Publications by authors named "Cassandra N Spracklen"

36 Publications

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

Progress in Defining the Genetic Contribution to Type 2 Diabetes in Individuals of East Asian Ancestry.

Curr Diab Rep 2021 04 13;21(6):17. Epub 2021 Apr 13.

Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore and National University Health System, 12 Science Drive 2, #10-01, Tahir Foundation Building, Singapore, 117549, Singapore.

Purpose Of Review: Prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and progression of complications differ between worldwide populations. While obesity is a major contributing risk factor, variations in physiological manifestations, e.g., developing T2D at lower body mass index in some populations, suggest other contributing factors. Early T2D genetic associations were mostly discovered in European ancestry populations. This review describes the progression of genetic discoveries associated with T2D in individuals of East Asian ancestry in the last 10 years and highlights the shared genetic susceptibility between the population groups and additional insights into genetic contributions to T2D.

Recent Findings: Through increased sample size and power, new genetic associations with T2D were discovered in East Asian ancestry populations, often with higher allele frequencies than European ancestry populations. As we continue to generate maps of T2D-associated variants across diverse populations, there will be a critical need to expand and diversify other omics resources to enable integration for clinical translation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11892-021-01388-2DOI Listing
April 2021

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

Adiponectin GWAS loci harboring extensive allelic heterogeneity exhibit distinct molecular consequences.

PLoS Genet 2020 09 11;16(9):e1009019. Epub 2020 Sep 11.

Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America.

Loci identified in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) can include multiple distinct association signals. We sought to identify the molecular basis of multiple association signals for adiponectin, a hormone involved in glucose regulation secreted almost exclusively from adipose tissue, identified in the Metabolic Syndrome in Men (METSIM) study. With GWAS data for 9,262 men, four loci were significantly associated with adiponectin: ADIPOQ, CDH13, IRS1, and PBRM1. We performed stepwise conditional analyses to identify distinct association signals, a subset of which are also nearly independent (lead variant pairwise r2<0.01). Two loci exhibited allelic heterogeneity, ADIPOQ and CDH13. Of seven association signals at the ADIPOQ locus, two signals colocalized with adipose tissue expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) for three transcripts: trait-increasing alleles at one signal were associated with increased ADIPOQ and LINC02043, while trait-increasing alleles at the other signal were associated with decreased ADIPOQ-AS1. In reporter assays, adiponectin-increasing alleles at two signals showed corresponding directions of effect on transcriptional activity. Putative mechanisms for the seven ADIPOQ signals include a missense variant (ADIPOQ G90S), a splice variant, a promoter variant, and four enhancer variants. Of two association signals at the CDH13 locus, the first signal consisted of promoter variants, including the lead adipose tissue eQTL variant for CDH13, while a second signal included a distal intron 1 enhancer variant that showed ~2-fold allelic differences in transcriptional reporter activity. Fine-mapping and experimental validation demonstrated that multiple, distinct association signals at these loci can influence multiple transcripts through multiple molecular mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511027PMC
September 2020

The Polygenic and Monogenic Basis of Blood Traits and Diseases.

Cell 2020 09;182(5):1214-1231.e11

Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Science, National Institute on Aging/NIH, Baltimore, MD, 21224, USA.

Blood cells play essential roles in human health, underpinning physiological processes such as immunity, oxygen transport, and clotting, which when perturbed cause a significant global health burden. Here we integrate data from UK Biobank and a large-scale international collaborative effort, including data for 563,085 European ancestry participants, and discover 5,106 new genetic variants independently associated with 29 blood cell phenotypes covering a range of variation impacting hematopoiesis. We holistically characterize the genetic architecture of hematopoiesis, assess the relevance of the omnigenic model to blood cell phenotypes, delineate relevant hematopoietic cell states influenced by regulatory genetic variants and gene networks, identify novel splice-altering variants mediating the associations, and assess the polygenic prediction potential for blood traits and clinical disorders at the interface of complex and Mendelian genetics. These results show the power of large-scale blood cell trait GWAS to interrogate clinically meaningful variants across a wide allelic spectrum of human variation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.08.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7482360PMC
September 2020

Trans-ethnic and Ancestry-Specific Blood-Cell Genetics in 746,667 Individuals from 5 Global Populations.

