Publications by authors named "Melanie Waldenberger"

197 Publications

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

Genome Biol 2021 Jun 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

A multi-ethnic epigenome-wide association study of leukocyte DNA methylation and blood lipids.

Nat Commun 2021 06 28;12(1):3987. Epub 2021 Jun 28.

Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

Here we examine the association between DNA methylation in circulating leukocytes and blood lipids in a multi-ethnic sample of 16,265 subjects. We identify 148, 35, and 4 novel associations among Europeans, African Americans, and Hispanics, respectively, and an additional 186 novel associations through a trans-ethnic meta-analysis. We observe a high concordance in the direction of effects across racial/ethnic groups, a high correlation of effect sizes between high-density lipoprotein and triglycerides, a modest overlap of associations with epigenome-wide association studies of other cardio-metabolic traits, and a largely non-overlap with lipid loci identified to date through genome-wide association studies. Thirty CpGs reached significance in at least 2 racial/ethnic groups including 7 that showed association with the expression of an annotated gene. CpGs annotated to CPT1A showed evidence of being influenced by triglycerides levels. DNA methylation levels of circulating leukocytes show robust and consistent association with blood lipid levels across multiple racial/ethnic groups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23899-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8238961PMC
June 2021

Plasma Proteomics of Renal Function: A Trans-ethnic Meta-analysis and Mendelian Randomization Study.

J Am Soc Nephrol 2021 Jun 16. Epub 2021 Jun 16.

M Prunotto, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Studies on the relationship between renal function and the human plasma proteome have identified several potential biomarkers. However, investigations have been conducted largely in European populations, and causality of the associations between plasma proteins and kidney function has never been addressed.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 993 plasma proteins among 2,882 participants in four studies of European and admixed ancestries (KORA, INTERVAL, HUNT, QMDiab) identified trans-ethnic associations between eGFR/CKD and proteomic biomarkers. For the replicated associations, two-sample bidirectional Mendelian randomization (MR) was used to investigate potential causal relationships. Publicly available datasets and transcriptomic data from independent studies were used to examine the association between gene expression in kidney tissue and eGFR .

Results: Fifty-seven plasma proteins were associated with eGFR, including one novel protein. Twenty-three of these were additionally associated with CKD. The strongest inferred causal effect was the positive effect of eGFR on testican-2, in line with the known biological role of this protein and the expression of its protein-coding gene (SPOCK2) in renal tissue. We also observed suggestive evidence of an effect of melanoma inhibitory activity (MIA), carbonic anhydrase III, and cystatin-M on eGFR.

Conclusions: In a discovery-replication setting, we identified 57 proteins trans-ethnically associated with eGFR. The revealed causal relationships are an important stepping-stone in establishing testican-2 as a clinically relevant physiological marker of kidney disease progression, and point to additional proteins warranting further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1681/ASN.2020071070DOI Listing
June 2021

Meta-analysis of epigenome-wide association studies of carotid intima-media thickness.

Eur J Epidemiol 2021 Jun 6. Epub 2021 Jun 6.

Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King's College London, London, UK.

Common carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) is an index of subclinical atherosclerosis that is associated with ischemic stroke and coronary artery disease (CAD). We undertook a cross-sectional epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of measures of cIMT in 6400 individuals. Mendelian randomization analysis was applied to investigate the potential causal role of DNA methylation in the link between atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk factors and cIMT or clinical cardiovascular disease. The CpG site cg05575921 was associated with cIMT (beta = -0.0264, p value = 3.5 × 10) in the discovery panel and was replicated in replication panel (beta = -0.07, p value = 0.005). This CpG is located at chr5:81649347 in the intron 3 of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor repressor gene (AHRR). Our results indicate that DNA methylation at cg05575921 might be in the pathway between smoking, cIMT and stroke. Moreover, in a region-based analysis, 34 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were identified of which a DMR upstream of ALOX12 showed the strongest association with cIMT (p value = 1.4 × 10). In conclusion, our study suggests that DNA methylation may play a role in the link between cardiovascular risk factors, cIMT and clinical cardiovascular disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10654-021-00759-zDOI Listing
June 2021

DNAm-based signatures of accelerated aging and mortality in blood are associated with low renal function.

Clin Epigenetics 2021 Jun 2;13(1):121. Epub 2021 Jun 2.

Department of Human Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Background: The difference between an individual's chronological and DNA methylation predicted age (DNAmAge), termed DNAmAge acceleration (DNAmAA), can capture life-long environmental exposures and age-related physiological changes reflected in methylation status. Several studies have linked DNAmAA to morbidity and mortality, yet its relationship with kidney function has not been assessed. We evaluated the associations between seven DNAm aging and lifespan predictors (as well as GrimAge components) and five kidney traits (estimated glomerular filtration rate [eGFR], urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio [uACR], serum urate, microalbuminuria and chronic kidney disease [CKD]) in up to 9688 European, African American and Hispanic/Latino individuals from seven population-based studies.

Results: We identified 23 significant associations in our large trans-ethnic meta-analysis (p < 1.43E-03 and consistent direction of effect across studies). Age acceleration measured by the Extrinsic and PhenoAge estimators, as well as Zhang's 10-CpG epigenetic mortality risk score (MRS), were associated with all parameters of poor kidney health (lower eGFR, prevalent CKD, higher uACR, microalbuminuria and higher serum urate). Six of these associations were independently observed in European and African American populations. MRS in particular was consistently associated with eGFR (β =  - 0.12, 95% CI = [- 0.16, - 0.08] change in log-transformed eGFR per unit increase in MRS, p = 4.39E-08), prevalent CKD (odds ratio (OR) = 1.78 [1.47, 2.16], p = 2.71E-09) and higher serum urate levels (β = 0.12 [0.07, 0.16], p = 2.08E-06). The "first-generation" clocks (Hannum, Horvath) and GrimAge showed different patterns of association with the kidney traits. Three of the DNAm-estimated components of GrimAge, namely adrenomedullin, plasminogen-activation inhibition 1 and pack years, were positively associated with higher uACR, serum urate and microalbuminuria.

