Publications by authors named "Cristian Pattaro"

104 Publications

Genetic and Metabolic Determinants of Atrial Fibrillation in a General Population Sample: The CHRIS Study.

Biomolecules 2021 Nov 9;11(11). Epub 2021 Nov 9.

Eurac Research, Institute for Biomedicine (Affiliated to the University of Lübeck), 39100 Bolzano, Italy.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a supraventricular arrhythmia deriving from uncoordinated electrical activation with considerable associated morbidity and mortality. To expand the limited understanding of AF biological mechanisms, we performed two screenings, investigating the genetic and metabolic determinants of AF in the Cooperative Health Research in South Tyrol study. We found 110 AF cases out of 10,509 general population individuals. A genome-wide association scan (GWAS) identified two novel loci (-value < 5 × 10) around SNPs rs745582874, next to gene , and rs768476991, within gene , with genotype calling confirmed by Sanger sequencing. Risk alleles at both SNPs were enriched in a family detected through familial aggregation analysis of the phenotype, and both rare alleles co-segregated with AF. The metabolic screening of 175 metabolites, in a subset of individuals, revealed a 41% lower concentration of lysophosphatidylcholine lysoPC a C20:3 in AF cases compared to controls (-adj = 0.005). The genetic findings, combined with previous evidence, indicate that the two identified GWAS loci may be considered novel genetic rare determinants for AF. Considering additionally the association of lysoPC a C20:3 with AF by metabolic screening, our results demonstrate the valuable contribution of the combined genomic and metabolomic approach in studying AF in large-scale population studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/biom11111663DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8615508PMC
November 2021

Trans-ethnic Mendelian-randomization study reveals causal relationships between cardiometabolic factors and chronic kidney disease.

Int J Epidemiol 2021 Oct 20. Epub 2021 Oct 20.

Laboratory for Statistical Analysis, RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences, Yokohama, Japan.

Background: This study was to systematically test whether previously reported risk factors for chronic kidney disease (CKD) are causally related to CKD in European and East Asian ancestries using Mendelian randomization.

Methods: A total of 45 risk factors with genetic data in European ancestry and 17 risk factors in East Asian participants were identified as exposures from PubMed. We defined the CKD by clinical diagnosis or by estimated glomerular filtration rate of <60 ml/min/1.73 m2. Ultimately, 51 672 CKD cases and 958 102 controls of European ancestry from CKDGen, UK Biobank and HUNT, and 13 093 CKD cases and 238 118 controls of East Asian ancestry from Biobank Japan, China Kadoorie Biobank and Japan-Kidney-Biobank/ToMMo were included.

Results: Eight risk factors showed reliable evidence of causal effects on CKD in Europeans, including genetically predicted body mass index (BMI), hypertension, systolic blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, apolipoprotein A-I, lipoprotein(a), type 2 diabetes (T2D) and nephrolithiasis. In East Asians, BMI, T2D and nephrolithiasis showed evidence of causality on CKD. In two independent replication analyses, we observed that increased hypertension risk showed reliable evidence of a causal effect on increasing CKD risk in Europeans but in contrast showed a null effect in East Asians. Although liability to T2D showed consistent effects on CKD, the effects of glycaemic phenotypes on CKD were weak. Non-linear Mendelian randomization indicated a threshold relationship between genetically predicted BMI and CKD, with increased risk at BMI of >25 kg/m2.

Conclusions: Eight cardiometabolic risk factors showed causal effects on CKD in Europeans and three of them showed causality in East Asians, providing insights into the design of future interventions to reduce the burden of CKD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyab203DOI Listing
October 2021

Prevalence and determinants of serum antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in the general population of the Gardena valley.

Epidemiol Infect 2021 08 3;149:e194. Epub 2021 Aug 3.

Service for Innovation, Research and Teaching, Hospital of Bolzano (SABES-ASDAA), Bolzano-Bozen, Italy.

Estimating the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection in communities is critical. We surveyed 2244 stratified random sample community members of the Gardena valley, a winter touristic area, amidst the first expansion phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. We measured agreement between Diasorin and Abbott serum bioassay outputs and the Abbott optimal discriminant threshold of serum neutralisation titres with recursive receiver operating characteristic curve. We analytically adjusted serum antibody tests for unbiased seroprevalence estimate and analysed the determinants of infection with non-response weighted multiple logistic regression. SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence was 26.9% (95% CI 25.2-28.6) by June 2020. The bioassays had a modest agreement with each other. At a lower threshold than the manufacturer's recommended level, the Abbott assay reflected greater discrimination of serum neutralisation capacity. Seropositivity was associated with place and economic activity, not with sex or age. Symptoms like fever and weakness were age-dependent. SARS-CoV-2 mitigation strategies should account for context in high prevalence areas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0950268821001886DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8387688PMC
August 2021

Prospective epidemiological, molecular, and genetic characterization of a novel coronavirus disease in the Val Venosta/Vinschgau: the CHRIS COVID-19 study protocol.

