Publications by authors named "Amit D Joshi"

101 Publications

Diet quality and risk and severity of COVID-19: a prospective cohort study.

Gut 2021 Sep 6. Epub 2021 Sep 6.

Clinical and Translational Epidemiological Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

Objective: Poor metabolic health and unhealthy lifestyle factors have been associated with risk and severity of COVID-19, but data for diet are lacking. We aimed to investigate the association of diet quality with risk and severity of COVID-19 and its interaction with socioeconomic deprivation.

Design: We used data from 592 571 participants of the smartphone-based COVID-19 Symptom Study. Diet information was collected for the prepandemic period using a short food frequency questionnaire, and diet quality was assessed using a healthful Plant-Based Diet Score, which emphasises healthy plant foods such as fruits or vegetables. Multivariable Cox models were fitted to calculate HRs and 95% CIs for COVID-19 risk and severity defined using a validated symptom-based algorithm or hospitalisation with oxygen support, respectively.

Results: Over 3 886 274 person-months of follow-up, 31 815 COVID-19 cases were documented. Compared with individuals in the lowest quartile of the diet score, high diet quality was associated with lower risk of COVID-19 (HR 0.91; 95% CI 0.88 to 0.94) and severe COVID-19 (HR 0.59; 95% CI 0.47 to 0.74). The joint association of low diet quality and increased deprivation on COVID-19 risk was higher than the sum of the risk associated with each factor alone (P=0.005). The corresponding absolute excess rate per 10 000 person/months for lowest vs highest quartile of diet score was 22.5 (95% CI 18.8 to 26.3) among persons living in areas with low deprivation and 40.8 (95% CI 31.7 to 49.8) among persons living in areas with high deprivation.

Conclusions: A diet characterised by healthy plant-based foods was associated with lower risk and severity of COVID-19. This association may be particularly evident among individuals living in areas with higher socioeconomic deprivation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2021-325353DOI Listing
September 2021

Cardiovascular disease related circulating biomarkers and cancer incidence and mortality: is there an association?

Cardiovasc Res 2021 Sep 1. Epub 2021 Sep 1.

Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.

Aims: Recent studies suggest an association between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer incidence/mortality, but the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying these associations are unclear. We aimed to examine biomarkers previously associated with CVD and study their association with incident cancer and cancer-related death in a prospective cohort study.

Methods And Results: We used a proteomic platform to measure 71 cardiovascular biomarkers among 5,032 participants in the Framingham Heart Study who were free of cancer at baseline. We used multivariable-adjusted Cox models to examine the association of circulating protein biomarkers with risk of cancer incidence and mortality. To account for multiple testing, we set a 2-sided false discovery rate (FDR Q-value) <0.05.Growth differentiation factor-15 (GDF15; also known as macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 [MIC1])) was associated with increased risk of incident cancer (hazards ratio [HR] per 1 standard deviation increment 1.31, 95% CI 1.17-1.47), incident gastrointestinal cancer (HR 1.85, 95% CI 1.37-2.50), incident colorectal cancer (HR 1.94, 95% CI 1.29-2.91) and cancer-related death (HR 2.15, 95% CI 1.72-2.70). Stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SFD1) showed an inverse association with cancer-related death (HR 0.75, 95% CI 0.65-0.86). Fibroblast growth factor-23 (FGF23) showed an association with colorectal cancer (HR 1.55, 95% CI 1.20-2.00), and granulin (GRN) was associated with hematologic cancer (HR 1.61, 95% CI 1.30-1.99). Other circulating biomarkers of inflammation, immune activation, metabolism, and fibrosis showed suggestive associations with future cancer diagnosis.

Conclusion: We observed several significant associations between circulating CVD biomarkers and cancer, supporting the idea that shared biological pathways underlie both diseases. Further investigations of specific mechanisms that lead to both CVD and cancer are warranted.

Translational Perspective: In our prospective cohort study, baseline levels of biomarkers previously associated with CVD were found to be associated with future development of cancer. In particular, GDF15 was associated with increased risk of cancer incidence and mortality, including gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers; SDF1 was inversely associated with cancer-related death, and FGF23 and GRN were associated with increased risk of colorectal and hematologic cancers, respectively. Other biomarkers of inflammation, immune activation, metabolism, and fibrosis showed suggestive associations. These results suggest potential shared biological pathways that underlie both development of cancer and CVD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvab282DOI Listing
September 2021

Genetic Obesity Variants and Risk of Conventional Adenomas and Serrated Polyps.

Dig Dis Sci 2021 Aug 17. Epub 2021 Aug 17.

Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.

Background: Higher body mass index (BMI) is associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer. How genetically predicted BMI may be associated with colorectal cancer precursors is unknown.

Aims: Our objective was to quantify the association of genetically predicted and measured BMI with risk of colorectal cancer precursors.

Methods: We evaluated the association of genetically predicted and measured BMI with risk of conventional adenomas, serrated polyps, and synchronous polyps among 27,426 participants who had undergone at least one lower gastrointestinal endoscopy in the Nurses' Health Study, Nurses' Health Study II, and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Genetic risk score was derived from 97 BMI-related single nucleotide polymorphisms. Multivariable logistic regression evaluated each polyp subtype compared to non-polyps.

Results: For conventional adenomas, the OR per 2-kg/m increase was 1.03 (95% CI, 1.01-1.04) for measured BMI and 0.98 (95% CI, 0.88-1.10) for genetically predicted BMI; for serrated polyps, the OR was 1.06 (95% CI, 1.04-1.08) and 1.04 (95% CI, 0.90-1.20), respectively; for synchronous polyps, the OR was 1.10 (95% CI, 1.07-1.13) and 1.09 (95% CI, 0.89-1.34), respectively. Genetically predicted BMI was associated with synchronous polyps in women (OR = 1.37, 95% CI: 1.05-1.79).

Conclusion: Genetically predicted BMI was not associated with colorectal cancer precursor lesions. The confidence intervals were wide and encompassed those for measured BMI, indicating that null findings may be due to insufficient power.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10620-021-07193-xDOI Listing
August 2021

Race, ethnicity, community-level socioeconomic factors, and risk of COVID-19 in the United States and the United Kingdom.

