Publications by authors named "Marianne Nygaard"

46 Publications

Age patterns of intra-pair DNA methylation discordance in twins: Sex difference in epigenomic instability and implication on survival.

Aging Cell 2021 Sep 24;20(9):e13460. Epub 2021 Aug 24.

Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Aging is a biological process linked to specific patterns and changes in the epigenome. We hypothesize that age-related variation in the DNA methylome could reflect cumulative environmental modulation to the epigenome which could impact epigenomic instability and survival differentially by sex. To test the hypothesis, we performed sex-stratified epigenome-wide association studies on age-related intra-pair DNA methylation discordance in 492 twins aged 56-80 years. We identified 3084 CpGs showing increased methylation variability with age (FDR < 0.05, 7 CpGs with p < 1e-07) in male twins but no significant site found in female twins. The results were replicated in an independent cohort of 292 twins aged 30-74 years with 37% of the discovery CpGs successfully replicated in male twins. Functional annotation showed that genes linked to the identified CpGs were significantly enriched in signaling pathways, neurological functions, extracellular matrix assembly, and cancer. We further explored the implication of discovery CpGs on individual survival in an old cohort of 224 twins (220 deceased). In total, 264 CpGs displayed significant association with risk of death in male twins. In female twins, 175 of the male discovery CpGs also showed non-random correlation with mortality. Intra-pair comparison showed that majority of the discovery CpGs have higher methylation in the longer-lived twins suggesting that loss of DNA methylation during aging contributes to increased risk of death which is more pronounced in male twins. In conclusion, age-related epigenomic instability in the DNA methylome is more evident in males than in females and could impact individual survival and contribute to sex difference in human lifespan.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acel.13460DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8441297PMC
September 2021

Toll-like receptor 4 methylation grade is linked to depressive symptom severity.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 06 24;11(1):371. Epub 2021 Jun 24.

Department of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Uppsala University, Uppsala University Hospital, Entrance 10, Floor 3B, 751 85, Uppsala, Sweden.

This study explores potential associations between the methylation of promoter-associated CpG sites of the toll-like receptor (TLR)-family, plasma levels of pro-inflammatory proteins and depressive symptoms in young female psychiatric patients. Ratings of depressive symptoms and blood samples were obtained from 92 young women seeking psychiatric care. Methylation of 32 promoter-associated CpG sites in TLR1 to TLR10 was analysed using the Illumina Infinium Methylation EPIC BeadChip. Expression levels of 91 inflammatory proteins were determined by proximity extension assay. Statistical correlations between depressive state, TLR1-10 methylation and inflammatory proteins were investigated. Four additional cohorts were studied to evaluate the generalizability of the findings. In the discovery cohort, methylation grade of cg05429895 (TLR4) in blood was inversely correlated with depressive symptoms score in young adults. After correction for multiple testing, plasma levels of macrophage inflammatory protein 1β (MIP-1β/CCL4) were associated with both TLR4 methylation and depressive symptom severity. A similar inverse association between TLR4 methylation in blood and affective symptoms score was also found in a cohort of 148 both males and females (<40 years of age) from the Danish Twin Registry. These findings were not, however, replicated in three other external cohorts; which differed from the first two cohorts by a higher age and mixed ethnicities, thus limiting the generalizability of our findings. However, TLR4 methylation inversely correlated with TLR4 mRNA expression in the Danish Twin Study indicating a functional significance of methylation at this particular CpG. Higher depression scores in young Scandinavian adults was associated with decreased methylation of TLR4 in blood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01481-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8257733PMC
June 2021

Genome-wide association studies identify 137 genetic loci for DNA methylation biomarkers of aging.

Genome Biol 2021 06 29;22(1):194. Epub 2021 Jun 29.

Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine, McGovern Medical School, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX, USA.

Background: Biological aging estimators derived from DNA methylation data are heritable and correlate with morbidity and mortality. Consequently, identification of genetic and environmental contributors to the variation in these measures in populations has become a major goal in the field.

Results: Leveraging DNA methylation and SNP data from more than 40,000 individuals, we identify 137 genome-wide significant loci, of which 113 are novel, from genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analyses of four epigenetic clocks and epigenetic surrogate markers for granulocyte proportions and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 levels, respectively. We find evidence for shared genetic loci associated with the Horvath clock and expression of transcripts encoding genes linked to lipid metabolism and immune function. Notably, these loci are independent of those reported to regulate DNA methylation levels at constituent clock CpGs. A polygenic score for GrimAge acceleration showed strong associations with adiposity-related traits, educational attainment, parental longevity, and C-reactive protein levels.

Conclusion: This study illuminates the genetic architecture underlying epigenetic aging and its shared genetic contributions with lifestyle factors and longevity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13059-021-02398-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8243879PMC
June 2021

Genetic meta-analysis of twin birth weight shows high genetic correlation with singleton birth weight.

