Publications by authors named "Carol A Wang"

38 Publications

Genetic association study of childhood aggression across raters, instruments, and age.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 07 30;11(1):413. Epub 2021 Jul 30.

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.

Childhood aggressive behavior (AGG) has a substantial heritability of around 50%. Here we present a genome-wide association meta-analysis (GWAMA) of childhood AGG, in which all phenotype measures across childhood ages from multiple assessors were included. We analyzed phenotype assessments for a total of 328 935 observations from 87 485 children aged between 1.5 and 18 years, while accounting for sample overlap. We also meta-analyzed within subsets of the data, i.e., within rater, instrument and age. SNP-heritability for the overall meta-analysis (AGG) was 3.31% (SE = 0.0038). We found no genome-wide significant SNPs for AGG. The gene-based analysis returned three significant genes: ST3GAL3 (P = 1.6E-06), PCDH7 (P = 2.0E-06), and IPO13 (P = 2.5E-06). All three genes have previously been associated with educational traits. Polygenic scores based on our GWAMA significantly predicted aggression in a holdout sample of children (variance explained = 0.44%) and in retrospectively assessed childhood aggression (variance explained = 0.20%). Genetic correlations (r) among rater-specific assessment of AGG ranged from r = 0.46 between self- and teacher-assessment to r = 0.81 between mother- and teacher-assessment. We obtained moderate-to-strong rs with selected phenotypes from multiple domains, but hardly with any of the classical biomarkers thought to be associated with AGG. Significant genetic correlations were observed with most psychiatric and psychological traits (range [Formula: see text]: 0.19-1.00), except for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Aggression had a negative genetic correlation (r = ~-0.5) with cognitive traits and age at first birth. Aggression was strongly genetically correlated with smoking phenotypes (range [Formula: see text]: 0.46-0.60). The genetic correlations between aggression and psychiatric disorders were weaker for teacher-reported AGG than for mother- and self-reported AGG. The current GWAMA of childhood aggression provides a powerful tool to interrogate the rater-specific genetic etiology of AGG.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01480-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8324785PMC
July 2021

The interactions between genetics and early childhood nutrition influence adult cardiometabolic risk factors.

Sci Rep 2021 Jul 21;11(1):14826. Epub 2021 Jul 21.

School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

It is well established that genetics, environment, and interplay between them play a crucial role in adult disease. We aimed to evaluate the role of genetics, early life nutrition, and the interaction between them, on optimal adult health. As part of a large international consortium (n ~ 154,000), we identified 60 SNPs associated with both birthweight and adult disease. Utilising the Raine Study, we developed a birthweight polygenic score (BW-PGS) based on the 60 SNPs and examined relationships between BW-PGS and adulthood cardiovascular risk factors, specifically evaluating interactions with early life nutrition. Healthy nutrition was beneficial for all individuals; longer duration of any breastfeeding was particularly associated with lower BMI and lower Systolic Blood Pressure in those with higher BW-PGS. Optimal breastfeeding offers the greatest benefit to reduce adult obesity and hypertension in those genetically predisposed to high birthweight. This provides an example of how precision medicine in early life can improve adult health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-94206-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8295375PMC
July 2021

Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption May Modify Associations Between Genetic Variants in the CHREBP (Carbohydrate Responsive Element Binding Protein) Locus and HDL-C (High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol) and Triglyceride Concentrations.

Circ Genom Precis Med 2021 Aug 16;14(4):e003288. Epub 2021 Jul 16.

Department of Clinical Epidemiology (R.L.G., D.O.M.-K., F.R.R., R.dM.), Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands.

Background: ChREBP (carbohydrate responsive element binding protein) is a transcription factor that responds to sugar consumption. Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and genetic variants in the locus have separately been linked to HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and triglyceride concentrations. We hypothesized that SSB consumption would modify the association between genetic variants in the locus and dyslipidemia.

Methods: Data from 11 cohorts from the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology consortium (N=63 599) and the UK Biobank (N=59 220) were used to quantify associations of SSB consumption, genetic variants, and their interaction on HDL-C and triglyceride concentrations using linear regression models. A total of 1606 single nucleotide polymorphisms within or near were considered. SSB consumption was estimated from validated questionnaires, and participants were grouped by their estimated intake.

Results: In a meta-analysis, rs71556729 was significantly associated with higher HDL-C concentrations only among the highest SSB consumers (β, 2.12 [95% CI, 1.16-3.07] mg/dL per allele; <0.0001), but not significantly among the lowest SSB consumers (=0.81; <0.0001). Similar results were observed for 2 additional variants (rs35709627 and rs71556736). For triglyceride, rs55673514 was positively associated with triglyceride concentrations only among the highest SSB consumers (β, 0.06 [95% CI, 0.02-0.09] ln-mg/dL per allele, =0.001) but not the lowest SSB consumers (=0.84; =0.0005).

