Publications by authors named "Jessica Tyrrell"

76 Publications

Higher maternal adiposity reduces offspring birthweight if associated with a metabolically favourable profile.

Diabetologia 2021 Sep 20. Epub 2021 Sep 20.

Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.

Aims/hypothesis: Higher maternal BMI during pregnancy is associated with higher offspring birthweight, but it is not known whether this is solely the result of adverse metabolic consequences of higher maternal adiposity, such as maternal insulin resistance and fetal exposure to higher glucose levels, or whether there is any effect of raised adiposity through non-metabolic (e.g. mechanical) factors. We aimed to use genetic variants known to predispose to higher adiposity, coupled with a favourable metabolic profile, in a Mendelian randomisation (MR) study comparing the effect of maternal 'metabolically favourable adiposity' on offspring birthweight with the effect of maternal general adiposity (as indexed by BMI).

Methods: To test the causal effects of maternal metabolically favourable adiposity or general adiposity on offspring birthweight, we performed two-sample MR. We used variants identified in large, published genetic-association studies as being associated with either higher adiposity and a favourable metabolic profile, or higher BMI (n = 442,278 and n = 322,154 for metabolically favourable adiposity and BMI, respectively). We then extracted data on the metabolically favourable adiposity and BMI variants from a large, published genetic-association study of maternal genotype and offspring birthweight controlling for fetal genetic effects (n = 406,063 with maternal and/or fetal genotype effect estimates). We used several sensitivity analyses to test the reliability of the results. As secondary analyses, we used data from four cohorts (total n = 9323 mother-child pairs) to test the effects of maternal metabolically favourable adiposity or BMI on maternal gestational glucose, anthropometric components of birthweight and cord-blood biomarkers.

Results: Higher maternal adiposity with a favourable metabolic profile was associated with lower offspring birthweight (-94 [95% CI -150, -38] g per 1 SD [6.5%] higher maternal metabolically favourable adiposity, p = 0.001). By contrast, higher maternal BMI was associated with higher offspring birthweight (35 [95% CI 16, 53] g per 1 SD [4 kg/m] higher maternal BMI, p = 0.0002). Sensitivity analyses were broadly consistent with the main results. There was evidence of outlier SNPs for both exposures; their removal slightly strengthened the metabolically favourable adiposity estimate and made no difference to the BMI estimate. Our secondary analyses found evidence to suggest that a higher maternal metabolically favourable adiposity decreases pregnancy fasting glucose levels while a higher maternal BMI increases them. The effects on neonatal anthropometric traits were consistent with the overall effect on birthweight but the smaller sample sizes for these analyses meant that the effects were imprecisely estimated. We also found evidence to suggest that higher maternal metabolically favourable adiposity decreases cord-blood leptin while higher maternal BMI increases it.

Conclusions/interpretation: Our results show that higher adiposity in mothers does not necessarily lead to higher offspring birthweight. Higher maternal adiposity can lead to lower offspring birthweight if accompanied by a favourable metabolic profile.

Data Availability: The data for the genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of BMI are available at https://portals.broadinstitute.org/collaboration/giant/index.php/GIANT_consortium_data_files . The data for the GWAS of body fat percentage are available at https://walker05.u.hpc.mssm.edu .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00125-021-05570-9DOI Listing
September 2021

Mendelian Randomization Analyses Suggest Childhood Body Size Indirectly Influences End Points From Across the Cardiovascular Disease Spectrum Through Adult Body Size.

J Am Heart Assoc 2021 Sep 1;10(17):e021503. Epub 2021 Sep 1.

MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit Population Health Sciences Bristol Medical School University of Bristol United Kingdom.

Background Obesity is associated with long-term health consequences including cardiovascular disease. Separating the independent effects of childhood and adulthood obesity on cardiovascular disease risk is challenging as children with obesity typically remain overweight throughout the lifecourse. Methods and Results This study used 2-sample univariable and multivariable Mendelian randomization to estimate the effect of childhood body size both independently and after accounting for adult body size on 12 endpoints across the cardiovascular disease disease spectrum. Univariable analyses identified strong evidence of a total effect between genetically predicted childhood body size and increased risk of atherosclerosis, atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, heart failure, hypertension, myocardial infarction, peripheral artery disease, and varicose veins. However, evidence of a direct effect was weak after accounting for adult body size using multivariable Mendelian randomization, suggesting that childhood body size indirectly increases risk of these 8 disease outcomes via the pathway involving adult body size. Conclusions These findings suggest that the effect of genetically predicted childhood body size on the cardiovascular disease outcomes analyzed in this study are a result of larger body size persisting into adulthood. Further research is necessary to ascertain the critical timepoints where, if ever, the detrimental impact of obesity initiated in early life begins to become immutable.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.121.021503DOI Listing
September 2021

Genetic insights into biological mechanisms governing human ovarian ageing.

Nature 2021 08 4;596(7872):393-397. Epub 2021 Aug 4.

Genome Integrity and Instability Group, Institut de Biotecnologia i Biomedicina, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain.

Reproductive longevity is essential for fertility and influences healthy ageing in women, but insights into its underlying biological mechanisms and treatments to preserve it are limited. Here we identify 290 genetic determinants of ovarian ageing, assessed using normal variation in age at natural menopause (ANM) in about 200,000 women of European ancestry. These common alleles were associated with clinical extremes of ANM; women in the top 1% of genetic susceptibility have an equivalent risk of premature ovarian insufficiency to those carrying monogenic FMR1 premutations. The identified loci implicate a broad range of DNA damage response (DDR) processes and include loss-of-function variants in key DDR-associated genes. Integration with experimental models demonstrates that these DDR processes act across the life-course to shape the ovarian reserve and its rate of depletion. Furthermore, we demonstrate that experimental manipulation of DDR pathways highlighted by human genetics increases fertility and extends reproductive life in mice. Causal inference analyses using the identified genetic variants indicate that extending reproductive life in women improves bone health and reduces risk of type 2 diabetes, but increases the risk of hormone-sensitive cancers. These findings provide insight into the mechanisms that govern ovarian ageing, when they act, and how they might be targeted by therapeutic approaches to extend fertility and prevent disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03779-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7611832PMC
August 2021

A genome-wide association study identifies 5 loci associated with frozen shoulder and implicates diabetes as a causal risk factor.

