophenotypes in African-Americans. Additionally, CLU LOAD protective variant may confer enhanced memory in Caucasians. Although these results would not remain significant after stringent corrections for multiple testing, they need to be considered in the context of the LOAD associations, with which they have biological consistency. They also provide estimates for effect sizes on memory endophenotypes that could guide future studies. The detection of memory effects for these variants in clinically normal subjects, implies that these LOAD risk loci might modify memory prior to clinical diagnosis of AD.
PMCID: PMC3815516  PMID: 23643458
8.  Diminutive colorectal polyp resection comparing hot and cold snare and cold biopsy forceps polypectomy. Results of a pilot randomized, single-center study (with videos)1  
Endoscopy International Open  2014;3(1):E76-E80.
Background: The optimal method of diminutive polypectomy (< 6 mm) is unknown.
Objective: To assess the rates of incomplete resection of diminutive polyps of the colon using three standard polyp resection techniques (hot snare, cold snare, and cold biopsy forceps).
Design: Randomized, pilot study.
Settings: Single-center endoscopy center.
Patients: Patients undergoing routine outpatient colonoscopies.
Interventions: Polypectomy was performed using the method to which the patient was randomized. Following retrieval of the polyp, the polypectomy base was lifted by submucosal injection of normal saline and then excised using the cold snare device. If no tissue could be removed, then at least four cold biopsies using forceps of the remaining margin were obtained.
Main outcome measures: Adequacy of resection of diminutive polyps, which was defined as no visible adenoma or hyperplastic tissue seen in the base tissue on histology.
Results: A total of 60 patients were enrolled (57 % male), the mean age was 60 (range 33 – 82), and 62 polyps were randomized from 37 patients. The mean polyp size was 3.6 mm (range 2 – 5 mm) and 37 polyps (60 %) were adenomatous. Overall incomplete polyp resection rate was 9 % (95 %CI 3 – 19 %), 5 of 37 (14 %) for adenomas. By the study arm, the incomplete resection rates were 1 of 18 (6 %) for hot snare, 2 of 21 (10 %) for cold snare, and 2 of 18 (11 %) for cold biopsy forceps. The majority of polyp bases were removed with cold biopsy forceps since most of the endoscopists did not feel that the saline lift cold snare method was feasible or appropriate.
Limitations: Small sample size; endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) of the polyp base tissue was not routinely performed.
Conclusions: Recruiting patients to a pilot study that randomized polyps to one of three common methods of polypectomy for diminutive polyps was feasible, and approximately 1 in 10 diminutive polyps found on colonoscopy were incompletely resected by standard polypectomy methods.
PMCID: PMC4424867  PMID: 26134778
9.  Association of MAPT haplotypes with Alzheimer’s disease risk and MAPT brain gene expression levels 
MAPT encodes for tau, the predominant component of neurofibrillary tangles that are neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Genetic association of MAPT variants with late-onset AD (LOAD) risk has been inconsistent, although insufficient power and incomplete assessment of MAPT haplotypes may account for this.
We examined the association of MAPT haplotypes with LOAD risk in more than 20,000 subjects (n-cases = 9,814, n-controls = 11,550) from Mayo Clinic (n-cases = 2,052, n-controls = 3,406) and the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC, n-cases = 7,762, n-controls = 8,144). We also assessed associations with brain MAPT gene expression levels measured in the cerebellum (n = 197) and temporal cortex (n = 202) of LOAD subjects. Six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) which tag MAPT haplotypes with frequencies greater than 1% were evaluated.
H2-haplotype tagging rs8070723-G allele associated with reduced risk of LOAD (odds ratio, OR = 0.90, 95% confidence interval, CI = 0.85-0.95, p = 5.2E-05) with consistent results in the Mayo (OR = 0.81, p = 7.0E-04) and ADGC (OR = 0.89, p = 1.26E-04) cohorts. rs3785883-A allele was also nominally significantly associated with LOAD risk (OR = 1.06, 95% CI = 1.01-1.13, p = 0.034). Haplotype analysis revealed significant global association with LOAD risk in the combined cohort (p = 0.033), with significant association of the H2 haplotype with reduced risk of LOAD as expected (p = 1.53E-04) and suggestive association with additional haplotypes. MAPT SNPs and haplotypes also associated with brain MAPT levels in the cerebellum and temporal cortex of AD subjects with the strongest associations observed for the H2 haplotype and reduced brain MAPT levels (β = -0.16 to -0.20, p = 1.0E-03 to 3.0E-03).
