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1.  Corticosteroids and Pediatric Septic Shock Outcomes: A Risk Stratified Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112702.
The potential benefits of corticosteroids for septic shock may depend on initial mortality risk.
We determined associations between corticosteroids and outcomes in children with septic shock who were stratified by initial mortality risk.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of an ongoing, multi-center pediatric septic shock clinical and biological database. Using a validated biomarker-based stratification tool (PERSEVERE), 496 subjects were stratified into three initial mortality risk strata (low, intermediate, and high). Subjects receiving corticosteroids during the initial 7 days of admission (n = 252) were compared to subjects who did not receive corticosteroids (n = 244). Logistic regression was used to model the effects of corticosteroids on 28-day mortality and complicated course, defined as death within 28 days or persistence of two or more organ failures at 7 days.
Subjects who received corticosteroids had greater organ failure burden, higher illness severity, higher mortality, and a greater requirement for vasoactive medications, compared to subjects who did not receive corticosteroids. PERSEVERE-based mortality risk did not differ between the two groups. For the entire cohort, corticosteroids were associated with increased risk of mortality (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.3–4.0, p = 0.004) and a complicated course (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.1–2.5, p = 0.012). Within each PERSEVERE-based stratum, corticosteroid administration was not associated with improved outcomes. Similarly, corticosteroid administration was not associated with improved outcomes among patients with no comorbidities, nor in groups of patients stratified by PRISM.
Risk stratified analysis failed to demonstrate any benefit from corticosteroids in this pediatric septic shock cohort.
PMCID: PMC4227847  PMID: 25386653
2.  Prenatal Tobacco Smoke Exposure Is Associated with Childhood DNA CpG Methylation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99716.
Smoking while pregnant is associated with a myriad of negative health outcomes in the child. Some of the detrimental effects may be due to epigenetic modifications, although few studies have investigated this hypothesis in detail.
To characterize site-specific epigenetic modifications conferred by prenatal smoking exposure within asthmatic children.
Using Illumina HumanMethylation27 microarrays, we estimated the degree of methylation at 27,578 distinct DNA sequences located primarily in gene promoters using whole blood DNA samples from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) subset of Asthma BRIDGE childhood asthmatics (n = 527) ages 5–12 with prenatal smoking exposure data available. Using beta-regression, we screened loci for differential methylation related to prenatal smoke exposure, adjusting for gender, age and clinical site, and accounting for multiple comparisons by FDR.
Of 27,578 loci evaluated, 22,131 (80%) passed quality control assessment and were analyzed. Sixty-five children (12%) had a history of prenatal smoke exposure. At an FDR of 0.05, we identified 19 CpG loci significantly associated with prenatal smoke, of which two replicated in two independent populations. Exposure was associated with a 2% increase in mean CpG methylation in FRMD4A (p = 0.01) and Cllorf52 (p = 0.001) compared to no exposure. Four additional genes, XPNPEP1, PPEF2, SMPD3 and CRYGN, were nominally associated in at least one replication group.
These data suggest that prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with reproducible epigenetic changes that persist well into childhood. However, the biological significance of these altered loci remains unknown.
PMCID: PMC4070909  PMID: 24964093
3.  RNA-Seq Transcriptome Profiling Identifies CRISPLD2 as a Glucocorticoid Responsive Gene that Modulates Cytokine Function in Airway Smooth Muscle Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99625.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory disease that affects over 300 million people worldwide. Glucocorticoids are a mainstay therapy for asthma because they exert anti-inflammatory effects in multiple lung tissues, including the airway smooth muscle (ASM). However, the mechanism by which glucocorticoids suppress inflammation in ASM remains poorly understood. Using RNA-Seq, a high-throughput sequencing method, we characterized transcriptomic changes in four primary human ASM cell lines that were treated with dexamethasone—a potent synthetic glucocorticoid (1 µM for 18 hours). Based on a Benjamini-Hochberg corrected p-value <0.05, we identified 316 differentially expressed genes, including both well known (DUSP1, KLF15, PER1, TSC22D3) and less investigated (C7, CCDC69, CRISPLD2) glucocorticoid-responsive genes. CRISPLD2, which encodes a secreted protein previously implicated in lung development and endotoxin regulation, was found to have SNPs that were moderately associated with inhaled corticosteroid resistance and bronchodilator response among asthma patients in two previously conducted genome-wide association studies. Quantitative RT-PCR and Western blotting showed that dexamethasone treatment significantly increased CRISPLD2 mRNA and protein expression in ASM cells. CRISPLD2 expression was also induced by the inflammatory cytokine IL1β, and small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of CRISPLD2 further increased IL1β-induced expression of IL6 and IL8. Our findings offer a comprehensive view of the effect of a glucocorticoid on the ASM transcriptome and identify CRISPLD2 as an asthma pharmacogenetics candidate gene that regulates anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids in the ASM.
PMCID: PMC4057123  PMID: 24926665
4.  The Temporal Version of the Pediatric Sepsis Biomarker Risk Model 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92121.
PERSEVERE is a risk model for estimating mortality probability in pediatric septic shock, using five biomarkers measured within 24 hours of clinical presentation.