PLoS Genet 2021 06 10;17(6):e1009577. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

Shoulder Unit, Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Centre, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, United Kingdom.

Frozen shoulder is a painful condition that often requires surgery and affects up to 5% of individuals aged 40-60 years. Little is known about the causes of the condition, but diabetes is a strong risk factor. To begin to understand the biological mechanisms involved, we aimed to identify genetic variants associated with frozen shoulder and to use Mendelian randomization to test the causal role of diabetes. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of frozen shoulder in the UK Biobank using data from 10,104 cases identified from inpatient, surgical and primary care codes. We used data from FinnGen for replication and meta-analysis. We used one-sample and two-sample Mendelian randomization approaches to test for a causal association of diabetes with frozen shoulder. We identified five genome-wide significant loci. The most significant locus (lead SNP rs28971325; OR = 1.20, [95% CI: 1.16-1.24], p = 5x10-29) contained WNT7B. This variant was also associated with Dupuytren's disease (OR = 2.31 [2.24, 2.39], p<1x10-300) as were a further two of the frozen shoulder associated variants. The Mendelian randomization results provided evidence that type 1 diabetes is a causal risk factor for frozen shoulder (OR = 1.03 [1.02-1.05], p = 3x10-6). There was no evidence that obesity was causally associated with frozen shoulder, suggesting that diabetes influences risk of the condition through glycemic rather than mechanical effects. We have identified genetic loci associated with frozen shoulder. There is a large overlap with Dupuytren's disease associated loci. Diabetes is a likely causal risk factor. Our results provide evidence of biological mechanisms involved in this common painful condition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009577DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8191964PMC
June 2021

Using Mendelian Randomisation methods to understand whether diurnal preference is causally related to mental health.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 Jun 8. Epub 2021 Jun 8.

Genetics of Complex Traits, The College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter, The RILD Building, RD&E Hospital, Exeter, UK.

Late diurnal preference has been linked to poorer mental health outcomes, but the understanding of the causal role of diurnal preference on mental health and wellbeing is currently limited. Late diurnal preference is often associated with circadian misalignment (a mismatch between the timing of the endogenous circadian system and behavioural rhythms), so that evening people live more frequently against their internal clock. This study aims to quantify the causal contribution of diurnal preference on mental health outcomes, including anxiety, depression and general wellbeing and test the hypothesis that more misaligned individuals have poorer mental health and wellbeing using an actigraphy-based measure of circadian misalignment. Multiple Mendelian Randomisation (MR) approaches were used to test causal pathways between diurnal preference and seven well-validated mental health and wellbeing outcomes in up to 451,025 individuals. In addition, observational analyses tested the association between a novel, objective measure of behavioural misalignment (Composite Phase Deviation, CPD) and seven mental health and wellbeing outcomes. Using genetic instruments identified in the largest GWAS for diurnal preference, we provide robust evidence that early diurnal preference is protective for depression and improves wellbeing. For example, using one-sample MR, a twofold higher genetic liability of morningness was associated with lower odds of depressive symptoms (OR: 0.92, 95% CI: 0.88, 0.97). It is possible that behavioural factors including circadian misalignment may contribute in the chronotype depression relationship, but further work is needed to confirm these findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-021-01157-3DOI Listing
June 2021

Genetic Evidence for Different Adiposity Phenotypes and Their Opposing Influences on Ectopic Fat and Risk of Cardiometabolic Disease.

Diabetes 2021 08 12;70(8):1843-1856. Epub 2021 May 12.

Genetics of Complex Traits, University of Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter, Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Exeter, U.K.

To understand the causal role of adiposity and ectopic fat in type 2 diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases, we aimed to identify two clusters of adiposity genetic variants: one with "adverse" metabolic effects (UFA) and the other with, paradoxically, "favorable" metabolic effects (FA). We performed a multivariate genome-wide association study using body fat percentage and metabolic biomarkers from UK Biobank and identified 38 UFA and 36 FA variants. Adiposity-increasing alleles were associated with an adverse metabolic profile, higher risk of disease, higher CRP, and higher fat in subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue, liver, and pancreas for UFA and a favorable metabolic profile, lower risk of disease, higher CRP and higher subcutaneous adipose tissue but lower liver fat for FA. We detected no sexual dimorphism. The Mendelian randomization studies provided evidence for a risk-increasing effect of UFA and protective effect of FA for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome. FA is distinct from UFA by its association with lower liver fat and protection from cardiometabolic diseases; it was not associated with visceral or pancreatic fat. Understanding the difference in FA and UFA may lead to new insights in preventing, predicting, and treating cardiometabolic diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/db21-0129DOI Listing
August 2021

Using genetic variants to evaluate the causal effect of cholesterol lowering on head and neck cancer risk: A Mendelian randomization study.

PLoS Genet 2021 04 22;17(4):e1009525. Epub 2021 Apr 22.

MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), which includes cancers of the oral cavity and oropharynx, is a cause of substantial global morbidity and mortality. Strategies to reduce disease burden include discovery of novel therapies and repurposing of existing drugs. Statins are commonly prescribed for lowering circulating cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR). Results from some observational studies suggest that statin use may reduce HNSCC risk. We appraised the relationship of genetically-proxied cholesterol-lowering drug targets and other circulating lipid traits with oral (OC) and oropharyngeal (OPC) cancer risk using two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR). For the primary analysis, germline genetic variants in HMGCR, NPC1L1, CETP, PCSK9 and LDLR were used to proxy the effect of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) lowering therapies. In secondary analyses, variants were used to proxy circulating levels of other lipid traits in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis of 188,578 individuals. Both primary and secondary analyses aimed to estimate the downstream causal effect of cholesterol lowering therapies on OC and OPC risk. The second sample for MR was taken from a GWAS of 6,034 OC and OPC cases and 6,585 controls (GAME-ON). Analyses were replicated in UK Biobank, using 839 OC and OPC cases and 372,016 controls and the results of the GAME-ON and UK Biobank analyses combined in a fixed-effects meta-analysis. We found limited evidence of a causal effect of genetically-proxied LDL-C lowering using HMGCR, NPC1L1, CETP or other circulating lipid traits on either OC or OPC risk. Genetically-proxied PCSK9 inhibition equivalent to a 1 mmol/L (38.7 mg/dL) reduction in LDL-C was associated with an increased risk of OC and OPC combined (OR 1.8 95%CI 1.2, 2.8, p = 9.31 x10-05), with good concordance between GAME-ON and UK Biobank (I2 = 22%). Effects for PCSK9 appeared stronger in relation to OPC (OR 2.6 95%CI 1.4, 4.9) than OC (OR 1.4 95%CI 0.8, 2.4). LDLR variants, resulting in genetically-proxied reduction in LDL-C equivalent to a 1 mmol/L (38.7 mg/dL), reduced the risk of OC and OPC combined (OR 0.7, 95%CI 0.5, 1.0, p = 0.006). A series of pleiotropy-robust and outlier detection methods showed that pleiotropy did not bias our findings. We found limited evidence for a role of cholesterol-lowering in OC and OPC risk, suggesting previous observational results may have been confounded. There was some evidence that genetically-proxied inhibition of PCSK9 increased risk, while lipid-lowering variants in LDLR, reduced risk of combined OC and OPC. This result suggests that the mechanisms of action of PCSK9 on OC and OPC risk may be independent of its cholesterol lowering effects; however, this was not supported uniformly across all sensitivity analyses and further replication of this finding is required.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009525DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8096036PMC
April 2021

Genetic predictors of participation in optional components of UK Biobank.

Nat Commun 2021 02 9;12(1):886. Epub 2021 Feb 9.

MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.

Large studies such as UK Biobank are increasingly used for GWAS and Mendelian randomization (MR) studies. However, selection into and dropout from studies may bias genetic and phenotypic associations. We examine genetic factors affecting participation in four optional components in up to 451,306 UK Biobank participants. We used GWAS to identify genetic variants associated with participation, MR to estimate effects of phenotypes on participation, and genetic correlations to compare participation bias across different studies. 32 variants were associated with participation in one of the optional components (P < 6 × 10), including loci with links to intelligence and Alzheimer's disease. Genetic correlations demonstrated that participation bias was common across studies. MR showed that longer educational duration, older menarche and taller stature increased participation, whilst higher levels of adiposity, dyslipidaemia, neuroticism, Alzheimer's and schizophrenia reduced participation. Our effect estimates can be used for sensitivity analysis to account for selective participation biases in genetic or non-genetic analyses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21073-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7873270PMC
February 2021

Genetically defined favourable adiposity is not associated with a clinically meaningful difference in clinical course in people with type 2 diabetes but does associate with a favourable metabolic profile.

Diabet Med 2021 Sep 11;38(9):e14531. Epub 2021 Feb 11.

Genetics of Complex Traits, University of Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter, RILD Level 3, Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Exeter, UK.

Aims: Change in weight, HbA , lipids, blood pressure and cardiometabolic events over time is variable in individuals with type 2 diabetes. We hypothesised that people with a genetic predisposition to a more favourable adiposity distribution could have a less severe clinical course/progression.

Methods: We involved people with type 2 diabetes from two UK-based cohorts: 11,914 individuals with GP follow-up data from the UK Biobank and 723 from Salford. We generated a 'favourable adiposity' genetic score and conducted cross-sectional and longitudinal studies to test its association with weight, BMI, lipids, blood pressure, medication use and risk of myocardial infarction and stroke using 15 follow-up time points with 1-year intervals.

Results: The 'favourable adiposity' genetic score was cross-sectionally associated with higher weight (effect size per 1 standard deviation higher genetic score: 0.91 kg [0.59,1.23]) and BMI (0.30 kg/m [0.19,0.40]), but higher high-density lipoprotein (0.02 mmol/L [0.01,0.02]) and lower triglycerides (-0.04 mmol/L [-0.07, -0.02]) in the UK Biobank at baseline, and this pattern of association was consistent across follow-up. There was a trend for participants with higher 'favourable adiposity' genetic score to have lower risk of myocardial infarction and/or stroke (odds ratio 0.79 [0.62, 1.00]) compared to those with lower score. A one standard deviation higher score was associated with lower odds of using lipid-lowering (0.91 [0.86, 0.97]) and anti-hypertensive medication (0.95 [0.91, 0.99]).

Conclusions: In individuals with type 2 diabetes, having more 'favourable adiposity' alleles is associated with a marginally better lipid profile long-term and having lower odds of requiring lipid-lowering or anti-hypertensive medication in spite of relatively higher adiposity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dme.14531DOI Listing
September 2021

A multivariable Mendelian randomization analysis investigating smoking and alcohol consumption in oral and oropharyngeal cancer.

Nat Commun 2020 11 27;11(1):6071. Epub 2020 Nov 27.

MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TL, UK.

The independent effects of smoking and alcohol in head and neck cancer are not clear, given the strong association between these risk factors. Their apparent synergistic effect reported in previous observational studies may also underestimate independent effects. Here we report multivariable Mendelian randomization performed in a two-sample approach using summary data on 6,034 oral/oropharyngeal cases and 6,585 controls from a recent genome-wide association study. Our results demonstrate strong evidence for an independent causal effect of smoking on oral/oropharyngeal cancer (IVW OR 2.6, 95% CI = 1.7, 3.9 per standard deviation increase in lifetime smoking behaviour) and an independent causal effect of alcohol consumption when controlling for smoking (IVW OR 2.1, 95% CI = 1.1, 3.8 per standard deviation increase in drinks consumed per week). This suggests the possibility that the causal effect of alcohol may have been underestimated. However, the extent to which alcohol is modified by smoking requires further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19822-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7695733PMC
November 2020

Is disrupted sleep a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease? Evidence from a two-sample Mendelian randomization analysis.