Pathog Glob Health 2021 Oct 12:1-9. Epub 2021 Oct 12.

Institute for Biomedicine (affiliated with the University of Lübeck), Eurac Research, Bolzano, Italy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been threatening the healthcare and socioeconomic systems of entire nations. While population-based surveys to assess the distribution of SARS-CoV-2 infection have become a priority, pre-existing longitudinal studies are ideally suited to assess the determinants of COVID-19 onset and severity.The Cooperative Health Research In South Tyrol (CHRIS) study completed the baseline recruitment of 13,393 adults from the Venosta/Vinschgau rural district in 2018, collecting extensive phenotypic and biomarker data, metabolomic data, densely imputed genotype and whole-exome sequencing data.Based on CHRIS, we designed a prospective study, called CHRIS COVID-19, aimed at: 1) estimating the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections; 2) screening for and investigating the determinants of incident infection among CHRIS participants and their household members; 3) monitoring the immune response of infected participants prospectively.An online screening questionnaire was sent to all CHRIS participants and their household members. A random sample of 1450 participants representative of the district population was invited to assess active (nasopharyngeal swab) or past (serum antibody test) infections. We prospectively invited for complete SARS-CoV-2 testing all questionnaire completers gauged as possible cases of past infection and their household members. In positive tested individuals, antibody response is monitored quarterly for one year. Untested and negative participants receive the screening questionnaire every four weeks until gauged as possible incident cases or till the study end.Originated from a collaboration between researchers and community stakeholders, the CHRIS COVID-19 study aims at generating knowledge about the epidemiological, molecular, and genetic characterization of COVID-19 and its long-term sequelae.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/20477724.2021.1978225DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8515786PMC
October 2021

Exome-wide association study of levodopa-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson's disease.

Sci Rep 2021 Oct 1;11(1):19582. Epub 2021 Oct 1.

Institute for Biomedicine, Eurac Research, Affiliated Institute of the University of Lübeck, Via Luigi Galvani 31, 39100, Bozen/Bolzano, Italy.

Levodopa is the standard long-term dopamine replacement therapy to treat Parkinson's disease (PD) symptoms. With time, levodopa may induce debilitating dyskinesias (LID), the treatment of which represents a large clinically unmet need. However, time-to-LID onset varies between patients, reflecting a possible genetic component. We performed an hypothesis-free whole-exome sequencing (WES)-based screening of time-to-LID onset and attempted replication of previously published candidate gene studies. A WES association analysis was carried out in 134 PD patients in a meta-analytical framework. Replication was attempted in an independent study of 97 PD patients. Variants from previously reported candidate genes (OPRM1, COMT, BDNF) were also specifically examined. We significantly replicated, for the first time, an association of variant rs1799971 in the OPRM1 gene with time-to-LID onset. Furthermore, we identified two novel potentially functional variants, in the MAD2L2 (rs2233019) and MAP7 (rs35350783) genes, which were significantly associated at the discovery stage. In the replication study, the two variants showed direction-consistent effects but did not achieve the replication significance threshold. Our study provides the first WES results for time-to-LID onset, where we replicate association at OPRM1, and suggest new variants in MAD2L2 and MAP7 genes that are significant in discovery, but require larger datasets for replication. The results are being made publicly available to allow for independent external validation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-99393-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8486836PMC
October 2021

Discovery and prioritization of variants and genes for kidney function in >1.2 million individuals.

Nat Commun 2021 07 16;12(1):4350. Epub 2021 Jul 16.

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

Genes underneath signals from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for kidney function are promising targets for functional studies, but prioritizing variants and genes is challenging. By GWAS meta-analysis for creatinine-based estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) from the Chronic Kidney Disease Genetics Consortium and UK Biobank (n = 1,201,909), we expand the number of eGFRcrea loci (424 loci, 201 novel; 9.8% eGFRcrea variance explained by 634 independent signal variants). Our increased sample size in fine-mapping (n = 1,004,040, European) more than doubles the number of signals with resolved fine-mapping (99% credible sets down to 1 variant for 44 signals, ≤5 variants for 138 signals). Cystatin-based eGFR and/or blood urea nitrogen association support 348 loci (n = 460,826 and 852,678, respectively). Our customizable tool for Gene PrioritiSation reveals 23 compelling genes including mechanistic insights and enables navigation through genes and variants likely relevant for kidney function in human to help select targets for experimental follow-up.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24491-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8285412PMC
July 2021

Meta-analysis uncovers genome-wide significant variants for rapid kidney function decline.