Conclusions: Our results identified genetic variants in the locus that may protect against SSB-associated reductions in HDL-C and other variants that may exacerbate SSB-associated increases in triglyceride concentrations. Registration: URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifier: NCT00005133, NCT00005121, NCT00005487, and NCT00000479.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCGEN.120.003288DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8373451PMC
August 2021

Preterm labor is a distinct process from term labor following computational analysis of human myometrium.

Am J Obstet Gynecol 2021 Jul 7. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

Mothers and Babies Research Centre, The Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Sciences, School of Medicine & Public Health, Faculty of Health & Medicine, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia; Department of Anatomical Pathology, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: The onset of the term human parturition involves myometrial gene expression changes to transform the uterus from a quiescent to a contractile phenotype. It is uncertain whether the same changes occur in the uterus during preterm labor.

Objective: This study aimed to compare the myometrial gene expression between term and preterm labor and to determine whether the presence of acute clinical chorioamnionitis or twin gestation affects these signatures.

Study Design: Myometrial specimens were collected during cesarean delivery from the following 7 different groups of patients: term not in labor (n=31), term labor (n=13), preterm not in labor (n=21), preterm labor with acute clinical chorioamnionitis (n=6), preterm labor with no acute clinical chorioamnionitis (n=9), twin preterm not in labor (n=8), and twin preterm labor with no acute clinical chorioamnionitis (n=5). RNA was extracted, reverse transcribed and quantitative polymerase chain reactions were performed on 44 candidate genes (with evidence for differential expression in human term labor) using the Fluidigm platform. Computational analysis was performed using 2-class unpaired Wilcoxon tests and principal component analysis.

Results: Computational analysis revealed that gene expression in the preterm myometrium, irrespective of whether in labor or not in labor, clustered tightly and is clearly different from the term labor and term not-in-labor groups. This was true for both singleton and twin pregnancies. Principal component analysis showed that 57% of the variation was explained by 3 principal components. These 44 genes interact in themes of prostaglandin activity and inflammatory signaling known to be important during term labor, but are not a full representation of the myometrium transcriptional activity.

Conclusion: The myometrial contractions associated with preterm labor are associated with a pattern of gene expression that is distinct from term labor. Therefore, preterm labor may be initiated by a different myometrial process or processes outside the myometrium.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2021.07.002DOI Listing
July 2021

Effectiveness of combined vaginal progesterone and cervical cerclage in preventing preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol.

BMJ Open 2021 06 25;11(6):e050086. Epub 2021 Jun 25.

School of Medicine and Public Health, College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia

Introduction: Preterm birth (PTB) is the leading cause of death in children under 5 years. Preventive therapies targeted towards women with risk factors such as a prior PTB or a short cervix reduce the rate of PTB. Cervical cerclage, vaginal progesterone and a combination of the two have been used with no consensus as to whether combined treatment is more effective than any single treatment alone. The objective of this review is to determine the efficacy of combined treatment compared with cerclage alone and combined treatment compared with progesterone alone.

Methods And Analysis: Studies will be sourced from the electronic databases Medline (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), PsycINFO (Ovid), Scopus, CINAHL (EBSCOhost) and Cochrane Library (Wiley) and reference lists. We will not exclude any papers due to publication date. Randomised control trials (RCTs), non-RCTs and cohort studies assessing single therapy (either progesterone or cerclage) versus combined therapy in women with a singleton pregnancy will be included. Two independent reviewers will conduct study screening (at abstract and full-text level), data extraction and risk of bias assessment with disagreements resolved by an experienced researcher. Random or fixed effects models will be used depending on data heterogeneity and data will be presented as risk ratio for dichotomous data or mean difference for continuous data with a CI of 95% used for all outcomes.

Ethics And Dissemination: Not applicable due to nature of the study type.

Prospero Registration Number: CRD42020195975.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-050086DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8237739PMC
June 2021

Variants associated with expression have sex-differential effects on lung function.

Wellcome Open Res 2020 24;5:111. Epub 2021 May 24.

Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK.