Cell 2020 09;182(5):1198-1213.e14

Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC), VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA; Department of Medicine, Division on Aging, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA; Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Most loci identified by GWASs have been found in populations of European ancestry (EUR). In trans-ethnic meta-analyses for 15 hematological traits in 746,667 participants, including 184,535 non-EUR individuals, we identified 5,552 trait-variant associations at p < 5 × 10, including 71 novel associations not found in EUR populations. We also identified 28 additional novel variants in ancestry-specific, non-EUR meta-analyses, including an IL7 missense variant in South Asians associated with lymphocyte count in vivo and IL-7 secretion levels in vitro. Fine-mapping prioritized variants annotated as functional and generated 95% credible sets that were 30% smaller when using the trans-ethnic as opposed to the EUR-only results. We explored the clinical significance and predictive value of trans-ethnic variants in multiple populations and compared genetic architecture and the effect of natural selection on these blood phenotypes between populations. Altogether, our results for hematological traits highlight the value of a more global representation of populations in genetic studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.06.045DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7480402PMC
September 2020

Identification of type 2 diabetes loci in 433,540 East Asian individuals.

Nature 2020 06 6;582(7811):240-245. Epub 2020 May 6.

Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, Division of Genetic Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA.

Meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified more than 240 loci that are associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D); however, most of these loci have been identified in analyses of individuals with European ancestry. Here, to examine T2D risk in East Asian individuals, we carried out a meta-analysis of GWAS data from 77,418 individuals with T2D and 356,122 healthy control individuals. In the main analysis, we identified 301 distinct association signals at 183 loci, and across T2D association models with and without consideration of body mass index and sex, we identified 61 loci that are newly implicated in predisposition to T2D. Common variants associated with T2D in both East Asian and European populations exhibited strongly correlated effect sizes. Previously undescribed associations include signals in or near GDAP1, PTF1A, SIX3, ALDH2, a microRNA cluster, and genes that affect the differentiation of muscle and adipose cells. At another locus, expression quantitative trait loci at two overlapping T2D signals affect two genes-NKX6-3 and ANK1-in different tissues. Association studies in diverse populations identify additional loci and elucidate disease-associated genes, biology, and pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2263-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7292783PMC
June 2020

Inferring Regulatory Networks From Mixed Observational Data Using Directed Acyclic Graphs.

Front Genet 2020 7;11. Epub 2020 Feb 7.

Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States.

Construction of regulatory networks using cross-sectional expression profiling of genes is desired, but challenging. The Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) provides a general framework to infer causal effects from observational data. However, most existing DAG methods assume that all nodes follow the same type of distribution, which prohibit a joint modeling of continuous gene expression and categorical variables. We present a new mixed DAG (mDAG) algorithm to infer the regulatory pathway from mixed observational data containing both continuous variables (e.g. expression of genes) and categorical variables (e.g. categorical phenotypes or single nucleotide polymorphisms). Our method can identify upstream causal factors and downstream effectors closely linked to a variable and generate hypotheses for causal direction of regulatory pathways. We propose a new permutation method to test the conditional independence of variables of mixed types, which is the key for mDAG. We also utilize an regularization in mDAG to ensure it can recover a large sparse DAG with limited sample size. We demonstrate through extensive simulations that mDAG outperforms two well-known methods in recovering the true underlying DAG. We apply mDAG to a cross-sectional immunological study of infection and successfully infer the regularity network of cytokines. We also apply mDAG to a large cohort study, generating sensible mechanistic hypotheses underlying plasma adiponectin level. The R package mDAG is publicly available from CRAN at https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=mDAG.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2020.00008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7038820PMC
February 2020

Allelic Heterogeneity at the CRP Locus Identified by Whole-Genome Sequencing in Multi-ancestry Cohorts.

Am J Hum Genet 2020 01 26;106(1):112-120. Epub 2019 Dec 26.