Conclusion: DNAmAge acceleration and DNAm mortality predictors estimated in whole blood were associated with multiple kidney traits, including eGFR and CKD, in this multi-ethnic study. Epigenetic biomarkers which reflect the systemic effects of age-related mechanisms such as immunosenescence, inflammaging and oxidative stress may have important mechanistic or prognostic roles in kidney disease. Our study highlights new findings linking kidney disease to biological aging, and opportunities warranting future investigation into DNA methylation biomarkers for prognostic or risk stratification in kidney disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-021-01082-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8170969PMC
June 2021

Metabolic syndrome and the plasma proteome: from association to causation.

Cardiovasc Diabetol 2021 05 20;20(1):111. Epub 2021 May 20.

Institute of Epidemiology, Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany.

Background: The metabolic syndrome (MetS), defined by the simultaneous clustering of cardio-metabolic risk factors, is a significant worldwide public health burden with an estimated 25% prevalence worldwide. The pathogenesis of MetS is not entirely clear and the use of molecular level data could help uncover common pathogenic pathways behind the observed clustering.

Methods: Using a highly multiplexed aptamer-based affinity proteomics platform, we examined associations between plasma proteins and prevalent and incident MetS in the KORA cohort (n = 998) and replicated our results for prevalent MetS in the HUNT3 study (n = 923). We applied logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex, smoking status, and physical activity. We used the bootstrap ranking algorithm of least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) to select a predictive model from the incident MetS associated proteins and used area under the curve (AUC) to assess its performance. Finally, we investigated the causal effect of the replicated proteins on MetS using two-sample Mendelian randomization.

Results: Prevalent MetS was associated with 116 proteins, of which 53 replicated in HUNT. These included previously reported proteins like leptin, and new proteins like NTR domain-containing protein 2 and endoplasmic reticulum protein 29. Incident MetS was associated with 14 proteins in KORA, of which 13 overlap the prevalent MetS associated proteins with soluble advanced glycosylation end product-specific receptor (sRAGE) being unique to incident MetS. The LASSO selected an eight-protein predictive model with an (AUC = 0.75; 95% CI = 0.71-0.79) in KORA. Mendelian randomization suggested causal effects of three proteins on MetS, namely apolipoprotein E2 (APOE2) (Wald-Ratio = - 0.12, Wald-p = 3.63e-13), apolipoprotein B (APOB) (Wald-Ratio = - 0.09, Wald-p = 2.54e-04) and proto-oncogene tyrosine-protein kinase receptor (RET) (Wald-Ratio = 0.10, Wald-p = 5.40e-04).

Conclusions: Our findings offer new insights into the plasma proteome underlying MetS and identify new protein associations. We reveal possible casual effects of APOE2, APOB and RET on MetS. Our results highlight protein candidates that could potentially serve as targets for prevention and therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12933-021-01299-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8138979PMC
May 2021

Epigenome-wide association meta-analysis of DNA methylation with coffee and tea consumption.

Nat Commun 2021 05 14;12(1):2830. Epub 2021 May 14.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Coffee and tea are extensively consumed beverages worldwide which have received considerable attention regarding health. Intake of these beverages is consistently linked to, among others, reduced risk of diabetes and liver diseases; however, the mechanisms of action remain elusive. Epigenetics is suggested as a mechanism mediating the effects of dietary and lifestyle factors on disease onset. Here we report the results from epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) on coffee and tea consumption in 15,789 participants of European and African-American ancestries from 15 cohorts. EWAS meta-analysis of coffee consumption reveals 11 CpGs surpassing the epigenome-wide significance threshold (P-value <1.1×10), which annotated to the AHRR, F2RL3, FLJ43663, HDAC4, GFI1 and PHGDH genes. Among them, cg14476101 is significantly associated with expression of the PHGDH and risk of fatty liver disease. Knockdown of PHGDH expression in liver cells shows a correlation with expression levels of genes associated with circulating lipids, suggesting a role of PHGDH in hepatic-lipid metabolism. EWAS meta-analysis on tea consumption reveals no significant association, only two CpGs annotated to CACNA1A and PRDM16 genes show suggestive association (P-value <5.0×10). These findings indicate that coffee-associated changes in DNA methylation levels may explain the mechanism of action of coffee consumption in conferring risk of diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22752-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8121846PMC
May 2021

Adulthood blood levels of hsa-miR-29b-3p associate with preterm birth and adult metabolic and cognitive health.

Sci Rep 2021 Apr 28;11(1):9203. Epub 2021 Apr 28.

Department of Clinical Chemistry, Pirkanmaa Hospital District, Fimlab Laboratories, and Finnish Cardiovascular Research Center, Tampere, Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland.