Lung function is highly heritable and differs between the sexes throughout life. However, little is known about sex-differential genetic effects on lung function. We aimed to conduct the first genome-wide genotype-by-sex interaction study on lung function to identify genetic effects that differ between males and females. We tested for interactions between 7,745,864 variants and sex on spirometry-based measures of lung function in UK Biobank (N=303,612), and sought replication in 75,696 independent individuals from the SpiroMeta consortium. Five independent single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showed genome-wide significant (P<5x10 ) interactions with sex on lung function, and 21 showed suggestive interactions (P<1x10 ). The strongest signal, from rs7697189 (chr4:145436894) on forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV ) (P=3.15x10 ), was replicated (P=0.016) in SpiroMeta. The C allele increased FEV more in males (untransformed FEV β=0.028 [SE 0.0022] litres) than females (β=0.009 [SE 0.0014] litres), and this effect was not accounted for by differential effects on height, smoking or pubertal age. rs7697189 resides upstream of the hedgehog-interacting protein ( ) gene and was previously associated with lung function and lung expression. We found expression was significantly different between the sexes (P=6.90x10 ), but we could not detect sex differential effects of rs7697189 on expression. We identified a novel genotype-by-sex interaction at a putative enhancer region upstream of the gene. Establishing the mechanism by which SNPs have different effects on lung function in males and females will be important for our understanding of lung health and diseases in both sexes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15846.2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7938335.2PMC
May 2021

The trans-ancestral genomic architecture of glycemic traits.

Nat Genet 2021 06 31;53(6):840-860. Epub 2021 May 31.

Department of Epidemiology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.

Glycemic traits are used to diagnose and monitor type 2 diabetes and cardiometabolic health. To date, most genetic studies of glycemic traits have focused on individuals of European ancestry. Here we aggregated genome-wide association studies comprising up to 281,416 individuals without diabetes (30% non-European ancestry) for whom fasting glucose, 2-h glucose after an oral glucose challenge, glycated hemoglobin and fasting insulin data were available. Trans-ancestry and single-ancestry meta-analyses identified 242 loci (99 novel; P < 5 × 10), 80% of which had no significant evidence of between-ancestry heterogeneity. Analyses restricted to individuals of European ancestry with equivalent sample size would have led to 24 fewer new loci. Compared with single-ancestry analyses, equivalent-sized trans-ancestry fine-mapping reduced the number of estimated variants in 99% credible sets by a median of 37.5%. Genomic-feature, gene-expression and gene-set analyses revealed distinct biological signatures for each trait, highlighting different underlying biological pathways. Our results increase our understanding of diabetes pathophysiology by using trans-ancestry studies for improved power and resolution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-021-00852-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7610958PMC
June 2021

A Life Course Approach to the Relationship Between Fetal Growth and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Function.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2021 Aug;106(9):2646-2659

School of Medicine and Public Health, College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing, The University of Newcastle, New South Wales 2308, Australia.

Context: Human and animal studies suggest that hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-A) function may be programmed in utero; however, these findings are inconsistent. Given the powerful metabolic actions of cortisol, it is important to clarify the influence of early life on adult HPA-A function.

Objective: To determine the relationship between fetal growth and HPA-A stress response to a psychosocial stressor in young adults.

Design: Multigenerational, prospective cohort study (the Raine Study) conducted between 1989 and 1991.

Setting: King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

Participants: A total of 917 participants aged 18 years from Gen2 of the Raine Study.

Main Outcome Measures: Measures of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function before and after exposure to the Trier Social Stress Test.

Results: In fully adjusted models, an inverse linear relationship was observed between birthweight and plasma measures of (1) baseline cortisol (β = -0.90%, 95% CI: -1.73 to -0.07; P = 0.03); (2) peak cortisol (β = -0.78%, 95% CI -1.51 to -0.06; P = 0.03); (3) area under the curve with respect to ground (β = -0.89%, 95% CI -1.60 to -0.18; P = 0.01); and (4) adrenal sensitivity (β = -1.02, 95% CI: -1.85 to -0.18; P = 0.02). Similar results were demonstrated for percent optimal birthweight. No consistent quadratic relationships were identified. No associations were found between measures of fetal adiposity and HPA-A function at age 18 years, or fetal growth and HPA-A response pattern. Removal of anticipatory responders from the models substantially attenuated the observed relationships.

Conclusion: We observed an inverse linear relationship between fetal growth and HPA-A function at age 18 years. This differs from the inverse parabolic relationship (inverted U curve) reported in adults of advanced age. Altered adrenal sensitivity may underlie this relationship.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgab341DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8372661PMC
August 2021

Variation in the SERPINA6/SERPINA1 locus alters morning plasma cortisol, hepatic corticosteroid binding globulin expression, gene expression in peripheral tissues, and risk of cardiovascular disease.

J Hum Genet 2021 Jun 20;66(6):625-636. Epub 2021 Jan 20.

Centre for Global Health Research, Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG, Scotland.