Hum Mol Genet 2021 Sep;30(19):1894-1905

Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Birth weight (BW) is an important predictor of newborn survival and health and has associations with many adult health outcomes, including cardiometabolic disorders, autoimmune diseases and mental health. On average, twins have a lower BW than singletons as a result of a different pattern of fetal growth and shorter gestational duration. Therefore, investigations into the genetics of BW often exclude data from twins, leading to a reduction in sample size and remaining ambiguities concerning the genetic contribution to BW in twins. In this study, we carried out a genome-wide association meta-analysis of BW in 42 212 twin individuals and found a positive correlation of beta values (Pearson's r = 0.66, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.47-0.77) with 150 previously reported genome-wide significant variants for singleton BW. We identified strong positive genetic correlations between BW in twins and numerous anthropometric traits, most notably with BW in singletons (genetic correlation [rg] = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.66-1.18). Genetic correlations of BW in twins with a series of health-related traits closely resembled those previously observed for BW in singletons. Polygenic scores constructed from a genome-wide association study on BW in the UK Biobank demonstrated strong predictive power in a target sample of Dutch twins and singletons. Together, our results indicate that a similar genetic architecture underlies BW in twins and singletons and that future genome-wide studies might benefit from including data from large twin registers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddab121DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8444448PMC
September 2021

Skewness of X-chromosome inactivation increases with age and varies across birth cohorts in elderly Danish women.

Sci Rep 2021 Feb 22;11(1):4326. Epub 2021 Feb 22.

Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, the Danish Twin Registry, and the Danish Aging Research Center, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winsløws Vej 9, 5000, Odense C, Denmark.

Mosaicism in blood varies with age, and cross-sectional studies indicate that for women, skewness of X-chromosomal mosaicism increases with age. This pattern could, however, also be due to less X-inactivation in more recent birth cohorts. Skewed X-chromosome inactivation was here measured longitudinally by the HUMARA assay in 67 septuagenarian and octogenarian women assessed at 2 time points, 10 years apart, and in 10 centenarian women assessed at 2 time points, 2-7 years apart. Skewed X-chromosome inactivation was also compared in 293 age-matched septuagenarian twins born in 1917-1923 and 1931-1937, and 212 centenarians born in 1895, 1905 and 1915. The longitudinal study of septuagenarians and octogenarians revealed that 16% (95% CI 7-29%) of the women developed skewed X-inactivation over a 10-year period. In the cross-sectional across-birth cohort study, the earlier-born septuagenarian (1917-1923) and centenarian women (1895) had a higher degree of skewness than the respective recent age-matched birth cohorts, which indicates that the women in the more recent cohorts, after the age of 70, had not only changed degree of skewness with age, they had also undergone less age-related hematopoietic sub-clone expansion. This may be a result of improved living conditions and better medical treatment in the more recent birth cohorts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-83702-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7900237PMC
February 2021

Genome-wide association analysis of cognitive function in Danish long-lived individuals.

Mech Ageing Dev 2021 04 16;195:111463. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

The Danish Twin Registry and The Danish Aging Research Center, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winsloews Vej 9B, 5000 Odense C, Denmark; Department of Clinical Genetics, Odense University Hospital, J.B. Winsloews Vej 4, 5000 Odense C, Denmark.

Cognitive function is a substantially heritable trait related to numerous important life outcomes. Several genome-wide association studies of cognitive function have in recent years led to the identification of thousands of significantly associated loci and genes. Individuals included in these studies have rarely been nonagenarians and centenarians, and since cognitive function is an important component of quality of life for this rapidly expanding demographic group, there is a need to explore genetic factors associated with individual differences in cognitive function at advanced ages. In this study, we pursued this by performing a genome-wide association study of cognitive function in 490 long-lived Danes (age range 90.1-100.8 years). While no genome-wide significant SNPs were identified, suggestively significant SNPs (P < 1 × 10) were mapped to several interesting genes, including ZWINT, CELF2, and DNAH5, and the glutamate receptor genes GRID2 and GRM7. Additionally, results from a gene set over-representation analysis indicated potential roles of gene sets related to G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling, interaction between L1 and ankyrins, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, RNA degradation, and cell cycle. Larger studies are needed to shed further light on the possible importance of these suggestive genes and pathways in cognitive function in nonagenarians and centenarians.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mad.2021.111463DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8035220PMC
April 2021

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Semantic Verbal Fluency Across Midlife and Later Life.

Behav Genet 2021 03 6;51(2):99-109. Epub 2021 Feb 6.

Department of Psychiatry and Center for Behavior Genetics of Aging, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA.