Kidney Int 2021 04 31;99(4):926-939. Epub 2020 Oct 31.

Division of Nephrology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA; Kidney Research Institute, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Rapid decline of glomerular filtration rate estimated from creatinine (eGFRcrea) is associated with severe clinical endpoints. In contrast to cross-sectionally assessed eGFRcrea, the genetic basis for rapid eGFRcrea decline is largely unknown. To help define this, we meta-analyzed 42 genome-wide association studies from the Chronic Kidney Diseases Genetics Consortium and United Kingdom Biobank to identify genetic loci for rapid eGFRcrea decline. Two definitions of eGFRcrea decline were used: 3 mL/min/1.73m/year or more ("Rapid3"; encompassing 34,874 cases, 107,090 controls) and eGFRcrea decline 25% or more and eGFRcrea under 60 mL/min/1.73m at follow-up among those with eGFRcrea 60 mL/min/1.73m or more at baseline ("CKDi25"; encompassing 19,901 cases, 175,244 controls). Seven independent variants were identified across six loci for Rapid3 and/or CKDi25: consisting of five variants at four loci with genome-wide significance (near UMOD-PDILT (2), PRKAG2, WDR72, OR2S2) and two variants among 265 known eGFRcrea variants (near GATM, LARP4B). All these loci were novel for Rapid3 and/or CKDi25 and our bioinformatic follow-up prioritized variants and genes underneath these loci. The OR2S2 locus is novel for any eGFRcrea trait including interesting candidates. For the five genome-wide significant lead variants, we found supporting effects for annual change in blood urea nitrogen or cystatin-based eGFR, but not for GATM or LARP4B. Individuals at high compared to those at low genetic risk (8-14 vs. 0-5 adverse alleles) had a 1.20-fold increased risk of acute kidney injury (95% confidence interval 1.08-1.33). Thus, our identified loci for rapid kidney function decline may help prioritize therapeutic targets and identify mechanisms and individuals at risk for sustained deterioration of kidney function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.kint.2020.09.030DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8010357PMC
April 2021

Integration of GWAS Summary Statistics and Gene Expression Reveals Target Cell Types Underlying Kidney Function Traits.

J Am Soc Nephrol 2020 10 6;31(10):2326-2340. Epub 2020 Aug 6.

Institute of Genetic Epidemiology, Medical Center-University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

Background: Genetic variants identified in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are often not specific enough to reveal complex underlying physiology. By integrating RNA-seq data and GWAS summary statistics, novel computational methods allow unbiased identification of trait-relevant tissues and cell types.

Methods: The CKDGen consortium provided GWAS summary data for eGFR, urinary albumin-creatinine ratio (UACR), BUN, and serum urate. Genotype-Tissue Expression Project (GTEx) RNA-seq data were used to construct the top 10% specifically expressed genes for each of 53 tissues followed by linkage disequilibrium (LD) score-based enrichment testing for each trait. Similar procedures were performed for five kidney single-cell RNA-seq datasets from humans and mice and for a microdissected tubule RNA-seq dataset from rat. Gene set enrichment analyses were also conducted for genes implicated in Mendelian kidney diseases.

Results: Across 53 tissues, genes in kidney function-associated GWAS loci were enriched in kidney (=9.1E-8 for eGFR; =1.2E-5 for urate) and liver (=6.8·10 for eGFR). In the kidney, proximal tubule was enriched in humans (=8.5E-5 for eGFR; =7.8E-6 for urate) and mice (=0.0003 for eGFR; =0.0002 for urate) and confirmed as the primary cell type in microdissected tubules and organoids. Gene set enrichment analysis supported this and showed enrichment of genes implicated in monogenic glomerular diseases in podocytes. A systematic approach generated a comprehensive list of GWAS genes prioritized by cell type-specific expression.

Conclusions: Integration of GWAS statistics of kidney function traits and gene expression data identified relevant tissues and cell types, as a basis for further mechanistic studies to understand GWAS loci.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1681/ASN.2020010051DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7609008PMC
October 2020

A bidirectional Mendelian randomization study supports causal effects of kidney function on blood pressure.

Kidney Int 2020 09 23;98(3):708-716. Epub 2020 May 23.

Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi, USA. Electronic address:

Blood pressure and kidney function have a bidirectional relation. Hypertension has long been considered as a risk factor for kidney function decline. However, whether intensive blood pressure control could promote kidney health has been uncertain. The kidney is known to have a major role in affecting blood pressure through sodium extraction and regulating electrolyte balance. This bidirectional relation makes causal inference between these two traits difficult. Therefore, to examine the causal relations between these two traits, we performed two-sample Mendelian randomization analyses using summary statistics of large-scale genome-wide association studies. We selected genetic instruments more likely to be specific for kidney function using meta-analyses of complementary kidney function biomarkers (glomerular filtration rate estimated from serum creatinine [eGFRcr], and blood urea nitrogen from the CKDGen Consortium). Systolic and diastolic blood pressure summary statistics were from the International Consortium for Blood Pressure and UK Biobank. Significant evidence supported the causal effects of higher kidney function on lower blood pressure. Based on the mode-based Mendelian randomization method, the effect estimates for one standard deviation (SD) higher in log-transformed eGFRcr was -0.17 SD unit (95 % confidence interval: -0.09 to -0.24) in systolic blood pressure and -0.15 SD unit (95% confidence interval: -0.07 to -0.22) in diastolic blood pressure. In contrast, the causal effects of blood pressure on kidney function were not statistically significant. Thus, our results support causal effects of higher kidney function on lower blood pressure and suggest preventing kidney function decline can reduce the public health burden of hypertension.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.kint.2020.04.044DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7784392PMC
September 2020

Multi-ancestry GWAS of the electrocardiographic PR interval identifies 202 loci underlying cardiac conduction.

Nat Commun 2020 05 21;11(1):2542. Epub 2020 May 21.

Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

The electrocardiographic PR interval reflects atrioventricular conduction, and is associated with conduction abnormalities, pacemaker implantation, atrial fibrillation (AF), and cardiovascular mortality. Here we report a multi-ancestry (N = 293,051) genome-wide association meta-analysis for the PR interval, discovering 202 loci of which 141 have not previously been reported. Variants at identified loci increase the percentage of heritability explained, from 33.5% to 62.6%. We observe enrichment for cardiac muscle developmental/contractile and cytoskeletal genes, highlighting key regulation processes for atrioventricular conduction. Additionally, 8 loci not previously reported harbor genes underlying inherited arrhythmic syndromes and/or cardiomyopathies suggesting a role for these genes in cardiovascular pathology in the general population. We show that polygenic predisposition to PR interval duration is an endophenotype for cardiovascular disease, including distal conduction disease, AF, and atrioventricular pre-excitation. These findings advance our understanding of the polygenic basis of cardiac conduction, and the genetic relationship between PR interval duration and cardiovascular disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-15706-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7242331PMC
May 2020

The CKDGen Consortium: ten years of insights into the genetic basis of kidney function.

Kidney Int 2020 02;97(2):236-242

Eurac Research, Institute for Biomedicine (affiliated with the University of Lübeck), Bolzano, Italy. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.kint.2019.10.027DOI Listing
February 2020

Microbiota, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: protocol of an observational study.

J Transl Med 2019 12 4;17(1):408. Epub 2019 Dec 4.

Institute for Biomedicine (affiliated to the University of Lübeck), Eurac Research, 39100, Bolzano, Italy.

Background: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by triglyceride accumulation in the hepatocytes in the absence of alcohol overconsumption, commonly associated with insulin resistance and obesity. Both NAFLD and type 2 diabetes (T2D) are characterized by an altered microbiota composition, however the role of the microbiota in NAFLD and T2D is not well understood. To assess the relationship between alteration in the microbiota and NAFLD while dissecting the role of T2D, we established a nested study on T2D and non-T2D individuals within the Cooperative Health Research In South Tyrol (CHRIS) study, called the CHRIS-NAFLD study. Here, we present the study protocol along with baseline and follow-up characteristics of study participants.

Methods: Among the first 4979 CHRIS study participants, 227 individuals with T2D were identified and recalled, along with 227 age- and sex-matched non-T2D individuals. Participants underwent ultrasound and transient elastography examination to evaluate the presence of hepatic steatosis and liver stiffness. Additionally, sampling of saliva and faeces, biochemical measurements and clinical interviews were carried out.

Results: We recruited 173 T2D and 183 non-T2D participants (78% overall response rate). Hepatic steatosis was more common in T2D (63.7%) than non-T2D (36.3%) participants. T2D participants also had higher levels of liver stiffness (median 4.8 kPa, interquartile range (IQR) 3.7, 5.9) than non-T2D participants (median 3.9 kPa, IQR 3.3, 5.1). The non-invasive scoring systems like the NAFLD fibrosis score (NFS) suggests an increased liver fibrosis in T2D (mean - 0.55, standard deviation, SD, 1.30) than non-T2D participants (mean - 1.30, SD, 1.17).

Discussion: Given the comprehensive biochemical and clinical characterization of study participants, once the bioinformatics classification of the microbiota will be completed, the CHRIS-NAFLD study will become a useful resource to further our understanding of the relationship between microbiota, T2D and NAFLD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12967-019-02130-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891972PMC
December 2019

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

KCND3 potassium channel gene variant confers susceptibility to electrocardiographic early repolarization pattern.