Preterm birth (PTB) is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes and neurocognitive impairment later in life. We analyzed for the first time the associations of PTB with blood miRNA levels in adulthood. We also investigated the relationship of PTB associated miRNAs and adulthood phenotypes previously linked with premature birth. Blood MicroRNA profiling, genome-wide gene expression analysis, computer-based cognitive testing battery (CANTAB) and serum NMR metabolomics were performed for Young Finns Study subjects (aged 34-49 years, full-term n = 682, preterm n = 84). Preterm birth (vs. full-term) was associated with adulthood levels of hsa-miR-29b-3p in a fully adjusted regression model (p = 1.90 × 10, FDR = 0.046). The levels of hsa-miR-29b-3p were down-regulated in subjects with PTB with appropriate birthweight for gestational age (p = 0.002, fold change [FC] = - 1.20) and specifically in PTB subjects with small birthweight for gestational age (p = 0.095, FC = - 1.39) in comparison to individuals born full term. Hsa-miR-29b-3p levels correlated with the expressions of its target-mRNAs BCL11A and CS and the gene set analysis results indicated a target-mRNA driven association between hsa-miR-29b-3p levels and Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Insulin signaling and Regulation of Actin Cytoskeleton pathway expression. The level of hsa-miR-29b-3p was directly associated with visual processing and sustained attention in CANTAB test and inversely associated with serum levels of VLDL subclass component and triglyceride levels. In conlcusion, adult blood levels of hsa-miR-29b-3p were lower in subjects born preterm. Hsa-miR-29b-3p associated with cognitive function and may be linked with adulthood morbidities in subjects born preterm, possibly through regulation of gene sets related to neurodegenerative diseases and insulin signaling as well as VLDL and triglyceride metabolism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-88465-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8080838PMC
April 2021

Multi-ancestry genome-wide gene-sleep interactions identify novel loci for blood pressure.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 Apr 15. Epub 2021 Apr 15.

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

Long and short sleep duration are associated with elevated blood pressure (BP), possibly through effects on molecular pathways that influence neuroendocrine and vascular systems. To gain new insights into the genetic basis of sleep-related BP variation, we performed genome-wide gene by short or long sleep duration interaction analyses on four BP traits (systolic BP, diastolic BP, mean arterial pressure, and pulse pressure) across five ancestry groups in two stages using 2 degree of freedom (df) joint test followed by 1df test of interaction effects. Primary multi-ancestry analysis in 62,969 individuals in stage 1 identified three novel gene by sleep interactions that were replicated in an additional 59,296 individuals in stage 2 (stage 1 + 2 P < 5 × 10), including rs7955964 (FIGNL2/ANKRD33) that increases BP among long sleepers, and rs73493041 (SNORA26/C9orf170) and rs10406644 (KCTD15/LSM14A) that increase BP among short sleepers (P < 5 × 10). Secondary ancestry-specific analysis identified another novel gene by long sleep interaction at rs111887471 (TRPC3/KIAA1109) in individuals of African ancestry (P = 2 × 10). Combined stage 1 and 2 analyses additionally identified significant gene by long sleep interactions at 10 loci including MKLN1 and RGL3/ELAVL3 previously associated with BP, and significant gene by short sleep interactions at 10 loci including C2orf43 previously associated with BP (P < 10). 2df test also identified novel loci for BP after modeling sleep that has known functions in sleep-wake regulation, nervous and cardiometabolic systems. This study indicates that sleep and primary mechanisms regulating BP may interact to elevate BP level, suggesting novel insights into sleep-related BP regulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-021-01087-0DOI Listing
April 2021

Epigenome-wide association study of whole blood gene expression in Framingham Heart Study participants provides molecular insight into the potential role of CHRNA5 in cigarette smoking-related lung diseases.

Clin Epigenetics 2021 Mar 22;13(1):60. Epub 2021 Mar 22.

The Framingham Heart Study, 73 Mt. Wayte Avenue, Framingham, MA, 01702, USA.

Background: DNA methylation is a key epigenetic modification that can directly affect gene regulation. DNA methylation is highly influenced by environmental factors such as cigarette smoking, which is causally related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. To date, there have been few large-scale, combined analyses of DNA methylation and gene expression and their interrelations with lung diseases.

Results: We performed an epigenome-wide association study of whole blood gene expression in ~ 6000 individuals from four cohorts. We discovered and replicated numerous CpGs associated with the expression of cis genes within 500 kb of each CpG, with 148 to 1,741 cis CpG-transcript pairs identified across cohorts. We found that the closer a CpG resided to a transcription start site, the larger its effect size, and that 36% of cis CpG-transcript pairs share the same causal genetic variant. Mendelian randomization analyses revealed that hypomethylation and lower expression of CHRNA5, which encodes a smoking-related nicotinic receptor, are causally linked to increased risk of COPD and lung cancer. This putatively causal relationship was further validated in lung tissue data.

Conclusions: Our results provide a large and comprehensive association study of whole blood DNA methylation with gene expression. Expression platform differences rather than population differences are critical to the replication of cis CpG-transcript pairs. The low reproducibility of trans CpG-transcript pairs suggests that DNA methylation regulates nearby rather than remote gene expression. The putatively causal roles of methylation and expression of CHRNA5 in relation to COPD and lung cancer provide evidence for a mechanistic link between patterns of smoking-related epigenetic variation and lung diseases, and highlight potential therapeutic targets for lung diseases and smoking cessation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-021-01041-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7986283PMC
March 2021

Genome-wide association analysis in dilated cardiomyopathy reveals two new players in systolic heart failure on chromosomes 3p25.1 and 22q11.23.

Eur Heart J 2021 05;42(20):2000-2011

Université de Paris, INSERM, UMR-S970, Integrative Epidemiology of cardiovascular disease, Paris, France.

Aims: Our objective was to better understand the genetic bases of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a leading cause of systolic heart failure.