The stress hormone cortisol modulates fuel metabolism, cardiovascular homoeostasis, mood, inflammation and cognition. The CORtisol NETwork (CORNET) consortium previously identified a single locus associated with morning plasma cortisol. Identifying additional genetic variants that explain more of the variance in cortisol could provide new insights into cortisol biology and provide statistical power to test the causative role of cortisol in common diseases. The CORNET consortium extended its genome-wide association meta-analysis for morning plasma cortisol from 12,597 to 25,314 subjects and from ~2.2 M to ~7 M SNPs, in 17 population-based cohorts of European ancestries. We confirmed the genetic association with SERPINA6/SERPINA1. This locus contains genes encoding corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG) and α1-antitrypsin. Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analyses undertaken in the STARNET cohort of 600 individuals showed that specific genetic variants within the SERPINA6/SERPINA1 locus influence expression of SERPINA6 rather than SERPINA1 in the liver. Moreover, trans-eQTL analysis demonstrated effects on adipose tissue gene expression, suggesting that variations in CBG levels have an effect on delivery of cortisol to peripheral tissues. Two-sample Mendelian randomisation analyses provided evidence that each genetically-determined standard deviation (SD) increase in morning plasma cortisol was associated with increased odds of chronic ischaemic heart disease (0.32, 95% CI 0.06-0.59) and myocardial infarction (0.21, 95% CI 0.00-0.43) in UK Biobank and similarly in CARDIoGRAMplusC4D. These findings reveal a causative pathway for CBG in determining cortisol action in peripheral tissues and thereby contributing to the aetiology of cardiovascular disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s10038-020-00895-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8144017PMC
June 2021

Novel loci for childhood body mass index and shared heritability with adult cardiometabolic traits.

PLoS Genet 2020 10 12;16(10):e1008718. Epub 2020 Oct 12.

Department of Public Health, Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The genetic background of childhood body mass index (BMI), and the extent to which the well-known associations of childhood BMI with adult diseases are explained by shared genetic factors, are largely unknown. We performed a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of BMI in 61,111 children aged between 2 and 10 years. Twenty-five independent loci reached genome-wide significance in the combined discovery and replication analyses. Two of these, located near NEDD4L and SLC45A3, have not previously been reported in relation to either childhood or adult BMI. Positive genetic correlations of childhood BMI with birth weight and adult BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, diastolic blood pressure and type 2 diabetes were detected (Rg ranging from 0.11 to 0.76, P-values <0.002). A negative genetic correlation of childhood BMI with age at menarche was observed. Our results suggest that the biological processes underlying childhood BMI largely, but not completely, overlap with those underlying adult BMI. The well-known observational associations of BMI in childhood with cardio-metabolic diseases in adulthood may reflect partial genetic overlap, but in light of previous evidence, it is also likely that they are explained through phenotypic continuity of BMI from childhood into adulthood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1008718DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7581004PMC
October 2020

Genetic Studies of Leptin Concentrations Implicate Leptin in the Regulation of Early Adiposity.

Diabetes 2020 12 11;69(12):2806-2818. Epub 2020 Sep 11.

Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA.

Leptin influences food intake by informing the brain about the status of body fat stores. Rare mutations associated with congenital leptin deficiency cause severe early-onset obesity that can be mitigated by administering leptin. However, the role of genetic regulation of leptin in polygenic obesity remains poorly understood. We performed an exome-based analysis in up to 57,232 individuals of diverse ancestries to identify genetic variants that influence adiposity-adjusted leptin concentrations. We identify five novel variants, including four missense variants, in , , , and , and one intergenic variant near The missense variant Val94Met (rs17151919) in was common in individuals of African ancestry only, and its association with lower leptin concentrations was specific to this ancestry ( = 2 × 10, = 3,901). Using in vitro analyses, we show that the Met94 allele decreases leptin secretion. We also show that the Met94 allele is associated with higher BMI in young African-ancestry children but not in adults, suggesting that leptin regulates early adiposity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/db20-0070DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7679778PMC
December 2020

Mendelian randomization analysis does not support causal associations of birth weight with hypertension risk and blood pressure in adulthood.

Eur J Epidemiol 2020 Jul 7;35(7):685-697. Epub 2020 May 7.

Department of Clinical Sciences, Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Unit, Skåne University Hospital Malmö, Lund University, 21741, Malmö, Sweden.