Int J Epidemiol 2021 07;50(3):817-828

MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, at the University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.

Background: It is established that Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients experience sleep disruption. However, it remains unknown whether disruption in the quantity, quality or timing of sleep is a risk factor for the onset of AD.

Methods: We used the largest published genome-wide association studies of self-reported and accelerometer-measured sleep traits (chronotype, duration, fragmentation, insomnia, daytime napping and daytime sleepiness), and AD. Mendelian randomization (MR) was used to estimate the causal effect of self-reported and accelerometer-measured sleep parameters on AD risk.

Results: Overall, there was little evidence to support a causal effect of sleep traits on AD risk. There was some suggestive evidence that self-reported daytime napping was associated with lower AD risk [odds ratio (OR): 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.50-0.99). Some other sleep traits (accelerometer-measured 'eveningness' and sleep duration, and self-reported daytime sleepiness) had ORs of a similar magnitude to daytime napping, but were less precisely estimated.

Conclusions: Overall, we found very limited evidence to support a causal effect of sleep traits on AD risk. Our findings provide tentative evidence that daytime napping may reduce AD risk. Given that this is the first MR study of multiple self-report and objective sleep traits on AD risk, findings should be replicated using independent samples when such data become available.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyaa183DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8271193PMC
July 2021

RETRACTION: Mendelian randomization supports a causative effect of TSH on thyroid carcinoma.

Endocr Relat Cancer 2020 11;27(11):Z1

Genetics of Complex Traits, Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/ERC-20-0067rDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8439130PMC
November 2020

IgA Nephropathy Genetic Risk Score to Estimate the Prevalence of IgA Nephropathy in UK Biobank.

Kidney Int Rep 2020 Oct 19;5(10):1643-1650. Epub 2020 Jul 19.

Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK.

Background: IgA nephropathy (IgAN) is the commonest glomerulonephritis worldwide. Its prevalence is difficult to estimate, as people with mild disease do not commonly receive a biopsy diagnosis. We aimed to generate an IgA nephropathy genetic risk score (IgAN-GRS) and estimate the proportion of people with hematuria who had IgAN in the UK Biobank (UKBB).

Methods: We calculated an IgAN-GRS using 14 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) drawn from the largest European Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) and validated the IgAN-GRS in 464 biopsy-proven IgAN European cases from the UK Glomerulonephritis DNA Bank (UKGDB) and in 379,767 Europeans in the UKBB. We used the mean of IgAN-GRS to calculate the proportion of potential IgAN in 14,181 with hematuria and other nonspecific renal phenotypes from 379,767 Europeans in the UKBB.

Results: The IgAN-GRS was higher in the IgAN cohort (4.30; 95% confidence interval [95% CI: 4.23-4.38) than in controls (3.98; 3.97-3.98;  < 0.0001). The mean GRS in UKBB participants with hematuria ( = 12,858) was higher (4.04; 4.02-4.06) than UKBB controls (3.98; 3.97-3.98;  < 0.0001) and higher in those with hematuria, hypertension, and microalbuminuria ( = 1323) (4.07; 4.02-4.13) versus (3.98; 3.97-3.98;  = 0.0003). Using the difference in these means, we estimated that IgAN accounted for 19% of noncancer hematuria and 28% with hematuria, hypertension, and microalbuminuria in UKBB.

Conclusions: We used an IgAN-GRS to estimate the prevalence of IgAN contributing to common phenotypes that are not always biopsied. The noninvasive use of polygenic risk in this setting may have further utility to identify likely etiology of nonspecific renal phenotypes in large population cohorts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ekir.2020.07.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7572308PMC
October 2020

The causal effects of health conditions and risk factors on social and socioeconomic outcomes: Mendelian randomization in UK Biobank.

Int J Epidemiol 2020 10;49(5):1661-1681

MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU), Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.

Background: We aimed to estimate the causal effect of health conditions and risk factors on social and socioeconomic outcomes in UK Biobank. Evidence on socioeconomic impacts is important to understand because it can help governments, policy makers and decision makers allocate resources efficiently and effectively.

Methods: We used Mendelian randomization to estimate the causal effects of eight health conditions (asthma, breast cancer, coronary heart disease, depression, eczema, migraine, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes) and five health risk factors [alcohol intake, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, smoking] on 19 social and socioeconomic outcomes in 336 997 men and women of White British ancestry in UK Biobank, aged between 39 and 72 years. Outcomes included annual household income, employment, deprivation [measured by the Townsend deprivation index (TDI)], degree-level education, happiness, loneliness and 13 other social and socioeconomic outcomes.

Results: Results suggested that BMI, smoking and alcohol intake affect many socioeconomic outcomes. For example, smoking was estimated to reduce household income [mean difference = -£22 838, 95% confidence interval (CI): -£31 354 to -£14 321] and the chance of owning accommodation [absolute percentage change (APC) = -20.8%, 95% CI: -28.2% to -13.4%], of being satisfied with health (APC = -35.4%, 95% CI: -51.2% to -19.5%) and of obtaining a university degree (APC = -65.9%, 95% CI: -81.4% to -50.4%), while also increasing deprivation (mean difference in TDI = 1.73, 95% CI: 1.02 to 2.44, approximately 216% of a decile of TDI). There was evidence that asthma decreased household income, the chance of obtaining a university degree and the chance of cohabiting, and migraine reduced the chance of having a weekly leisure or social activity, especially in men. For other associations, estimates were null.

Conclusions: Higher BMI, alcohol intake and smoking were all estimated to adversely affect multiple social and socioeconomic outcomes. Effects were not detected between health conditions and socioeconomic outcomes using Mendelian randomization, with the exceptions of depression, asthma and migraines. This may reflect true null associations, selection bias given the relative health and age of participants in UK Biobank, and/or lack of power to detect effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyaa114DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7746412PMC
October 2020

Mendelian randomization supports a causative effect of TSH on thyroid carcinoma.