JCI Insight 2019 12 5;4(23). Epub 2019 Dec 5.

Department of Cardiology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands.

BACKGROUNDThe presence of an early repolarization pattern (ERP) on the surface ECG is associated with risk of ventricular fibrillation and sudden cardiac death. Family studies have shown that ERP is a highly heritable trait, but molecular genetic determinants are unknown.METHODSTo identify genetic susceptibility loci for ERP, we performed a GWAS and meta-analysis in 2,181 cases and 23,641 controls of European ancestry.RESULTSWe identified a genome-wide significant (P < 5 × 10-8) locus in the potassium voltage-gated channel subfamily D member 3 (KCND3) gene that was successfully replicated in additional 1,124 cases and 12,510 controls. A subsequent joint meta-analysis of the discovery and replication cohorts identified rs1545300 as the lead SNP at the KCND3 locus (OR 0.82 per minor T allele, P = 7.7 × 10-12) but did not reveal additional loci. Colocalization analyses indicate causal effects of KCND3 gene expression levels on ERP in both cardiac left ventricle and tibial artery.CONCLUSIONSIn this study, we identified for the first time to our knowledge a genome-wide significant association of a genetic variant with ERP. Our findings of a locus in the KCND3 gene provide insights not only into the genetic determinants but also into the pathophysiological mechanism of ERP, discovering a promising candidate for functional studies.FUNDINGThis project was funded by the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK Shared Expertise SE081 - STATS). For detailed funding information per study, see the Supplemental Acknowledgments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.131156DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6962032PMC
December 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

Genome-wide association meta-analyses and fine-mapping elucidate pathways influencing albuminuria.

Nat Commun 2019 09 11;10(1):4130. Epub 2019 Sep 11.

Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

Increased levels of the urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) are associated with higher risk of kidney disease progression and cardiovascular events, but underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood. Here, we conduct trans-ethnic (n = 564,257) and European-ancestry specific meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies of UACR, including ancestry- and diabetes-specific analyses, and identify 68 UACR-associated loci. Genetic correlation analyses and risk score associations in an independent electronic medical records database (n = 192,868) reveal connections with proteinuria, hyperlipidemia, gout, and hypertension. Fine-mapping and trans-Omics analyses with gene expression in 47 tissues and plasma protein levels implicate genes potentially operating through differential expression in kidney (including TGFB1, MUC1, PRKCI, and OAF), and allow coupling of UACR associations to altered plasma OAF concentrations. Knockdown of OAF and PRKCI orthologs in Drosophila nephrocytes reduces albumin endocytosis. Silencing fly PRKCI further impairs slit diaphragm formation. These results generate a priority list of genes and pathways for translational research to reduce albuminuria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11576-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6739370PMC
September 2019

Mapping eGFR loci to the renal transcriptome and phenome in the VA Million Veteran Program.

Nat Commun 2019 08 26;10(1):3842. Epub 2019 Aug 26.

Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development, Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (626)/Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD), defined by low estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), contributes to global morbidity and mortality. Here we conduct a transethnic Genome-Wide Association Study of eGFR in 280,722 participants of the Million Veteran Program (MVP), with replication in 765,289 participants from the Chronic Kidney Disease Genetics (CKDGen) Consortium. We identify 82 previously unreported variants, confirm 54 loci, and report interesting findings including association of the sickle cell allele of betaglobin among non-Hispanic blacks. Our transcriptome-wide association study of kidney function in healthy kidney tissue identifies 36 previously unreported and nine known genes, and maps gene expression to renal cell types. In a Phenome-Wide Association Study in 192,868 MVP participants using a weighted genetic score we detect associations with CKD stages and complications and kidney stones. This investigation reinterprets the genetic architecture of kidney function to identify the gene, tissue, and anatomical context of renal homeostasis and the clinical consequences of dysregulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11704-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6710266PMC
August 2019

Lipidomics, Atrial Conduction, and Body Mass Index.

Circ Genom Precis Med 2019 07 15;12(7):e002384. Epub 2019 Jul 15.

Institute for Biomedicine, Eurac Research, Affiliated to the University of Lübeck, Bolzano, Italy (G.P., L.F., R.M., V.V., A.A.H., P.P.P., A.R., C.P.).

Background: Lipids are increasingly involved in cardiovascular risk prediction as potential proarrhythmic influencers. However, knowledge is limited about the specific mechanisms connecting lipid alterations with atrial conduction.