Epidemiology studies suggested that low birthweight was associated with a higher risk of hypertension in later life. However, little is known about the causality of such associations. In our study, we evaluated the causal association of low birthweight with adulthood hypertension following a standard analytic protocol using the study-level data of 183,433 participants from 60 studies (CHARGE-BIG consortium), as well as that with blood pressure using publicly available summary-level genome-wide association data from EGG consortium of 153,781 participants, ICBP consortium and UK Biobank cohort together of 757,601 participants. We used seven SNPs as the instrumental variable in the study-level analysis and 47 SNPs in the summary-level analysis. In the study-level analyses, decreased birthweight was associated with a higher risk of hypertension in adults (the odds ratio per 1 standard deviation (SD) lower birthweight, 1.22; 95% CI 1.16 to 1.28), while no association was found between genetically instrumented birthweight and hypertension risk (instrumental odds ratio for causal effect per 1 SD lower birthweight, 0.97; 95% CI 0.68 to 1.41). Such results were consistent with that from the summary-level analyses, where the genetically determined low birthweight was not associated with blood pressure measurements either. One SD lower genetically determined birthweight was not associated with systolic blood pressure (β = - 0.76, 95% CI - 2.45 to 1.08 mmHg), 0.06 mmHg lower diastolic blood pressure (β = - 0.06, 95% CI - 0.93 to 0.87 mmHg), or pulse pressure (β = - 0.65, 95% CI - 1.38 to 0.69 mmHg, all p > 0.05). Our findings suggest that the inverse association of birthweight with hypertension risk from observational studies was not supported by large Mendelian randomization analyses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10654-020-00638-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7867117PMC
July 2020

Do Levels of Stress Markers Influence the Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer Thickness in Young Adults?

J Glaucoma 2020 07;29(7):587-592

Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Lions Eye Institute, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA.

Precis: Although mental or emotional stress may result raise in intraocular pressure (IOP) we found weak associations between endogenous stress markers concentrations and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness, thus limited evidence that stress affects retinal ganglion cells integrity.

Purpose: Increased exposure to glucocorticoids is linked to elevated IOP, which is a risk factor for glaucoma. We explored the RNFL thickness for changes that may mimic preclinical glaucomatous changes, in relation to the hormonal stress response.

Materials And Methods: Young healthy adults (n=863) underwent a Trier Social Stress Test. Endogenous plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol were measured for those who provided biological samples, and adrenal sensitivity was calculated. On the basis of cortisol levels before and after the Trier Social Stress Test, participants were categorized into one of 3 stress response types: anticipatory-responders, reactive-responders, and nonresponders. Participants underwent an eye examination that included spectral-domain optical coherence tomography to measure peripapillary RNFL thickness.

Results: Higher levels of ACTH were associated with thinner RNFL globally (P=0.009), and at the inferotemporal (P=0.015), superotemporal (P=0.044), and temporal sectors (P=0.046). Lower adrenal sensitivity was associated with thinner RNFL inferotemporally (P<0.001) and temporally (P=0.037). However, these effect sizes were small; for example, a 10 pg/mL increase in baseline ACTH was associated with only a 3 µm thinner RNFL. RNFL thickness was not associated with plasma cortisol levels and or significantly different between groups of acute stress response patterns.

Conclusions: Although there was a link between ACTH or adrenal sensitivity and RNFL thickness, this association was weak and its clinical significance is unclear. Despite the close associations between levels of endogenous stress markers and IOP, we found limited evidence of a link to RNFL integrity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/IJG.0000000000001511DOI Listing
July 2020

Associations of autozygosity with a broad range of human phenotypes.

Nat Commun 2019 10 31;10(1):4957. Epub 2019 Oct 31.

Department of Neurology, Brain Centre Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584 CX, The Netherlands.

In many species, the offspring of related parents suffer reduced reproductive success, a phenomenon known as inbreeding depression. In humans, the importance of this effect has remained unclear, partly because reproduction between close relatives is both rare and frequently associated with confounding social factors. Here, using genomic inbreeding coefficients (F) for >1.4 million individuals, we show that F is significantly associated (p < 0.0005) with apparently deleterious changes in 32 out of 100 traits analysed. These changes are associated with runs of homozygosity (ROH), but not with common variant homozygosity, suggesting that genetic variants associated with inbreeding depression are predominantly rare. The effect on fertility is striking: F equivalent to the offspring of first cousins is associated with a 55% decrease [95% CI 44-66%] in the odds of having children. Finally, the effects of F are confirmed within full-sibling pairs, where the variation in F is independent of all environmental confounding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12283-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6823371PMC
October 2019

Association of Birth Weight With Type 2 Diabetes and Glycemic Traits: A Mendelian Randomization Study.

JAMA Netw Open 2019 09 4;2(9):e1910915. Epub 2019 Sep 4.

Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Medicine, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia.

Importance: Observational studies have shown associations of birth weight with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and glycemic traits, but it remains unclear whether these associations represent causal associations.

Objective: To test the association of birth weight with T2D and glycemic traits using a mendelian randomization analysis.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This mendelian randomization study used a genetic risk score for birth weight that was constructed with 7 genome-wide significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms. The associations of this score with birth weight and T2D were tested in a mendelian randomization analysis using study-level data. The association of birth weight with T2D was tested using both study-level data (7 single-nucleotide polymorphisms were used as an instrumental variable) and summary-level data from the consortia (43 single-nucleotide polymorphisms were used as an instrumental variable). Data from 180 056 participants from 49 studies were included.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Type 2 diabetes and glycemic traits.