Human Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) can improve assessment of low-frequency and rare variants, particularly in non-European populations that have been underrepresented in existing genomic studies. The genetic determinants of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker of chronic inflammation, have been extensively studied, with existing genome-wide association studies (GWASs) conducted in >200,000 individuals of European ancestry. In order to discover novel loci associated with CRP levels, we examined a multi-ancestry population (n = 23,279) with WGS (∼38× coverage) from the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program. We found evidence for eight distinct associations at the CRP locus, including two variants that have not been identified previously (rs11265259 and rs181704186), both of which are non-coding and more common in individuals of African ancestry (∼10% and ∼1% minor allele frequency, respectively, and rare or monomorphic in 1000 Genomes populations of East Asian, South Asian, and European ancestry). We show that the minor (G) allele of rs181704186 is associated with lower CRP levels and decreased transcriptional activity and protein binding in vitro, providing a plausible molecular mechanism for this African ancestry-specific signal. The individuals homozygous for rs181704186-G have a mean CRP level of 0.23 mg/L, in contrast to individuals heterozygous for rs181704186 with mean CRP of 2.97 mg/L and major allele homozygotes with mean CRP of 4.11 mg/L. This study demonstrates the utility of WGS in multi-ethnic populations to drive discovery of complex trait associations of large effect and to identify functional alleles in noncoding regulatory regions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.12.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7042494PMC
January 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

Target genes, variants, tissues and transcriptional pathways influencing human serum urate levels.

Nat Genet 2019 10 2;51(10):1459-1474. Epub 2019 Oct 2.

Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Elevated serum urate levels cause gout and correlate with cardiometabolic diseases via poorly understood mechanisms. We performed a trans-ancestry genome-wide association study of serum urate in 457,690 individuals, identifying 183 loci (147 previously unknown) that improve the prediction of gout in an independent cohort of 334,880 individuals. Serum urate showed significant genetic correlations with many cardiometabolic traits, with genetic causality analyses supporting a substantial role for pleiotropy. Enrichment analysis, fine-mapping of urate-associated loci and colocalization with gene expression in 47 tissues implicated the kidney and liver as the main target organs and prioritized potentially causal genes and variants, including the transcriptional master regulators in the liver and kidney, HNF1A and HNF4A. Experimental validation showed that HNF4A transactivated the promoter of ABCG2, encoding a major urate transporter, in kidney cells, and that HNF4A p.Thr139Ile is a functional variant. Transcriptional coregulation within and across organs may be a general mechanism underlying the observed pleiotropy between urate and cardiometabolic traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0504-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6858555PMC
October 2019

Adipose Tissue Gene Expression Associations Reveal Hundreds of Candidate Genes for Cardiometabolic Traits.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 10 26;105(4):773-787. Epub 2019 Sep 26.

Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. Electronic address:

Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified thousands of genetic loci associated with cardiometabolic traits including type 2 diabetes (T2D), lipid levels, body fat distribution, and adiposity, although most causal genes remain unknown. We used subcutaneous adipose tissue RNA-seq data from 434 Finnish men from the METSIM study to identify 9,687 primary and 2,785 secondary cis-expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL; <1 Mb from TSS, FDR < 1%). Compared to primary eQTL signals, secondary eQTL signals were located further from transcription start sites, had smaller effect sizes, and were less enriched in adipose tissue regulatory elements compared to primary signals. Among 2,843 cardiometabolic GWAS signals, 262 colocalized by LD and conditional analysis with 318 transcripts as primary and conditionally distinct secondary cis-eQTLs, including some across ancestries. Of cardiometabolic traits examined for adipose tissue eQTL colocalizations, waist-hip ratio (WHR) and circulating lipid traits had the highest percentage of colocalized eQTLs (15% and 14%, respectively). Among alleles associated with increased cardiometabolic GWAS risk, approximately half (53%) were associated with decreased gene expression level. Mediation analyses of colocalized genes and cardiometabolic traits within the 434 individuals provided further evidence that gene expression influences variant-trait associations. These results identify hundreds of candidate genes that may act in adipose tissue to influence cardiometabolic traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.09.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6817527PMC
October 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

A catalog of genetic loci associated with kidney function from analyses of a million individuals.

Nat Genet 2019 06 31;51(6):957-972. Epub 2019 May 31.

Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease-Genetic Epidemiology, Department of Clincial Sciences in Malmö, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is responsible for a public health burden with multi-systemic complications. Through trans-ancestry meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and independent replication (n = 1,046,070), we identified 264 associated loci (166 new). Of these, 147 were likely to be relevant for kidney function on the basis of associations with the alternative kidney function marker blood urea nitrogen (n = 416,178). Pathway and enrichment analyses, including mouse models with renal phenotypes, support the kidney as the main target organ. A genetic risk score for lower eGFR was associated with clinically diagnosed CKD in 452,264 independent individuals. Colocalization analyses of associations with eGFR among 783,978 European-ancestry individuals and gene expression across 46 human tissues, including tubulo-interstitial and glomerular kidney compartments, identified 17 genes differentially expressed in kidney. Fine-mapping highlighted missense driver variants in 11 genes and kidney-specific regulatory variants. These results provide a comprehensive priority list of molecular targets for translational research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0407-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6698888PMC
June 2019

Multi-SNP mediation intersection-union test.

Bioinformatics 2019 11;35(22):4724-4729

Department of Biostatistics, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.

Summary: Tens of thousands of reproducibly identified GWAS (Genome-Wide Association Studies) variants, with the vast majority falling in non-coding regions resulting in no eventual protein products, call urgently for mechanistic interpretations. Although numerous methods exist, there are few, if any methods, for simultaneously testing the mediation effects of multiple correlated SNPs via some mediator (e.g. the expression of a gene in the neighborhood) on phenotypic outcome. We propose multi-SNP mediation intersection-union test (SMUT) to fill in this methodological gap. Our extensive simulations demonstrate the validity of SMUT as well as substantial, up to 92%, power gains over alternative methods. In addition, SMUT confirmed known mediators in a real dataset of Finns for plasma adiponectin level, which were missed by many alternative methods. We believe SMUT will become a useful tool to generate mechanistic hypotheses underlying GWAS variants, facilitating functional follow-up.

Availability And Implementation: The R package SMUT is publicly available from CRAN at https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=SMUT.

Supplementary Information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btz285DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6853702PMC
November 2019

Genetic variants associated with patent ductus arteriosus in extremely preterm infants.

J Perinatol 2019 03 5;39(3):401-408. Epub 2018 Dec 5.

Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.

Objective: Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a commonly observed condition in preterm infants. Prior studies have suggested a role for genetics in determining spontaneous ductal closure. Using samples from a large neonatal cohort we tested the hypothesis that common genetic variations are associated with PDA in extremely preterm infants.

Study Design: Preterm infants (n = 1013) enrolled at NICHD Neonatal Research Network sites were phenotyped for PDA. DNA was genotyped for 1634 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from candidate genes. Analyses were adjusted for ancestral eigenvalues and significant epidemiologic variables.

Results: SNPs in several genes were associated with the clinical diagnosis of PDA and with surgical ligation in extremely preterm neonates diagnosed with PDA (p < 0.01). None of the associations were significant after correction for multiple comparisons.

Conclusion: We identified several common genetic variants associated with PDA. These findings may inform further studies on genetic risk factors for PDA in preterm infants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41372-018-0285-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6391165PMC
March 2019

Interethnic analyses of blood pressure loci in populations of East Asian and European descent.

Nat Commun 2018 11 28;9(1):5052. Epub 2018 Nov 28.

Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, Tohoku University, Sendai, 980-8573, Japan.

Blood pressure (BP) is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and more than 200 genetic loci associated with BP are known. Here, we perform a multi-stage genome-wide association study for BP (max N = 289,038) principally in East Asians and meta-analysis in East Asians and Europeans. We report 19 new genetic loci and ancestry-specific BP variants, conforming to a common ancestry-specific variant association model. At 10 unique loci, distinct non-rare ancestry-specific variants colocalize within the same linkage disequilibrium block despite the significantly discordant effects for the proxy shared variants between the ethnic groups. The genome-wide transethnic correlation of causal-variant effect-sizes is 0.898 and 0.851 for systolic and diastolic BP, respectively. Some of the ancestry-specific association signals are also influenced by a selective sweep. Our results provide new evidence for the role of common ancestry-specific variants and natural selection in ethnic differences in complex traits such as BP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-07345-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6261994PMC
November 2018

Identification and functional analysis of glycemic trait loci in the China Health and Nutrition Survey.

PLoS Genet 2018 04 5;14(4):e1007275. Epub 2018 Apr 5.

Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America.