Here, we derive and test a temporal version of PERSEVERE (tPERSEVERE) that considers biomarker values at the first and third day following presentation to estimate the probability of a “complicated course”, defined as persistence of ≥2 organ failures at seven days after meeting criteria for septic shock, or death within 28 days.
Biomarkers were measured in the derivation cohort (n = 225) using serum samples obtained during days 1 and 3 of septic shock. Classification and Regression Tree (CART) analysis was used to derive a model to estimate the risk of a complicated course. The derived model was validated in the test cohort (n = 74), and subsequently updated using the combined derivation and test cohorts.
A complicated course occurred in 23% of the derivation cohort subjects. The derived model had a sensitivity for a complicated course of 90% (95% CI 78–96), specificity was 70% (62–77), positive predictive value was 47% (37–58), and negative predictive value was 96% (91–99). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.85 (0.79–0.90). Similar test characteristics were observed in the test cohort. The updated model had a sensitivity of 91% (81–96), a specificity of 70% (64–76), a positive predictive value of 47% (39–56), and a negative predictive value of 96% (92–99).
tPERSEVERE reasonably estimates the probability of a complicated course in children with septic shock. tPERSEVERE could potentially serve as an adjunct to physiological assessments for monitoring how risk for poor outcomes changes during early interventions in pediatric septic shock.
PMCID: PMC3953585  PMID: 24626215
5.  Testing the Prognostic Accuracy of the Updated Pediatric Sepsis Biomarker Risk Model 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86242.
We previously derived and validated a risk model to estimate mortality probability in children with septic shock (PERSEVERE; PEdiatRic SEpsis biomarkEr Risk modEl). PERSEVERE uses five biomarkers and age to estimate mortality probability. After the initial derivation and validation of PERSEVERE, we combined the derivation and validation cohorts (n = 355) and updated PERSEVERE. An important step in the development of updated risk models is to test their accuracy using an independent test cohort.
To test the prognostic accuracy of the updated version PERSEVERE in an independent test cohort.
Study subjects were recruited from multiple pediatric intensive care units in the United States. Biomarkers were measured in 182 pediatric subjects with septic shock using serum samples obtained during the first 24 hours of presentation. The accuracy of PERSEVERE 28-day mortality risk estimate was tested using diagnostic test statistics, and the net reclassification improvement (NRI) was used to test whether PERSEVERE adds information to a physiology-based scoring system.
Mortality in the test cohort was 13.2%. Using a risk cut-off of 2.5%, the sensitivity of PERSEVERE for mortality was 83% (95% CI 62–95), specificity was 75% (68–82), positive predictive value was 34% (22–47), and negative predictive value was 97% (91–99). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.81 (0.70–0.92). The false positive subjects had a greater degree of organ failure burden and longer intensive care unit length of stay, compared to the true negative subjects. When adding PERSEVERE to a physiology-based scoring system, the net reclassification improvement was 0.91 (0.47–1.35; p<0.001).
The updated version of PERSEVERE estimates mortality probability reliably in a heterogeneous test cohort of children with septic shock and provides information over and above a physiology-based scoring system.
PMCID: PMC3906040  PMID: 24489704
6.  Integration of Mouse and Human Genome-Wide Association Data Identifies KCNIP4 as an Asthma Gene 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56179.
Asthma is a common chronic respiratory disease characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). The genetics of asthma have been widely studied in mouse and human, and homologous genomic regions have been associated with mouse AHR and human asthma-related phenotypes. Our goal was to identify asthma-related genes by integrating AHR associations in mouse with human genome-wide association study (GWAS) data. We used Efficient Mixed Model Association (EMMA) analysis to conduct a GWAS of baseline AHR measures from males and females of 31 mouse strains. Genes near or containing SNPs with EMMA p-values <0.001 were selected for further study in human GWAS. The results of the previously reported EVE consortium asthma GWAS meta-analysis consisting of 12,958 diverse North American subjects from 9 study centers were used to select a subset of homologous genes with evidence of association with asthma in humans. Following validation attempts in three human asthma GWAS (i.e., Sepracor/LOCCS/LODO/Illumina, GABRIEL, DAG) and two human AHR GWAS (i.e., SHARP, DAG), the Kv channel interacting protein 4 (KCNIP4) gene was identified as nominally associated with both asthma and AHR at a gene- and SNP-level. In EVE, the smallest KCNIP4 association was at rs6833065 (P-value 2.9e-04), while the strongest associations for Sepracor/LOCCS/LODO/Illumina, GABRIEL, DAG were 1.5e-03, 1.0e-03, 3.1e-03 at rs7664617, rs4697177, rs4696975, respectively. At a SNP level, the strongest association across all asthma GWAS was at rs4697177 (P-value 1.1e-04). The smallest P-values for association with AHR were 2.3e-03 at rs11947661 in SHARP and 2.1e-03 at rs402802 in DAG. Functional studies are required to validate the potential involvement of KCNIP4 in modulating asthma susceptibility and/or AHR. Our results suggest that a useful approach to identify genes associated with human asthma is to leverage mouse AHR association data.