Results: This mendelian randomization analysis included 49 studies with 41 155 patients with T2D and 80 008 control participants from study-level data and 34 840 patients with T2D and 114 981 control participants from summary-level data. Study-level data showed that a 1-SD decrease in birth weight due to the genetic risk score was associated with higher risk of T2D among all participants (odds ratio [OR], 2.10; 95% CI, 1.69-2.61; P = 4.03 × 10-5), among European participants (OR, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.42-2.71; P = .04), and among East Asian participants (OR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.18-1.62; P = .04). Similar results were observed from summary-level analyses. In addition, each 1-SD lower birth weight was associated with 0.189 SD higher fasting glucose concentration (β = 0.189; SE = 0.060; P = .002), but not with fasting insulin, 2-hour glucose, or hemoglobin A1c concentration.

Conclusions And Relevance: In this study, a genetic predisposition to lower birth weight was associated with increased risk of T2D and higher fasting glucose concentration, suggesting genetic effects on retarded fetal growth and increased diabetes risk that either are independent of each other or operate through alterations of integrated biological mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.10915DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6755534PMC
September 2019

A trans-ancestral meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies reveals loci associated with childhood obesity.

Hum Mol Genet 2019 10;28(19):3327-3338

Unidad de Investigacion Medica en Bioquımica, Hospital de Especialidades, Centro Medico Nacional Siglo XXI, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Mexico City, Mexico.

Although hundreds of genome-wide association studies-implicated loci have been reported for adult obesity-related traits, less is known about the genetics specific for early-onset obesity and with only a few studies conducted in non-European populations to date. Searching for additional genetic variants associated with childhood obesity, we performed a trans-ancestral meta-analysis of 30 studies consisting of up to 13 005 cases (≥95th percentile of body mass index (BMI) achieved 2-18 years old) and 15 599 controls (consistently <50th percentile of BMI) of European, African, North/South American and East Asian ancestry. Suggestive loci were taken forward for replication in a sample of 1888 cases and 4689 controls from seven cohorts of European and North/South American ancestry. In addition to observing 18 previously implicated BMI or obesity loci, for both early and late onset, we uncovered one completely novel locus in this trans-ancestral analysis (nearest gene, METTL15). The variant was nominally associated with only the European subgroup analysis but had a consistent direction of effect in other ethnicities. We then utilized trans-ancestral Bayesian analysis to narrow down the location of the probable causal variant at each genome-wide significant signal. Of all the fine-mapped loci, we were able to narrow down the causative variant at four known loci to fewer than 10 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (FAIM2, GNPDA2, MC4R and SEC16B loci). In conclusion, an ethnically diverse setting has enabled us to both identify an additional pediatric obesity locus and further fine-map existing loci.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddz161DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6859434PMC
October 2019

Variants in the fetal genome near pro-inflammatory cytokine genes on 2q13 associate with gestational duration.

Nat Commun 2019 09 2;10(1):3927. Epub 2019 Sep 2.

Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics, Department of Oral Biology School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

The duration of pregnancy is influenced by fetal and maternal genetic and non-genetic factors. Here we report a fetal genome-wide association meta-analysis of gestational duration, and early preterm, preterm, and postterm birth in 84,689 infants. One locus on chromosome 2q13 is associated with gestational duration; the association is replicated in 9,291 additional infants (combined P = 3.96 × 10). Analysis of 15,588 mother-child pairs shows that the association is driven by fetal rather than maternal genotype. Functional experiments show that the lead SNP, rs7594852, alters the binding of the HIC1 transcriptional repressor. Genes at the locus include several interleukin 1 family members with roles in pro-inflammatory pathways that are central to the process of parturition. Further understanding of the underlying mechanisms will be of great public health importance, since giving birth either before or after the window of term gestation is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11881-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6718389PMC
September 2019

Exome-Derived Adiponectin-Associated Variants Implicate Obesity and Lipid Biology.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 07 6;105(1):15-28. Epub 2019 Jun 6.

The Institute for Translational Genomics and Population Sciences, Department of Pediatrics, LABioMed at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA 90502, USA.