Methods And Results: We conducted the largest genome-wide association study performed so far in DCM, with 2719 cases and 4440 controls in the discovery population. We identified and replicated two new DCM-associated loci on chromosome 3p25.1 [lead single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs62232870, P = 8.7 × 10-11 and 7.7 × 10-4 in the discovery and replication steps, respectively] and chromosome 22q11.23 (lead SNP rs7284877, P = 3.3 × 10-8 and 1.4 × 10-3 in the discovery and replication steps, respectively), while confirming two previously identified DCM loci on chromosomes 10 and 1, BAG3 and HSPB7. A genetic risk score constructed from the number of risk alleles at these four DCM loci revealed a 3-fold increased risk of DCM for individuals with 8 risk alleles compared to individuals with 5 risk alleles (median of the referral population). In silico annotation and functional 4C-sequencing analyses on iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes identify SLC6A6 as the most likely DCM gene at the 3p25.1 locus. This gene encodes a taurine transporter whose involvement in myocardial dysfunction and DCM is supported by numerous observations in humans and animals. At the 22q11.23 locus, in silico and data mining annotations, and to a lesser extent functional analysis, strongly suggest SMARCB1 as the candidate culprit gene.

Conclusion: This study provides a better understanding of the genetic architecture of DCM and sheds light on novel biological pathways underlying heart failure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehab030DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8139853PMC
May 2021

Revealing the role of the human blood plasma proteome in obesity using genetic drivers.

Nat Commun 2021 02 24;12(1):1279. Epub 2021 Feb 24.

Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Doha, Qatar.

Blood circulating proteins are confounded readouts of the biological processes that occur in different tissues and organs. Many proteins have been linked to complex disorders and are also under substantial genetic control. Here, we investigate the associations between over 1000 blood circulating proteins and body mass index (BMI) in three studies including over 4600 participants. We show that BMI is associated with widespread changes in the plasma proteome. We observe 152 replicated protein associations with BMI. 24 proteins also associate with a genome-wide polygenic score (GPS) for BMI. These proteins are involved in lipid metabolism and inflammatory pathways impacting clinically relevant pathways of adiposity. Mendelian randomization suggests a bi-directional causal relationship of BMI with LEPR/LEP, IGFBP1, and WFIKKN2, a protein-to-BMI relationship for AGER, DPT, and CTSA, and a BMI-to-protein relationship for another 21 proteins. Combined with animal model and tissue-specific gene expression data, our findings suggest potential therapeutic targets further elucidating the role of these proteins in obesity associated pathologies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21542-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7904950PMC
February 2021

Differences in Biomarkers of Inflammation Between Novel Subgroups of Recent-Onset Diabetes.

Diabetes 2021 May 19;70(5):1198-1208. Epub 2021 Feb 19.

Institute for Clinical Diabetology, German Diabetes Center, Leibniz Center for Diabetes Research at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.

A novel clustering approach identified five subgroups of diabetes with distinct progression trajectories of complications. We hypothesized that these subgroups differ in multiple biomarkers of inflammation. Serum levels of 74 biomarkers of inflammation were measured in 414 individuals with recent adult-onset diabetes from the German Diabetes Study (GDS) allocated to five subgroups based on data-driven cluster analysis. Pairwise differences between subgroups for biomarkers were assessed with generalized linear mixed models before (model 1) and after (model 2) adjustment for the clustering variables. Participants were assigned to five subgroups: severe autoimmune diabetes (21%), severe insulin-deficient diabetes (SIDD) (3%), severe insulin-resistant diabetes (SIRD) (9%), mild obesity-related diabetes (32%), and mild age-related diabetes (35%). In model 1, 23 biomarkers showed one or more pairwise differences between subgroups (Bonferroni-corrected < 0.0007). Biomarker levels were generally highest in SIRD and lowest in SIDD. All 23 biomarkers correlated with one or more of the clustering variables. In model 2, three biomarkers (CASP-8, EN-RAGE, IL-6) showed at least one pairwise difference between subgroups (e.g., lower CASP8, EN-RAGE, and IL-6 in SIDD vs. all other subgroups, all < 0.0007). Thus, novel diabetes subgroups show multiple differences in biomarkers of inflammation, underlining a prominent role of inflammatory pathways in particular in SIRD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/db20-1054DOI Listing
May 2021

Genome-wide association study of circulating interleukin 6 levels identifies novel loci.

Hum Mol Genet 2021 Apr;30(5):393-409

Institute of Cardiovascular Science, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK.

Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is a multifunctional cytokine with both pro- and anti-inflammatory properties with a heritability estimate of up to 61%. The circulating levels of IL-6 in blood have been associated with an increased risk of complex disease pathogenesis. We conducted a two-staged, discovery and replication meta genome-wide association study (GWAS) of circulating serum IL-6 levels comprising up to 67 428 (ndiscovery = 52 654 and nreplication = 14 774) individuals of European ancestry. The inverse variance fixed effects based discovery meta-analysis, followed by replication led to the identification of two independent loci, IL1F10/IL1RN rs6734238 on chromosome (Chr) 2q14, (Pcombined = 1.8 × 10-11), HLA-DRB1/DRB5 rs660895 on Chr6p21 (Pcombined = 1.5 × 10-10) in the combined meta-analyses of all samples. We also replicated the IL6R rs4537545 locus on Chr1q21 (Pcombined = 1.2 × 10-122). Our study identifies novel loci for circulating IL-6 levels uncovering new immunological and inflammatory pathways that may influence IL-6 pathobiology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddab023DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8098112PMC
April 2021

DNA methylation and lipid metabolism: an EWAS of 226 metabolic measures.

Clin Epigenetics 2021 01 7;13(1). Epub 2021 Jan 7.

Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland.

Background: The discovery of robust and trans-ethnically replicated DNA methylation markers of metabolic phenotypes, has hinted at a potential role of epigenetic mechanisms in lipid metabolism. However, DNA methylation and the lipid compositions and lipid concentrations of lipoprotein sizes have been scarcely studied. Here, we present an epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) (N = 5414 total) of mostly lipid-related metabolic measures, including a fine profiling of lipoproteins. As lipoproteins are the main players in the different stages of lipid metabolism, examination of epigenetic markers of detailed lipoprotein features might improve the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of metabolic disturbances.