EClinicalMedicine 2021 Aug 17;38:101029. Epub 2021 Jul 17.

Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 100 Cambridge Street, 15th Floor, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Background: There is limited prior investigation of the combined influence of personal and community-level socioeconomic factors on racial/ethnic disparities in individual risk of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis nested within a prospective cohort of 2,102,364 participants from March 29, 2020 in the United States (US) and March 24, 2020 in the United Kingdom (UK) through December 02, 2020 via the COVID Symptom Study smartphone application. We examined the contribution of community-level deprivation using the Neighborhood Deprivation Index (NDI) and the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) to observe racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19 incidence. ClinicalTrials.gov registration: NCT04331509.

Findings: Compared with non-Hispanic White participants, the risk for a positive COVID-19 test was increased in the US for non-Hispanic Black (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.32; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18-1.47) and Hispanic participants (OR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.33-1.52) and in the UK for Black (OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.02-1.34), South Asian (OR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.30-1.49), and Middle Eastern participants (OR, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.18-1.61). This elevated risk was associated with living in more deprived communities according to the NDI/IMD. After accounting for downstream mediators of COVID-19 risk, community-level deprivation still mediated 16.6% and 7.7% of the excess risk in Black compared to White participants in the US and the UK, respectively.

Interpretation: Our results illustrate the critical role of social determinants of health in the disproportionate COVID-19 risk experienced by racial and ethnic minorities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.101029DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8285255PMC
August 2021

Anosmia, ageusia, and other COVID-19-like symptoms in association with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test, across six national digital surveillance platforms: an observational study.

Lancet Digit Health 2021 09 22;3(9):e577-e586. Epub 2021 Jul 22.

Computational Epidemiology Lab, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; Division of Endocrinology, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Background: Multiple voluntary surveillance platforms were developed across the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a real-time understanding of population-based COVID-19 epidemiology. During this time, testing criteria broadened and health-care policies matured. We aimed to test whether there were consistent associations of symptoms with SARS-CoV-2 test status across three surveillance platforms in three countries (two platforms per country), during periods of testing and policy changes.

Methods: For this observational study, we used data of observations from three volunteer COVID-19 digital surveillance platforms (Carnegie Mellon University and University of Maryland Facebook COVID-19 Symptom Survey, ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, and the Corona Israel study) targeting communities in three countries (Israel, the UK, and the USA; two platforms per country). The study population included adult respondents (age 18-100 years at baseline) who were not health-care workers. We did logistic regression of self-reported symptoms on self-reported SARS-CoV-2 test status (positive or negative), adjusted for age and sex, in each of the study cohorts. We compared odds ratios (ORs) across platforms and countries, and we did meta-analyses assuming a random effects model. We also evaluated testing policy changes, COVID-19 incidence, and time scales of duration of symptoms and symptom-to-test time.

Findings: Between April 1 and July 31, 2020, 514 459 tests from over 10 million respondents were recorded in the six surveillance platform datasets. Anosmia-ageusia was the strongest, most consistent symptom associated with a positive COVID-19 test (robust aggregated rank one, meta-analysed random effects OR 16·96, 95% CI 13·13-21·92). Fever (rank two, 6·45, 4·25-9·81), shortness of breath (rank three, 4·69, 3·14-7·01), and cough (rank four, 4·29, 3·13-5·88) were also highly associated with test positivity. The association of symptoms with test status varied by duration of illness, timing of the test, and broader test criteria, as well as over time, by country, and by platform.

Interpretation: The strong association of anosmia-ageusia with self-reported positive SARS-CoV-2 test was consistently observed, supporting its validity as a reliable COVID-19 signal, regardless of the participatory surveillance platform, country, phase of illness, or testing policy. These findings show that associations between COVID-19 symptoms and test positivity ranked similarly in a wide range of scenarios. Anosmia, fever, and respiratory symptoms consistently had the strongest effect estimates and were the most appropriate empirical signals for symptom-based public health surveillance in areas with insufficient testing or benchmarking capacity. Collaborative syndromic surveillance could enhance real-time epidemiological investigations and public health utility globally.

Funding: National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Health Research, Alzheimer's Society, Wellcome Trust, and Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2589-7500(21)00115-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8297994PMC
September 2021

Genomic Risk Prediction for Breast Cancer in Older Women.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Jul 14;13(14). Epub 2021 Jul 14.

Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia.

Genomic risk prediction models for breast cancer (BC) have been predominantly developed with data from women aged 40-69 years. Prospective studies of older women aged ≥70 years have been limited. We assessed the effect of a 313-variant polygenic risk score (PRS) for BC in 6339 older women aged ≥70 years (mean age 75 years) enrolled into the ASPREE trial, a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial investigating the effect of daily 100 mg aspirin on disability-free survival. We evaluated incident BC diagnoses over a median follow-up time of 4.7 years. A multivariable Cox regression model including conventional BC risk factors was applied to prospective data, and re-evaluated after adding the PRS. We also assessed the association of rare pathogenic variants (PVs) in BC susceptibility genes (). The PRS, as a continuous variable, was an independent predictor of incident BC (hazard ratio (HR) per standard deviation (SD) = 1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3-1.6) and hormone receptor (ER/PR)-positive disease (HR = 1.5 (CI 1.2-1.9)). Women in the top quintile of the PRS distribution had over two-fold higher risk of BC than women in the lowest quintile (HR = 2.2 (CI 1.2-3.9)). The concordance index of the model without the PRS was 0.62 (95% CI 0.56-0.68), which improved after addition of the PRS to 0.65 (95% CI 0.59-0.71). Among 41 (0.6%) carriers of PVs in BC susceptibility genes, we observed no incident BC diagnoses. Our study demonstrates that a PRS predicts incident BC risk in women aged 70 years and older, suggesting potential clinical utility extends to this older age group.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13143533DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8305131PMC
July 2021

Obesity, Adiposity, and Risk of Symptomatic Gallstone Disease According to Genetic Susceptibility.

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2021 Jul 2. Epub 2021 Jul 2.

Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. Electronic address:

Background & Aims: Adiposity has been consistently associated with gallstone disease risk. We aimed to characterize associations of anthropometric measures (body mass index [BMI], recent weight change, long-term weight change, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio) with symptomatic gallstone disease according to strata of gallstone disease polygenic risk score (PRS).