Circulating levels of adiponectin, an adipocyte-secreted protein associated with cardiovascular and metabolic risk, are highly heritable. To gain insights into the biology that regulates adiponectin levels, we performed an exome array meta-analysis of 265,780 genetic variants in 67,739 individuals of European, Hispanic, African American, and East Asian ancestry. We identified 20 loci associated with adiponectin, including 11 that had been reported previously (p < 2 × 10). Comparison of exome array variants to regional linkage disequilibrium (LD) patterns and prior genome-wide association study (GWAS) results detected candidate variants (r > .60) spanning as much as 900 kb. To identify potential genes and mechanisms through which the previously unreported association signals act to affect adiponectin levels, we assessed cross-trait associations, expression quantitative trait loci in subcutaneous adipose, and biological pathways of nearby genes. Eight of the nine loci were also associated (p < 1 × 10) with at least one obesity or lipid trait. Candidate genes include PRKAR2A, PTH1R, and HDAC9, which have been suggested to play roles in adipocyte differentiation or bone marrow adipose tissue. Taken together, these findings provide further insights into the processes that influence circulating adiponectin levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.05.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6612516PMC
July 2019

Maternal and fetal genetic effects on birth weight and their relevance to cardio-metabolic risk factors.

Nat Genet 2019 05 1;51(5):804-814. Epub 2019 May 1.

Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.

Birth weight variation is influenced by fetal and maternal genetic and non-genetic factors, and has been reproducibly associated with future cardio-metabolic health outcomes. In expanded genome-wide association analyses of own birth weight (n = 321,223) and offspring birth weight (n = 230,069 mothers), we identified 190 independent association signals (129 of which are novel). We used structural equation modeling to decompose the contributions of direct fetal and indirect maternal genetic effects, then applied Mendelian randomization to illuminate causal pathways. For example, both indirect maternal and direct fetal genetic effects drive the observational relationship between lower birth weight and higher later blood pressure: maternal blood pressure-raising alleles reduce offspring birth weight, but only direct fetal effects of these alleles, once inherited, increase later offspring blood pressure. Using maternal birth weight-lowering genotypes to proxy for an adverse intrauterine environment provided no evidence that it causally raises offspring blood pressure, indicating that the inverse birth weight-blood pressure association is attributable to genetic effects, and not to intrauterine programming.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0403-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6522365PMC
May 2019

Protein-coding variants implicate novel genes related to lipid homeostasis contributing to body-fat distribution.

Nat Genet 2019 03 18;51(3):452-469. Epub 2019 Feb 18.

Department of Biostatistics and Center for Statistical Genetics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

Body-fat distribution is a risk factor for adverse cardiovascular health consequences. We analyzed the association of body-fat distribution, assessed by waist-to-hip ratio adjusted for body mass index, with 228,985 predicted coding and splice site variants available on exome arrays in up to 344,369 individuals from five major ancestries (discovery) and 132,177 European-ancestry individuals (validation). We identified 15 common (minor allele frequency, MAF ≥5%) and nine low-frequency or rare (MAF <5%) coding novel variants. Pathway/gene set enrichment analyses identified lipid particle, adiponectin, abnormal white adipose tissue physiology and bone development and morphology as important contributors to fat distribution, while cross-trait associations highlight cardiometabolic traits. In functional follow-up analyses, specifically in Drosophila RNAi-knockdowns, we observed a significant increase in the total body triglyceride levels for two genes (DNAH10 and PLXND1). We implicate novel genes in fat distribution, stressing the importance of interrogating low-frequency and protein-coding variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0334-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6560635PMC
March 2019

Author Correction: Genome-wide association and HLA fine-mapping studies identify risk loci and genetic pathways underlying allergic rhinitis.

Nat Genet 2018 09;50(9):1343

Allergy and Lung Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

In the version of this article initially published, in Fig. 3, the y-axis numbering did not match the log scale indicated in the axis label. The error has been corrected in the HTML and PDF version of the article.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0197-6DOI Listing
September 2018

Genome-wide association and HLA fine-mapping studies identify risk loci and genetic pathways underlying allergic rhinitis.

Nat Genet 2018 08 16;50(8):1072-1080. Epub 2018 Jul 16.

Allergy and Lung Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Allergic rhinitis is the most common clinical presentation of allergy, affecting 400 million people worldwide, with increasing incidence in westernized countries. To elucidate the genetic architecture and understand the underlying disease mechanisms, we carried out a meta-analysis of allergic rhinitis in 59,762 cases and 152,358 controls of European ancestry and identified a total of 41 risk loci for allergic rhinitis, including 20 loci not previously associated with allergic rhinitis, which were confirmed in a replication phase of 60,720 cases and 618,527 controls. Functional annotation implicated genes involved in various immune pathways, and fine mapping of the HLA region suggested amino acid variants important for antigen binding. We further performed genome-wide association study (GWAS) analyses of allergic sensitization against inhalant allergens and nonallergic rhinitis, which suggested shared genetic mechanisms across rhinitis-related traits. Future studies of the identified loci and genes might identify novel targets for treatment and prevention of allergic rhinitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0157-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068780PMC
August 2018

Genome-wide meta-analysis of macronutrient intake of 91,114 European ancestry participants from the cohorts for heart and aging research in genomic epidemiology consortium.