Endocr Relat Cancer 2020 10;27(10):551-559

Genetics of Complex Traits, Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK.

Evidence from observational studies suggest a positive association between serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels and differentiated thyroid carcinoma. However, the cause-effect relationship is poorly understood and these studies are susceptible to bias and confounding. This study aimed to investigate the causal role of TSH in both benign thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer in up to 451,025 UK Biobank participants, using a genetic technique, known as Mendelian randomization (MR). Hospital Episode Statistics and Cancer Registry databases were used to identify 462 patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma and 2031 patients with benign nodular thyroid disease. MR methods using genetic variants associated with serum TSH were used to test causal relationships between TSH and the two disease outcomes. Mendelian randomization provided evidence of a causal link between TSH and both thyroid cancer and benign nodular thyroid disease. Two-sample MR suggested that a 1 s.d. higher genetically instrumented TSH (approximately 0.8 mIU/L) resulted in 4.96-fold higher odds of benign nodular disease (95% CI 2.46-9.99) and 2.00-fold higher odds of thyroid cancer (95% CI 1.09-3.70). Our results thus support a causal role for TSH in both benign nodular thyroid disease and thyroid cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/ERC-20-0067DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7497356PMC
October 2020

Genetic evidence that higher central adiposity causes gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: a Mendelian randomization study.

Int J Epidemiol 2020 08;49(4):1270-1281

Genetics of Complex Traits, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK.

Background: Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is associated with multiple risk factors but determining causality is difficult. We used a genetic approach [Mendelian randomization (MR)] to identify potential causal modifiable risk factors for GORD.

Methods: We used data from 451 097 European participants in the UK Biobank and defined GORD using hospital-defined ICD10 and OPCS4 codes and self-report data (N = 41 024 GORD cases). We tested observational and MR-based associations between GORD and four adiposity measures [body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio (WHR), a metabolically favourable higher body-fat percentage and waist circumference], smoking status, smoking frequency and caffeine consumption.

Results: Observationally, all adiposity measures were associated with higher odds of GORD. Ever and current smoking were associated with higher odds of GORD. Coffee consumption was associated with lower odds of GORD but, among coffee drinkers, more caffeinated-coffee consumption was associated with higher odds of GORD. Using MR, we provide strong evidence that higher WHR and higher WHR adjusted for BMI lead to GORD. There was weak evidence that higher BMI, body-fat percentage, coffee drinking or smoking caused GORD, but only the observational effects for BMI and body-fat percentage could be excluded. This MR estimated effect for WHR equates to a 1.23-fold higher odds of GORD per 5-cm increase in waist circumference.

Conclusions: These results provide strong evidence that a higher waist-hip ratio leads to GORD. Our study suggests that central fat distribution is crucial in causing GORD rather than overall weight.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyaa082DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7750946PMC
August 2020

Large Copy-Number Variants in UK Biobank Caused by Clonal Hematopoiesis May Confound Penetrance Estimates.

Am J Hum Genet 2020 08 22;107(2):325-329. Epub 2020 Jun 22.

Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, University of Exeter Medical School, RILD Building, Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Barrack Road, Exeter EX2 5DW, UK. Electronic address:

Large copy-number variants (CNVs) are strongly associated with both developmental delay and cancer, but the type of disease depends strongly on when and where the mutation occurred, i.e., germline versus somatic. We used microarray data from UK Biobank to investigate the prevalence and penetrance of large autosomal CNVs and chromosomal aneuploidies using a standard CNV detection algorithm not designed for detecting mosaic variants. We found 160 individuals that carry >10 Mb copy number changes, including 56 with whole chromosome aneuploidies. Nineteen (12%) individuals had a diagnosis of Down syndrome or other developmental disorder, while 84 (52.5%) individuals had a diagnosis of hematological malignancies or chronic myeloproliferative disorders. Notably, there was no evidence of mosaicism in the blood for many of these large CNVs, so they could easily be mistaken for germline alleles even when caused by somatic mutations. We therefore suggest that somatic mutations associated with blood cancers may result in false estimates of rare variant penetrance from population biobanks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2020.06.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413842PMC
August 2020

Clinical features and genetic risk of demyelination following anti-TNF treatment.

J Crohns Colitis 2020 Jun 4. Epub 2020 Jun 4.

IBD Pharmacogenetics Group, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.

Background: Anti-TNF exposure has been linked to demyelination events. We sought to describe the clinical features of demyelination events following anti-TNF treatment and test whether affected patients were genetically predisposed to multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods: We conducted a case-control study to describe the clinical features of demyelination events following anti-TNF. We compared genetic risk scores (GRS), calculated using carriage of 43 susceptibility loci for MS, in 48 cases to 1219 patients exposed to anti-TNF who did not develop demyelination.

Results: Overall, 39 (74%) cases were female. The median age (range) of patients at time of demyelination was 41.5 years (20.7 - 63.2). The median duration of anti-TNF treatment was 21.3 months (0.5 - 99.4) and 19 (36%) patients were receiving concomitant immunomodulators. Most patients had central demyelination affecting the brain, spinal cord or both. Complete recovery was reported in 12 (23%) patients after a median time of 6.8 months (0.1 - 28.7). After 33.0 months of follow-up partial recovery was observed in 29 (55%) patients, relapsing and remitting episodes in 9 (17%), progressive symptoms in 3 (6%): 2 (4%) patients were diagnosed with MS. There was no significant difference between MS GRS scores in cases (mean -3.5 x 10-4, SD 0.0039) and controls (mean -1.1×10-3, SD 0.0042) (p=0.23).