Methods: To shed light on this issue, we conducted a broad assessment of 151 sphingo- and phospholipids, measured using mass spectrometry, for association with atrial conduction, measured by P wave duration (PWD) from standard electrocardiograms, in the MICROS study (Microisolates in South Tyrol) (n=839). Causal pathways involving lipidomics, body mass index (BMI), and PWD were assessed using 2-sample Mendelian randomization analyses based on published genome-wide association studies of lipidomics (n=4034) and BMI (n=734 481), and genetic association analysis of PWD in 5 population-based studies (n=24 236).

Results: We identified an association with relative phosphatidylcholine 38:3 (%PC 38:3) concentration, which was replicated in the ORCADES (Orkney Complex Disease Study; n=951), with a pooled association across studies of 2.59 (95% CI, 1.3-3.9; P=1.1×10) ms PWD per mol% increase. While being independent of cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose levels, the %PC 38:3-PWD association was mediated by BMI. Results supported a causal effect of BMI on both PWD ( P=8.3×10) and %PC 38:3 ( P=0.014).

Conclusions: Increased %PC 38:3 levels are consistently associated with longer PWD, partly because of the confounding effect of BMI. The causal effect of BMI on PWD reinforces evidence of BMI's involvement into atrial electrical activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCGEN.118.002384DOI Listing
July 2019

Genetics of Blood Pressure Regulation: Possible Paths in the Labyrinth.

Am J Kidney Dis 2019 09 17;74(3):421-424. Epub 2019 Jun 17.

Eurac Research, Institute for Biomedicine, Bolzano, Italy. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.ajkd.2019.05.001DOI Listing
September 2019

Effects of Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium Concentrations on Ventricular Repolarization in Unselected Individuals.

J Am Coll Cardiol 2019 06;73(24):3118-3131

Institute for Translational Genomics and Population Sciences, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California.

Background: Subclinical changes on the electrocardiogram are risk factors for cardiovascular mortality. Recognition and knowledge of electrolyte associations in cardiac electrophysiology are based on only in vitro models and observations in patients with severe medical conditions.

Objectives: This study sought to investigate associations between serum electrolyte concentrations and changes in cardiac electrophysiology in the general population.

Methods: Summary results collected from 153,014 individuals (54.4% women; mean age 55.1 ± 12.1 years) from 33 studies (of 5 ancestries) were meta-analyzed. Linear regression analyses examining associations between electrolyte concentrations (mmol/l of calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium), and electrocardiographic intervals (RR, QT, QRS, JT, and PR intervals) were performed. The study adjusted for potential confounders and also stratified by ancestry, sex, and use of antihypertensive drugs.

Results: Lower calcium was associated with longer QT intervals (-11.5 ms; 99.75% confidence interval [CI]: -13.7 to -9.3) and JT duration, with sex-specific effects. In contrast, higher magnesium was associated with longer QT intervals (7.2 ms; 99.75% CI: 1.3 to 13.1) and JT. Lower potassium was associated with longer QT intervals (-2.8 ms; 99.75% CI: -3.5 to -2.0), JT, QRS, and PR durations, but all potassium associations were driven by use of antihypertensive drugs. No physiologically relevant associations were observed for sodium or RR intervals.

Conclusions: The study identified physiologically relevant associations between electrolytes and electrocardiographic intervals in a large-scale analysis combining cohorts from different settings. The results provide insights for further cardiac electrophysiology research and could potentially influence clinical practice, especially the association between calcium and QT duration, by which calcium levels at the bottom 2% of the population distribution led to clinically relevant QT prolongation by >5 ms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2019.03.519DOI Listing
June 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

Effects of smoking status, history and intensity on heart rate variability in the general population: The CHRIS study.

PLoS One 2019 9;14(4):e0215053. Epub 2019 Apr 9.

Institute for Biomedicine, Eurac Research, Affiliated Institute of the University of Lübeck, Bolzano, Italy.

Background: Heart rate variability (HRV) reflects the autonomous nervous system modulation on heart rate and is associated with several pathologies, including cardiac mortality. While mechanistic studies show that smoking is associated with lower HRV, population-based studies present conflicting results.

Methods: We assessed the mutual effects of active smoking status, cumulative smoking history, and current smoking intensity, on HRV among 4751 adults from the Cooperative Health Research In South Tyrol (CHRIS) study. The HRV metrics standard deviation of normal-to-normal (NN) inter-beat intervals (SDNN), square root of the mean squared differences of consecutive NN intervals (RMSSD), total power (TP), low (LF) and high frequency (HF) power, and their ratio (LF/HF), were derived from 20-minute electrocardiograms. Smoking status, pack-years (PY), and tobacco grams/day from standardized questionnaires were the main exposures. We fitted linear mixed models to account for relatedness, non-linearity, and moderating effects, and including fractional polynomials.