Methods: We conducted analysis among 34,626 participants with available genome-wide genetic data within 3 large, prospective, U.S. cohorts-the Nurses' Health Study (NHS), Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, and NHS II. We characterized joint associations of PRS and anthropometric measures and tested for interactions on the relative and absolute risk scales.

Results: Women in the highest BMI and PRS categories (BMI ≥30 kg/m and PRS ≥1 SD above mean) had odds ratio for gallstone disease of 5.55 (95% confidence interval, 5.29 to 5.81) compared with those in the lowest BMI and PRS categories (BMI <25 kg/m and PRS <1 SD below the mean). The corresponding odds ratio among men was 1.65 (95% confidence interval, 1.02 to 2.29). Associations for BMI did not vary within strata of PRS on the relative risk scale. On the absolute risk scale, the incidence rate difference between obese and normal-weight individuals was 1086 per 100,000 person-years within the highest PRS category, compared with 666 per 100,000 person-years in the lowest PRS category, with strong evidence for interaction with the ABCG8 locus.

Conclusions: While maintenance of a healthy body weight reduces gallstone disease risk among all individuals, risk reduction is higher among the subset with greater genetic susceptibility to gallstone disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2021.06.044DOI Listing
July 2021

Association of social distancing and face mask use with risk of COVID-19.

Nat Commun 2021 06 18;12(1):3737. Epub 2021 Jun 18.

Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Given the continued burden of COVID-19 worldwide, there is a high unmet need for data on the effect of social distancing and face mask use to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. We examined the association of community-level social distancing measures and individual face mask use with risk of predicted COVID-19 in a large prospective U.S. cohort study of 198,077 participants. Individuals living in communities with the greatest social distancing had a 31% lower risk of predicted COVID-19 compared with those living in communities with poor social distancing. Self-reported 'always' use of face mask was associated with a 62% reduced risk of predicted COVID-19 even among individuals living in a community with poor social distancing. These findings provide support for the efficacy of mask-wearing even in settings of poor social distancing in reducing COVID-19 transmission. Despite mass vaccination campaigns in many parts of the world, continued efforts at social distancing and face mask use remain critically important in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24115-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8213701PMC
June 2021

Genetically Predicted Circulating C-Reactive Protein Concentration and Colorectal Cancer Survival: A Mendelian Randomization Consortium Study.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2021 Jul 10;30(7):1349-1358. Epub 2021 May 10.

Public Health Sciences Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

Background: A positive association between circulating C-reactive protein (CRP) and colorectal cancer survival was reported in observational studies, which are susceptible to unmeasured confounding and reverse causality. We used a Mendelian randomization approach to evaluate the association between genetically predicted CRP concentrations and colorectal cancer-specific survival.

Methods: We used individual-level data for 16,918 eligible colorectal cancer cases of European ancestry from 15 studies within the International Survival Analysis of Colorectal Cancer Consortium. We calculated a genetic-risk score based on 52 CRP-associated genetic variants identified from genome-wide association studies. Because of the non-collapsibility of hazard ratios from Cox proportional hazards models, we used the additive hazards model to calculate hazard differences (HD) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between genetically predicted CRP concentrations and colorectal cancer-specific survival, overall and by stage at diagnosis and tumor location. Analyses were adjusted for age at diagnosis, sex, body mass index, genotyping platform, study, and principal components.

Results: Of the 5,395 (32%) deaths accrued over up to 10 years of follow-up, 3,808 (23%) were due to colorectal cancer. Genetically predicted CRP concentration was not associated with colorectal cancer-specific survival (HD, -1.15; 95% CI, -2.76 to 0.47 per 100,000 person-years; = 0.16). Similarly, no associations were observed in subgroup analyses by stage at diagnosis or tumor location.

Conclusions: Despite adequate power to detect moderate associations, our results did not support a causal effect of circulating CRP concentrations on colorectal cancer-specific survival.

Impact: Future research evaluating genetically determined levels of other circulating inflammatory biomarkers (i.e., IL6) with colorectal cancer survival outcomes is needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-1848DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8254760PMC
July 2021

Vaccine side-effects and SARS-CoV-2 infection after vaccination in users of the COVID Symptom Study app in the UK: a prospective observational study.

Lancet Infect Dis 2021 07 27;21(7):939-949. Epub 2021 Apr 27.

Department of Twin Research & Genetic Epidemiology, King's College London, London, UK.

Background: The Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2) and the Oxford-AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) COVID-19 vaccines have shown excellent safety and efficacy in phase 3 trials. We aimed to investigate the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines in a UK community setting.

Methods: In this prospective observational study, we examined the proportion and probability of self-reported systemic and local side-effects within 8 days of vaccination in individuals using the COVID Symptom Study app who received one or two doses of the BNT162b2 vaccine or one dose of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine. We also compared infection rates in a subset of vaccinated individuals subsequently tested for SARS-CoV-2 with PCR or lateral flow tests with infection rates in unvaccinated controls. All analyses were adjusted by age (≤55 years vs >55 years), sex, health-care worker status (binary variable), obesity (BMI <30 kg/mvs ≥30 kg/m), and comorbidities (binary variable, with or without comorbidities).

Findings: Between Dec 8, and March 10, 2021, 627 383 individuals reported being vaccinated with 655 590 doses: 282 103 received one dose of BNT162b2, of whom 28 207 received a second dose, and 345 280 received one dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. Systemic side-effects were reported by 13·5% (38 155 of 282 103) of individuals after the first dose of BNT162b2, by 22·0% (6216 of 28 207) after the second dose of BNT162b2, and by 33·7% (116 473 of 345 280) after the first dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. Local side-effects were reported by 71·9% (150 023 of 208 767) of individuals after the first dose of BNT162b2, by 68·5% (9025 of 13 179) after the second dose of BNT162b2, and by 58·7% (104 282 of 177 655) after the first dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. Systemic side-effects were more common (1·6 times after the first dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and 2·9 times after the first dose of BNT162b2) among individuals with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection than among those without known past infection. Local effects were similarly higher in individuals previously infected than in those without known past infection (1·4 times after the first dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and 1·2 times after the first dose of BNT162b2). 3106 of 103 622 vaccinated individuals and 50 340 of 464 356 unvaccinated controls tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Significant reductions in infection risk were seen starting at 12 days after the first dose, reaching 60% (95% CI 49-68) for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and 69% (66-72) for BNT162b2 at 21-44 days and 72% (63-79) for BNT162b2 after 45-59 days.