These results confirm the previously reported MAPT H2 associations with LOAD risk in two large series, that this haplotype has the strongest effect on brain MAPT expression amongst those tested and identify additional haplotypes with suggestive associations, which require replication in independent series. These biologically congruent results provide compelling evidence to screen the MAPT region for regulatory variants which confer LOAD risk by influencing its brain gene expression.
PMCID: PMC4198935  PMID: 25324900
10.  NGAL, MIC-1 and CA19-9 in Pancreatic Juice: Pathobiological Implications in Diagnosing Benign and Malignant Disease of the Pancreas 
Pancreas  2013;42(3):494-501.
Pancreatic diseases pose significant diagnostic challenge as signs and symptoms often overlap. We investigated the potential of pancreatic juice neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin (NGAL), macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 (MIC-1), and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) to aid in the diagnosis of patients with symptoms suggestive of pancreatic diseases.
105 chronic pancreatitis (CP), pancreatic cancer (PC), and non-pancreatic non-healthy (NPNH, patients with symptoms mimicking pancreatic disease but found to be free of pancreatic pathology) patients underwent endoscopic pancreatic juice collection following secretin-stimulation. NGAL and MIC-1 levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay while CA19-9 was measured by radioimmunoassay.
NGAL, MIC-1, and CA19-9 were significantly elevated in the pancreatic juice of CP and PC patients as compared to NPNH controls (p<0.034). NGAL appeared most promising in differentiating diseased versus non-diseased pancreata (AUCs=0.88–0.91) while MIC-1 was found to be higher in PC than CP patients (p=0.043). Interestingly, MIC-1 levels in diabetic PC patients were higher than in non-diabetic PC (p=0.030) and diabetic CP patients (p=0.087). CA19-9 showed the least ability to distinguish patient groups (AUCs=0.61–0.76).
Pancreatic juice NGAL shows potential utility in establishing pancreatic etiology in the context of non-specific symptoms while MIC-1 may aid in differentiating PC from CP.
PMCID: PMC3578014  PMID: 23146921
Pancreatic Disease; NGAL; MIC-1; CA19-9; Pancreatic Juice
11.  Effects of Amitriptyline on Gastric Sensorimotor Function and Postprandial Symptoms in Healthy Individuals: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial 
Low-dose tricyclic antidepressants have been used to treat chronic somatic and gastrointestinal pain disorders, including refractory functional dyspepsia. However, there are only limited data on the effects of these drugs on upper gastrointestinal function.
To compare the effects of two doses of amitriptyline (AMT) and placebo on gastric accommodation, emptying, satiation, and postprandial symptoms in healthy volunteers.
Using a parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled design, 41 healthy volunteers were randomized to AMT 25 mg, AMT 50 mg, or placebo for 2 wk. During the final 3 days of therapy, the following end points were assessed: fasting and postprandial gastric volumes, 2- and 4-h gastric emptying, time and volume to maximum satiation using a nutrient drink test, and postprandial symptoms 30 min later using 10-cm visual analog scales. AMT and metabolite levels were measured.
AMT slowed gastric emptying at 2 h (median 75% for placebo, 57% for AMT 25 mg, 67% for AMT 50 mg; P = 0.037) and 4 h (median 98% for placebo, 96% for AMT 25 mg, 92% for AMT 50 mg; P = 0.003). AMT did not affect gastric volumes or satiation volume, but it did reduce nausea scores at 30 min in a dose-dependent manner (median 2.1 for placebo, 0.9 for AMT 25 mg, and 0.0 for AMT 50 mg; P = 0.009).
In healthy volunteers, AMT slows gastric emptying of solids, but it does not significantly affect gastric volumes or satiation. AMT reduces nausea after challenge with a high calorie liquid load.