Results: Past smokers had higher HRV levels than never smokers, independently of PY. The association of HRV with current smoking became apparent when accounting for the interaction between smoking status and PY. In current smokers, but not in past smokers, we observed HRV reductions between 2.0% (SDNN) and 4.9% (TP) every 5 PY increase. Furthermore, current smokers were characterized by dose-response reductions of 9.8% (SDNN), 8.9% (RMSSD), 20.1% (TP), 17.7% (LF), and 19.1% (HF), respectively, every 10 grams/day of smoked tobacco, independently of common cardiometabolic conditions and HRV-modifying drugs. The LF/HF ratio was not associated with smoking status, history, or intensity.

Conclusions: Smoking cessation was associated with higher HRV levels. In current smokers, heavier smoking intensity appears gradually detrimental on HRV, corroborating previous evidence. By affecting both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system indexes, but not the LF/HF balance, smoking intensity seems to exert a systemic dysautonomic effect.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0215053PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6456196PMC
December 2019

Genome-wide analyses identify a role for SLC17A4 and AADAT in thyroid hormone regulation.

Nat Commun 2018 10 26;9(1):4455. Epub 2018 Oct 26.

Translational Gerontology Branch, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Thyroid dysfunction is an important public health problem, which affects 10% of the general population and increases the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Many aspects of thyroid hormone regulation have only partly been elucidated, including its transport, metabolism, and genetic determinants. Here we report a large meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for thyroid function and dysfunction, testing 8 million genetic variants in up to 72,167 individuals. One-hundred-and-nine independent genetic variants are associated with these traits. A genetic risk score, calculated to assess their combined effects on clinical end points, shows significant associations with increased risk of both overt (Graves' disease) and subclinical thyroid disease, as well as clinical complications. By functional follow-up on selected signals, we identify a novel thyroid hormone transporter (SLC17A4) and a metabolizing enzyme (AADAT). Together, these results provide new knowledge about thyroid hormone physiology and disease, opening new possibilities for therapeutic targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-06356-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6203810PMC
October 2018

Structural Consistency of the Pain Sensitivity Questionnaire in the Cooperative Health Research In South Tyrol (CHRIS) Population-Based Study.

J Pain 2018 12 6;19(12):1424-1434. Epub 2018 Jul 6.

Institute for Biomedicine, Eurac Research, Affiliated Institute of the University of Lübeck, Bolzano, Italy.

The self-reported Pain Sensitivity Questionnaire (PSQ) is a valid supplement to experimental pain testing. However, the latent constructs determining the originally proposed 1 general score (PSQ-total) and 2 subscores (PSQ-moderate and PSQ-minor) have not been consistently investigated in population-based studies or between genders. Based on a single construct hypothesized by expert knowledge or alternative constructs upon empirical evidence, PSQ structures were explored and confirmed among 4,820 participants aged 18 to 93 years of the Cooperative Health Research In South Tyrol (CHRIS) study. By exploratory factor analysis, we identified 3 alternative sets of PSQ imagined painful situations comprising 14, 10, and 9 items, which displayed simple structures of the rotated factor loadings of direct interpretation. In confirmatory analysis (CFA) of 1 latent factor, the 10-item set yielded acceptable goodness-of-fit overall, better fit than the alternative sets and consistent structural properties between genders. Separate analyses based on 14- and 9-item sets returned considerable correlations between 2 latent constructs. In higher-order CFA with each set, 1 first-order general factor explained a large part of the variances of 2 second-order factors. One dominant construct consistently describes the factorial structure of the PSQ. Averaging across the 10-item set, the PSQ-short score represents a structurally robust, gender-consistent, and practical measure of general pain sensitivity. PERSPECTIVE: One dominant latent construct of general pain sensitivity consistently determines responses to the self-reported PSQ. The PSQ-short score maintains similar psychometric properties to the PSQ-total and between genders. This measure is attractive for large-scale research and clinical screening of pain sensitivity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2018.06.007DOI Listing
December 2018

Comparative assessment of different familial aggregation methods in the context of large and unstructured pedigrees.

Bioinformatics 2019 01;35(1):69-76

Institute for Biomedicine, Eurac Research, Affiliated Institute of the University of Lübeck, Bolzano, Italy.

Motivation: Familial aggregation analysis is an important early step for characterizing the genetic determinants of phenotypes in epidemiological studies. To facilitate this analysis, a collection of methods to detect familial aggregation in large pedigrees has been made available recently. However, efficacy of these methods in real world scenarios remains largely unknown. Here, we assess the performance of five aggregation methods to identify individuals or groups of related individuals affected by a Mendelian trait within a large set of decoys. We investigate method performance under a representative set of combinations of causal variant penetrance, trait prevalence and number of affected generations in the pedigree. These methods are then applied to assess familial aggregation of familial hypercholesterolemia and stroke, in the context of the Cooperative Health Research in South Tyrol (CHRIS) study.