To identify genetic contributions to type 2 diabetes (T2D) and related glycemic traits (fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and HbA1c), we conducted genome-wide association analyses (GWAS) in up to 7,178 Chinese subjects from nine provinces in the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS). We examined patterns of population structure within CHNS and found that allele frequencies differed across provinces, consistent with genetic drift and population substructure. We further validated 32 previously described T2D- and glycemic trait-loci, including G6PC2 and SIX3-SIX2 associated with fasting glucose. At G6PC2, we replicated a known fasting glucose-associated variant (rs34177044) and identified a second signal (rs2232326), a low-frequency (4%), probably damaging missense variant (S324P). A variant within the lead fasting glucose-associated signal at SIX3-SIX2 co-localized with pancreatic islet expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) for SIX3, SIX2, and three noncoding transcripts. To identify variants functionally responsible for the fasting glucose association at SIX3-SIX2, we tested five candidate variants for allelic differences in regulatory function. The rs12712928-C allele, associated with higher fasting glucose and lower transcript expression level, showed lower transcriptional activity in reporter assays and increased binding to GABP compared to the rs12712928-G, suggesting that rs12712928-C contributes to elevated fasting glucose levels by disrupting an islet enhancer, resulting in reduced gene expression. Taken together, these analyses identified multiple loci associated with glycemic traits across China, and suggest a regulatory mechanism at the SIX3-SIX2 fasting glucose GWAS locus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1007275DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5886383PMC
April 2018

Exome chip meta-analysis identifies novel loci and East Asian-specific coding variants that contribute to lipid levels and coronary artery disease.

Nat Genet 2017 Dec 30;49(12):1722-1730. Epub 2017 Oct 30.

Division of Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

Most genome-wide association studies have been of European individuals, even though most genetic variation in humans is seen only in non-European samples. To search for novel loci associated with blood lipid levels and clarify the mechanism of action at previously identified lipid loci, we used an exome array to examine protein-coding genetic variants in 47,532 East Asian individuals. We identified 255 variants at 41 loci that reached chip-wide significance, including 3 novel loci and 14 East Asian-specific coding variant associations. After a meta-analysis including >300,000 European samples, we identified an additional nine novel loci. Sixteen genes were identified by protein-altering variants in both East Asians and Europeans, and thus are likely to be functional genes. Our data demonstrate that most of the low-frequency or rare coding variants associated with lipids are population specific, and that examining genomic data across diverse ancestries may facilitate the identification of functional genes at associated loci.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3978DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5899829PMC
December 2017

Association analyses of East Asian individuals and trans-ancestry analyses with European individuals reveal new loci associated with cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Hum Mol Genet 2017 05;26(9):1770-1784

Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore National Eye Centre, Singapore, Singapore.

Large-scale meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >175 loci associated with fasting cholesterol levels, including total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and triglycerides (TG). With differences in linkage disequilibrium (LD) structure and allele frequencies between ancestry groups, studies in additional large samples may detect new associations. We conducted staged GWAS meta-analyses in up to 69,414 East Asian individuals from 24 studies with participants from Japan, the Philippines, Korea, China, Singapore, and Taiwan. These meta-analyses identified (P < 5 × 10-8) three novel loci associated with HDL-C near CD163-APOBEC1 (P = 7.4 × 10-9), NCOA2 (P = 1.6 × 10-8), and NID2-PTGDR (P = 4.2 × 10-8), and one novel locus associated with TG near WDR11-FGFR2 (P = 2.7 × 10-10). Conditional analyses identified a second signal near CD163-APOBEC1. We then combined results from the East Asian meta-analysis with association results from up to 187,365 European individuals from the Global Lipids Genetics Consortium in a trans-ancestry meta-analysis. This analysis identified (log10Bayes Factor ≥6.1) eight additional novel lipid loci. Among the twelve total loci identified, the index variants at eight loci have demonstrated at least nominal significance with other metabolic traits in prior studies, and two loci exhibited coincident eQTLs (P < 1 × 10-5) in subcutaneous adipose tissue for BPTF and PDGFC. Taken together, these analyses identified multiple novel lipid loci, providing new potential therapeutic targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddx062DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6075203PMC
May 2017

Genetic predisposition to elevated levels of C-reactive protein is associated with a decreased risk for preeclampsia.

Hypertens Pregnancy 2017 Feb 22;36(1):30-35. Epub 2016 Sep 22.

a Department of Epidemiology , University of Iowa College of Public Health , Iowa City , Iowa , USA.

Objective: To examine the association between genetic predisposition to elevated C-reactive protein (CRP)and risk for preeclampsia using validated genetic loci for C-reactive protein.