Despite the relevance of semantic fluency measures to risk for dementia and psychiatric disorders, little is known about their genetic and environmental architecture in mid-to-late life. Participants represent 21,684 middle-aged and older adult twins (M = 60.84 years, SD = 11.21; Range 40-89) from six studies from three countries participating in the Interplay of Genes and Environment across Multiple Studies (IGEMS) consortium. All completed the same measure of semantic fluency (naming animals in 60 seconds). Results revealed small-to-moderate phenotypic associations with age and education, with education more strongly and positively associated with fluency performance in females than males. Heritability and environmental influences did not vary by age. Environmental variance was smaller with higher levels of education, but this effect was observed only in males. This is the largest study to examine the genetic and environmental architecture of semantic fluency, and the first to demonstrate that environmental influences vary based on levels of education.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10519-021-10048-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7933104PMC
March 2021

Exome-Wide Association Study Identifies FN3KRP and PGP as New Candidate Longevity Genes.

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2021 04;76(5):786-795

Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel University, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

Despite enormous research efforts, the genetic component of longevity has remained largely elusive. The investigation of common variants, mainly located in intronic or regulatory regions, has yielded only little new information on the heritability of the phenotype. Here, we performed a chip-based exome-wide association study investigating 62 488 common and rare coding variants in 1248 German long-lived individuals, including 599 centenarians and 6941 younger controls (age < 60 years). In a single-variant analysis, we observed an exome-wide significant association between rs1046896 in the gene fructosamine-3-kinase-related-protein (FN3KRP) and longevity. Noteworthy, we found the longevity allele C of rs1046896 to be associated with an increased FN3KRP expression in whole blood; a database look-up confirmed this effect for various other human tissues. A gene-based analysis, in which potential cumulative effects of common and rare variants were considered, yielded the gene phosphoglycolate phosphatase (PGP) as another potential longevity gene, though no single variant in PGP reached the discovery p-value (1 × 10E-04). Furthermore, we validated the previously reported longevity locus cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2B antisense RNA 1 (CDKN2B-AS1). Replication of our results in a French longevity cohort was only successful for rs1063192 in CDKN2B-AS1. In conclusion, we identified 2 new potential candidate longevity genes, FN3KRP and PGP which may influence the phenotype through their role in metabolic processes, that is, the reverse glycation of proteins (FN3KRP) and the control of glycerol-3-phosphate levels (PGP).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glab023DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8087267PMC
April 2021

Generalized correlation coefficient for genome-wide association analysis of cognitive ability in twins.

Aging (Albany NY) 2020 11 24;12(22):22457-22494. Epub 2020 Nov 24.

Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Despite a strong genetic background in cognitive function only a limited number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been found in genome-wide association studies (GWASs). We hypothesize that this is partially due to mis-specified modeling concerning phenotype distribution as well as the relationship between SNP dosage and the level of the phenotype. To overcome these issues, we introduced an assumption-free method based on generalized correlation coefficient (GCC) in a GWAS of cognitive function in Danish and Chinese twins to compare its performance with traditional linear models. The GCC-based GWAS identified two significant SNPs in Danish samples (rs71419535, p 1.47e-08; rs905838, p = 1.69e-08) and two significant SNPs in Chinese samples (rs2292999, p = 9.27e-10; rs17019635, p = 2.50e-09). In contrast, linear models failed to detect any genome-wide significant SNPs. The number of top significant genes overlapping between the two samples in the GCC-based GWAS was higher than when applying linear models. The GCC model identified significant genetic variants missed by conventional linear models, with more replicated genes and biological pathways related to cognitive function. Moreover, the GCC-based GWAS was robust in handling correlated samples like twin pairs. GCC is a useful statistical method for GWAS that complements traditional linear models for capturing genetic effects beyond the additive assumption.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/aging.104198DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7746382PMC
November 2020

A Genome-Wide Integrative Association Study of DNA Methylation and Gene Expression Data and Later Life Cognitive Functioning in Monozygotic Twins.

Front Neurosci 2020 9;14:233. Epub 2020 Apr 9.

Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Monozygotic twins are genetically identical but rarely phenotypically identical. Epigenetic and transcriptional variation could influence this phenotypic discordance. Investigation of intra-pair differences in molecular markers and a given phenotype in monozygotic twins controls most of the genetic contribution, enabling studies of the molecular features of the phenotype. This study aimed to identify genes associated with cognition in later life using integrated enrichment analyses of the results of blood-derived intra-pair epigenome-wide and transcriptome-wide association analyses of cognition in 452 middle-aged and old-aged monozygotic twins (56-80 years). Integrated analyses were performed with an unsupervised approach using KeyPathwayMiner, and a supervised approach using the KEGG and Reactome databases. The supervised approach identified several enriched gene sets, including "neuroactive ligand receptor interaction" (-value = 1.6210-2), "Neurotrophin signaling" (-value = 2.5210-3), "Alzheimer's disease" (-value = 1.2010-2), and "long-term depression" (-value = 1.6210-2). The unsupervised approach resulted in a 238 gene network, including the Alzheimer's disease gene (Amyloid Beta Precursor Protein) as an exception node, and several novel candidate genes. The strength of the unsupervised method is that it can reveal previously uncharacterized sub-pathways and detect interplay between biological processes, which remain undetected by the current supervised methods. In conclusion, this study identified several previously reported cognition genes and pathways and, additionally, puts forward novel candidates for further verification and validation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2020.00233DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7160301PMC
April 2020