Interpretation: Systemic and local side-effects after BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination occur at frequencies lower than reported in phase 3 trials. Both vaccines decrease the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection after 12 days.

Funding: ZOE Global, National Institute for Health Research, Chronic Disease Research Foundation, National Institutes of Health, UK Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, UK Research and Innovation, American Gastroenterological Association.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(21)00224-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8078878PMC
July 2021

Symptom clusters in COVID-19: A potential clinical prediction tool from the COVID Symptom Study app.

Sci Adv 2021 03 19;7(12). Epub 2021 Mar 19.

Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, MA, USA.

As no one symptom can predict disease severity or the need for dedicated medical support in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we asked whether documenting symptom time series over the first few days informs outcome. Unsupervised time series clustering over symptom presentation was performed on data collected from a training dataset of completed cases enlisted early from the COVID Symptom Study Smartphone application, yielding six distinct symptom presentations. Clustering was validated on an independent replication dataset between 1 and 28 May 2020. Using the first 5 days of symptom logging, the ROC-AUC (receiver operating characteristic - area under the curve) of need for respiratory support was 78.8%, substantially outperforming personal characteristics alone (ROC-AUC 69.5%). Such an approach could be used to monitor at-risk patients and predict medical resource requirements days before they are required.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abd4177DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7978420PMC
March 2021

Attributes and predictors of long COVID.

Nat Med 2021 04 10;27(4):626-631. Epub 2021 Mar 10.

Zoe Global, London, UK.

Reports of long-lasting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms, the so-called 'long COVID', are rising but little is known about prevalence, risk factors or whether it is possible to predict a protracted course early in the disease. We analyzed data from 4,182 incident cases of COVID-19 in which individuals self-reported their symptoms prospectively in the COVID Symptom Study app. A total of 558 (13.3%) participants reported symptoms lasting ≥28 days, 189 (4.5%) for ≥8 weeks and 95 (2.3%) for ≥12 weeks. Long COVID was characterized by symptoms of fatigue, headache, dyspnea and anosmia and was more likely with increasing age and body mass index and female sex. Experiencing more than five symptoms during the first week of illness was associated with long COVID (odds ratio = 3.53 (2.76-4.50)). A simple model to distinguish between short COVID and long COVID at 7 days (total sample size, n = 2,149) showed an area under the curve of the receiver operating characteristic curve of 76%, with replication in an independent sample of 2,472 individuals who were positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. This model could be used to identify individuals at risk of long COVID for trials of prevention or treatment and to plan education and rehabilitation services.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01292-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7611399PMC
April 2021

Racial and ethnic differences in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and uptake.

medRxiv 2021 Feb 28. Epub 2021 Feb 28.

Background: Racial and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. In the initial phase of population-based vaccination in the United States (U.S.) and United Kingdom (U.K.), vaccine hesitancy and limited access may result in disparities in uptake.

Methods: We performed a cohort study among U.S. and U.K. participants in the smartphone-based COVID Symptom Study (March 24, 2020-February 16, 2021). We used logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy (unsure/not willing) and receipt.

Results: In the U.S. ( =87,388), compared to White non-Hispanic participants, the multivariable ORs of vaccine hesitancy were 3.15 (95% CI: 2.86 to 3.47) for Black participants, 1.42 (1.28 to 1.58) for Hispanic participants, 1.34 (1.18 to 1.52) for Asian participants, and 2.02 (1.70 to 2.39) for participants reporting more than one race/other. In the U.K. ( =1,254,294), racial and ethnic minorities had similarly elevated hesitancy: compared to White participants, their corresponding ORs were 2.84 (95% CI: 2.69 to 2.99) for Black participants, 1.66 (1.57 to 1.76) for South Asian participants, 1.84 (1.70 to 1.98) for Middle East/East Asian participants, and 1.48 (1.39 to 1.57) for participants reporting more than one race/other. Among U.S. participants, the OR of vaccine receipt was 0.71 (0.64 to 0.79) for Black participants, a disparity that persisted among individuals who specifically endorsed a willingness to obtain a vaccine. In contrast, disparities in uptake were not observed in the U.K.

Conclusions: COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy was greater among racial and ethnic minorities, and Black participants living in the U.S. were less likely to receive a vaccine than White participants. Lower uptake among Black participants in the U.S. during the initial vaccine rollout is attributable to both hesitancy and disparities in access.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.25.21252402DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7924296PMC
February 2021

Genetic architectures of proximal and distal colorectal cancer are partly distinct.

Gut 2021 Jul 25;70(7):1325-1334. Epub 2021 Feb 25.

Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Catalan Institute of Oncology - IDIBELL, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain.

Objective: An understanding of the etiologic heterogeneity of colorectal cancer (CRC) is critical for improving precision prevention, including individualized screening recommendations and the discovery of novel drug targets and repurposable drug candidates for chemoprevention. Known differences in molecular characteristics and environmental risk factors among tumors arising in different locations of the colorectum suggest partly distinct mechanisms of carcinogenesis. The extent to which the contribution of inherited genetic risk factors for CRC differs by anatomical subsite of the primary tumor has not been examined.

Design: To identify new anatomical subsite-specific risk loci, we performed genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analyses including data of 48 214 CRC cases and 64 159 controls of European ancestry. We characterised effect heterogeneity at CRC risk loci using multinomial modelling.

Results: We identified 13 loci that reached genome-wide significance (p<5×10) and that were not reported by previous GWASs for overall CRC risk. Multiple lines of evidence support candidate genes at several of these loci. We detected substantial heterogeneity between anatomical subsites. Just over half (61) of 109 known and new risk variants showed no evidence for heterogeneity. In contrast, 22 variants showed association with distal CRC (including rectal cancer), but no evidence for association or an attenuated association with proximal CRC. For two loci, there was strong evidence for effects confined to proximal colon cancer.

