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1.  Risk loci for coronary artery calcification replicated at 9p21 and 6q24 in the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:23.
Atherosclerosis is the primary cause of coronary heart disease (CHD), preceding the onset of cardiovascular disease by decades in most cases. Here we examine the association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) integrated on Metabochip and coronary artery calcification (CAC), a valid risk factor for CHD, in an unselected, population-based German cohort.
The Metabochip is a custom iSELECT array containing >195,000 SNPs that was designed to support large-scale follow-up of putative associations for metabolic and cardiovascular-associated traits. We used generalized linear regression models to explore the impact of Metabochip SNPs on quantitative CAC in 4,329 participants.
The 9p21 variant, rs1537373, was most strongly associated (Beta = 0.30; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.21-0.39; p = 4.05x10-11) with quantitative CAC. The second strongest association with CAC was with rs9349379 in the phosphatase and actin regulator 1 gene, PHACTR1, (Beta = 0.30; 95% CI = 0.22-0.40; p = 4.67x10-11). Both SNPs remained nominally significant in dichotomized analyses for the presence of any CAC (odds ratiors1537373 (OR) = 1.19; 95% CI = 1.07-1.31; p = 0.001 and ORrs9349379 = 1.26; 95% CI = 1.14-1.40); p = 1.5x10-5). Fine mapping of the 9p21 and PHACTR1 gene region revealed several other SNPs that were strongly associated with CAC.
We demonstrate that SNPs near 9p21 and in PHACTR1 that have previously been shown to be associated with CHD are strongly associated with CAC in the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study cohort. Our findings suggest that the 9p21 and 6q24 loci might be involved in cardiac outcome via promoting development of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries.
PMCID: PMC3583714  PMID: 23394302
Coronary heart disease; Coronary artery calcification; Cohort study; Polymorphism; Metabochip
2.  Large effects on body mass index and insulin resistance of fat mass and obesity associated gene (FTO) variants in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:12.
The polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common endocrine disorder in women of child-bearing age, mainly characterised by chronic anovulation and hyperandrogenism, is often associated with insulin resistance (IR) and obesity. Its etiology and the role of IR and obesity in PCOS are not fully understood. We examined the influence of validated genetic variants conferring susceptibility to obesity and/or type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) on metabolic and PCOS-specific traits in patients with PCOS.
We conducted an association study in 386 patients with PCOS (defined by the Rotterdam-criteria) using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in or in proximity to the fat mass and obesity associated gene (FTO), insulin-induced gene-2 (INSIG2), transcription factor 7-like 2 gene (TCF7L2) and melanocortin 4 receptor gene (MC4R). To compare the effect of FTO obesity risk alleles on BMI in patients with PCOS to unselected females of the same age range we genotyped 1,971 females from the population-based KORA-S4 study (Kooperative Gesundheitsforschung im Raum Augsburg, Survey 4).
The FTO risk allele was associated with IR traits and measures of increased body weight. In addition, the TCF7L2 SNP was associated with body weight traits. For the SNPs in the vicinity of INSIG2 and MC4R and for the other examined phenotypes there was no evidence for an association. In PCOS the observed per risk allele effect of FTO intron 1 SNP rs9939609 on BMI was +1.56 kg/m2, whereas it was +0.46 kg/m2 in females of the same age range from the general population as shown previously.
The stronger effect on body weight of the FTO SNP in PCOS might well have implications for the etiology of the disease.
PMCID: PMC2824654  PMID: 20092643
3.  Mutation screen and association studies for the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) gene and early onset and adult obesity 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:2.
The orexigenic effects of cannabinoids are limited by activation of the endocannabinoid degrading enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). The aim of this study was to analyse whether FAAH alleles are associated with early and late onset obesity.
We initially assessed association of five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in FAAH with early onset extreme obesity in up to 521 German obese children and both parents. SNPs with nominal p-values ≤ 0.1 were subsequently analysed in 235 independent German obesity families. SNPs associated with childhood obesity (p-values ≤ 0.05) were further analysed in 8,491 adult individuals of a population-based cohort (KORA) for association with adult obesity. One SNP was further analysed in 985 German obese adults and 588 normal and underweight controls. In parallel, we screened the FAAH coding region for novel sequence variants in 92 extremely obese children using single-stranded-conformation-polymorphism-analysis and denaturing HPLC and assessed the implication of the identified new variants for childhood obesity.
The trio analysis revealed some evidence for an association of three SNPs in FAAH (rs324420 rs324419 and rs873978) with childhood obesity (two-sided p-values between 0.06 and 0.10). Although analyses of these variants in 235 independent obesity families did not result in statistically significant effects (two-sided p-values between 0.14 and 0.75), the combined analysis of all 603 obesity families supported the idea of an association of two SNPs in FAAH (rs324420 and rs2295632) with early onset extreme obesity (p-values between 0.02 and 0.03). No association was, however, found between these variants and adult obesity. The mutation screen revealed four novel variants, which were not associated with early onset obesity (p > 0.05).
As we observed some evidence for an association of the FAAH variants rs2295632 rs324420 with early onset but not adult obesity, we conclude that the FAAH variants analyzed here at least do not seem to play a major role in the etiology of obesity within our samples.
PMCID: PMC2830932  PMID: 20044928
4.  Gastric inhibitory polypeptide receptor: association analyses for obesity of several polymorphisms in large study groups 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:19.
Gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP) is postulated to be involved in type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. It exerts its function through its receptor, GIPR. We genotyped three GIPR SNPs (rs8111428, rs2302382 and rs1800437) in German families with at least one obese index patient, two case-control studies and two cross-sectional population-based studies.