Mol Psychiatry 2019 12 9;24(12):1920-1932. Epub 2018 Jul 9.

Department of Clinical Chemistry, Fimlab Laboratories, Finnish Cardiovascular Research Center - Tampere, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.

Macronutrient intake, the proportion of calories consumed from carbohydrate, fat, and protein, is an important risk factor for metabolic diseases with significant familial aggregation. Previous studies have identified two genetic loci for macronutrient intake, but incomplete coverage of genetic variation and modest sample sizes have hindered the discovery of additional loci. Here, we expanded the genetic landscape of macronutrient intake, identifying 12 suggestively significant loci (P < 1 × 10) associated with intake of any macronutrient in 91,114 European ancestry participants. Four loci replicated and reached genome-wide significance in a combined meta-analysis including 123,659 European descent participants, unraveling two novel loci; a common variant in RARB locus for carbohydrate intake and a rare variant in DRAM1 locus for protein intake, and corroborating earlier FGF21 and FTO findings. In additional analysis of 144,770 participants from the UK Biobank, all identified associations from the two-stage analysis were confirmed except for DRAM1. Identified loci might have implications in brain and adipose tissue biology and have clinical impact in obesity-related phenotypes. Our findings provide new insight into biological functions related to macronutrient intake.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-018-0079-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326896PMC
December 2019

Genome-wide association study identifies nine novel loci for 2D:4D finger ratio, a putative retrospective biomarker of testosterone exposure in utero.

Hum Mol Genet 2018 06;27(11):2025-2038

Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, QLD 4006, Australia.

The ratio of the length of the index finger to that of the ring finger (2D:4D) is sexually dimorphic and is commonly used as a non-invasive biomarker of prenatal androgen exposure. Most association studies of 2D:4D ratio with a diverse range of sex-specific traits have typically involved small sample sizes and have been difficult to replicate, raising questions around the utility and precise meaning of the measure. In the largest genome-wide association meta-analysis of 2D:4D ratio to date (N = 15 661, with replication N = 75 821), we identified 11 loci (9 novel) explaining 3.8% of the variance in mean 2D:4D ratio. We also found weak evidence for association (β = 0.06; P = 0.02) between 2D:4D ratio and sensitivity to testosterone [length of the CAG microsatellite repeat in the androgen receptor (AR) gene] in females only. Furthermore, genetic variants associated with (adult) testosterone levels and/or sex hormone-binding globulin were not associated with 2D:4D ratio in our sample. Although we were unable to find strong evidence from our genetic study to support the hypothesis that 2D:4D ratio is a direct biomarker of prenatal exposure to androgens in healthy individuals, our findings do not explicitly exclude this possibility, and pathways involving testosterone may become apparent as the size of the discovery sample increases further. Our findings provide new insight into the underlying biology shaping 2D:4D variation in the general population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddy121DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5961159PMC
June 2018

Publisher Correction: Protein-altering variants associated with body mass index implicate pathways that control energy intake and expenditure in obesity.

Nat Genet 2018 05;50(5):766-767

Department of Genetic Epidemiology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.

In the version of this article originally published, one of the two authors with the name Wei Zhao was omitted from the author list and the affiliations for both authors were assigned to the single Wei Zhao in the author list. In addition, the ORCID for Wei Zhao (Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA) was incorrectly assigned to author Wei Zhou. The errors have been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0082-3DOI Listing
May 2018

Protein-altering variants associated with body mass index implicate pathways that control energy intake and expenditure in obesity.

Nat Genet 2018 01 22;50(1):26-41. Epub 2017 Dec 22.

Department of Genetic Epidemiology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >250 loci for body mass index (BMI), implicating pathways related to neuronal biology. Most GWAS loci represent clusters of common, noncoding variants from which pinpointing causal genes remains challenging. Here we combined data from 718,734 individuals to discover rare and low-frequency (minor allele frequency (MAF) < 5%) coding variants associated with BMI. We identified 14 coding variants in 13 genes, of which 8 variants were in genes (ZBTB7B, ACHE, RAPGEF3, RAB21, ZFHX3, ENTPD6, ZFR2 and ZNF169) newly implicated in human obesity, 2 variants were in genes (MC4R and KSR2) previously observed to be mutated in extreme obesity and 2 variants were in GIPR. The effect sizes of rare variants are ~10 times larger than those of common variants, with the largest effect observed in carriers of an MC4R mutation introducing a stop codon (p.Tyr35Ter, MAF = 0.01%), who weighed ~7 kg more than non-carriers. Pathway analyses based on the variants associated with BMI confirm enrichment of neuronal genes and provide new evidence for adipocyte and energy expenditure biology, widening the potential of genetically supported therapeutic targets in obesity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-017-0011-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5945951PMC
January 2018
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