PMCID: PMC3572953  PMID: 23457522
7.  Pilot Study of the Association of the DDAH2 −449G Polymorphism with Asymmetric Dimethylarginine and Hemodynamic Shock in Pediatric Sepsis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33355.
Genetic variability in the regulation of the nitric oxide (NO) pathway may influence hemodynamic changes in pediatric sepsis. We sought to determine whether functional polymorphisms in DDAH2, which metabolizes the NO synthase inhibitor asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), are associated with susceptibility to sepsis, plasma ADMA, distinct hemodynamic states, and vasopressor requirements in pediatric septic shock.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In a prospective study, blood and buccal swabs were obtained from 82 patients ≤18 years (29 with severe sepsis/septic shock plus 27 febrile and 26 healthy controls). Plasma ADMA was measured using tandem mass spectrometry. DDAH2 gene was partially sequenced to determine the −871 6g/7g insertion/deletion and −449G/C single nucleotide polymorphisms. Shock type (“warm” versus “cold”) was characterized by clinical assessment. The −871 7g allele was more common in septic (17%) then febrile (4%) and healthy (8%) patients, though this was not significant after controlling for sex and race (p = 0.96). ADMA did not differ between −871 6g/7g genotypes. While genotype frequencies also did not vary between groups for the −449G/C SNP (p = 0.75), septic patients with at least one −449G allele had lower ADMA (median, IQR 0.36, 0.30–0.41 µmol/L) than patients with the −449CC genotype (0.55, 0.49–0.64 µmol/L, p = 0.008) and exhibited a higher incidence of “cold” shock (45% versus 0%, p = 0.01). However, after controlling for race, the association with shock type became non-significant (p = 0.32). Neither polymorphism was associated with inotrope score or vasoactive infusion duration.
The −449G polymorphism in the DDAH2 gene was associated with both low plasma ADMA and an increased likelihood of presenting with “cold” shock in pediatric sepsis, but not with vasopressor requirement. Race, however, was an important confounder. These results support and justify the need for larger studies in racially homogenous populations to further examine whether genotypic differences in NO metabolism contribute to phenotypic variability in sepsis pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC3299781  PMID: 22428028
8.  Common ADRB2 Haplotypes Derived from 26 Polymorphic Sites Direct β2-Adrenergic Receptor Expression and Regulation Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11819.
The β2-adrenergic receptor (β2AR) is expressed on numerous cell-types including airway smooth muscle cells and cardiomyocytes. Drugs (agonists or antagonists) acting at these receptors for treatment of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart failure show substantial interindividual variability in response. The ADRB2 gene is polymorphic in noncoding and coding regions, but virtually all ADRB2 association studies have utilized the two common nonsynonymous coding SNPs, often reaching discrepant conclusions.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We constructed the 8 common ADRB2 haplotypes derived from 26 polymorphisms in the promoter, 5′UTR, coding, and 3′UTR of the intronless ADRB2 gene. These were cloned into an expression construct lacking a vector-based promoter, so that β2AR expression was driven by its promoter, and steady state expression could be modified by polymorphisms throughout ADRB2 within a haplotype. “Whole-gene” transfections were performed with COS-7 cells and revealed 4 haplotypes with increased cell surface β2AR protein expression compared to the others. Agonist-promoted downregulation of β2AR protein expression was also haplotype-dependent, and was found to be increased for 2 haplotypes. A phylogenetic tree of the haplotypes was derived and annotated by cellular phenotypes, revealing a pattern potentially driven by expression.
Thus for obstructive lung disease, the initial bronchodilator response from intermittent administration of β-agonist may be influenced by certain β2AR haplotypes (expression phenotypes), while other haplotypes may influence tachyphylaxis during the response to chronic therapy (downregulation phenotypes). An ideal clinical outcome of high expression and less downregulation was found for two haplotypes. Haplotypes may also affect heart failure antagonist therapy, where β2AR increase inotropy and are anti-apoptotic. The haplotype-specific expression and regulation phenotypes found in this transfection-based system suggest that the density of genetic information in the form of these haplotypes, or haplotype-clusters with similar phenotypes can potentially provide greater discrimination of phenotype in human disease and pharmacogenomic association studies.
PMCID: PMC2912278  PMID: 20686604
9.  Using Canonical Correlation Analysis to Discover Genetic Regulatory Variants 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10395.
Discovering genetic associations between genetic markers and gene expression levels can provide insight into gene regulation and, potentially, mechanisms of disease. Such analyses typically involve a linkage or association analysis in which expression data are used as phenotypes. This approach leads to a large number of multiple comparisons and may therefore lack power. We assess the potential of applying canonical correlation analysis to partitioned genomewide data as a method for discovering regulatory variants.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Simulations suggest that canonical correlation analysis has higher power than standard pairwise univariate regression to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms when the expression trait has low heritability. The increase in power is even greater under the recessive model. We demonstrate this approach using the Childhood Asthma Management Program data.
Our approach reduces multiple comparisons and may provide insight into the complex relationships between genotype and gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2869348  PMID: 20485529

Results 1-9 (9)