DNA methylation QTL analysis identifies new regulators of human longevity.

Hum Mol Genet 2020 05;29(7):1154-1167

Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel University, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, D-24105 Kiel, Germany.

Human longevity is a complex trait influenced by both genetic and environmental factors, whose interaction is mediated by epigenetic mechanisms like DNA methylation. Here, we generated genome-wide whole-blood methylome data from 267 individuals, of which 71 were long-lived (90-104 years), by applying reduced representation bisulfite sequencing. We followed a stringent two-stage analysis procedure using discovery and replication samples to detect differentially methylated sites (DMSs) between young and long-lived study participants. Additionally, we performed a DNA methylation quantitative trait loci analysis to identify DMSs that underlie the longevity phenotype. We combined the DMSs results with gene expression data as an indicator of functional relevance. This approach yielded 21 new candidate genes, the majority of which are involved in neurophysiological processes or cancer. Notably, two candidates (PVRL2, ERCC1) are located on chromosome 19q, in close proximity to the well-known longevity- and Alzheimer's disease-associated loci APOE and TOMM40. We propose this region as a longevity hub, operating on both a genetic (APOE, TOMM40) and an epigenetic (PVRL2, ERCC1) level. We hypothesize that the heritable methylation and associated gene expression changes reported here are overall advantageous for the LLI and may prevent/postpone age-related diseases and facilitate survival into very old age.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddaa033DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7206852PMC
May 2020

Cohort Differences in the Associations of Selected Candidate Genes With Risk of All-Cause Mortality at Advanced Ages.

Am J Epidemiol 2020 07;189(7):708-716

Considerable efforts have been made to identify the genetic basis of human longevity, with only limited progress. One important drawback of current genetic studies is the limited knowledge of gene-environment interaction. Using 2 cohorts of long-lived individuals born in 1905 and 1915 in Denmark, we performed survival analysis to estimate risk of mortality for major candidate genes of aging and longevity and their cohort effects. Through statistical modeling that combines individual genetic and survival information with cohort-specific survival data, we estimated the relative risks of mortality from ages 95 to 103 years associated with genetic variants in apolipoprotein E (APOE), forkhead box class O3a, clusterin, and phosphatidylinositol binding clathrin assembly protein. Our analysis estimated a decreased risk of carrying the APOE$\varepsilon $4 allele (change in risk = -0.403, 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.831, 0.021; P = 0.040) in men of the later cohort, although the allele itself was harmful to survival across sexes (relative risk = 1.161, 95% CI: 1.027, 1.345; P = 0.026). We also estimated a cohort effect of increased risk for the minor allele of rs3851179 in phosphatidylinositol binding clathrin assembly protein with borderline significance (change in risk = 0.165, 95% CI: -0.010, 0.331; P = 0.052) in women. Our estimated significant cohort effect on APOE$\varepsilon $4 is indicative of the interplay between the gene and the changing environment that modulates survival at extreme ages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwaa007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7393313PMC
July 2020

Global expression profiling of cognitive level and decline in middle-aged monozygotic twins.

Neurobiol Aging 2019 12 26;84:141-147. Epub 2019 Aug 26.

The Danish Twin Registry and The Danish Aging Research Center, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense C, Denmark; Department of Clinical Immunology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen OE, Denmark.

Only few studies have investigated the genomewide transcriptome of normative cognitive aging. We therefore aimed at investigating blood gene expression patterns associated with cognitive aging using a population-based sample of 235 middle-aged monozygotic twin pairs with longitudinal data on cognitive function. This unique setup enabled examination of gene expression differences associated with individual and intrapair differences in cognitive level and change while controlling for underlying genetic variation and shared early environment. Overall, increased expression of several gene sets was found to strongly correlate with a lower cognitive level and cognitive decline. The most significantly correlated gene sets were related to protein metabolism, translation, RNA metabolism, infectious disease, and the immune system, which are all processes previously linked to transcription signatures of pathological and normal brain aging, and aging in blood. The results of our study thus suggest that gene expression patterns of cognitive level and decline in our sample mirror those seen in cognitively impaired individuals, which could point toward a more generic response to cognitive aging and aging in general.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2019.08.019DOI Listing
December 2019

The Danish Twin Registry: An Updated Overview.