Results: We find that in some situations statistical hypothesis testing with a binomial null distribution achieves performance similar to methods that are based on kinship information, while kinship based methods perform better when information is available on fewer generations. Potential case families from the CHRIS study are reported and the results are discussed taking into account insights from the performance assessment.

Availability And Implementation: The familial aggregation analysis package is freely available at the Bioconductor repository, http://www.bioconductor.org/packages/FamAgg.

Supplementary Information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/bty541DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6298062PMC
January 2019

Negative effect of vitamin D on kidney function: a Mendelian randomization study.

Nephrol Dial Transplant 2018 12;33(12):2139-2145

Divisione di Nefrologia, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.

Background: The kidney plays a central role in the regulation of vitamin D metabolism. It is not clear, however, whether vitamin D influences kidney function. Previous studies have reported conflicting results, which may have been influenced by reverse causation and residual confounding. We conducted a Mendelian randomization (MR) study to obtain unconfounded estimates of the association between genetically instrumented vitamin D metabolites and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) as well as the urinary albumin:creatinine ratio (UACR).

Methods: We performed a two-sample MR study based on three single nucleotide variants associated with 25(OH)D levels: rs2282679, rs10741657 and rs12785878, related to the genes GC, CYP2R1 and DHCR7, respectively. Estimates of the allele-dependent effects on serum 25(OH)D and eGFR/UACR were obtained from summary statistics of published genome-wide association meta-analyses. Additionally, we performed a one-sample MR analysis for both 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2 D using individual-level data from six cohorts.

Results: The combined MR estimate supported a negative causal effect of log transformed 25(OH)D on log transformed eGFR (β = -0.013, P = 0.003). The analysis of individual-level data confirmed the main findings and also revealed a significant association of 1,25(OH)2 D on eGFR (β = -0.094, P = 0.008). These results show that a 10% increase in serum 25(OH)D levels causes a 0.3% decrease in eGFR. There was no effect of 25(OH)D on UACR (β = 0.032, P = 0.265).

Conclusion: Our study suggests that circulating vitamin D metabolite levels are negatively associated with eGFR. Further studies are needed to elucidate the underlying mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ndt/gfy074DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6275146PMC
December 2018

The Locus: Insights into the Pathogenesis and Prognosis of Kidney Disease.

J Am Soc Nephrol 2018 03 27;29(3):713-726. Epub 2017 Nov 27.

Institute for Biomedicine, Eurac Research, Affiliated Institute of the University of Lübeck, Bolzano, Italy.

The identification of genetic factors associated with kidney disease has the potential to provide critical insights into disease mechanisms. Genome-wide association studies have uncovered genomic regions associated with renal function metrics and risk of CKD. is among the most outstanding loci associated with CKD in the general population, because it has a large effect on eGFR and CKD risk that is consistent across different ethnic groups. The relevance of for CKD is clear, because the encoded protein, uromodulin (Tamm-Horsfall protein), is exclusively produced by the kidney tubule and has specific biochemical properties that mediate important functions in the kidney and urine. Rare mutations in are the major cause of autosomal dominant tubulointerstitial kidney disease, a condition that leads to CKD and ESRD. In this brief review, we use the paradigm to describe how population genetic studies can yield insight into the pathogenesis and prognosis of kidney diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1681/ASN.2017070716DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5827601PMC
March 2018

Genome-wide association studies of albuminuria: towards genetic stratification in diabetes?

Authors:
Cristian Pattaro

J Nephrol 2018 08 16;31(4):475-487. Epub 2017 Sep 16.

Institute for Biomedicine, Eurac Research, Affiliated Institute of the University of Lübeck, Via Galvani 31, 39100, Bolzano, Italy.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been very successful in unraveling the polygenic structure of several complex diseases and traits. In the case of albuminuria, despite the large sample size achieved by some studies, results look sparse with a limited number of loci reported so far. This review searched for GWAS studies of albumin excretion, albuminuria, and proteinuria. The resulting picture sets elements of uniqueness for albuminuria GWAS with respect to other complex traits. So far, very few loci associated with albuminuria have been validated by means of genome-wide significant evidence or formal replication. With rare exceptions, the validated loci are ethnicity specific. Within a given ethnicity, variants are common and have relatively large effects, especially in the presence of diabetes. In most cases, the identified variants were functional and a biological involvement of the target genes in renal damage was established. Recently reported variants associated with albuminuria in diabetes may be potentially combined into a genetic risk score, making it possible to rank diabetic patients by increasing risk of albuminuria. Validation of this model is required. To expand the understanding of the biological basis of albumin excretion regulation, future initiatives should achieve larger sample sizes and favor a transethnic study design.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40620-017-0437-3DOI Listing
August 2018
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