Publications by authors named "Sarah E Harris"

182 Publications

Multi-omics analysis of glucose-mediated signaling by a moonlighting Gβ protein Asc1/RACK1.

PLoS Genet 2021 Jul 2;17(7):e1009640. Epub 2021 Jul 2.

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

Heterotrimeric G proteins were originally discovered through efforts to understand the effects of hormones, such as glucagon and epinephrine, on glucose metabolism. On the other hand, many cellular metabolites, including glucose, serve as ligands for G protein-coupled receptors. Here we investigate the consequences of glucose-mediated receptor signaling, and in particular the role of a Gα subunit Gpa2 and a non-canonical Gβ subunit, known as Asc1 in yeast and RACK1 in animals. Asc1/RACK1 is of particular interest because it has multiple, seemingly unrelated, functions in the cell. The existence of such "moonlighting" operations has complicated the determination of phenotype from genotype. Through a comparative analysis of individual gene deletion mutants, and by integrating transcriptomics and metabolomics measurements, we have determined the relative contributions of the Gα and Gβ protein subunits to glucose-initiated processes in yeast. We determined that Gpa2 is primarily involved in regulating carbohydrate metabolism while Asc1 is primarily involved in amino acid metabolism. Both proteins are involved in regulating purine metabolism. Of the two subunits, Gpa2 regulates a greater number of gene transcripts and was particularly important in determining the amplitude of response to glucose addition. We conclude that the two G protein subunits regulate distinct but complementary processes downstream of the glucose-sensing receptor, as well as processes that lead ultimately to changes in cell growth and metabolism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009640DOI Listing
July 2021

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

Variants associated with expression have sex-differential effects on lung function.

Wellcome Open Res 2020 24;5:111. Epub 2021 May 24.

Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK.

Lung function is highly heritable and differs between the sexes throughout life. However, little is known about sex-differential genetic effects on lung function. We aimed to conduct the first genome-wide genotype-by-sex interaction study on lung function to identify genetic effects that differ between males and females. We tested for interactions between 7,745,864 variants and sex on spirometry-based measures of lung function in UK Biobank (N=303,612), and sought replication in 75,696 independent individuals from the SpiroMeta consortium. Five independent single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showed genome-wide significant (P<5x10 ) interactions with sex on lung function, and 21 showed suggestive interactions (P<1x10 ). The strongest signal, from rs7697189 (chr4:145436894) on forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV ) (P=3.15x10 ), was replicated (P=0.016) in SpiroMeta. The C allele increased FEV more in males (untransformed FEV β=0.028 [SE 0.0022] litres) than females (β=0.009 [SE 0.0014] litres), and this effect was not accounted for by differential effects on height, smoking or pubertal age. rs7697189 resides upstream of the hedgehog-interacting protein ( ) gene and was previously associated with lung function and lung expression. We found expression was significantly different between the sexes (P=6.90x10 ), but we could not detect sex differential effects of rs7697189 on expression. We identified a novel genotype-by-sex interaction at a putative enhancer region upstream of the gene. Establishing the mechanism by which SNPs have different effects on lung function in males and females will be important for our understanding of lung health and diseases in both sexes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15846.2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7938335.2PMC
May 2021

Epigenetic predictors of lifestyle traits applied to the blood and brain.

Brain Commun 2021 19;3(2):fcab082. Epub 2021 Apr 19.

Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, Institute of Genetics and Cancer, University of Edinburgh 2XU, UK.

Modifiable lifestyle factors influence the risk of developing many neurological diseases. These factors have been extensively linked with blood-based genome-wide DNA methylation, but it is unclear if the signatures from blood translate to the target tissue of interest-the brain. To investigate this, we apply blood-derived epigenetic predictors of four lifestyle traits to genome-wide DNA methylation from five post-mortem brain regions and the last blood sample prior to death in 14 individuals in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936. Using these matched samples, we found that correlations between blood and brain DNA methylation scores for smoking, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, alcohol and body mass index were highly variable across brain regions. Smoking scores in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex had the strongest correlations with smoking scores in blood (=0.5,  = 14, =0.07) and smoking behaviour (=0.56,  = 9, =0.12). This was also the brain region which exhibited the largest correlations for DNA methylation at site cg05575921 - the single strongest correlate of smoking in blood-in relation to blood (=0.61,  = 14, =0.02) and smoking behaviour ( = -0.65,  = 9, =0.06). This suggested a particular vulnerability to smoking-related differential methylation in this region. Our work contributes to understanding how lifestyle factors affect the brain and suggest that lifestyle-related DNA methylation is likely to be both brain region dependent and in many cases poorly proxied for by blood. Though these pilot data provide a rarely-available opportunity for the comparison of methylation patterns across multiple brain regions and the blood, due to the limited sample size available our results must be considered as preliminary and should therefore be used as a basis for further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcab082DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8134833PMC
April 2021

Rare Missense Functional Variants at and in Sporadic Intracerebral Hemorrhage.

