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1.  Genome-wide association study of survival from sepsis due to pneumonia: an observational cohort study 
Summary
Background
Sepsis continues to be a major cause of death, disability, and health-care expenditure worldwide. Despite evidence suggesting that host genetics can influence sepsis outcomes, no specific loci have yet been convincingly replicated. The aim of this study was to identify genetic variants that influence sepsis survival.
Methods
We did a genome-wide association study in three independent cohorts of white adult patients admitted to intensive care units with sepsis, severe sepsis, or septic shock (as defined by the International Consensus Criteria) due to pneumonia or intra-abdominal infection (cohorts 1–3, n=2534 patients). The primary outcome was 28 day survival. Results for the cohort of patients with sepsis due to pneumonia were combined in a meta-analysis of 1553 patients from all three cohorts, of whom 359 died within 28 days of admission to the intensive-care unit. The most significantly associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in a further 538 white patients with sepsis due to pneumonia (cohort 4), of whom 106 died.
Findings
In the genome-wide meta-analysis of three independent pneumonia cohorts (cohorts 1–3), common variants in the FER gene were strongly associated with survival (p=9·7 × 10−8). Further genotyping of the top associated SNP (rs4957796) in the additional cohort (cohort 4) resulted in a combined p value of 5·6 × 10−8 (odds ratio 0·56, 95% CI 0·45–0·69). In a time-to-event analysis, each allele reduced the mortality over 28 days by 44% (hazard ratio for death 0·56, 95% CI 0·45–0·69; likelihood ratio test p=3·4 × 10−9, after adjustment for age and stratification by cohort). Mortality was 9·5% in patients carrying the CC genotype, 15·2% in those carrying the TC genotype, and 25·3% in those carrying the TT genotype. No significant genetic associations were identified when patients with sepsis due to pneumonia and intra-abdominal infection were combined.
Interpretation
We have identified common variants in the FER gene that associate with a reduced risk of death from sepsis due to pneumonia. The FER gene and associated molecular pathways are potential novel targets for therapy or prevention and candidates for the development of biomarkers for risk stratification.
Funding
European Commission and the Wellcome Trust.
doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(14)70290-5
PMCID: PMC4314768  PMID: 25533491
2.  Genome-wide association study of alcohol dependence 
Archives of general psychiatry  2009;66(7):773-784.
Context
Identification of genes contributing to alcohol dependence will improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying this disorder.
Objective
To identify susceptibility genes for alcohol dependence through a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and follow-up study in a population of German male inpatients with an early age at onset.
Design
The GWAS included 487 male inpatients with DSM-IV alcohol dependence with an age at onset below 28 years and 1,358 population based control individuals. The follow-up study included 1,024 male inpatients and 996 age-matched male controls. All subjects were of German descent. The GWAS tested 524,396 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). All SNPs with p<10-4 were subjected to the follow-up study. In addition, nominally significant SNPs from those genes that had also shown expression changes in rat brains after chronic alcohol consumption were selected for the follow-up step.
Results
The GWAS produced 121 SNPs with nominal p<10-4. These, together with 19 additional SNPs from homologs of rat genes showing differential expression, were genotyped in the follow-up sample. Fifteen SNPs showed significant association with the same allele as in the GWAS. In the combined analysis, two closely linked intergenic SNPs met genome-wide significance (rs7590720 p=9.72×10-9; rs1344694 p=1.69×10-8). They are located on chromosome 2q35, a region which has been implicated in linkage studies for alcohol phenotypes. Nine SNPs were located in genes, including CDH13 and ADH1C genes which have been reported to be associated with alcohol dependence.
Conclusion
This is the first GWAS and follow-up study to identify a genome-wide significant association in alcohol dependence. Further independent studies are required to confirm these findings.
doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.83
PMCID: PMC4229246  PMID: 19581569
3.  Genome-Wide Significant Association between Alcohol Dependence and a Variant in the ADH Gene Cluster 
Addiction biology  2011;17(1):171-180.
Alcohol dependence (AD) is an important contributory factor to the global burden of disease. The etiology of AD involves both environmental and genetic factors, and the disorder has a heritability of around 50%. The aim of the present study was to identify susceptibility genes for AD by performing a genome-wide association study (GWAS). The sample comprised 1,333 male in-patients with severe DSM-IV AD and 2,168 controls. These included 487 patients and 1,358 controls from a previous GWAS study by our group. All individuals were of German descent. Single marker tests and a polygenic score based analysis to assess the combined contribution of multiple markers with small effects were performed. The SNP rs1789891, which is located between the ADH1B and ADH1C genes, achieved genome-wide significance (p=1.27E–8; OR=1.46). Other markers from this region were also associated with AD, and conditional analyses indicated that these made a partially independent contribution. The SNP rs1789891 is in complete linkage disequilibrium with the functional Arg272Gln variant (p=1.24E–7, OR=1.31) of the ADH1C gene, which has been reported to modify the rate of ethanol oxidation to acetaldehyde in vitro. A polygenic score based approach produced a significant result (p=9.66E–9). This is the first GWAS of AD to provide genome-wide significant support for the role of the ADH gene cluster and to suggest a polygenic component to the etiology of AD. The latter result suggests that many more AD susceptibility genes still await identification.