Results: We conducted an EWAS of leukocyte DNA methylation and 226 metabolic measurements determined by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the population-based KORA F4 study (N = 1662) and replicated the results in the LOLIPOP, NFBC1966, and YFS cohorts (N = 3752). Follow-up analyses in the discovery cohort included investigations into gene transcripts, metabolic-measure ratios for pathway analysis, and disease endpoints. We identified 161 associations (p value < 4.7 × 10), covering 16 CpG sites at 11 loci and 57 metabolic measures. Identified metabolic measures were primarily medium and small lipoproteins, and fatty acids. For apolipoprotein B-containing lipoproteins, the associations mainly involved triglyceride composition and concentrations of cholesterol esters, triglycerides, free cholesterol, and phospholipids. All associations for HDL lipoproteins involved triglyceride measures only. Associated metabolic measure ratios, proxies of enzymatic activity, highlight amino acid, glucose, and lipid pathways as being potentially epigenetically implicated. Five CpG sites in four genes were associated with differential expression of transcripts in blood or adipose tissue. CpG sites in ABCG1 and PHGDH showed associations with metabolic measures, gene transcription, and metabolic measure ratios and were additionally linked to obesity or previous myocardial infarction, extending previously reported observations.

Conclusion: Our study provides evidence of a link between DNA methylation and the lipid compositions and lipid concentrations of different lipoprotein size subclasses, thus offering in-depth insights into well-known associations of DNA methylation with total serum lipids. The results support detailed profiling of lipid metabolism to improve the molecular understanding of dyslipidemia and related disease mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-020-00957-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7789600PMC
January 2021

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

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

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

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

Smoking-related changes in DNA methylation and gene expression are associated with cardio-metabolic traits.

Clin Epigenetics 2020 10 22;12(1):157. Epub 2020 Oct 22.

Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam, 3015 GB, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Background: Tobacco smoking is a well-known modifiable risk factor for many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease (CVD). One of the proposed underlying mechanism linking smoking to disease is via epigenetic modifications, which could affect the expression of disease-associated genes. Here, we conducted a three-way association study to identify the relationship between smoking-related changes in DNA methylation and gene expression and their associations with cardio-metabolic traits.

Results: We selected 2549 CpG sites and 443 gene expression probes associated with current versus never smokers, from the largest epigenome-wide association study and transcriptome-wide association study to date. We examined three-way associations, including CpG versus gene expression, cardio-metabolic trait versus CpG, and cardio-metabolic trait versus gene expression, in the Rotterdam study. Subsequently, we replicated our findings in The Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg (KORA) study. After correction for multiple testing, we identified both cis- and trans-expression quantitative trait methylation (eQTM) associations in blood. Specifically, we found 1224 smoking-related CpGs associated with at least one of the 443 gene expression probes, and 200 smoking-related gene expression probes to be associated with at least one of the 2549 CpGs. Out of these, 109 CpGs and 27 genes were associated with at least one cardio-metabolic trait in the Rotterdam Study. We were able to replicate the associations with cardio-metabolic traits of 26 CpGs and 19 genes in the KORA study. Furthermore, we identified a three-way association of triglycerides with two CpGs and two genes (GZMA; CLDND1), and BMI with six CpGs and two genes (PID1; LRRN3). Finally, our results revealed the mediation effect of cg03636183 (F2RL3), cg06096336 (PSMD1), cg13708645 (KDM2B), and cg17287155 (AHRR) within the association between smoking and LRRN3 expression.

Conclusions: Our study indicates that smoking-related changes in DNA methylation and gene expression are associated with cardio-metabolic risk factors. These findings may provide additional insights into the molecular mechanisms linking smoking to the development of CVD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-020-00951-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7579899PMC
October 2020

Robust Huber-LASSO for improved prediction of protein, metabolite and gene expression levels relying on individual genotype data.

Brief Bioinform 2021 Jul;22(4)

Statistical Genetics Research Group at the Institute of Medical Biometry and Informatics, Heidelberg University, Germany.

Least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) regression is often applied to select the most promising set of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with a molecular phenotype of interest. While the penalization parameter λ restricts the number of selected SNPs and the potential model overfitting, the least-squares loss function of standard LASSO regression translates into a strong dependence of statistical results on a small number of individuals with phenotypes or genotypes divergent from the majority of the study population-typically comprised of outliers and high-leverage observations. Robust methods have been developed to constrain the influence of divergent observations and generate statistical results that apply to the bulk of study data, but they have rarely been applied to genetic association studies. In this article, we review, for newcomers to the field of robust statistics, a novel version of standard LASSO that utilizes the Huber loss function. We conduct comprehensive simulations and analyze real protein, metabolite, mRNA expression and genotype data to compare the stability of penalization, the cross-iteration concordance of the model, the false-positive and true-positive rates and the prediction accuracy of standard and robust Huber-LASSO. Although the two methods showed controlled false-positive rates ≤2.1% and similar true-positive rates, robust Huber-LASSO outperformed standard LASSO in the accuracy of predicted protein, metabolite and gene expression levels using individual SNP data. The conducted simulations and real-data analyses show that robust Huber-LASSO represents a valuable alternative to standard LASSO in genetic studies of molecular phenotypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bib/bbaa230DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8293825PMC
July 2021

Epigenome-Wide Analysis of Methylation Changes in the Sequence of Gallstone Disease, Dysplasia, and Gallbladder Cancer.

Hepatology 2021 Jun 15;73(6):2293-2310. Epub 2021 Jun 15.