PMCID: PMC3897125  PMID: 18803000
12.  Shorter peripheral blood telomeres are a potential biomarker for patients with advanced colorectal adenomas 
The International journal of biological markers  2012;27(4):10.5301/JBM.2012.9347.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) can be prevented by the early detection and removal of advanced adenomas (AAs) by colonoscopy. Our aim was to evaluate peripheral blood leukocyte (PBL) telomere length as a potential biomarker for the presence of AAs.
PBL telomere length was measured in patients with AAs (n = 35), in a control group of similar-aged patients who had a normal colonoscopy (n = 145) and in a separate population group with no history of cancer, again similarly aged (n = 495). Telomere measurements were performed using a quantitative PCR assay and reported a ratio of telomere and single copy gene measurements.
Telomere lengths tended to be lower in the patients with AAs than in patients in the normal colonoscopy group (p < 0.001) as well as those in the population group (p = 0.011). A telomere/single copy gene ratio of 0.5 was found to have an estimated 94% sensitivity and 56% specificity for AAs; a combination of sensitivity and specificity for which a value of >0.5 would reduce the odds of a patient having AAs by a factor of 0.11 (the negative likelihood ratio). Thirty three percent of individuals in the population group tested above this cut off and could be considered at low risk for AAs.
PBL telomeres are shortened in patients with colorectal neoplasia suggesting that PBL telomere length could be a promising non-invasive blood biomarker to pre-screen for risk of AAs prior to colonoscopy.
PMCID: PMC3841073  PMID: 22865299
Telomeres; Colorectal polyps; Colorectal adenomas
13.  Maternal Transmission of Alzheimer Disease 
Some propose maternal Alzheimer disease (1) inheritance. We compared dementia family histories in AD cases and cognitively normal controls. We expected more mothers to have AD in both groups. If maternal risk was not only due to female longevity more AD cases’ than controls’ mothers should be demented. We matched 196 AD cases to 200 controls by gender and age. We obtained parent dementia status and age of death for 348 AD and 319 control parents. 24 (12%) controls’ fathers, 26 (13%) AD patient fathers, 58 (29%) controls’ mothers and 55 (28%) AD mothers had memory difficulty. More mothers than fathers had memory problems in both groups and the statistical significance persisted after adjusting for parent age at death and APOE for controls (OR=2.40, p=0.004) but not cases (OR=1.63, p=0.14), although results are qualitatively similar. There was no evidence of a real difference between the two groups in interaction analysis (p=0.41). Mothers of both cases and controls were more often affected than fathers, even after adjusting for age. Cases’ mothers were no more often demented than controls’ mothers, which does not support the maternal AD transmission. Rather, the increased number of affected mothers relates, at least in part, to female longevity.
PMCID: PMC3371291  PMID: 22273801
Alzheimer disease; Inheritance; Genetics; Maternal
14.  Novel late-onset Alzheimer disease loci variants associate with brain gene expression 
Neurology  2012;79(3):221-228.
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) identified 9 novel risk loci. Discovery of functional variants within genes at these loci is required to confirm their role in Alzheimer disease (AD). Single nucleotide polymorphisms that influence gene expression (eSNPs) constitute an important class of functional variants. We therefore investigated the influence of the novel LOAD risk loci on human brain gene expression.
We measured gene expression levels in the cerebellum and temporal cortex of autopsied AD subjects and those with other brain pathologies (∼400 total subjects). To determine whether any of the novel LOAD risk variants are eSNPs, we tested their cis-association with expression of 6 nearby LOAD candidate genes detectable in human brain (ABCA7, BIN1, CLU, MS4A4A, MS4A6A, PICALM) and an additional 13 genes ±100 kb of these SNPs. To identify additional eSNPs that influence brain gene expression levels of the novel candidate LOAD genes, we identified SNPs ±100 kb of their location and tested for cis-associations.
CLU rs11136000 (p = 7.81 × 10−4) and MS4A4A rs2304933/rs2304935 (p = 1.48 × 10−4–1.86 × 10−4) significantly influence temporal cortex expression levels of these genes. The LOAD-protective CLU and risky MS4A4A locus alleles associate with higher brain levels of these genes. There are other cis-variants that significantly influence brain expression of CLU and ABCA7 (p = 4.01 × 10−5–9.09 × 10−9), some of which also associate with AD risk (p = 2.64 × 10−2–6.25 × 10−5).