Conclusion: Genetic architectures of proximal and distal CRC are partly distinct. Studies of risk factors and mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and precision prevention strategies should take into consideration the anatomical subsite of the tumour.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2020-321534DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8223655PMC
July 2021

Aspirin Use and Risk of Colorectal Cancer Among Older Adults.

JAMA Oncol 2021 Mar;7(3):428-435

Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Importance: Although aspirin is recommended for the prevention of colorectal cancer (CRC) among adults aged 50 to 59 years, recent data from a randomized clinical trial suggest a lack of benefit and even possible harm among older adults.

Objective: To examine the association between aspirin use and the risk of incident CRC among older adults.

Design, Setting, And Participants: A pooled analysis was conducted of 2 large US cohort studies, the Nurses' Health Study (June 1, 1980-June 30, 2014) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (January 1, 1986-January 31, 2014). A total of 94 540 participants aged 70 years or older were included and followed up to June 30, 2014, for women or January 31, 2014, for men. Participants with a diagnosis of any cancer, except nonmelanoma skin cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease were excluded. Statistical analyses were conducted from December 2019 to October 2020.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate multivariable adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for incident CRC.

Results: Among the 94 540 participants (mean [SD] age, 76.4 [4.9] years for women, 77.7 [5.6] years for men; 67 223 women [71.1%]; 65 259 White women [97.1%], 24 915 White men [96.0%]) aged 70 years or older, 1431 incident cases of CRC were documented over 996 463 person-years of follow-up. After adjustment for other risk factors, regular use of aspirin was associated with a significantly lower risk of CRC at or after age 70 years compared with nonregular use (HR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.72-0.90). However, the inverse association was evident only among aspirin users who initiated aspirin use before age 70 years (HR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.67-0.95). In contrast, initiating aspirin use at or after 70 years was not significantly associated with a lower risk of CRC (HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.76-1.11).

Conclusions And Relevance: Initiating aspirin at an older age was not associated with a lower risk of CRC in this pooled analysis of 2 cohort studies. In contrast, those who used aspirin before age 70 years and continued into their 70s or later had a reduced risk of CRC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.7338DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7821085PMC
March 2021

Frequency of Bowel Movements and Risk of Diverticulitis.

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2021 Jan 5. Epub 2021 Jan 5.

Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Division of Gastroenterology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts; Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Electronic address:

Objective: The etiology of diverticulitis is poorly understood. The long-held belief that constipation and low-fiber diet are risk factors for diverticulosis has recently been challenged by studies that suggest that more frequent bowel movements predispose to diverticulosis. We aim to prospectively explore the association between bowel movement frequency and incident diverticulitis.

Design: We studied participants of the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and Health Professional Follow-up Study (HPFS). Participants' medical history, lifestyle factors and diet were used in Cox proportional hazards regression models to estimate multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios(HRs) and 95% confidence intervals(CI).

Results: In the NHS during over 24 years of follow-up encompassing 1,299,922 person-years, we documented 5,214 incident cases of diverticulitis, and in the HPFS over 14 years encompassing 368,661 person-years of follow-up, we documented 390 incident cases of diverticulitis. We observed an inverse association between the frequency of bowel movements and risk of diverticulitis. In the NHS, compared with women who had daily bowel movements, those with more than once daily bowel movements had a HR of 1.30 (95% CI, 1.19, 1.42) and those with less frequent bowel movements had a HR of 0.89 (95% CI, 0.82, 0.95; p-trend < 0.0001). In the HPFS, the corresponding HRs were 1.29 (95% CI, 1.04, 1.59) and 0.61 (95% CI, 0.36, 1.03; p-trend = 0.003). The association between bowel movements and diverticulitis was not modified by categories of age, BMI, physical activity, laxative use or fiber intake.

Conclusion: More frequent bowel movements appear to be a risk factor for subsequent diverticulitis both in men and women. Further studies are needed to understand the potential mechanisms that may underlie this association.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2021.01.003DOI Listing
January 2021

Racial differences in epigenetic aging of the colon: Implications for colorectal cancer.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2020 Dec 30. Epub 2020 Dec 30.

Clinical and Translational Epidemiology, Mongan Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djaa207DOI Listing
December 2020

Anosmia and other SARS-CoV-2 positive test-associated symptoms, across three national, digital surveillance platforms as the COVID-19 pandemic and response unfolded: an observation study.

medRxiv 2020 Dec 16. Epub 2020 Dec 16.

Background: Multiple participatory surveillance platforms were developed across the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a real-time understanding of community-wide COVID-19 epidemiology. During this time, testing criteria broadened and healthcare policies matured. We sought to test whether there were consistent associations of symptoms with SARS-CoV-2 test status across three national surveillance platforms, during periods of testing and policy changes, and whether inconsistencies could better inform our understanding and future studies as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.

Methods: Four months (1st April 2020 to 31st July 2020) of observation through three volunteer COVID-19 digital surveillance platforms targeting communities in three countries (Israel, United Kingdom, and United States). Logistic regression of self-reported symptom on self-reported SARS-CoV-2 test status (or test access), adjusted for age and sex, in each of the study cohorts. Odds ratios over time were compared to known changes in testing policies and fluctuations in COVID-19 incidence.

Findings: Anosmia/ageusia was the strongest, most consistent symptom associated with a positive COVID-19 test, based on 658325 tests (5% positive) from over 10 million respondents in three digital surveillance platforms using longitudinal and cross-sectional survey methodologies. During higher-incidence periods with broader testing criteria, core COVID-19 symptoms were more strongly associated with test status. Lower incidence periods had, overall, larger confidence intervals.

Interpretation: The strong association of anosmia/ageusia with self-reported SARS-CoV-2 test positivity is omnipresent, supporting its validity as a reliable COVID-19 signal, regardless of the participatory surveillance platform or testing policy. This analysis highlights that precise effect estimates, as well as an understanding of test access patterns to interpret differences, are best done only when incidence is high. These findings strongly support the need for testing access to be as open as possible both for real-time epidemiologic investigation and public health utility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.12.15.20248096DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7755145PMC
December 2020

Association of social distancing and masking with risk of COVID-19.

medRxiv 2020 Nov 13. Epub 2020 Nov 13.

Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Given the continued burden of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV-2) disease (COVID-19) across the U.S., there is a high unmet need for data to inform decision-making regarding social distancing and universal masking. We examined the association of community-level social distancing measures and individual masking with risk of predicted COVID-19 in a large prospective U.S. cohort study of 198,077 participants. Individuals living in communities with the greatest social distancing had a 31% lower risk of predicted COVID-19 compared with those living in communities with poor social distancing. Self-reported masking was associated with a 63% reduced risk of predicted COVID-19 even among individuals living in a community with poor social distancing. These findings provide support for the efficacy of mask-wearing even in settings of poor social distancing in reducing COVID-19 transmission. In the current environment of relaxed social distancing mandates and practices, universal masking may be particularly important in mitigating risk of infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.11.11.20229500DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7668763PMC
November 2020

Genetic Variants in the Regulatory T cell-Related Pathway and Colorectal Cancer Prognosis.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2020 12 2;29(12):2719-2728. Epub 2020 Oct 2.

Colorectal Oncogenomics Group, Department of Clinical Pathology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Background: High numbers of lymphocytes in tumor tissue, including T regulatory cells (Treg), have been associated with better colorectal cancer survival. Tregs, a subset of CD4 T lymphocytes, are mediators of immunosuppression in cancer, and therefore variants in genes related to Treg differentiation and function could be associated with colorectal cancer prognosis.

Methods: In a prospective German cohort of 3,593 colorectal cancer patients, we assessed the association of 771 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in 58 Treg-related genes with overall and colorectal cancer-specific survival using Cox regression models. Effect modification by microsatellite instability (MSI) status was also investigated because tumors with MSI show greater lymphocytic infiltration and have been associated with better prognosis. Replication of significant results was attempted in 2,047 colorectal cancer patients of the International Survival Analysis in Colorectal Cancer Consortium (ISACC).

Results: A significant association of the SNP rs7524066 with more favorable colorectal cancer-specific survival [hazard ratio (HR) per minor allele: 0.83; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.74-0.94; value: 0.0033] was replicated in ISACC (HR: 0.82; 95% CI, 0.68-0.98; value: 0.03). Suggestive evidence for association was found with two SNPs, rs16906568 and rs7845577. Thirteen SNPs with differential associations with overall survival according to MSI in the discovery analysis were not confirmed.

Conclusions: Common genetic variation in the Treg pathway implicating genes such as and was shown to be associated with prognosis of colorectal cancer patients.

Impact: The implicated genes warrant further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-0714DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7976673PMC
December 2020

Circulating bilirubin levels and risk of colorectal cancer: serological and Mendelian randomization analyses.

BMC Med 2020 09 3;18(1):229. Epub 2020 Sep 3.

Public Health Directorate, Asturias, Spain.

Background: Bilirubin, a byproduct of hemoglobin breakdown and purported anti-oxidant, is thought to be cancer preventive. We conducted complementary serological and Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses to investigate whether alterations in circulating levels of bilirubin are associated with risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). We decided a priori to perform analyses separately in men and women based on suggestive evidence that associations may differ by sex.

Methods: In a case-control study nested in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), pre-diagnostic unconjugated bilirubin (UCB, the main component of total bilirubin) concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography in plasma samples of 1386 CRC cases and their individually matched controls. Additionally, 115 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) robustly associated (P < 5 × 10) with circulating total bilirubin were instrumented in a 2-sample MR to test for a potential causal effect of bilirubin on CRC risk in 52,775 CRC cases and 45,940 matched controls in the Genetics and Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer Consortium (GECCO), the Colon Cancer Family Registry (CCFR), and the Colorectal Transdisciplinary (CORECT) study.

Results: The associations between circulating UCB levels and CRC risk differed by sex (P = 0.008). Among men, higher levels of UCB were positively associated with CRC risk (odds ratio [OR] = 1.19, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.04-1.36; per 1-SD increment of log-UCB). In women, an inverse association was observed (OR = 0.86 (0.76-0.97)). In the MR analysis of the main UGT1A1 SNP (rs6431625), genetically predicted higher levels of total bilirubin were associated with a 7% increase in CRC risk in men (OR = 1.07 (1.02-1.12); P = 0.006; per 1-SD increment of total bilirubin), while there was no association in women (OR = 1.01 (0.96-1.06); P = 0.73). Raised bilirubin levels, predicted by instrumental variables excluding rs6431625, were suggestive of an inverse association with CRC in men, but not in women. These differences by sex did not reach formal statistical significance (P ≥ 0.2).

Conclusions: Additional insight into the relationship between circulating bilirubin and CRC is needed in order to conclude on a potential causal role of bilirubin in CRC development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-020-01703-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7469292PMC
September 2020

Cancer and Risk of COVID-19 Through a General Community Survey.

Oncologist 2021 01 7;26(1). Epub 2020 Sep 7.

Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit and Division of Gastroenterology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Individuals with cancer may be at high risk for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and adverse outcomes. However, evidence from large population-based studies examining whether cancer and cancer-related therapy exacerbates the risk of COVID-19 infection is still limited. Data were collected from the COVID Symptom Study smartphone application since March 29 through May 8, 2020. Among 23,266 participants with cancer and 1,784,293 without cancer, we documented 10,404 reports of a positive COVID-19 test. Compared with participants without cancer, those living with cancer had a 60% increased risk of a positive COVID-19 test. Among patients with cancer, current treatment with chemotherapy or immunotherapy was associated with a 2.2-fold increased risk of a positive test. The association between cancer and COVID-19 infection was stronger among participants >65 years and males. Future studies are needed to identify subgroups by tumor types and treatment regimens who are particularly at risk for COVID-19 infection and adverse outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2020-0572DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7460944PMC
January 2021

Antibiotic use and the development of inflammatory bowel disease: a national case-control study in Sweden.

Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020 11 17;5(11):986-995. Epub 2020 Aug 17.

Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; Department of Paediatrics, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden; Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK; Department of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Use of antibiotics in early life has been linked with childhood inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but data for adults are mixed, and based on smaller investigations that did not compare risk among siblings with shared genetic or environmental risk factors. We aimed to investigate the association between antibiotic therapy and IBD in a large, population-based study.