Twin Res Hum Genet 2019 12 23;22(6):499-507. Epub 2019 Sep 23.

The Danish Twin Registry, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

The Danish Twin Registry (DTR) was established in the 1950s, when twins born from 1870 to 1910 were ascertained, and has since been extended to include twins from birth cohorts until 2009. The DTR currently comprises of more than 175,000 twins from the 140 birth cohorts. This makes the DTR the oldest nationwide twin register and among the largest in the world. The combination of data from several surveys, including biological samples and repeated measurements on the same individuals, and data from Danish national registers provides a unique resource for a wide range of twin studies. This article provides an updated overview of the data in the DTR: First, we provide a summary of the establishment of the register, the different ascertainment methods and the twins included; then follows an overview of major surveys conducted in the DTR since 1994 and a description of the DTR biobank, including a description of the molecular data created so far; finally, a short description is given of the linkage to Danish national registers at Statistics Denmark and some recent examples of studies using the various data resources in the DTR are highlighted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/thg.2019.72DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8039015PMC
December 2019

IGEMS: The Consortium on Interplay of Genes and Environment Across Multiple Studies - An Update.

Twin Res Hum Genet 2019 12 23;22(6):809-816. Epub 2019 Sep 23.

Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA.

The Interplay of Genes and Environment across Multiple Studies (IGEMS) is a consortium of 18 twin studies from 5 different countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, United States, and Australia) established to explore the nature of gene-environment (GE) interplay in functioning across the adult lifespan. Fifteen of the studies are longitudinal, with follow-up as long as 59 years after baseline. The combined data from over 76,000 participants aged 14-103 at intake (including over 10,000 monozygotic and over 17,000 dizygotic twin pairs) support two primary research emphases: (1) investigation of models of GE interplay of early life adversity, and social factors at micro and macro environmental levels and with diverse outcomes, including mortality, physical functioning and psychological functioning; and (2) improved understanding of risk and protective factors for dementia by incorporating unmeasured and measured genetic factors with a wide range of exposures measured in young adulthood, midlife and later life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/thg.2019.76DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7056501PMC
December 2019

A meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies identifies multiple longevity genes.

Nat Commun 2019 08 14;10(1):3669. Epub 2019 Aug 14.

Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, 5000, Odense C, Denmark.

Human longevity is heritable, but genome-wide association (GWA) studies have had limited success. Here, we perform two meta-analyses of GWA studies of a rigorous longevity phenotype definition including 11,262/3484 cases surviving at or beyond the age corresponding to the 90th/99th survival percentile, respectively, and 25,483 controls whose age at death or at last contact was at or below the age corresponding to the 60th survival percentile. Consistent with previous reports, rs429358 (apolipoprotein E (ApoE) ε4) is associated with lower odds of surviving to the 90th and 99th percentile age, while rs7412 (ApoE ε2) shows the opposite. Moreover, rs7676745, located near GPR78, associates with lower odds of surviving to the 90th percentile age. Gene-level association analysis reveals a role for tissue-specific expression of multiple genes in longevity. Finally, genetic correlation of the longevity GWA results with that of several disease-related phenotypes points to a shared genetic architecture between health and longevity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11558-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6694136PMC
August 2019

Epigenome-wide exploratory study of monozygotic twins suggests differentially methylated regions to associate with hand grip strength.

Biogerontology 2019 10 28;20(5):627-647. Epub 2019 Jun 28.

Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winsløws Vej 9B, 5000, Odense C, Denmark.

Hand grip strength is a measure of muscular strength and is used to study age-related loss of physical capacity. In order to explore the biological mechanisms that influence hand grip strength variation, an epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of hand grip strength in 672 middle-aged and elderly monozygotic twins (age 55-90 years) was performed, using both individual and twin pair level analyses, the latter controlling the influence of genetic variation. Moreover, as measurements of hand grip strength performed over 8 years were available in the elderly twins (age 73-90 at intake), a longitudinal EWAS was conducted for this subsample. No genome-wide significant CpG sites or pathways were found, however two of the suggestive top CpG sites were mapped to the COL6A1 and CACNA1B genes, known to be related to muscular dysfunction. By investigating genomic regions using the comb-p algorithm, several differentially methylated regions in regulatory domains were identified as significantly associated to hand grip strength, and pathway analyses of these regions revealed significant pathways related to the immune system, autoimmune disorders, including diabetes type 1 and viral myocarditis, as well as negative regulation of cell differentiation. The genes contributing to the immunological pathways were HLA-B, HLA-C, HLA-DMA, HLA-DPB1, MYH10, ERAP1 and IRF8, while the genes implicated in the negative regulation of cell differentiation were IRF8, CEBPD, ID2 and BRCA1. In conclusion, this exploratory study suggests hand grip strength to associate with differentially methylated regions enriched in immunological and cell differentiation pathways, and hence merits further investigations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10522-019-09818-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6733812PMC
October 2019

A nonsynonymous mutation in PLCG2 reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia, and increases the likelihood of longevity.