CLU and MS4A4A eSNPs may at least partly explain the LOAD risk association at these loci. CLU and ABCA7 may harbor additional strong eSNPs. These results have implications in the search for functional variants at the novel LOAD risk loci.
PMCID: PMC3398432  PMID: 22722634
15.  LRRTM3 Interacts with APP and BACE1 and Has Variants Associating with Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (LOAD) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e64164.
Leucine rich repeat transmembrane protein 3 (LRRTM3) is member of a synaptic protein family. LRRTM3 is a nested gene within α-T catenin (CTNNA3) and resides at the linkage peak for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) risk and plasma amyloid β (Aβ) levels. In-vitro knock-down of LRRTM3 was previously shown to decrease secreted Aβ, although the mechanism of this is unclear. In SH-SY5Y cells overexpressing APP and transiently transfected with LRRTM3 alone or with BACE1, we showed that LRRTM3 co-localizes with both APP and BACE1 in early endosomes, where BACE1 processing of APP occurs. Additionally, LRRTM3 co-localizes with APP in primary neuronal cultures from Tg2576 mice transduced with LRRTM3-expressing adeno-associated virus. Moreover, LRRTM3 co-immunoprecipitates with both endogenous APP and overexpressed BACE1, in HEK293T cells transfected with LRRTM3. SH-SY5Y cells with knock-down of LRRTM3 had lower BACE1 and higher CTNNA3 mRNA levels, but no change in APP. Brain mRNA levels of LRRTM3 showed significant correlations with BACE1, CTNNA3 and APP in ∼400 humans, but not in LRRTM3 knock-out mice. Finally, we assessed 69 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within and flanking LRRTM3 in 1,567 LOADs and 2,082 controls and identified 8 SNPs within a linkage disequilibrium block encompassing 5′UTR-Intron 1 of LRRTM3 that formed multilocus genotypes (MLG) with suggestive global association with LOAD risk (p = 0.06), and significant individual MLGs. These 8 SNPs were genotyped in an independent series (1,258 LOADs and 718 controls) and had significant global and individual MLG associations in the combined dataset (p = 0.02–0.05). Collectively, these results suggest that protein interactions between LRRTM3, APP and BACE1, as well as complex associations between mRNA levels of LRRTM3, CTNNA3, APP and BACE1 in humans might influence APP metabolism and ultimately risk of AD.
PMCID: PMC3672107  PMID: 23750206
16.  Replication of BIN1 association with Alzheimer’s disease and evaluation of genetic interactions 
The most recent late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) genome-wide association study revealed genome-wide significant association of two new loci: rs744373 near BIN1 (p=1.6×10−11) and rs597668 near EXOC3L2/BLOC1S3/MARK4 (p=6.5×10−9). We have genotyped these variants in a large (3,287 LOAD, 4,396 controls), independent dataset comprising eleven case-control series from the USA and Europe. We performed meta-analyses of the association of these variants with LOAD and also tested for association using logistic regression adjusted by age-at-diagnosis, sex and APOE ε4 status. Meta-analysis results showed no evidence of series heterogeneity and logistic regression analysis successfully replicated the association of BIN1 (rs744373) with LOAD with an odds ratio (OR=1.17, p=1.1×10−4) comparable to that previously reported (OR=1.15). The variant near EXOC3L2 (rs597668) showed only suggestive association with LOAD (p=0.09) after correcting for the presence of the APOE ε4 allele. Addition of our follow-up data to the results previously reported increased the strength of evidence for association with BIN1 (11,825 LOAD, 32,570 controls, rs744373 Fisher combined p=3.8×10−20). We also tested for epistatic interaction between these variants and APOEε4 as well as with the previously replicated LOAD GWAS genes (CLU: rs11136000, CR1; rs3818361, and PICALM: rs3851179). No significant interactions between these genes were detected. In summary, we provide additional evidence for the variant near BIN1 (rs744373) as a LOAD risk modifier, but our results indicate that the effect of EXOC3L2 independent of APOE ε4 should be studied further.