Neurology 2021 May 24. Epub 2021 May 24.

Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

ObjectiveTo test the genetic contribution of rare missense variants in and in which common variants are genetically associated with sporadic intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), we performed rare variant analysis in multiple sequencing data for the risk for sporadic ICH.MethodsWe performed sequencing across 559Kbp at 13q34 including and among 2,133 individuals (1,055 ICH cases; 1,078 controls) in US-based and 1,492 individuals (192 ICH cases; 1,189 controls) from Scotland-based cohorts, followed by sequence annotation, functional impact prediction, genetic association testing, and thermodynamic modeling.ResultsWe identified 107 rare nonsynonymous variants in sporadic ICH, of which two missense variants, rs138269346 (COL4A1) and rs201716258 (COL4A2), were predicted to be highly functional and occurred in multiple ICH cases but not in controls from the US-based cohort. The minor allele of rs201716258 was also present in Scottish ICH patients, and rs138269346 was observed in two ICH-free controls with a history of hypertension and myocardial infarction. Rs138269346 was nominally associated with non-lobar ICH risk (P=0.05), but not with lobar ICH (P=0.08), while associations between rs201716258 and ICH subtypes were non-significant (P>0.12). Both variants were considered pathogenic based on minor allele frequency (<0.00035 in EUR), predicted functional impact ( or ), and modeling studies (substantially altered physical length and thermal stability of collagen).ConclusionsWe identified rare missense variants in / in association with sporadic ICH. Our annotation and simulation studies suggest that these variants are highly functional and may represent targets for translational follow-up.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000012227DOI Listing
May 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

Meta-analysis of genome-wide DNA methylation identifies shared associations across neurodegenerative disorders.

Genome Biol 2021 Mar 26;22(1):90. Epub 2021 Mar 26.

Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4019, Australia.

Background: People with neurodegenerative disorders show diverse clinical syndromes, genetic heterogeneity, and distinct brain pathological changes, but studies report overlap between these features. DNA methylation (DNAm) provides a way to explore this overlap and heterogeneity as it is determined by the combined effects of genetic variation and the environment. In this study, we aim to identify shared blood DNAm differences between controls and people with Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease.

Results: We use a mixed-linear model method (MOMENT) that accounts for the effect of (un)known confounders, to test for the association of each DNAm site with each disorder. While only three probes are found to be genome-wide significant in each MOMENT association analysis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson's disease (and none with Alzheimer's disease), a fixed-effects meta-analysis of the three disorders results in 12 genome-wide significant differentially methylated positions. Predicted immune cell-type proportions are disrupted across all neurodegenerative disorders. Protein inflammatory markers are correlated with profile sum-scores derived from disease-associated immune cell-type proportions in a healthy aging cohort. In contrast, they are not correlated with MOMENT DNAm-derived profile sum-scores, calculated using effect sizes of the 12 differentially methylated positions as weights.

Conclusions: We identify shared differentially methylated positions in whole blood between neurodegenerative disorders that point to shared pathogenic mechanisms. These shared differentially methylated positions may reflect causes or consequences of disease, but they are unlikely to reflect cell-type proportion differences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13059-021-02275-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8004462PMC
March 2021

Apolipoprotein E e4 allele status and later-life depression in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936.

Psychol Med 2021 Mar 2:1-9. Epub 2021 Mar 2.

Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Background: Previous results have been mixed regarding the role of the apolipoprotein E e4 (APOE e4) allele in later-life depression: some studies note that carriers experience greater symptoms and increased risk while others find no such association. However, there are few prospective, population-based studies of the APOE e4-depression association and fewer that examine depressive symptom trajectory and depression risk longitudinally. We examined the association between APOE e4 allele status and longitudinal change in depressive symptoms and depression risk in later-life, over a 12-year follow-up period.

Methods: We used data from 690 participants of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 who took part in the Scottish Mental Survey 1947 (aged 11) and were followed-up in later-life over five waves from 2004 to 2019 (aged 70-82). We used APOE e4 allele status to predict longitudinal change in depressive symptom scores and risk of depression (defined by a symptom score threshold or use of depression-related medication). Models were adjusted for sex, childhood cognitive ability, childhood social class, education, adult social class, smoking status and functional limitations at baseline.

Results: Depressive symptom scores increased with age. Once adjusted for covariates, APOE e4 allele status did not significantly predict symptom score trajectories or depression risk. Greater functional limitations at baseline significantly predicted poorer symptom score trajectories and increased depression risk (defined by medications). APOE e4 allele status did not significantly moderate the contribution of sex, education or functional limitations.

Conclusions: There was no evidence that APOE e4 carriers experience an increased risk for later-life depression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291721000623DOI Listing
March 2021

Creating and validating a DNA methylation-based proxy for interleukin-6.