Acta Neuropathol 2019 08 27;138(2):237-250. Epub 2019 May 27.

Centro de Investigacion Biomedica en Red en Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED), Madrid, Spain.

The genetic variant rs72824905-G (minor allele) in the PLCG2 gene was previously associated with a reduced Alzheimer's disease risk (AD). The role of PLCG2 in immune system signaling suggests it may also protect against other neurodegenerative diseases and possibly associates with longevity. We studied the effect of the rs72824905-G on seven neurodegenerative diseases and longevity, using 53,627 patients, 3,516 long-lived individuals and 149,290 study-matched controls. We replicated the association of rs72824905-G with reduced AD risk and we found an association with reduced risk of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). We did not find evidence for an effect on Parkinson's disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS) risks, despite adequate sample sizes. Conversely, the rs72824905-G allele was associated with increased likelihood of longevity. By-proxy analyses in the UK Biobank supported the associations with both dementia and longevity. Concluding, rs72824905-G has a protective effect against multiple neurodegenerative diseases indicating shared aspects of disease etiology. Our findings merit studying the PLCγ2 pathway as drug-target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-019-02026-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6660501PMC
August 2019

White blood cell mitochondrial DNA copy number is decreased in rheumatoid arthritis and linked with risk factors. A twin study.

J Autoimmun 2019 01 14;96:142-146. Epub 2018 Oct 14.

Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark; Unit of Human Genetics, Department of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. Electronic address:

Low mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNA CN) has been associated with e.g. cancer, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. We aimed to study a potential association between mtDNA CN and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The relative quantity of mitochondrial DNA compared to nuclear DNA was measured in peripheral white blood cells from 149 RA affected twin pairs and 1321 non-affected twin pairs. Multiple regression analysis including RA discordant twin pairs was performed in order to separate specific effects of RA and familial RA predisposition using non-RA affected twin pairs as reference group. In addition, we performed a twin pair level analysis including only RA discordant twin pairs evaluating the effect of cell type, auto antibodies and RA genetic risk factors. Both the RA twins and their non-affected co-twins had significantly lower mtDNA CN than non-affected twins (-28.7 and -23.1 mtDNA CN, respectively). Adjusting for cell count attenuated these differences (-23.1 mtDNA CN and -20.1 mtDNA CN respectively). Within RA discordant twin pairs PTPN22(T) positive RA twins had a significantly lower amount than their co-twins (-16.3 mtDNA CN). PTPN22(T) had no effect among twins from non-affected twin pairs. MtDNA CN is significantly lower in persons with established RA and in predisposed non-affected RA co-twins suggesting that mitochondrial variation may be involved in the RA disease pathways. Our results also suggest that the RA associated genetic risk factor, PTPN22(T), further decreases the mtDNA CN, but only in carriers with established RA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaut.2018.09.008DOI Listing
January 2019

APOE Alleles and Extreme Human Longevity.

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2019 01;74(1):44-51

Geriatric Section, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.

We assembled a collection of 28,297 participants from seven studies of longevity and healthy aging comprising New England Centenarian, Long Life Family, Longevity Gene Population, Southern Italian Centenarian, Japanese Centenarian, the Danish Longevity, and the Health and Retirement Studies to investigate the association between the APOE alleles ε2ε3 and ε4 and extreme human longevity and age at death. By using three different genetic models and two definitions of extreme longevity based on either a threshold model or age at death, we show that ε4 is associated with a substantially decreased odds for extreme longevity, and increased risk for death that persists even beyond ages reached by less than 1% of the population. We also show that carrying the ε2ε2 or ε2ε3 genotype is associated with significantly increased odds to reach extreme longevity, with decreased risk for death compared with carrying the genotype ε3ε3 but with only a modest reduction in risk for death beyond an age reached by less than 1% of the population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gerona/gly174DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6298189PMC
January 2019

Epigenetic signature of preterm birth in adult twins.

Clin Epigenetics 2018 27;10:87. Epub 2018 Jun 27.

1Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Science, University of Southern Denmark, J. B. Winsløws Vej 9B, DK-5000 Odense, Denmark.

Background: Preterm birth is a leading cause of perinatal mortality and long-term health consequences. Epigenetic mechanisms may have been at play in preterm birth survivors, and these could be persistent and detrimental to health later in life.