PMCID: PMC3489170  PMID: 21321396
Alzheimer Disease; Late Onset; Heterogeneity; Meta-Analysis; Case-Control Studies
17.  Hippocampal sclerosis in the elderly: genetic and pathologic findings, some mimicking Alzheimer disease clinically 
Hippocampal sclerosis (HpScl) in the elderly is often associated with neurodegeneration.
We studied the clinical and pathologic features of HpScl in 205 consecutive patients with dementia who came to autopsy from 1997 to 2008, focusing on associations with TDP-43 pathology and allelic variants in the progranulin (GRN) and apolipoprotein E (APOE).
Of the 205 dementia patients, 28 had HpScl (14%). TDP-43 pathology was more frequent in cases with HpScl compared to those without HpScl (89% vs. 24%). GRN rs5848 T-allele but not APOE ε4 was associated with HpScl. In cases of HpScl with TDP-43 pathology and age of onset after 75 (n=11), 8 had AD-like amnestic syndrome, but most (6/8) had pathology not consistent with AD (Braak stage III or less), including 4 with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-TDP), 1 with diffuse Lewy body disease and 1 with “pure HpScl.”
HpScl is common in an elderly cohort with dementia, occurring in 14% of the cases in this series, and 89% have TDP-43 pathology, often associated with a risk variant in GRN. Patients with HpScl who present after age 75 often have presentations consistent with AD, but at autopsy have non-Alzheimer pathologies. Elderly patients with HpScl may be mistaken for AD.
PMCID: PMC3107353  PMID: 21346515
18.  Brain Expression Genome-Wide Association Study (eGWAS) Identifies Human Disease-Associated Variants 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(6):e1002707.
Genetic variants that modify brain gene expression may also influence risk for human diseases. We measured expression levels of 24,526 transcripts in brain samples from the cerebellum and temporal cortex of autopsied subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD, cerebellar n = 197, temporal cortex n = 202) and with other brain pathologies (non–AD, cerebellar n = 177, temporal cortex n = 197). We conducted an expression genome-wide association study (eGWAS) using 213,528 cisSNPs within ±100 kb of the tested transcripts. We identified 2,980 cerebellar cisSNP/transcript level associations (2,596 unique cisSNPs) significant in both ADs and non–ADs (q<0.05, p = 7.70×10−5–1.67×10−82). Of these, 2,089 were also significant in the temporal cortex (p = 1.85×10−5–1.70×10−141). The top cerebellar cisSNPs had 2.4-fold enrichment for human disease-associated variants (p<10−6). We identified novel cisSNP/transcript associations for human disease-associated variants, including progressive supranuclear palsy SLCO1A2/rs11568563, Parkinson's disease (PD) MMRN1/rs6532197, Paget's disease OPTN/rs1561570; and we confirmed others, including PD MAPT/rs242557, systemic lupus erythematosus and ulcerative colitis IRF5/rs4728142, and type 1 diabetes mellitus RPS26/rs1701704. In our eGWAS, there was 2.9–3.3 fold enrichment (p<10−6) of significant cisSNPs with suggestive AD–risk association (p<10−3) in the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium GWAS. These results demonstrate the significant contributions of genetic factors to human brain gene expression, which are reliably detected across different brain regions and pathologies. The significant enrichment of brain cisSNPs among disease-associated variants advocates gene expression changes as a mechanism for many central nervous system (CNS) and non–CNS diseases. Combined assessment of expression and disease GWAS may provide complementary information in discovery of human disease variants with functional implications. Our findings have implications for the design and interpretation of eGWAS in general and the use of brain expression quantitative trait loci in the study of human disease genetics.