doi:10.1111/j.1369-1600.2011.00395.x
PMCID: PMC3245349  PMID: 22004471
alcohol dehydrogenase; alcohol dependence; alcohol metabolism; genome-wide; GWAS; polygenic variation
5.  Recurrent microdeletions at 15q11.2 and 16p13.11 predispose to idiopathic generalized epilepsies 
Brain  2009;133(1):23-32.
Idiopathic generalized epilepsies account for 30% of all epilepsies. Despite a predominant genetic aetiology, the genetic factors predisposing to idiopathic generalized epilepsies remain elusive. Studies of structural genomic variations have revealed a significant excess of recurrent microdeletions at 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 15q13.3, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 in various neuropsychiatric disorders including autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. Microdeletions at 15q13.3 have recently been shown to constitute a strong genetic risk factor for common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes, implicating that other recurrent microdeletions may also be involved in epileptogenesis. This study aimed to investigate the impact of five microdeletions at the genomic hotspot regions 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 on the genetic risk to common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The candidate microdeletions were assessed by high-density single nucleotide polymorphism arrays in 1234 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy from North-western Europe and 3022 controls from the German population. Microdeletions were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and their breakpoints refined by array comparative genomic hybridization. In total, 22 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (1.8%) carried one of the five novel microdeletions compared with nine controls (0.3%) (odds ratio = 6.1; 95% confidence interval 2.8–13.2; χ2 = 26.7; 1 degree of freedom; P = 2.4 × 10−7). Microdeletions were observed at 1q21.1 [Idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE)/control: 1/1], 15q11.2 (IGE/control: 12/6), 16p11.2 IGE/control: 1/0, 16p13.11 (IGE/control: 6/2) and 22q11.2 (IGE/control: 2/0). Significant associations with IGEs were found for the microdeletions at 15q11.2 (odds ratio = 4.9; 95% confidence interval 1.8–13.2; P = 4.2 × 10−4) and 16p13.11 (odds ratio = 7.4; 95% confidence interval 1.3–74.7; P = 0.009). Including nine patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy in this cohort with known 15q13.3 microdeletions (IGE/control: 9/0), parental transmission could be examined in 14 families. While 10 microdeletions were inherited (seven maternal and three paternal transmissions), four microdeletions occurred de novo at 15q13.3 (n = 1), 16p13.11 (n = 2) and 22q11.2 (n = 1). Eight of the transmitting parents were clinically unaffected, suggesting that the microdeletion itself is not sufficient to cause the epilepsy phenotype. Although the microdeletions investigated are individually rare (<1%) in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy, they collectively seem to account for a significant fraction of the genetic variance in common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The present results indicate an involvement of microdeletions at 15q11.2 and 16p13.11 in epileptogenesis and strengthen the evidence that recurrent microdeletions at 15q11.2, 15q13.3 and 16p13.11 confer a pleiotropic susceptibility effect to a broad range of neuropsychiatric disorders.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp262
PMCID: PMC2801323  PMID: 19843651
idiopathic generalized epilepsy; microdeletions; association; genetics
6.  Genome-Wide Association Study reveals genetic risk underlying Parkinson’s disease 
Nature genetics  2009;41(12):1308-1312.
We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1,713 Caucasian patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and 3,978 controls. After replication in 3,361 cases and 4,573 controls, two strong association signals were observed: in the α-synuclein gene(SNCA) (rs2736990, OR=1.23, p=2.24×10−16) and at the MAPT locus (rs393152, OR=0.77, p=1.95×10−16). We exchanged data with colleagues performing a GWAS in Asian PD cases. Association at SNCA was replicated in the Asian GWAS1, confirming this as a major risk locus across populations. We were able to replicate the effect of a novel locus detected in the Asian cohort (PARK16, rs823128, OR=0.66, p=7.29×10−8) and provide evidence supporting the role of common variability around LRRK2 in modulating risk for PD (rs1491923, OR=1.14, p=1.55×10−5). These data demonstrate an unequivocal role for common genetic variability in the etiology of typical PD and suggest population specific genetic heterogeneity in this disease.
doi:10.1038/ng.487
PMCID: PMC2787725  PMID: 19915575
7.  The val158met polymorphism of human catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) affects anterior cingulate cortex activation in response to painful laser stimulation 
Molecular Pain  2010;6:32.