Statistical Genetics Research Group, Institute of Medical Biometry and Informatic, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background And Aims: Gallbladder cancer (GBC) is a highly aggressive malignancy of the biliary tract. Most cases of GBC are diagnosed in low-income and middle-income countries, and research into this disease has long been limited. In this study we therefore investigate the epigenetic changes along the model of GBC carcinogenesis represented by the sequence gallstone disease → dysplasia → GBC in Chile, the country with the highest incidence of GBC worldwide.

Approach And Results: To perform epigenome-wide methylation profiling, genomic DNA extracted from sections of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded gallbladder tissue was analyzed using Illumina Infinium MethylationEPIC BeadChips. Preprocessed, quality-controlled data from 82 samples (gallstones n = 32, low-grade dysplasia n = 13, high-grade dysplasia n = 9, GBC n = 28) were available to identify differentially methylated markers, regions, and pathways as well as changes in copy number variations (CNVs). The number and magnitude of epigenetic changes increased with disease development and predominantly involved the hypermethylation of cytosine-guanine dinucleotide islands and gene promoter regions. The methylation of genes implicated in Wnt signaling, Hedgehog signaling, and tumor suppression increased with tumor grade. CNVs also increased with GBC development and affected cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A, MDM2 proto-oncogene, tumor protein P53, and cyclin D1 genes. Gains in the targetable Erb-B2 receptor tyrosine kinase 2 gene were detected in 14% of GBC samples.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that GBC carcinogenesis comprises three main methylation stages: early (gallstone disease and low-grade dysplasia), intermediate (high-grade dysplasia), and late (GBC). The identified gradual changes in methylation and CNVs may help to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying this aggressive disease and eventually lead to improved treatment and early diagnosis of GBC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.31585DOI Listing
June 2021

Subjective mental health, incidence of depressive symptoms in later life, and the role of epigenetics: results from two longitudinal cohort studies.

Transl Psychiatry 2020 09 21;10(1):323. Epub 2020 Sep 21.

German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) - Division of Clinical Epidemiology and Aging Research, Im Neuenheimer Feld 581, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.

The role of self-perceived general health in predicting morbidity and mortality among older people is established. The predictive value of self-perceived mental health and of its possible biological underpinnings for future depressive symptoms is unexplored. This study aimed to assess the role of mental health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and of its epigenetic markers in predicting depressive symptoms among older people without lifetime history of depression. Data were based on a subgroup (n = 1 492) of participants of the longitudinal ESTHER study. An epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of mental HRQOL was conducted using DNA from baseline whole blood samples and logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the predictive value of methylation beta values of EWAS identified CpGs for incidence of depressive symptoms in later life. The methylation analyses were replicated in the independent KORA cohort (n = 890) and a meta-analysis of the two studies was conducted. Results of the meta-analysis showed that participants with beta values of cg27115863 within quartile 1 (Q) had nearly a two-fold increased risk of developing depressive symptoms compared to participants with beta values within Q (OR= 1.80; CI 1.25-2.61). In the ESTHER study the predictive value of subjective mental health for future depressive symptoms was also assessed and for 10-unit increase in mental HRQOL scores the odds for incident depressive symptoms were reduced by 54% (OR 0.46; CI 0.40-0.54). These findings suggest that subjective mental health and hypomethylation at cg27115863 are predictive of depressive symptoms, possibly through the activation of inflammatory signaling pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-00997-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7506005PMC
September 2020

Deciphering the Plasma Proteome of Type 2 Diabetes.

Diabetes 2020 12 14;69(12):2766-2778. Epub 2020 Sep 14.

Research Unit of Molecular Epidemiology, Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany

With an estimated prevalence of 463 million affected, type 2 diabetes represents a major challenge to health care systems worldwide. Analyzing the plasma proteomes of individuals with type 2 diabetes may illuminate hitherto unknown functional mechanisms underlying disease pathology. We assessed the associations between type 2 diabetes and >1,000 plasma proteins in the Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg (KORA) F4 cohort ( = 993, 110 cases), with subsequent replication in the third wave of the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT3) cohort ( = 940, 149 cases). We computed logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex, BMI, smoking status, and hypertension. Additionally, we investigated associations with incident type 2 diabetes and performed two-sample bidirectional Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis to prioritize our results. Association analysis of prevalent type 2 diabetes revealed 24 replicated proteins, of which 8 are novel. Proteins showing association with incident type 2 diabetes were aminoacylase-1, growth hormone receptor, and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 2. Aminoacylase-1 was associated with both prevalent and incident type 2 diabetes. MR analysis yielded nominally significant causal effects of type 2 diabetes on cathepsin Z and rennin, both known to have roles in the pathophysiological pathways of cardiovascular disease, and of sex hormone-binding globulin on type 2 diabetes. In conclusion, our high-throughput proteomics study replicated previously reported type 2 diabetes-protein associations and identified new candidate proteins possibly involved in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/db20-0296DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7679779PMC
December 2020

Gallstones, Body Mass Index, C-Reactive Protein, and Gallbladder Cancer: Mendelian Randomization Analysis of Chilean and European Genotype Data.

Hepatology 2021 May;73(5):1783-1796

International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization, Lyon, France.

Background And Aims: Gallbladder cancer (GBC) is a neglected disease with substantial geographical variability: Chile shows the highest incidence worldwide, while GBC is relatively rare in Europe. Here, we investigate the causal effects of risk factors considered in current GBC prevention programs as well as C-reactive protein (CRP) level as a marker of chronic inflammation.