Author Summary
Genetic variants that regulate gene expression levels can also influence human disease risk. Discovery of genomic loci that alter brain gene expression levels (brain expression quantitative trait loci = eQTLs) can be instrumental in the identification of genetic risk underlying both central nervous system (CNS) and non–CNS diseases. To systematically assess the role of brain eQTLs in human disease and to evaluate the influence of brain region and pathology in eQTL mapping, we performed an expression genome-wide association study (eGWAS) in 773 brain samples from the cerebellum and temporal cortex of ∼200 autopsied subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and ∼200 with other brain pathologies (non–AD). We identified ∼3,000 significant associations between cisSNPs near ∼700 genes and their cerebellar transcript levels, which replicate in ADs and non–ADs. More than 2,000 of these associations were reproducible in the temporal cortex. The top cisSNPs are enriched for both CNS and non–CNS disease-associated variants. We identified novel and confirmed previous cisSNP/transcript associations for many disease loci, suggesting gene expression regulation as their mechanism of action. These findings demonstrate the reproducibility of the eQTL approach across different brain regions and pathologies, and advocate the combined use of gene expression and disease GWAS for identification and functional characterization of human disease-associated variants.
PMCID: PMC3369937  PMID: 22685416
19.  Glutathione S-transferase omega genes in Alzheimer and Parkinson disease risk, age-at-diagnosis and brain gene expression: an association study with mechanistic implications 
Glutathione S-transferase omega-1 and 2 genes (GSTO1, GSTO2), residing within an Alzheimer and Parkinson disease (AD and PD) linkage region, have diverse functions including mitigation of oxidative stress and may underlie the pathophysiology of both diseases. GSTO polymorphisms were previously reported to associate with risk and age-at-onset of these diseases, although inconsistent follow-up study designs make interpretation of results difficult. We assessed two previously reported SNPs, GSTO1 rs4925 and GSTO2 rs156697, in AD (3,493 ADs vs. 4,617 controls) and PD (678 PDs vs. 712 controls) for association with disease risk (case-controls), age-at-diagnosis (cases) and brain gene expression levels (autopsied subjects).
We found that rs156697 minor allele associates with significantly increased risk (odds ratio = 1.14, p = 0.038) in the older ADs with age-at-diagnosis > 80 years. The minor allele of GSTO1 rs4925 associates with decreased risk in familial PD (odds ratio = 0.78, p = 0.034). There was no other association with disease risk or age-at-diagnosis. The minor alleles of both GSTO SNPs associate with lower brain levels of GSTO2 (p = 4.7 × 10-11-1.9 × 10-27), but not GSTO1. Pathway analysis of significant genes in our brain expression GWAS, identified significant enrichment for glutathione metabolism genes (p = 0.003).
These results suggest that GSTO locus variants may lower brain GSTO2 levels and consequently confer AD risk in older age. Other glutathione metabolism genes should be assessed for their effects on AD and other chronic, neurologic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3393625  PMID: 22494505
GSTO genes; Disease risk; Gene expression; Association
20.  Association of common KIBRA variants with episodic memory and AD risk 
Neurobiology of aging  2010;32(3):557.e1-557.e9.
KIBRA SNP rs17070145 was identified in a GWAS of memory performance, with some but not all follow-up studies confirming association of its T allele with enhanced memory. This allele was associated with reduced Alzheimer's disease (AD) risk in one study, which also found overexpression of KIBRA in memory-related brain regions of ADs. We genotyped rs17070145 and 14 additional SNPs in 2571 LOADs vs. 2842 controls, including African-Americans. We found significantly reduced risk for rs17070145 T allele in the older African-American subjects (p=0.007) and a suggestive effect in the older Caucasian series. Meta-analysis of this allele in >8000 subjects from our and published series showed a suggestive protective effect (p=0.07). Analysis of episodic memory in control subjects did not identify associations with rs17070145, though other SNPs showed significant associations in one series. KIBRA showed evidence of overexpression in the AD temporal cortex (p=0.06) but not cerebellum. These results suggest a modest role for KIBRA as a cognition and AD risk gene, and also highlight the multifactorial complexity of its genetic associations.
PMCID: PMC3065956  PMID: 21185624
Alzheimer's disease; Association studies in genetics; Case control studies
21.  Altered microRNA expression in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 pathology caused by progranulin mutations 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:527.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that can be triggered through genetic or sporadic mechanisms. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have become a major therapeutic focus as their pervasive expression and powerful regulatory roles in disease pathogenesis become increasingly apparent. Here we examine the role of miRNAs in FTLD patients with TAR DNA-binding protein 43 pathology (FTLD-TDP) caused by genetic mutations in the progranulin (PGRN) gene.