Conclusions: Patients who experienced demyelination events following anti-TNF were more likely female, less frequently treated with an immunomodulator, and had a similar genetic risk to anti-TNF exposed controls who did not. Large prospective studies with pre-treatment neuroimaging are required to identify genetic susceptibility loci.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjaa104DOI Listing
June 2020

Does Obesity Cause Thyroid Cancer? A Mendelian Randomization Study.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2020 07;105(7)

Genetics of Complex Traits, College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.

Background: The incidence of thyroid cancer is rising, and relatively little is known about modifiable risk factors for the condition. Observational studies have suggested a link between adiposity and thyroid cancer; however, these are subject to confounding and reverse causality. Here, we used data from the UK Biobank and Mendelian randomization approaches to investigate whether adiposity causes benign nodular thyroid disease and differentiated thyroid cancer.

Methods: We analyzed data from 379 708 unrelated participants of European ancestry in the UK Biobank and identified 1812 participants with benign nodular thyroid disease and 425 with differentiated thyroid carcinoma. We tested observational associations with measures of adiposity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. One and 2-sample Mendelian randomization approaches were used to investigate causal relationships.

Results: Observationally, there were positive associations between higher body mass index (odds ratio [OR], 1.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.08-1.22), higher waist-hip ratio (OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.09-1.23), and benign nodular thyroid disease, but not thyroid cancer. Mendelian randomization did not support a causal link for obesity with benign nodular thyroid disease or thyroid cancer, although it did provide some evidence that individuals in the highest quartile for genetic liability of type 2 diabetes had higher odds of thyroid cancer than those in the lowest quartile (OR, 1.45; CI, 1.11-1.90).

Conclusions: Contrary to the findings of observational studies, our results do not confirm a causal role for obesity in benign nodular thyroid disease or thyroid cancer. They do, however, suggest a link between type 2 diabetes and thyroid cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgaa250DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7274488PMC
July 2020

Using human genetics to understand the disease impacts of testosterone in men and women.

Nat Med 2020 02 10;26(2):252-258. Epub 2020 Feb 10.

Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Testosterone supplementation is commonly used for its effects on sexual function, bone health and body composition, yet its effects on disease outcomes are unknown. To better understand this, we identified genetic determinants of testosterone levels and related sex hormone traits in 425,097 UK Biobank study participants. Using 2,571 genome-wide significant associations, we demonstrate that the genetic determinants of testosterone levels are substantially different between sexes and that genetically higher testosterone is harmful for metabolic diseases in women but beneficial in men. For example, a genetically determined 1 s.d. higher testosterone increases the risks of type 2 diabetes (odds ratio (OR) = 1.37 (95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.22-1.53)) and polycystic ovary syndrome (OR = 1.51 (95% CI: 1.33-1.72)) in women, but reduces type 2 diabetes risk in men (OR = 0.86 (95% CI: 0.76-0.98)). We also show adverse effects of higher testosterone on breast and endometrial cancers in women and prostate cancer in men. Our findings provide insights into the disease impacts of testosterone and highlight the importance of sex-specific genetic analyses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-0751-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7025895PMC
February 2020

A Mendelian Randomization Study Provides Evidence That Adiposity and Dyslipidemia Lead to Lower Urinary Albumin-to-Creatinine Ratio, a Marker of Microvascular Function.

Diabetes 2020 05 8;69(5):1072-1082. Epub 2020 Jan 8.

Genetics of Complex Traits, Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, U.K.

Urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) is a marker of diabetic nephropathy and microvascular damage. Metabolic-related traits are observationally associated with ACR, but their causal role is uncertain. Here, we confirmed ACR as a marker of microvascular damage and tested whether metabolic-related traits have causal relationships with ACR. The association between ACR and microvascular function (responses to acetylcholine [ACH] and sodium nitroprusside) was tested in the SUMMIT study. Two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) was used to infer the causal effects of 11 metabolic risk factors, including glycemic, lipid, and adiposity traits, on ACR. MR was performed in up to 440,000 UK Biobank and 54,451 CKDGen participants. ACR was robustly associated with microvascular function measures in SUMMIT. Using MR, we inferred that higher triglyceride (TG) and LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) levels caused elevated ACR. A 1 SD higher TG and LDL-C level caused a 0.062 (95% CI 0.040, 0.083) and a 0.026 (95% CI 0.008, 0.044) SD higher ACR, respectively. There was evidence that higher body fat and visceral body fat distribution caused elevated ACR, while a metabolically "favorable adiposity" phenotype lowered ACR. ACR is a valid marker for microvascular function. MR suggested that seven traits have causal effects on ACR, highlighting the role of adiposity-related traits in causing lower microvascular function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/db19-0862DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7611011PMC
May 2020

Effects of body mass index on relationship status, social contact and socio-economic position: Mendelian randomization and within-sibling study in UK Biobank.

Int J Epidemiol 2020 08;49(4):1173-1184

Genetics of Complex Traits, University of Exeter Medical School, RILD Level 3, Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Exeter, UK.

Background: We assessed whether body mass index (BMI) affects social and socio-economic outcomes.

Methods: We used Mendelian randomization (MR), non-linear MR and non-genetic and MR within-sibling analyses, to estimate relationships of BMI with six socio-economic and four social outcomes in 378 244 people of European ancestry in UK Biobank.

Results: In MR of minimally related individuals, higher BMI was related to higher deprivation, lower income, fewer years of education, lower odds of degree-level education and skilled employment. Non-linear MR suggested both low (bottom decile, <22 kg/m2) and high (top seven deciles, >24.6 kg/m2) BMI, increased deprivation and reduced income. Non-genetic within-sibling analysis supported an effect of BMI on socio-economic position (SEP); precision in within-sibling MR was too low to draw inference about effects of BMI on SEP. There was some evidence of pleiotropy, with MR Egger suggesting limited effects of BMI on deprivation, although precision of these estimates is also low. Non-linear MR suggested that low BMI (bottom three deciles, <23.5 kg/m2) reduces the odds of cohabiting with a partner or spouse in men, whereas high BMI (top two deciles, >30.7 kg/m2) reduces the odds of cohabitation in women. Both non-genetic and MR within-sibling analyses supported this sex-specific effect of BMI on cohabitation. In men only, higher BMI was related to lower participation in leisure and social activities. There was little evidence that BMI affects visits from friends and family or having someone to confide in.