Methods: Preeclampsia cases (n = 177) and normotensive controls (n = 116) were selected from live birth certificates to nulliparous Iowa women during the period August 2002-May 2005. Disease status was verified by the medical chart review. Genetic predisposition to CRP was estimated by a genetic risk score on the basis of established loci for CRP levels. Logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate the relationships between the genotype score and preeclampsia. Replication analyses were performed in an independent, US population of preeclampsia cases (n = 516) and controls (n = 1,097) of European ancestry.

Results: The genetic risk score (GRS) related to higher levels of CRP demonstrated a significantly decreased risk of preeclampsia (OR 0.89, 95% CI 0.82-0.96). When the GRS was analyzed by quartile, an inverse linear trend was observed (p = 0.0006). The results were similar after adjustments for the body mass index (BMI), smoking, and leisure-time physical activity. In the independent replication population, the association with the CRP GRS was also marginally significant (OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.92, 1.02). Meta-analysis of the two studies was statistically significant (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.90, 0.99).

Conclusion: Our data suggest an inverse, counterintuitive association between the genetic predisposition to elevated levels of CRP and a decreased risk of preeclampsia. This suggests that the blood CRP level is a marker of preeclampsia, but it does not appear to be a factor on the causal pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10641955.2016.1223303DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5538572PMC
February 2017

Low Birth Weight and Risk of Later-Life Physical Disability in Women.

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2017 Apr;72(4):543-547

Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City.

Background: There is strong evidence that low and high birth weight due to in-utero programming results in elevated risk for adult diseases, though less research has been performed examining the influence of birth weight and physical disability later in life.

Methods: Baseline data from 76,055 postmenopausal women in the Women's Health Initiative, a large multi-ethnic cohort, were used to examine the association between self-reported birth weight category (<6 lbs, 6-7 lbs 15 oz, 8-9 lbs 15 oz, and ≥10 lbs) and the self-reported physical functioning score on the RAND 36-item Health Survey. Linear regression models were adjusted for age, education, race/ethnicity, body mass index, and a comorbidity score.

Results: Unadjusted models indicate that women born in the lowest and highest birth weight categories have significantly lower physical functioning scores as compared to women born in the normal weight category (β = -2.22, p < .0001 and β = -3.56, p < .0001, respectively). After adjustments, the relationship between the lowest birth weight category and physical functioning score remained significant (β = -1.52, p < .0001); however, the association with the highest birth weight category dissipated.

Conclusions: Preconception and prenatal interventions aimed at reducing the incidence of low birth weight infants may subsequently reduce the burden of later-life physical disability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glw134DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6075587PMC
April 2017

Physical Activity During Pregnancy and Subsequent Risk of Preeclampsia and Gestational Hypertension: A Case Control Study.

Matern Child Health J 2016 06;20(6):1193-202

Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa College of Public Health, 145 South Riverside Drive, S414 CPHB, Iowa City, IA, 52242, USA.

Objective: Physical activity (PA) is hypothesized to reduce the risk of preeclampsia, but few epidemiologic studies have simultaneously evaluated leisure time PA (LTPA), sedentary activity, occupational activity, and non-occupational, non-leisure time PA. Thus, we assessed the independent and combined effects of these different types of PA during pregnancy on preeclampsia and gestational hypertension risk.

Methods: Preeclamptic (n = 258), gestational hypertensive (n = 233), and normotensive (n = 182) women identified from Iowa live birth records (2002-2005) were participants in Study of Pregnancy Hypertension in Iowa. Disease status was verified by medical chart review. All PA exposures were self-reported. Multinomial logistic regression was used to test for associations between various PA types and risk for preeclampsia or gestational hypertension.

Results: After adjusting for prepregnancy BMI, increasing levels of LTPA were associated with a reduced risk of preeclampsia (trend, p = 0.02). Additionally, increasing amount of time spent active each day was associated with decreasing risks for preeclampsia (adjusted, trend; p = 0.03). Increasing amount of time spent sitting per day was associated with an increasing risk of preeclampsia (adjusted, trend; p = 0.10). Women whose activity averaged >8.25 h per day were at a significantly reduced risk of preeclampsia relative to women active <4.2 h per day (adjusted OR 0.58, 95 % CI 0.36, 0.95). Most analyses evaluating the risk of gestational hypertension yielded null results or results that trended in the direction opposite of the preeclampsia results.