Using miRNA array profiling, we identified the 20 miRNAs that showed greatest evidence (unadjusted P < 0.05) of dysregulation in frontal cortex of eight FTLD-TDP patients carrying PGRN mutations when compared to 32 FTLD-TDP patients with no apparent genetic abnormalities. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) analyses provided technical validation of the differential expression for 9 of the 20 miRNAs in frontal cortex. Additional qRT-PCR analyses showed that 5 out of 9 miRNAs (miR-922, miR-516a-3p, miR-571, miR-548b-5p, and miR-548c-5p) were also significantly dysregulated (unadjusted P < 0.05) in cerebellar tissue samples of PGRN mutation carriers, consistent with a systemic reduction in PGRN levels. We developed a list of gene targets for the 5 candidate miRNAs and found 18 genes dysregulated in a reported FTLD mRNA study to exhibit anti-correlated miRNA-mRNA patterns in affected cortex and cerebellar tissue. Among the targets is brain-specific angiogenesis inhibitor 3, which was recently identified as an important player in synapse biology.
Our study suggests that miRNAs may contribute to the pathogenesis of FTLD-TDP caused by PGRN mutations and provides new insight into potential future therapeutic options.
PMCID: PMC3229715  PMID: 22032330
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; TDP-43; microRNA; progranulin
22.  Exploring the optimal fluorescein dose in probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy for colonic imaging 
Probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE) is an emerging method for in-vivo imaging of the gastrointestinal tract and requires a contrast agent. Fluorescein is the most commonly used agent. The optimal dose of fluorescein for pCLE in colon is unknown.
Exploration of optimal dose of fluorescein for pCLE in colon.
Comparative, prospective pilot trail.
Tertiary-care center.
18 participants underwent colonoscopy without complications.
pCLE videos were recorded in normal cecum, using 10% fluorescein intravenously.
Main Outcome Measurements
For subjective analysis, pCLE videos were scored for quality, by 2 observers, independently and blinded to fluorescein dose. For objective analysis, signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) were calculated for each video by an expert.
6 fluorescein doses were used, including 0.5 mL, 1 mL, 2.5 mL, 5 mL, 7.5 mL and 10 mL and each dose was used in three patients. For each dose, median image quality score was 2.5, 2.0, 3.25, 4.0, 4.0 and 3.5 by first observer and 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 4.0 and 4.0 by second observer, respectively. The subjective quality scores increased from 0.5 mL to 5.0 mL, with no evidence of further improved quality at 7.5 mL and 10 mL doses. SNR were not significantly different between doses but trended higher for higher doses.
Small sample size. The results can not be applied to other parts of gastrointestinal tract i.e. duodenum, esophagus with different blood supply.
This preliminary study suggests that the optimal dose of fluorescein for high quality pCLE imaging in colon is approximately 5.0 mL.
PMCID: PMC3350888  PMID: 22586530
confocal; colon; fluorescein dose; contrast
23.  Replication of CLU, CR1 and PICALM associations with Alzheimer’s disease 
Archives of neurology  2010;67(8):961-964.
Harold et al. and Lambert et al. recently published two large genome-wide association studies of late onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) in which CLU, CR1, and PICALM were identified as novel LOAD genes.
To test for replication of the association between variants in the CLU, CR1 and PICALM genes with Alzheimer’s disease.
Case-control association study
Community-based ascertainment of patients seen at the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, FL and Rochester, MN, and autopsy-confirmed cases and controls whose pathology was evaluated at the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville. Additional samples were obtained from the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer’s Disease (NCRAD).
LOAD case-control series of European descent consisting of 1,829 LOAD cases and 2,576 controls
Main Outcome Measure
Clinical or pathology-confirmed diagnosis of LOAD
In our follow-up study of 1,829 LOAD cases and 2,576 controls, the most significant SNPs in CLU (rs11136000), CR1 (rs3818361), and PICALM (rs3851179) were tested for allelic association and gave ORs of 0.82, 1.15, and 0.80 respectively that were comparable in direction and magnitude to those originally reported with p values of 8.6×10−5, 0.014, and 1.3×10−5 that were significant even after Bonferroni correction for 3 SNPs tested.