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2021 Feb 17. Epub 2021 Feb 17.

Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Background: Studies evaluating the relationship between chronic inflammation and cognitive functioning have produced heterogeneous results. A potential reason for this is the variability of inflammatory mediators which could lead to misclassifications of individuals' persisting levels of inflammation. DNA methylation has shown utility in indexing environmental exposures and could be leveraged to provide proxy signatures of chronic inflammation.

Methods: We conducted an elastic net regression of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in a cohort of 875 older adults (Lothian Birth Cohort 1936; mean age: 70 years) to develop a DNA methylation-based predictor. The predictor was tested in an independent cohort (Generation Scotland; n=7,028 [417 with measured IL-6], mean age: 51 years).

Results: A weighted score from 35 CpG sites optimally predicted IL-6 in the independent test set (Generation Scotland; R 2=4.4%, p=2.1x10 -5). In the independent test cohort, both measured IL-6 and the DNA methylation proxy increased with age (serum IL-6: n=417, β=0.02, SE=0.004 p=1.3x10 -7; DNAm IL-6 score: n=7,028, β=0.02, SE=0.0009, p<2x10 -16). Serum IL-6 did not associate with cognitive ability (n=417, β=-0.06, SE=0.05, p=0.19); however, an inverse association was identified between the DNA methylation score and cognitive functioning (n=7,028, β=-0.16, SE=0.02, pFDR<2x10 -16).

Conclusions: These results suggest methylation-based predictors can be used as proxies for inflammatory markers, potentially allowing for further insight into the relationship between inflammation and pertinent health outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glab046DOI Listing
February 2021

Early Developmental EEG and Seizure Phenotypes in a Full Gene Deletion of Ubiquitin Protein Ligase E3A Rat Model of Angelman Syndrome.

eNeuro 2021 Mar-Apr;8(2). Epub 2021 Mar 24.

Cain Foundation Laboratories, Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, TX 77030

Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder with unique behavioral phenotypes, seizures, and distinctive electroencephalographic (EEG) patterns. Recent studies identified motor, social communication, and learning and memory deficits in a CRISPR engineered rat model with a complete maternal deletion of the gene. It is unknown whether this model recapitulates other aspects of the clinical disorder. We report here the effect of maternal deletion in the rat on epileptiform activity, seizure threshold, and quantitative EEG. Using video-synchronized EEG (vEEG) monitoring, we assessed spectral power and epileptiform activity early postnatally through adulthood. While EEG power was similar to wild-type (WT) at 1.5 weeks postnatally, at all other ages analyzed, our findings were similar to the AS phenotype in mice and humans with significantly increased δ power. Analysis of epileptiform activity in juvenile and adult rats showed increased time spent in epileptiform activity in AS compared with WT rats. We evaluated seizure threshold using pentylenetetrazol (PTZ), audiogenic stimulus, and hyperthermia to provoke febrile seizures (FSs). Behavioral seizure scoring following PTZ induction revealed no difference in seizure threshold in AS rats, however behavioral recovery from the PTZ-induced seizure was longer in the adult group with significantly increased hippocampal epileptiform activity during this phase. When exposed to hyperthermia, AS rat pups showed a significantly lower temperature threshold to first seizure than WT. Our findings highlight an age-dependence for the EEG and epileptiform phenotypes in a preclinical model of AS, and support the use of quantitative EEG and increased δ power as a potential biomarker of AS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0345-20.2020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8114899PMC
June 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

Genome-wide analysis of gene dosage in 24,092 individuals estimates that 10,000 genes modulate cognitive ability.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 Jan 7. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Genomic copy number variants (CNVs) are routinely identified and reported back to patients with neuropsychiatric disorders, but their quantitative effects on essential traits such as cognitive ability are poorly documented. We have recently shown that the effect size of deletions on cognitive ability can be statistically predicted using measures of intolerance to haploinsufficiency. However, the effect sizes of duplications remain unknown. It is also unknown if the effect of multigenic CNVs are driven by a few genes intolerant to haploinsufficiency or distributed across tolerant genes as well. Here, we identified all CNVs > 50 kilobases in 24,092 individuals from unselected and autism cohorts with assessments of general intelligence. Statistical models used measures of intolerance to haploinsufficiency of genes included in CNVs to predict their effect size on intelligence. Intolerant genes decrease general intelligence by 0.8 and 2.6 points of intelligence quotient when duplicated or deleted, respectively. Effect sizes showed no heterogeneity across cohorts. Validation analyses demonstrated that models could predict CNV effect sizes with 78% accuracy. Data on the inheritance of 27,766 CNVs showed that deletions and duplications with the same effect size on intelligence occur de novo at the same frequency. We estimated that around 10,000 intolerant and tolerant genes negatively affect intelligence when deleted, and less than 2% have large effect sizes. Genes encompassed in CNVs were not enriched in any GOterms but gene regulation and brain expression were GOterms overrepresented in the intolerant subgroup. Such pervasive effects on cognition may be related to emergent properties of the genome not restricted to a limited number of biological pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-00985-zDOI Listing
January 2021

Pulmonary Function and Risk of Alzheimer Dementia: Two-Sample Mendelian Randomization Study.