Methods: We performed a genome-wide DNA methylation profiling in adult twins of premature birth to identify genomic regions under differential epigenetic regulation in 144 twins with a median age of 33 years (age range 30-36).

Results: Association analysis detected three genomic regions annotated to the , and genes on chromosomes 5, 3 and 22 (FWER: 0.01, 0.02 and 0.04) respectively. These genes display strong involvement in neurodevelopmental disorders, cancer susceptibility and premature delivery. The three identified significant regions were successfully replicated in an independent sample of twins of even older age (median age 66, range 56-80) with similar regulatory patterns and nominal values < 5.05e-04. Biological pathway analysis detected five significantly enriched pathways all explicitly involved in immune responses.

Conclusion: We have found novel evidence associating premature delivery with epigenetic modification of important genes/pathways and revealed that preterm birth, as an early life event, could be related to differential methylation regulation patterns observable in adults and even at high ages which could potentially mediate susceptibility to age-related diseases and adult health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-018-0518-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6020425PMC
July 2019

Genome-wide association meta-analysis in 269,867 individuals identifies new genetic and functional links to intelligence.

Nat Genet 2018 07 25;50(7):912-919. Epub 2018 Jun 25.

Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Intelligence is highly heritable and a major determinant of human health and well-being. Recent genome-wide meta-analyses have identified 24 genomic loci linked to variation in intelligence, but much about its genetic underpinnings remains to be discovered. Here, we present a large-scale genetic association study of intelligence (n = 269,867), identifying 205 associated genomic loci (190 new) and 1,016 genes (939 new) via positional mapping, expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping, chromatin interaction mapping, and gene-based association analysis. We find enrichment of genetic effects in conserved and coding regions and associations with 146 nonsynonymous exonic variants. Associated genes are strongly expressed in the brain, specifically in striatal medium spiny neurons and hippocampal pyramidal neurons. Gene set analyses implicate pathways related to nervous system development and synaptic structure. We confirm previous strong genetic correlations with multiple health-related outcomes, and Mendelian randomization analysis results suggest protective effects of intelligence for Alzheimer's disease and ADHD and bidirectional causation with pleiotropic effects for schizophrenia. These results are a major step forward in understanding the neurobiology of cognitive function as well as genetically related neurological and psychiatric disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0152-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6411041PMC
July 2018

The correlation of copy number variations with longevity in a genome-wide association study of Han Chinese.

Aging (Albany NY) 2018 Jun;10(6):1206-1222

BGI Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China.

Copy number variations (CNVs) have been shown to cause numerous diseases, however, their roles in human lifespan remain elusive. In this study, we investigate the association of CNVs with longevity by comparing the Han Chinese genomes of long-lived individuals from 90 to 117 years of age and the middle-aged from 30 to 65. Our data demonstrate that the numbers of CNVs, especially deletions, increase significantly in a direct correlation with longevity. We identify eleven CNVs that strongly associate with longevity; four of them locate in the chromosome bands, 7p11.2, 20q13.33, 19p12 and 8p23.3 and overlap partially with the CNVs identified in long-lived Danish or U.S. populations, while the other seven have not been reported previously. These CNV regions encode nineteen known genes, and some of which have been shown to affect aging-related phenotypes such as the shortening of telomere length (), the risk of cancer (), and vascular and immune-related diseases (). In addition, we found several pathways enriched in long-lived genomes, including FOXA1 and FOXA transcription factor networks involved in regulating aging or age-dependent diseases such as cancer. Thus, our study has identified longevity-associated CNV regions and their affected genes and pathways. Our results suggest that the human genome structures such as CNVs might play an important role in determining a long life in human.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/aging.101461DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6046244PMC
June 2018

Publisher Correction: Identification and characterization of two functional variants in the human longevity gene FOXO3.

Nat Commun 2018 01 17;9(1):320. Epub 2018 Jan 17.

Department of Statistical Genetics and Bioinformatics, Cologne Center for Genomics, University of Cologne, Weyertal 115b, 50931, Cologne, Germany.

The original version of this Article contained an error in the spelling of the author Robert Häsler, which was incorrectly given as Robert Häesler. This has now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the Article.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-02842-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770466PMC
January 2018

Identification and characterization of two functional variants in the human longevity gene FOXO3.

Nat Commun 2017 12 12;8(1):2063. Epub 2017 Dec 12.

Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel University, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Rosalind-Franklin-Straße 12, 24105, Kiel, Germany.