Approach And Results: We applied two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) using publicly available data and our own data from a retrospective Chilean and a prospective European study. Causality was assessed by inverse variance weighted (IVW), MR-Egger regression, and weighted median estimates complemented with sensitivity analyses on potential heterogeneity and pleiotropy, two-step MR, and mediation analysis. We found evidence for a causal effect of gallstone disease on GBC risk in Chileans (P = 9 × 10 ) and Europeans (P = 9 × 10 ). A genetically elevated body mass index (BMI) increased GBC risk in Chileans (P = 0.03), while higher CRP concentrations increased GBC risk in Europeans (P = 4.1 × 10 ). European results suggest causal effects of BMI on gallstone disease (P = 0.008); public Chilean data were not, however, available to enable assessment of the mediation effects among causal GBC risk factors.

Conclusions: Two risk factors considered in the current Chilean program for GBC prevention are causally linked to GBC risk: gallstones and BMI. For Europeans, BMI showed a causal effect on gallstone risk, which was itself causally linked to GBC risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.31537DOI Listing
May 2021

Genetic Determinants of Electrocardiographic P-Wave Duration and Relation to Atrial Fibrillation.

Circ Genom Precis Med 2020 10 21;13(5):387-395. Epub 2020 Aug 21.

DZHK (German Center for Cardiovascular Research), partner site Greifswald, Germany (A.T., U.V., M.D., S.B.F.).

Background: The P-wave duration (PWD) is an electrocardiographic measurement that represents cardiac conduction in the atria. Shortened or prolonged PWD is associated with atrial fibrillation (AF). We used exome-chip data to examine the associations between common and rare variants with PWD.

Methods: Fifteen studies comprising 64 440 individuals (56 943 European, 5681 African, 1186 Hispanic, 630 Asian) and ≈230 000 variants were used to examine associations with maximum PWD across the 12-lead ECG. Meta-analyses summarized association results for common variants; gene-based burden and sequence kernel association tests examined low-frequency variant-PWD associations. Additionally, we examined the associations between PWD loci and AF using previous AF genome-wide association studies.

Results: We identified 21 common and low-frequency genetic loci (14 novel) associated with maximum PWD, including several AF loci (, , , , , , , ). The top variants at known sarcomere genes () were associated with longer PWD and increased AF risk. However, top variants at other loci (eg, and ) were associated with longer PWD but lower AF risk.

Conclusions: Our results highlight multiple novel genetic loci associated with PWD, and underscore the shared mechanisms of atrial conduction and AF. Prolonged PWD may be an endophenotype for several different genetic mechanisms of AF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCGEN.119.002874DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7578098PMC
October 2020

Accelerated epigenetic aging as a risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and decreased lung function in two prospective cohort studies.

Aging (Albany NY) 2020 08 3;12(16):16539-16554. Epub 2020 Aug 3.

Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, US Environmental Protection Agency, Chapel Hill, NC 27709, USA.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a frequent diagnosis in older individuals and contributor to global morbidity and mortality. Given the link between lung disease and aging, we need to understand how molecular indicators of aging relate to lung function and disease. Using data from the population-based KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg) surveys, we associated baseline epigenetic (DNA methylation) age acceleration with incident COPD and lung function. Models were adjusted for age, sex, smoking, height, weight, and baseline lung disease as appropriate. Associations were replicated in the Normative Aging Study. Of 770 KORA participants, 131 developed incident COPD over 7 years. Baseline accelerated epigenetic aging was significantly associated with incident COPD. The change in age acceleration (follow-up - baseline) was more strongly associated with COPD than baseline aging alone. The association between the change in age acceleration between baseline and follow-up and incident COPD replicated in the Normative Aging Study. Associations with spirometric lung function parameters were weaker than those with COPD, but a meta-analysis of both cohorts provide suggestive evidence of associations. Accelerated epigenetic aging, both baseline measures and changes over time, may be a risk factor for COPD and reduced lung function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/aging.103784DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7485704PMC
August 2020

Blood DNA methylation sites predict death risk in a longitudinal study of 12, 300 individuals.

Aging (Albany NY) 2020 07 22;12(14):14092-14124. Epub 2020 Jul 22.

Section General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

DNA methylation has fundamental roles in gene programming and aging that may help predict mortality. However, no large-scale study has investigated whether site-specific DNA methylation predicts all-cause mortality. We used the Illumina-HumanMethylation450-BeadChip to identify blood DNA methylation sites associated with all-cause mortality for 12, 300 participants in 12 Cohorts of the Heart and Aging Research in Genetic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium. Over an average 10-year follow-up, there were 2,561 deaths across the cohorts. Nine sites mapping to three intergenic and six gene-specific regions were associated with mortality ( < 9.3x10) independently of age and other mortality predictors. Six sites (cg14866069, cg23666362, cg20045320, cg07839457, cg07677157, cg09615688)-mapping respectively to , and two intergenic regions-were associated with reduced mortality risk. The remaining three sites (cg17086398, cg12619262, cg18424841)-mapping respectively to , and an intergenic region-were associated with increased mortality risk. DNA methylation at each site predicted 5%-15% of all deaths. We also assessed the causal association of those sites to age-related chronic diseases by using Mendelian randomization, identifying weak causal relationship between cg18424841 and cg09615688 with coronary heart disease. Of the nine sites, three (cg20045320, cg07839457, cg07677157) were associated with lower incidence of heart disease risk and two (cg20045320, cg07839457) with smoking and inflammation in prior CHARGE analyses. Methylation of cg20045320, cg07839457, and cg17086398 was associated with decreased expression of nearby genes () linked to immune responses and cardiometabolic diseases. These sites may serve as useful clinical tools for mortality risk assessment and preventative care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/aging.103408DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7425458PMC
July 2020

Whole Blood DNA Methylation Signatures of Diet Are Associated With Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and All-Cause Mortality.

Circ Genom Precis Med 2020 08 11;13(4):e002766. Epub 2020 Jun 11.