Conclusion: Consistent with previous studies, these data suggest increasing PA during pregnancy may reduce preeclampsia risk while increasing levels of sedentary activity may increase disease risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10995-016-1919-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5538351PMC
June 2016

Genetic Risk Score for Essential Hypertension and Risk of Preeclampsia.

Am J Hypertens 2016 Jan 23;29(1):17-24. Epub 2015 May 23.

Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA;

Background: Preeclampsia is a hypertensive complication of pregnancy characterized by novel onset of hypertension after 20 weeks gestation, accompanied by proteinuria. Epidemiological evidence suggests that genetic susceptibility exists for preeclampsia; however, whether preeclampsia is the result of underlying genetic risk for essential hypertension has yet to be investigated. Based on the hypertensive state that is characteristic of preeclampsia, we aimed to determine if established genetic risk scores (GRSs) for hypertension and blood pressure are associated with preeclampsia.

Methods: Subjects consisted of 162 preeclamptic cases and 108 normotensive pregnant controls, all of Iowa residence. Subjects' DNA was extracted from buccal swab samples and genotyped on the Affymetrix Genome-wide Human SNP Array 6.0 (Affymetrix, Santa Clara, CA). Missing genotypes were imputed using MaCH and Minimac software. GRSs were calculated for hypertension, systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and mean arterial pressure (MAP) using established genetic risk loci for each outcome. Regression analyses were performed to determine the association between GRS and risk of preeclampsia. These analyses were replicated in an independent US population of 516 cases and 1,097 controls of European ancestry.

Results: GRSs for hypertension, SBP, DBP, and MAP were not significantly associated with risk for preeclampsia (P > 0.189). The results of the replication analysis also yielded nonsignificant associations.

Conclusions: GRSs for hypertension and blood pressure are not associated with preeclampsia, suggesting that an underlying predisposition to essential hypertension is not on the causal pathway of preeclampsia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ajh/hpv069DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4692983PMC
January 2016

A retrospective study of administration of vaccination for hepatitis B among newborn infants prior to hospital discharge at a midwestern tertiary care center.

Vaccine 2015 May 31;33(20):2316-21. Epub 2015 Mar 31.

University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA, USA; University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA, USA; University of Iowa Children's Hospital, Iowa City, IA, USA.

Objectives: Infants are at high risk of developing chronic, life-threatening disease as a result of hepatitis B virus infection. Universal vaccination of infants against hepatitis B virus, before discharge from the hospital after delivery is recommended as a measure to eradicate infection and associated mortality and morbidity. The purpose of this study was to determine rates of perinatal hepatitis B vaccine (Hep B) administration at a tertiary care center in Iowa and to assess the impact of maternal factors on Hep B uptake.

Methods: Data concerning mother-infant pairs that received care at one institution from 1/2009 to 4/1/2013 were extracted from the system's electronic medical record. Characteristics of study participants were compared using chi-square tests. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess the association between each factor and vaccination status, controlling for other characteristics.

Results: Of 5663 mother-infant pairs, 5175 (91.4%) infants received Hep B within 7 days after delivery. The majority of those not vaccinated had a medical indication to delay vaccination. Single women were significantly more likely to have an infant not vaccinated, after adjustment for all other factors. Women of minority groups were significantly less likely to have an infant who lacked Hep B at hospital discharge than Caucasian women.

Conclusions: Significant improvements have occurred in Hep B rates in the state and region. Infants of single mothers may be at the greatest risk for lacking vaccination at hospital discharge.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.03.053DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4630806PMC
May 2015

Influence of a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) on levels of cytokines in cervical secretions.

J Reprod Immunol 2015 Jun 30;109:74-83. Epub 2015 Jan 30.