Methods: In this prospective case-control study, we identified people living in Sweden aged 16 years or older, with a diagnosis of IBD based on histology and at least one diagnosis code for IBD or its subtypes (ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease). We identified consecutive patients with incident IBD from the ESPRESSO (Epidemiology Strengthened by histoPathology Reports in Sweden) study, cross-referenced with the Swedish Patient Register and the Prescribed Drug Register. We accrued data for cumulative antibiotic dispensations until 1 year before time of matching for patients and up to five general population controls per patient (matched on the basis of age, sex, county, and calendar year). We also included unaffected full siblings as a secondary control group. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate multivariable-adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% CIs for diagnosis of incident IBD.

Findings: We identified 23 982 new patients with IBD (15 951 ulcerative colitis, 7898 Crohn's disease, 133 unclassified IBD) diagnosed between Jan 1, 2007, and Dec 31, 2016. 117 827 matched controls and 28 732 siblings were also identified. After adjusting for several risk factors, aOR in patients who had used antibiotics versus those who had never used antibiotics was 1·88 (95% CI 1·79-1·98) for diagnosis of incident IBD, 1·74 (1·64-1·85) for ulcerative colitis, and 2·27 (2·06-2·49) for Crohn's disease. aOR was higher in patients who had received one antibiotic dispensation (1·11, 1·07-1·15), two antibiotic dispensations (1·38, 1·32-1·44), and three or more antibiotic dispensations (1·55, 1·49-1·61) than patients who had none. Increased risk was noted for ulcerative colitis (aOR with three or more antibiotic dispensations 1·47, 95% CI 1·40-1·54) and Crohn's disease (1·64, 1·53-1·76) with higher estimates corresponding to broad-spectrum antibiotics. Similar but attenuated results were observed when siblings were used as the reference group, with an aOR of 1·35 (95% CI 1·28-1·43) for patients who had received three or more dispensations, compared with general population controls.

Interpretation: Higher cumulative exposure to systemic antibiotic therapy, particularly treatments with greater spectrum of microbial coverage, may be associated with a greater risk of new-onset IBD and its subtypes. The association between antimicrobial treatment and IBD did not appear to differ when predisposed siblings were used as the reference controls. Our findings, if substantiated by longer-term prospective studies in humans or mechanistic preclinical investigations, suggest the need to further emphasise antibiotic stewardship to prevent the rise in dysbiosis-related chronic diseases, including IBD.

Funding: National Institutes of Health. Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2468-1253(20)30267-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8034612PMC
November 2020

Multi-"-Omics" Profiling in Patients With Quiescent Inflammatory Bowel Disease Identifies Biomarkers Predicting Relapse.

Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020 09;26(10):1524-1532

Division of Gastroenterology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Background: Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are characterized by intermittent relapses, and their course is heterogeneous and unpredictable. Our aim was to determine the ability of protein, metabolite, or microbial biomarkers to predict relapse in patients with quiescent disease.

Methods: This prospective study enrolled patients with quiescent Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, defined as the absence of clinical symptoms (Harvey-Bradshaw Index ≤ 4, Simple Clinical Colitis Activity Index ≤ 2) and endoscopic remission within the prior year. The primary outcome was relapse within 2 years, defined as symptomatic worsening accompanied by elevated inflammatory markers resulting in a change in therapy or IBD-related hospitalization or surgery. Biomarkers were tested in a derivation cohort, and their performance was examined in an independent validation cohort.

Results: Our prospective cohort study included 164 patients with IBD (108 with Crohn disease, 56 with ulcerative colitis). Upon follow-up for a median of 1 year, 22 patients (13.4%) experienced a relapse. Three protein biomarkers (interleukin-10, glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor, and T-cell surface glycoprotein CD8 alpha chain) and 4 metabolomic markers (propionyl-L-carnitine, carnitine, sarcosine, and sorbitol) were associated with relapse in multivariable models. Proteomic and metabolomic risk scores independently predicted relapse with a combined area under the curve of 0.83. A high proteomic risk score (odds ratio = 9.11; 95% confidence interval, 1.90-43.61) or metabolomic risk score (odds ratio = 5.79; 95% confidence interval, 1.24-27.11) independently predicted a higher risk of relapse over 2 years. Fecal metagenomics showed an increased abundance of Proteobacteria (P = 0.0019, q = 0.019) and Fusobacteria (P = 0.0040, q = 0.020) and at the species level Lachnospiraceae_bacterium_2_1_58FAA (P = 0.000008, q = 0.0009) among the relapses.

Conclusions: Proteomic, metabolomic, and microbial biomarkers identify a proinflammatory state in quiescent IBD that predisposes to clinical relapse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ibd/izaa183DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7500522PMC
September 2020

Genome-wide Modeling of Polygenic Risk Score in Colorectal Cancer Risk.

Am J Hum Genet 2020 09 5;107(3):432-444. Epub 2020 Aug 5.

School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK.

Accurate colorectal cancer (CRC) risk prediction models are critical for identifying individuals at low and high risk of developing CRC, as they can then be offered targeted screening and interventions to address their risks of developing disease (if they are in a high-risk group) and avoid unnecessary screening and interventions (if they are in a low-risk group). As it is likely that thousands of genetic variants contribute to CRC risk, it is clinically important to investigate whether these genetic variants can be used jointly for CRC risk prediction. In this paper, we derived and compared different approaches to generating predictive polygenic risk scores (PRS) from genome-wide association studies (GWASs) including 55,105 CRC-affected case subjects and 65,079 control subjects of European ancestry. We built the PRS in three ways, using (1) 140 previously identified and validated CRC loci; (2) SNP selection based on linkage disequilibrium (LD) clumping followed by machine-learning approaches; and (3) LDpred, a Bayesian approach for genome-wide risk prediction. We tested the PRS in an independent cohort of 101,987 individuals with 1,699 CRC-affected case subjects. The discriminatory accuracy, calculated by the age- and sex-adjusted area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC), was highest for the LDpred-derived PRS (AUC = 0.654) including nearly 1.2 M genetic variants (the proportion of causal genetic variants for CRC assumed to be 0.003), whereas the PRS of the 140 known variants identified from GWASs had the lowest AUC (AUC = 0.629). Based on the LDpred-derived PRS, we are able to identify 30% of individuals without a family history as having risk for CRC similar to those with a family history of CRC, whereas the PRS based on known GWAS variants identified only top 10% as having a similar relative risk. About 90% of these individuals have no family history and would have been considered average risk under current screening guidelines, but might benefit from earlier screening. The developed PRS offers a way for risk-stratified CRC screening and other targeted interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2020.07.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7477007PMC
September 2020

Risk of COVID-19 among front-line health-care workers and the general community: a prospective cohort study.