Background
Pain is a complex experience with sensory, emotional and cognitive aspects. Genetic and environmental factors contribute to pain-related phenotypes such as chronic pain states. Genetic variations in the gene coding for catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) have been suggested to affect clinical and experimental pain-related phenotypes including regional μ-opioid system responses to painful stimulation as measured by ligand-PET (positron emission tomography). The functional val158met single nucleotide polymorphism has been most widely studied. However, apart from its impact on pain-induced opioid release the effect of this genetic variation on cerebral pain processing has not been studied with activation measures such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), PET or electroencephalography. In the present fMRI study we therefore sought to investigate the impact of the COMT val158met polymorphism on the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response to painful laser stimulation.
Results
57 subjects were studied. We found that subjects homozygous for the met158 allele exhibit a higher BOLD response in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), foremost in the mid-cingulate cortex, than carriers of the val158 allele.
Conclusion
This result is in line with previous studies that reported higher pain sensitivity in homozygous met carriers. It adds to the current literature in suggesting that this behavioral phenotype may be mediated by, or is at least associated with, increased ACC activity. More generally, apart from one report that focused on pain-induced opioid release, this is the first functional neuroimaging study showing an effect of the COMT val158met polymorphism on cerebral pain processing.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-6-32
PMCID: PMC2887789  PMID: 20509977
8.  Occupational Noise, Smoking, and a High Body Mass Index are Risk Factors for Age-related Hearing Impairment and Moderate Alcohol Consumption is Protective: A European Population-based Multicenter Study 
A multicenter study was set up to elucidate the environmental and medical risk factors contributing to age-related hearing impairment (ARHI). Nine subsamples, collected by nine audiological centers across Europe, added up to a total of 4,083 subjects between 53 and 67 years. Audiometric data (pure-tone average [PTA]) were collected and the participants filled out a questionnaire on environmental risk factors and medical history. People with a history of disease that could affect hearing were excluded. PTAs were adjusted for age and sex and tested for association with exposure to risk factors. Noise exposure was associated with a significant loss of hearing at high sound frequencies (>1 kHz). Smoking significantly increased high-frequency hearing loss, and the effect was dose-dependent. The effect of smoking remained significant when accounting for cardiovascular disease events. Taller people had better hearing on average with a more pronounced effect at low sound frequencies (<2 kHz). A high body mass index (BMI) correlated with hearing loss across the frequency range tested. Moderate alcohol consumption was inversely correlated with hearing loss. Significant associations were found in the high as well as in the low frequencies. The results suggest that a healthy lifestyle can protect against age-related hearing impairment.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi: 10.1007/s10162-008-0123-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10162-008-0123-1
PMCID: PMC2492985  PMID: 18543032
age-related hearing impairment; presbyacusis; occupational noise; smoking; risk factors
9.  Occupational Noise, Smoking, and a High Body Mass Index are Risk Factors for Age-related Hearing Impairment and Moderate Alcohol Consumption is Protective: A European Population-based Multicenter Study 
A multicenter study was set up to elucidate the environmental and medical risk factors contributing to age-related hearing impairment (ARHI). Nine subsamples, collected by nine audiological centers across Europe, added up to a total of 4,083 subjects between 53 and 67 years. Audiometric data (pure-tone average [PTA]) were collected and the participants filled out a questionnaire on environmental risk factors and medical history. People with a history of disease that could affect hearing were excluded. PTAs were adjusted for age and sex and tested for association with exposure to risk factors. Noise exposure was associated with a significant loss of hearing at high sound frequencies (>1 kHz). Smoking significantly increased high-frequency hearing loss, and the effect was dose-dependent. The effect of smoking remained significant when accounting for cardiovascular disease events. Taller people had better hearing on average with a more pronounced effect at low sound frequencies (<2 kHz). A high body mass index (BMI) correlated with hearing loss across the frequency range tested. Moderate alcohol consumption was inversely correlated with hearing loss. Significant associations were found in the high as well as in the low frequencies. The results suggest that a healthy lifestyle can protect against age-related hearing impairment.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi: 10.1007/s10162-008-0123-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10162-008-0123-1
PMCID: PMC2492985  PMID: 18543032
age-related hearing impairment; presbyacusis; occupational noise; smoking; risk factors
10.  Polymorphisms in the Genes Encoding Chemokine Receptor 5, Interleukin-10, and Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein 1 Contribute to Cytomegalovirus Reactivation and Disease after Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(5):1847-1850.
We analyzed 90 polymorphisms in 17 genes related to immune function for association with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) reactivation and disease in patients after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. We found relevant markers (i) in CCR5 and IL-10 genes conferring a higher risk for the development of HCMV disease and (ii) in the MCP1 gene associated with HCMV reactivation. Testing of high-risk patients for the presence of these single-nucleotide polymorphisms might be useful for individualizing antiviral prophylaxis.
doi:10.1128/JCM.44.5.1847-1850.2006
PMCID: PMC1479205  PMID: 16672419

Results 1-10 (10)