These results showing near perfect replication provide the first additional evidence that CLU, CR1, and PICALM are LOAD genes.
PMCID: PMC2919638  PMID: 20554627
24.  Replication of EPHA1 and CD33 associations with late-onset Alzheimer's disease: a multi-centre case-control study 
A recently published genome-wide association study (GWAS) of late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) revealed genome-wide significant association of variants in or near MS4A4A, CD2AP, EPHA1 and CD33. Meta-analyses of this and a previously published GWAS revealed significant association at ABCA7 and MS4A, independent evidence for association of CD2AP, CD33 and EPHA1 and an opposing yet significant association of a variant near ARID5B. In this study, we genotyped five variants (in or near CD2AP, EPHA1, ARID5B, and CD33) in a large (2,634 LOAD, 4,201 controls), independent dataset comprising six case-control series from the USA and Europe. We performed meta-analyses of the association of these variants with LOAD and tested for association using logistic regression adjusted by age-at-diagnosis, gender, and APOE ε4 dosage.
We found no significant evidence of series heterogeneity. Associations with LOAD were successfully replicated for EPHA1 (rs11767557; OR = 0.87, p = 5 × 10-4) and CD33 (rs3865444; OR = 0.92, p = 0.049), with odds ratios comparable to those previously reported. Although the two ARID5B variants (rs2588969 and rs494288) showed significant association with LOAD in meta-analysis of our dataset (p = 0.046 and 0.008, respectively), the associations did not survive adjustment for covariates (p = 0.30 and 0.11, respectively). We had insufficient evidence in our data to support the association of the CD2AP variant (rs9349407, p = 0.56).
Our data overwhelmingly support the association of EPHA1 and CD33 variants with LOAD risk: addition of our data to the results previously reported (total n > 42,000) increased the strength of evidence for these variants, providing impressive p-values of 2.1 × 10-15 (EPHA1) and 1.8 × 10-13 (CD33).
PMCID: PMC3157442  PMID: 21798052
25.  Preliminary accuracy and interobserver agreement for the detection of intraepithelial neoplasia in Barrett’s esophagus with probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy 
Gastrointestinal endoscopy  2010;72(1):19-24.
Confocal laser endomicroscopy (CLE) is a rapidly emerging method for in vivo imaging of the GI tract.
To determine the preliminary evaluation accuracy and interobserver agreement of probe-based CLE (pCLE) in Barrett’s esophagus (BE).
Prospective, double-blind review of pCLE images of 40 sites of BE tissue by using matching biopsies as the reference standard. A training set of 20 images with known histology was first reviewed to standardize image interpretation, followed by blinded review of 20 unknown images.
Eleven experts in BE imaging from 4 different endoscopy centers from the United States and Europe evaluated the images.
This study involved nonconsecutive patients undergoing BE surveillance or evaluation of high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia or early adenocarcinoma.
Intravenous fluorescein pCLE imaging of each site within the BE segment, followed by matching biopsy.
Main Outcome Measurements
Sensitivity, specificity, and agreement for the pCLE diagnosis of high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia or carcinoma.
In the validation set (n = 20), 11 cases had high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia or invasive carcinoma. The sensitivity for the diagnosis of neoplasia for the 11 endoscopists was 88% (range 6 of 11 to 11 of 11), and the specificity was 96% (range 7 of 9 to 9 of 9). There was substantial agreement on the pCLE diagnosis (86%, kappa 0.72; 95% confidence interval, 0.58–0.86). Endomicroscopists with prior pCLE experience had an overall sensitivity of 91% (all 10 of 11), specificity of 100% (all 9 of 9), and almost perfect agreement (92%, kappa 0.83; 95% confidence interval, 0.64–1.0).
Small sample size and use of offline video sequences.
Results suggest that pCLE for the diagnosis of neoplasia in BE has very high accuracy and reliability.
PMCID: PMC3144146  PMID: 20381042

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