Human Papillomavirus Immunology Laboratory, Leidos Biomedical Research, Incorporated, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, 1050 Boyles Street, Frederick, MD, USA. Electronic address:

Over the past decade, there has been heightened interest in determining if there is an increased risk of adverse reproductive outcomes among women who had a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) to remove cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). The objective of this exploratory study was to determine if the treatment of CIN with a LEEP is associated with changes in cervical soluble immune markers. Cervical cytokine concentrations were measured in women treated with LEEP and a control group of women who had colposcopy only and did not undergo LEEP. Cytokines were examined in cervical secretions collected in Merocel(®) sponges at study entry and at 6-month follow-up. Cytokines were measured using a Luminex 18-plex cytokine bead assay. The mean cytokine levels were not significantly changed from baseline to follow-up in either group, with the exception of TNF-α, which decreased among women who underwent a LEEP. When the mean levels of cytokines of the treated and untreated groups at baseline or follow-up were compared, cytokine levels tended to be lower in the treated group (particularly IFN-γ, IL-6, IL-8, and MCP-1). Findings from adjusted repeated measures analyses revealed no differences between the two groups with regard to changes in cytokine levels over time. Overall, women undergoing a LEEP showed few changes in the cervical microenvironment relative to untreated women. Future studies with additional cervical environment markers and larger sample sizes are needed to determine if a LEEP is associated with dysregulation of the cervical microenvironment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jri.2015.01.002DOI Listing
June 2015

Genetic Predisposition to Dyslipidemia and Risk of Preeclampsia.

Am J Hypertens 2015 Jul 17;28(7):915-23. Epub 2014 Dec 17.

Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, Iowa, USA;

Background: Large epidemiologic studies support the role of dyslipidemia in preeclampsia; however, the etiology of preeclampsia or whether dyslipidemia plays a causal role remains unclear. We examined the association between the genetic predisposition to dyslipidemia and risk of preeclampsia using validated genetic markers of dyslipidemia.

Methods: Preeclampsia cases (n = 164) and normotensive controls (n = 110) were selected from live birth certificates to nulliparous Iowa women during the period August 2002 to May 2005. Disease status was verified by medical chart review. Genetic predisposition to dyslipidemia was estimated by 4 genetic risk scores (GRS) (total cholesterol (TC), LDL cholesterol (LDL-C), HDL cholesterol (HDL-C), and triglycerides) on the basis of established loci for blood lipids. Logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate the relationships between each of the 4 genotype scores and preeclampsia. Replication analyses were performed in an independent, US population of preeclampsia cases (n = 516) and controls (n = 1,097) of European ancestry.

Results: The GRS related to higher levels of TC, LDL-C, and triglycerides demonstrated no association with the risk of preeclampsia in either the Iowa or replication population. The GRS related to lower HDL-C was marginally associated with an increased risk for preeclampsia (odds ratio (OR) = 1.03, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.99-1.07; P = 0.10). In the independent replication population, the association with the HDL-C GRS was also marginally significant (OR = 1.03, 95% CI: 1.00-1.06; P = 0.04).

Conclusions: Our data suggest a potential effect between the genetic predisposition to dyslipidemic levels of HDL-C and an increased risk of preeclampsia, and, as such, suggest that dyslipidemia may be a component along the causal pathway to preeclampsia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ajh/hpu242DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4542907PMC
July 2015

Genetic variation in CYB5R3 is associated with methemoglobin levels in preterm infants receiving nitric oxide therapy.

Pediatr Res 2015 Mar 18;77(3):472-6. Epub 2014 Dec 18.

Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Background: In recent years, increasing numbers of preterm infants have been exposed to inhaled nitric oxide (iNO). This population has decreased methemoglobin (MetHb) reductase activity in their erythrocytes, which may increase the risk of MetHb toxicity. We sought to determine if genetic factors are associated with the observed variance in MetHb levels.

Methods: A population of 127 preterm infants was genotyped for five single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CYB5A and CYB5R3 genes. iNO dose and levels of MetHb were obtained by chart abstraction. ANOVA was performed to identify genetic associations with MetHb levels.

Results: An association was found between the heterozygous genotype (GA) of rs916321 in the CYB5R3 gene and the mean of the first recorded MetHb levels in Caucasian infants (P = 0.01). This result remained significant after adjustment for the iNO dose (P = 0.009), gender (P = 0.03), multiple gestation (P = 0.03), birth weight (P = 0.02), and gestational age (P = 0.02). No significant associations were found with the other SNPs.

Conclusion: We demonstrate a novel genetic association with neonatal MetHb levels. Identification of genetic risk factors may be useful in determining which preterm infants are most at risk of developing MetHb toxicity with the use of iNO.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/pr.2014.206DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4518542PMC
March 2015
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