FOXO3 is consistently annotated as a human longevity gene. However, functional variants and underlying mechanisms for the association remain unknown. Here, we perform resequencing of the FOXO3 locus and single-nucleotide variant (SNV) genotyping in three European populations. We find two FOXO3 SNVs, rs12206094 and rs4946935, to be most significantly associated with longevity and further characterize them functionally. We experimentally validate the in silico predicted allele-dependent binding of transcription factors (CTCF, SRF) to the SNVs. Specifically, in luciferase reporter assays, the longevity alleles of both variants show considerable enhancer activities that are reversed by IGF-1 treatment. An eQTL database search reveals that the alleles are also associated with higher FOXO3 mRNA expression in various human tissues, which is in line with observations in long-lived model organisms. In summary, we present experimental evidence for a functional link between common intronic variants in FOXO3 and human longevity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-02183-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5727304PMC
December 2017

Investigation of the 5q33.3 longevity locus and age-related phenotypes.

Aging (Albany NY) 2017 01;9(1):247-255

The Danish Aging Research Center, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, 5000 Odense C, Denmark.

A large meta-analysis recently found the 5q33.3 locus to be associated with survival to ≥ 90 years and lower all-cause mortality, thus suggesting it as a third human longevity locus alongside and . The 5q33.3 locus has previously been associated with blood pressure regulation and cardiovascular diseases in middle-aged individuals. However, part of the influence on mortality appears to be independent of cardiovascular phenotypes, and the role of the 5q33.3 locus in longevity and survival is therefore still partly unknown. We investigated the association between the longevity-associated variant rs2149954 on chromosome 5q33.3 and age-related phenotypes in two cohorts of 1,588 and 1,271 long-lived individuals (mean ages 93.1 and 95.9 years, respectively) as well as in 700 middle-aged and 677 elderly individuals (mean ages 52.5 and 78.7 years). Altogether, nominally significant associations between the rs2149954 minor allele and a decreased risk of heart attack and heart failure as well as increased physical functioning were found in the long-lived individuals. In the middle-aged and elderly individuals, rs2149954 minor allele carriers had a lower risk of hypertension. Our results thereby confirm a role of the 5q33.3 locus in cardiovascular health and, interestingly, they also suggest a role in physical functioning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/aging.101156DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5310666PMC
January 2017

Somatically acquired structural genetic differences: a longitudinal study of elderly Danish twins.

Eur J Hum Genet 2016 10 20;24(10):1506-10. Epub 2016 Apr 20.

Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Structural genetic variants like copy number variants (CNVs) comprise a large part of human genetic variation and may be inherited as well as somatically acquired. Recent studies have reported the presence of somatically acquired structural variants in the human genome and it has been suggested that they may accumulate in elderly individuals. To further explore the presence and the age-related acquisition of somatic structural variants in the human genome, we investigated CNVs acquired over a period of 10 years in 86 elderly Danish twins as well as CNV discordances between co-twins of 18 monozygotic twin pairs. Furthermore, the presence of mosaic structural variants was explored. We identified four mosaic acquired uniparental disomy events on chromosome 4q and 14q in the follow-up samples from four individuals, and our study thereby supports the increasing prevalence of somatic mosaic variants with age.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2016.34DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027681PMC
October 2016

Immunochip analysis identifies association of the RAD50/IL13 region with human longevity.

Aging Cell 2016 06 22;15(3):585-8. Epub 2016 Mar 22.

Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel University, Kiel, Germany.

Human longevity is characterized by a remarkable lack of confirmed genetic associations. Here, we report on the identification of a novel locus for longevity in the RAD50/IL13 region on chromosome 5q31.1 using a combined European sample of 3208 long-lived individuals (LLI) and 8919 younger controls. First, we performed a large-scale association study on 1458 German LLI (mean age 99.0 years) and 6368 controls (mean age 57.2 years) by targeting known immune-associated loci covered by the Immunochip. The analysis of 142 136 autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) revealed an Immunochip-wide significant signal (PI mmunochip  = 7.01 × 10(-9) ) for the SNP rs2075650 in the TOMM40/APOE region, which has been previously described in the context of human longevity. To identify novel susceptibility loci, we selected 15 markers with PI mmunochip  < 5 × 10(-4) for replication in two samples from France (1257 LLI, mean age 102.4 years; 1811 controls, mean age 49.1 years) and Denmark (493 LLI, mean age 96.2 years; 740 controls, mean age 63.1 years). The association at SNP rs2706372 replicated in the French study collection and showed a similar trend in the Danish participants and was also significant in a meta-analysis of the combined French and Danish data after adjusting for multiple testing. In a meta-analysis of all three samples, rs2706372 reached a P-value of PI mmunochip+Repl  = 5.42 × 10(-7) (OR = 1.20; 95% CI = 1.12-1.28). SNP rs2706372 is located in the extended RAD50/IL13 region. RAD50 seems a plausible longevity candidate due to its involvement in DNA repair and inflammation. Further studies are needed to identify the functional variant(s) that predispose(s) to a long and healthy life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acel.12471DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4854908PMC
June 2016
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