The Cardiovascular Health Research Unit, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (S.A.G., N.S., J.A.B., C.M.S.).

Background: DNA methylation patterns associated with habitual diet have not been well studied.

Methods: Diet quality was characterized using a Mediterranean-style diet score and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index score. We conducted ethnicity-specific and trans-ethnic epigenome-wide association analyses for diet quality and leukocyte-derived DNA methylation at over 400 000 CpGs (cytosine-guanine dinucleotides) in 5 population-based cohorts including 6662 European ancestry, 2702 African ancestry, and 360 Hispanic ancestry participants. For diet-associated CpGs identified in epigenome-wide analyses, we conducted Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis to examine their relations to cardiovascular disease risk factors and examined their longitudinal associations with all-cause mortality.

Results: We identified 30 CpGs associated with either Mediterranean-style diet score or Alternative Healthy Eating Index, or both, in European ancestry participants. Among these CpGs, 12 CpGs were significantly associated with all-cause mortality (Bonferroni corrected <1.6×10). Hypermethylation of cg18181703 () was associated with higher scores of both Mediterranean-style diet score and Alternative Healthy Eating Index and lower risk for all-cause mortality (=5.7×10). Ten additional diet-associated CpGs were nominally associated with all-cause mortality (<0.05). MR analysis revealed 8 putatively causal associations for 6 CpGs with 4 cardiovascular disease risk factors (body mass index, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, and type 2 diabetes mellitus; Bonferroni corrected MR <4.5×10). For example, hypermethylation of cg11250194 () was associated with lower triglyceride concentrations (MR, =1.5×10).and hypermethylation of cg02079413 (; ) was associated with body mass index (corrected MR, =1×10).

Conclusions: Habitual diet quality was associated with differential peripheral leukocyte DNA methylation levels of 30 CpGs, most of which were also associated with multiple health outcomes, in European ancestry individuals. These findings demonstrate that integrative genomic analysis of dietary information may reveal molecular targets for disease prevention and treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCGEN.119.002766DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7442697PMC
August 2020

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

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

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

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

Gene-educational attainment interactions in a multi-ancestry genome-wide meta-analysis identify novel blood pressure loci.

Mol Psychiatry 2020 May 5. Epub 2020 May 5.

Health Disparities Research Section, Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Sciences, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD, 21224, USA.

Educational attainment is widely used as a surrogate for socioeconomic status (SES). Low SES is a risk factor for hypertension and high blood pressure (BP). To identify novel BP loci, we performed multi-ancestry meta-analyses accounting for gene-educational attainment interactions using two variables, "Some College" (yes/no) and "Graduated College" (yes/no). Interactions were evaluated using both a 1 degree of freedom (DF) interaction term and a 2DF joint test of genetic and interaction effects. Analyses were performed for systolic BP, diastolic BP, mean arterial pressure, and pulse pressure. We pursued genome-wide interrogation in Stage 1 studies (N = 117 438) and follow-up on promising variants in Stage 2 studies (N = 293 787) in five ancestry groups. Through combined meta-analyses of Stages 1 and 2, we identified 84 known and 18 novel BP loci at genome-wide significance level (P < 5 × 10). Two novel loci were identified based on the 1DF test of interaction with educational attainment, while the remaining 16 loci were identified through the 2DF joint test of genetic and interaction effects. Ten novel loci were identified in individuals of African ancestry. Several novel loci show strong biological plausibility since they involve physiologic systems implicated in BP regulation. They include genes involved in the central nervous system-adrenal signaling axis (ZDHHC17, CADPS, PIK3C2G), vascular structure and function (GNB3, CDON), and renal function (HAS2 and HAS2-AS1, SLIT3). Collectively, these findings suggest a role of educational attainment or SES in further dissection of the genetic architecture of BP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-0719-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7641978PMC
May 2020

A genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation identifies a novel association signal for Lp(a) concentrations in the LPA promoter.

PLoS One 2020 28;15(4):e0232073. Epub 2020 Apr 28.

Department of Genetics and Pharmacology, Institute of Genetic Epidemiology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] is a major cardiovascular risk factor, which is largely genetically determined by one major gene locus, the LPA gene. Many aspects of the transcriptional regulation of LPA are poorly understood and the role of epigenetics has not been addressed yet. Therefore, we conducted an epigenome-wide analysis of DNA methylation on Lp(a) levels in two population-based studies (total n = 2208). We identified a CpG site in the LPA promoter which was significantly associated with Lp(a) concentrations. Surprisingly, the identified CpG site was found to overlap the SNP rs76735376. We genotyped this SNP de-novo in three studies (total n = 7512). The minor allele of rs76735376 (1.1% minor allele frequency) was associated with increased Lp(a) values (p = 1.01e-59) and explained 3.5% of the variation of Lp(a). Statistical mediation analysis showed that the effect on Lp(a) is rather originating from the base change itself and is not mediated by DNA methylation levels. This finding is supported by eQTL data from 208 liver tissue samples from the GTEx project, which shows a significant association of the rs76735376 minor allele with increased LPA expression. To evaluate, whether the association signal at rs76735376 may actually be derived from a stronger eQTL signal in LD with this SNP, eQTL association results of all correlated SNPs (r2≥0.1) were integrated with genetic association results. This analysis pinpointed to rs10455872 as the potential trigger of the effect of rs76735376. Furthermore, both SNPs coincide with short apo(a) isoforms. Adjusting for both, rs10455872 and the apo(a) isoforms diminished the effect size of rs76735376 to 5.38 mg/dL (p = 0.0463). This indicates that the effect of rs76735376 can be explained by both an independent effect of the SNP and a strong correlation with rs10455872 and apo(a) isoforms.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0232073PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7188291PMC
July 2020