Conclusions: BMI may affect social and socio-economic outcomes, with both high and low BMI being detrimental for SEP, although larger within-family MR studies may help to test the robustness of MR results in unrelated individuals. Triangulation of evidence across MR and within-family analyses supports evidence of a sex-specific effect of BMI on cohabitation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyz240DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7750981PMC
August 2020

A genome-wide association study implicates multiple mechanisms influencing raised urinary albumin-creatinine ratio.

Hum Mol Genet 2019 12;28(24):4197-4207

Genetics of Complex Traits, College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.

Raised albumin-creatinine ratio (ACR) is an indicator of microvascular damage and renal disease. We aimed to identify genetic variants associated with raised ACR and study the implications of carrying multiple ACR-raising alleles with metabolic and vascular-related disease. We performed a genome-wide association study of ACR using 437 027 individuals from the UK Biobank in the discovery phase, 54 527 more than previous studies, and followed up our findings in independent studies. We identified 62 independent associations with ACR across 56 loci (P < 5 × 10-8), of which 20 were not previously reported. Pathway analyses and the identification of 20 of the 62 variants (at r2 > 0.8) coinciding with signals for at least 16 related metabolic and vascular traits, suggested multiple pathways leading to raised ACR levels. After excluding variants at the CUBN locus, known to alter ACR via effects on renal absorption, an ACR genetic risk score was associated with a higher risk of hypertension, and less strongly, type 2 diabetes and stroke. For some rare genotype combinations at the CUBN locus, most individuals had ACR levels above the microalbuminuria clinical threshold. Contrary to our hypothesis, individuals carrying more CUBN ACR-raising alleles, and above the clinical threshold, had a higher frequency of vascular disease. The CUBN allele effects on ACR were twice as strong in people with diabetes-a result robust to an optimization-algorithm approach to simulating interactions, validating previously reported gene-diabetes interactions (P ≤ 4 × 10-5). In conclusion, a variety of genetic mechanisms and traits contribute to variation in ACR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddz243DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7246045PMC
December 2019

Genome-wide association analysis of self-reported daytime sleepiness identifies 42 loci that suggest biological subtypes.

Nat Commun 2019 08 13;10(1):3503. Epub 2019 Aug 13.

Institute for Molecular Medicine FIMM, HiLIFE, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) affects 10-20% of the population and is associated with substantial functional deficits. Here, we identify 42 loci for self-reported daytime sleepiness in GWAS of 452,071 individuals from the UK Biobank, with enrichment for genes expressed in brain tissues and in neuronal transmission pathways. We confirm the aggregate effect of a genetic risk score of 42 SNPs on daytime sleepiness in independent Scandinavian cohorts and on other sleep disorders (restless legs syndrome, insomnia) and sleep traits (duration, chronotype, accelerometer-derived sleep efficiency and daytime naps or inactivity). However, individual daytime sleepiness signals vary in their associations with objective short vs long sleep, and with markers of sleep continuity. The 42 sleepiness variants primarily cluster into two predominant composite biological subtypes - sleep propensity and sleep fragmentation. Shared genetic links are also seen with obesity, coronary heart disease, psychiatric diseases, cognitive traits and reproductive ageing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11456-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6692391PMC
August 2019

Association of maternal circulating 25(OH)D and calcium with birth weight: A mendelian randomisation analysis.

PLoS Med 2019 06 18;16(6):e1002828. Epub 2019 Jun 18.

MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.

Background: Systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have suggested that maternal vitamin D (25[OH]D) and calcium supplementation increase birth weight. However, limitations of many trials were highlighted in the reviews. Our aim was to combine genetic and RCT data to estimate causal effects of these two maternal traits on offspring birth weight.

Methods And Findings: We performed two-sample mendelian randomisation (MR) using genetic instrumental variables associated with 25(OH)D and calcium that had been identified in genome-wide association studies (GWAS; sample 1; N = 122,123 for 25[OH]D and N = 61,275 for calcium). Associations between these maternal genetic variants and offspring birth weight were calculated in the UK Biobank (UKB) (sample 2; N = 190,406). We used data on mother-child pairs from two United Kingdom birth cohorts (combined N = 5,223) in sensitivity analyses to check whether results were influenced by fetal genotype, which is correlated with the maternal genotype (r ≈ 0.5). Further sensitivity analyses to test the reliability of the results included MR-Egger, weighted-median estimator, 'leave-one-out', and multivariable MR analyses. We triangulated MR results with those from RCTs, in which we used randomisation to supplementation with vitamin D (24 RCTs, combined N = 5,276) and calcium (6 RCTs, combined N = 543) as an instrumental variable to determine the effects of 25(OH)D and calcium on birth weight. In the main MR analysis, there was no strong evidence of an effect of maternal 25(OH)D on birth weight (difference in mean birth weight -0.03 g [95% CI -2.48 to 2.42 g, p = 0.981] per 10% higher maternal 25[OH]D). The effect estimate was consistent across our MR sensitivity analyses. Instrumental variable analyses applied to RCTs suggested a weak positive causal effect (5.94 g [95% CI 2.15-9.73, p = 0.002] per 10% higher maternal 25[OH]D), but this result may be exaggerated because of risk of bias in the included RCTs. The main MR analysis for maternal calcium also suggested no strong evidence of an effect on birth weight (-20 g [95% CI -44 to 5 g, p = 0.116] per 1 SD higher maternal calcium level). Some sensitivity analyses suggested that the genetic instrument for calcium was associated with birth weight via exposures that are independent of calcium levels (horizontal pleiotropy). Application of instrumental variable analyses to RCTs suggested that calcium has a substantial effect on birth weight (178 g [95% CI 121-236 g, p = 1.43 × 10-9] per 1 SD higher maternal calcium level) that was not consistent with any of the MR results. However, the RCT instrumental variable estimate may have been exaggerated because of risk of bias in the included RCTs. Other study limitations include the low response rate of UK Biobank, which may bias MR estimates, and the lack of suitable data to test whether the effects of genetic instruments on maternal calcium levels during pregnancy were the same as those outside of pregnancy.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that maternal circulating 25(OH)D does not influence birth weight in otherwise healthy newborns. However, the effect of maternal circulating calcium on birth weight is unclear and requires further exploration with more research including RCT and/or MR analyses with more valid instruments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002828DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6581250PMC
June 2019

Genome-Wide Association Study of Microscopic Colitis in the UK Biobank Confirms Immune-Related Pathogenesis.