Lancet Public Health 2020 09 31;5(9):e475-e483. Epub 2020 Jul 31.

Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King's College London, London, UK.

Background: Data for front-line health-care workers and risk of COVID-19 are limited. We sought to assess risk of COVID-19 among front-line health-care workers compared with the general community and the effect of personal protective equipment (PPE) on risk.

Methods: We did a prospective, observational cohort study in the UK and the USA of the general community, including front-line health-care workers, using self-reported data from the COVID Symptom Study smartphone application (app) from March 24 (UK) and March 29 (USA) to April 23, 2020. Participants were voluntary users of the app and at first use provided information on demographic factors (including age, sex, race or ethnic background, height and weight, and occupation) and medical history, and subsequently reported any COVID-19 symptoms. We used Cox proportional hazards modelling to estimate multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) of our primary outcome, which was a positive COVID-19 test. The COVID Symptom Study app is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04331509.

Findings: Among 2 035 395 community individuals and 99 795 front-line health-care workers, we recorded 5545 incident reports of a positive COVID-19 test over 34 435 272 person-days. Compared with the general community, front-line health-care workers were at increased risk for reporting a positive COVID-19 test (adjusted HR 11·61, 95% CI 10·93-12·33). To account for differences in testing frequency between front-line health-care workers and the general community and possible selection bias, an inverse probability-weighted model was used to adjust for the likelihood of receiving a COVID-19 test (adjusted HR 3·40, 95% CI 3·37-3·43). Secondary and post-hoc analyses suggested adequacy of PPE, clinical setting, and ethnic background were also important factors.

Interpretation: In the UK and the USA, risk of reporting a positive test for COVID-19 was increased among front-line health-care workers. Health-care systems should ensure adequate availability of PPE and develop additional strategies to protect health-care workers from COVID-19, particularly those from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds. Additional follow-up of these observational findings is needed.

Funding: Zoe Global, Wellcome Trust, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, National Institutes of Health Research, UK Research and Innovation, Alzheimer's Society, National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(20)30164-XDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7491202PMC
September 2020

Effect of Low-dose and Standard-dose Aspirin on PGE Biosynthesis Among Individuals with Colorectal Adenomas: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2020 10 27;13(10):877-888. Epub 2020 Jul 27.

Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee.

Low-dose aspirin is recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for primary prevention of colorectal cancer in certain individuals. However, broader implementation will require improved precision prevention approaches to identify those most likely to benefit. The major urinary metabolite of PGE, 11α-hydroxy-9,15-dioxo-2,3,4,5-tetranor-prostane-1,20-dioic acid (PGE-M), is a biomarker for colorectal cancer risk, but it is unknown whether PGE-M is modifiable by aspirin in individuals at risk for colorectal cancer. Adults ( = 180) who recently underwent adenoma resection and did not regularly use aspirin or NSAIDs were recruited to a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of aspirin at 81 or 325 mg/day for 8-12 weeks. The primary outcome was postintervention change in urinary PGE-M as measured by LC/MS. A total of 169 participants provided paired urine samples for analysis. Baseline PGE-M excretion was 15.9 ± 14.6 (mean ± S.D, ng/mg creatinine). Aspirin significantly reduced PGE-M excretion (-4.7 ± 14.8) compared with no decrease (0.8 ± 11.8) in the placebo group ( = 0.015; mean duration of treatment = 68.9 days). Aspirin significantly reduced PGE-M levels in participants receiving either 81 (-15%; = 0.018) or 325 mg/day (-28%; < 0.0001) compared with placebo. In 40% and 50% of the individuals randomized to 81 or 325 mg/day aspirin, respectively, PGE-M reduction reached a threshold expected to prevent recurrence in 10% of individuals. These results support that aspirin significantly reduces elevated levels of PGE-M in those at increased colorectal cancer risk to levels consistent with lower risk for recurrent neoplasia and underscore the potential utility of PGE-M as a precision chemoprevention biomarker. The ASPIRED trial is registered as NCT02394769.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-20-0216DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7541643PMC
October 2020

Exploratory Genome-Wide Interaction Analysis of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs and Predicted Gene Expression on Colorectal Cancer Risk.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2020 09 10;29(9):1800-1808. Epub 2020 Jul 10.

Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

Background: Regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer. Genome-wide interaction analysis on single variants (G × E) has identified several SNPs that may interact with NSAIDs to confer colorectal cancer risk, but variations in gene expression levels may also modify the effect of NSAID use. Therefore, we tested interactions between NSAID use and predicted gene expression levels in relation to colorectal cancer risk.

Methods: Genetically predicted gene expressions were tested for interaction with NSAID use on colorectal cancer risk among 19,258 colorectal cancer cases and 18,597 controls from 21 observational studies. A Mixed Score Test for Interactions (MiSTi) approach was used to jointly assess G × E effects which are modeled via fixed interaction effects of the weighted burden within each gene set (burden) and residual G × E effects (variance). A false discovery rate (FDR) at 0.2 was applied to correct for multiple testing.

Results: Among the 4,840 genes tested, genetically predicted expression levels of four genes modified the effect of any NSAID use on colorectal cancer risk, including (P = 1.96 × 10), (P = 2.3 × 10), (P = 9.38 × 10), and (P = 1.44 × 10). There was a significant interaction between expression level of and regular use of aspirin only on colorectal cancer risk (P = 3.23 × 10). No interactions were observed between predicted gene expression and nonaspirin NSAID use at FDR < 0.2.

Conclusions: By incorporating functional information, we discovered several novel genes that interacted with NSAID use.

Impact: These findings provide preliminary support that could help understand the chemopreventive mechanisms of NSAIDs on colorectal cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-1018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7556991PMC
September 2020
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