Genotyping was performed by MALDI-TOF, ARMS-PCR and RFLP. The family-study: 761 German families with at least one extremely obese child or adolescent (n = 1,041) and both parents (n = 1,522). Case-control study: (a) German obese children (n = 333) and (b) obese adults (n = 987) in comparison to 588 adult lean controls. The two cross-sectional population-based studies: KORA (n = 8,269) and SHIP (n = 4,310).
We detected over-transmission of the A-allele of rs2302382 in the German families (pTDT-Test = 0.0089). In the combined case-control sample, we estimated an odd ratio of 1.54 (95%CI 1.09;2.19, pCA-Test = 0.014) for homozygotes of the rs2302382 A-allele compared to individuals with no A-allele. A similar trend was found in KORA where the rs2302382 A-allele led to an increase of 0.12 BMI units (p = 0.136). In SHIP, however, the A-allele of rs2302382 was estimated to contribute an average decrease of 0.27 BMI units (p-value = 0.031).
Our data suggest a potential relevance of GIPR variants for obesity. However, additional studies are warranted in light of the conflicting results obtained in one of the two population-based studies.
PMCID: PMC2654891  PMID: 19254363
5.  Non-replication of an association of CTNNBL1 polymorphisms and obesity in a population of Central European ancestry 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:14.
A recent genome-wide association (GWA) study of U.S. Caucasians suggested that eight single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in CTNNBL1 are associated with obesity and increased fat mass. We analysed the respective SNPs in data from our previously published GWA for early onset obesity (case-control design), in GWA data from a population-based cohort of adults, and in an independent family-based obesity study. We investigated whether variants in CTNNBL1 (including rs6013029) and in three other genes (SH3PXD2B, SLIT3 and FLJ42133,) were associated with obesity.
The GWA studies were carried out using Affymetrix® SNP Chips with approximately 500,000 markers each. In the families, SNP rs6013029 was genotyped using the TaqMan® allelic discrimination assay. The German case-control GWA included 487 extremely obese children and adolescents and 442 healthy lean individuals. The adult GWA included 1,644 individuals from a German population-based study (KORA). The 775 independent German families consisted of extremely obese children and adolescents and their parents.
We found no evidence for an association of the reported variants in CTNNBL1 with early onset obesity or increased BMI. Further, in our family-based study we found no evidence for over-transmission of the rs6013029 risk-allele T to obese children. Additionally, we found no evidence for an association of SH3PXD2B, SLIT3 and FLJ42133 variants in our two GWA samples.
We detected no confirmation of the recent association of variants in CTNNBL1 with obesity in a population of Central European ancestry.
PMCID: PMC2669797  PMID: 19228371
6.  'Fat mass and obesity associated' gene (FTO): No significant association of variant rs9939609 with weight loss in a lifestyle intervention and lipid metabolism markers in German obese children and adolescents 
BMC Medical Genetics  2008;9:85.
We have previously identified strong association of six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in FTO (fat mass and obesity associated gene) to early onset extreme obesity within the first genome wide association study (GWA) for this phenotype. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the obesity risk allele of one of these SNPs (rs9939609) is associated with weight loss in a lifestyle intervention program. Additionally, we tested for association of rs9939609 alleles with fasting blood parameters indicative of glucose and lipid metabolism.
We initially analysed rs9939609 in a case-control study comprising 519 German overweight and obese children and adolescents and 178 normal weight adults. In 207 of the obese individuals who took part in the outpatient obesity intervention program 'Obeldicks' we further analysed whether carrier status of the obesity risk A-allele of rs9939609 has a differential influence on weight loss after the intervention program. Additionally, we investigated in 480 of the overweight and obese patients whether rs9939609 is associated with fasting blood levels of glucose, triglycerides and HDL and LDL-cholesterol. Genotyping was performed using allele specific polymerase chain reaction (ARMS-PCR). For the association study (case-control approach), the Cochran-Armitage trend test was applied. Blood parameters were analysed using commercially available test kits and the log10-transformed blood parameters and changes in BMI-standard deviation scores (BMI-SDS) were analysed by linear regression with sex and age as covariates under an additive mode of inheritance with the rs9939609 A-allele as risk allele.
We confirmed the association of the risk A-allele of rs9939609 with overweight and early onset obesity (one sided p = 0.036). However, we observed no association of rs9939609 alleles with weight loss or fasting levels of blood glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol.
We confirmed the rs9939609 A-allele as a risk factor for early onset obesity whereas its impact on weight loss or on serum levels of glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol could not be detected in our samples.
Trial Registration
This study is registered at (NCT00435734).
PMCID: PMC2553771  PMID: 18799002
7.  Analysis of sequence variations in the suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS)-3 gene in extremely obese children and adolescents 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:21.
The suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS)-3 is a negative feedback regulator of cytokine signaling and also influences leptin signaling. We investigated association of variations in the coding sequence and promoter region of SOCS3 with extreme obesity in German children and adolescents.
An initial screen for sequence variations in 181 extremely obese children and adolescents and 188 healthy underweight adults revealed two previously reported single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the SOCS3 5' region: -1044 C>A (numbering refers to bases upstream of ATG in exon 2) within a predicted STAT3 binding element and -920 C>A (rs12953258, for numbering, see above).
We did not detect significant differences in allele or genotype frequencies for any of these SNPs between the analysed study groups (all nominal p > 0.2). In addition, we performed a pedigree transmission disequilibrium test (PDT) for the SNP -1044 C>A in families comprising 703 obese children and adolescents, 281 of their obese siblings and both biological parents. The PDT revealed no transmission disequilibrium (nominal p > 0.05).
In conclusion, our data do not suggest evidence for a major role of the respective SNPs in SOCS3 in the pathogenesis of extreme obesity in our study groups.
PMCID: PMC1866222  PMID: 17445271

Results 1-7 (7)