J Crohns Colitis 2019 Dec;13(12):1578-1582

Genetics of Complex Traits, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK.

Background And Aims: The causes of microscopic colitis are currently poorly understood. Previous reports have found clinical associations with coeliac disease and genetic associations at the human leukocyte antigen [HLA] locus on the ancestral 8.1 haplotype. We investigated pharmacological and genetic factors associated with microscopic colitis in the UK Biobank.

Methods: In total, 483 European UK Biobank participants were identified by ICD10 coding, and a genome-wide association study was performed using BOLT-LMM, with a sensitivity analysis performed excluding potential confounders. The HLA*IMP:02 algorithm was used to estimate allele frequency at 11 classical HLA genes, and downstream analysis was performed using FUMA. Genetic overlap with inflammatory bowel disease [Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis] was investigated using genetic risk scores.

Results: We found significant phenotypic associations with smoking status, coeliac disease and the use of proton-pump inhibitors but not with other commonly reported pharmacological risk factors. Using the largest sample size to date, we confirmed a recently reported association with the MHC Ancestral 8.1 Haplotype. Downstream analysis suggests association with digestive tract morphogenesis. By calculating genetic risk scores, we also report suggestive evidence of shared genetic risk with Crohn's disease, but not with ulcerative colitis.

Conclusions: This report confirms the role of genetic determinants in the HLA in the pathogenesis of microscopic colitis. The genetic overlap with Crohn's disease suggests a common underlying mechanism of disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjz104DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6903793PMC
December 2019

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

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

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

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

Genetic studies of accelerometer-based sleep measures yield new insights into human sleep behaviour.

Nat Commun 2019 04 5;10(1):1585. Epub 2019 Apr 5.

Genetics of Complex Traits, College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX2 5DW, UK.

Sleep is an essential human function but its regulation is poorly understood. Using accelerometer data from 85,670 UK Biobank participants, we perform a genome-wide association study of 8 derived sleep traits representing sleep quality, quantity and timing, and validate our findings in 5,819 individuals. We identify 47 genetic associations at P < 5 × 10, of which 20 reach a stricter threshold of P < 8 × 10. These include 26 novel associations with measures of sleep quality and 10 with nocturnal sleep duration. The majority of identified variants associate with a single sleep trait, except for variants previously associated with restless legs syndrome. For sleep duration we identify a missense variant (p.Tyr727Cys) in PDE11A as the likely causal variant. As a group, sleep quality loci are enriched for serotonin processing genes. Although accelerometer-derived measures of sleep are imperfect and may be affected by restless legs syndrome, these findings provide new biological insights into sleep compared to previous efforts based on self-report sleep measures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09576-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451011PMC
April 2019

Genome-wide association study identifies genetic loci for self-reported habitual sleep duration supported by accelerometer-derived estimates.

Nat Commun 2019 03 7;10(1):1100. Epub 2019 Mar 7.

Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Gastroenterology, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK.

Sleep is an essential state of decreased activity and alertness but molecular factors regulating sleep duration remain unknown. Through genome-wide association analysis in 446,118 adults of European ancestry from the UK Biobank, we identify 78 loci for self-reported habitual sleep duration (p < 5 × 10; 43 loci at p < 6 × 10). Replication is observed for PAX8, VRK2, and FBXL12/UBL5/PIN1 loci in the CHARGE study (n = 47,180; p < 6.3 × 10), and 55 signals show sign-concordant effects. The 78 loci further associate with accelerometer-derived sleep duration, daytime inactivity, sleep efficiency and number of sleep bouts in secondary analysis (n = 85,499). Loci are enriched for pathways including striatum and subpallium development, mechanosensory response, dopamine binding, synaptic neurotransmission and plasticity, among others. Genetic correlation indicates shared links with anthropometric, cognitive, metabolic, and psychiatric traits and two-sample Mendelian randomization highlights a bidirectional causal link with schizophrenia. This work provides insights into the genetic basis for inter-individual variation in sleep duration implicating multiple biological pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-08917-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6405943PMC
March 2019

Biological and clinical insights from genetics of insomnia symptoms.

Nat Genet 2019 03 25;51(3):387-393. Epub 2019 Feb 25.

K.G. Jebsen Centre for Genetic Epidemiology, Department of Public Health and Nursing, NTNU, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

Insomnia is a common disorder linked with adverse long-term medical and psychiatric outcomes. The underlying pathophysiological processes and causal relationships of insomnia with disease are poorly understood. Here we identified 57 loci for self-reported insomnia symptoms in the UK Biobank (n = 453,379) and confirmed their effects on self-reported insomnia symptoms in the HUNT Study (n = 14,923 cases and 47,610 controls), physician-diagnosed insomnia in the Partners Biobank (n = 2,217 cases and 14,240 controls), and accelerometer-derived measures of sleep efficiency and sleep duration in the UK Biobank (n = 83,726). Our results suggest enrichment of genes involved in ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis and of genes expressed in multiple brain regions, skeletal muscle, and adrenal glands. Evidence of shared genetic factors was found between frequent insomnia symptoms and restless legs syndrome, aging, and cardiometabolic, behavioral, psychiatric, and reproductive traits. Evidence was found for a possible causal link between insomnia symptoms and coronary artery disease, depressive symptoms, and subjective well-being.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0361-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6415688PMC
March 2019
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