Chest 2021 Jul 13;160(1):274-276. Epub 2020 Dec 13.

Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK; UCL Research Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, University College London, London, UK.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chest.2020.11.056DOI Listing
July 2021

Discovery of rare variants associated with blood pressure regulation through meta-analysis of 1.3 million individuals.

Nat Genet 2020 12 23;52(12):1314-1332. Epub 2020 Nov 23.

Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, Denmark.

Genetic studies of blood pressure (BP) to date have mainly analyzed common variants (minor allele frequency > 0.05). In a meta-analysis of up to ~1.3 million participants, we discovered 106 new BP-associated genomic regions and 87 rare (minor allele frequency ≤ 0.01) variant BP associations (P < 5 × 10), of which 32 were in new BP-associated loci and 55 were independent BP-associated single-nucleotide variants within known BP-associated regions. Average effects of rare variants (44% coding) were ~8 times larger than common variant effects and indicate potential candidate causal genes at new and known loci (for example, GATA5 and PLCB3). BP-associated variants (including rare and common) were enriched in regions of active chromatin in fetal tissues, potentially linking fetal development with BP regulation in later life. Multivariable Mendelian randomization suggested possible inverse effects of elevated systolic and diastolic BP on large artery stroke. Our study demonstrates the utility of rare-variant analyses for identifying candidate genes and the results highlight potential therapeutic targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-020-00713-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7610439PMC
December 2020

Multi-method genome- and epigenome-wide studies of inflammatory protein levels in healthy older adults.

Genome Med 2020 07 8;12(1):60. Epub 2020 Jul 8.

Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK.

Background: The molecular factors which control circulating levels of inflammatory proteins are not well understood. Furthermore, association studies between molecular probes and human traits are often performed by linear model-based methods which may fail to account for complex structure and interrelationships within molecular datasets.

Methods: In this study, we perform genome- and epigenome-wide association studies (GWAS/EWAS) on the levels of 70 plasma-derived inflammatory protein biomarkers in healthy older adults (Lothian Birth Cohort 1936; n = 876; Olink® inflammation panel). We employ a Bayesian framework (BayesR+) which can account for issues pertaining to data structure and unknown confounding variables (with sensitivity analyses using ordinary least squares- (OLS) and mixed model-based approaches).

Results: We identified 13 SNPs associated with 13 proteins (n = 1 SNP each) concordant across OLS and Bayesian methods. We identified 3 CpG sites spread across 3 proteins (n = 1 CpG each) that were concordant across OLS, mixed-model and Bayesian analyses. Tagged genetic variants accounted for up to 45% of variance in protein levels (for MCP2, 36% of variance alone attributable to 1 polymorphism). Methylation data accounted for up to 46% of variation in protein levels (for CXCL10). Up to 66% of variation in protein levels (for VEGFA) was explained using genetic and epigenetic data combined. We demonstrated putative causal relationships between CD6 and IL18R1 with inflammatory bowel disease and between IL12B and Crohn's disease.

Conclusions: Our data may aid understanding of the molecular regulation of the circulating inflammatory proteome as well as causal relationships between inflammatory mediators and disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13073-020-00754-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7346642PMC
July 2020

Generation of twenty four induced pluripotent stem cell lines from twenty four members of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936.

Stem Cell Res 2020 07 20;46:101851. Epub 2020 May 20.

iPSC Core, The David Janet Polak Foundation Stem Cell Core Laboratory, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA; Cedars-Sinai Biomanufacturing Center, West Hollywood, CA 90069, USA; Board of Governors-Regenerative Medicine Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA; Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, 90048, USA. Electronic address:

Cognitive decline is among the most feared aspects of ageing. We have generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from 24 people from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, whose cognitive ability was tested in childhood and in older age. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were reprogrammed using non-integrating oriP/EBNA1 backbone plasmids expressing six iPSC reprogramming factors (OCT3/4 (POU5F1), SOX2, KLF4, L-Myc, shp53, Lin28, SV40LT). All lines demonstrated STR matched karyotype and pluripotency was validated by multiple methods. These iPSC lines are a valuable resource to study molecular mechanisms underlying individual differences in cognitive ageing and resilience to age-related neurodegenerative diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scr.2020.101851DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7347008PMC
July 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

Neurology-related protein biomarkers are associated with cognitive ability and brain volume in older age.

Nat Commun 2020 02 10;11(1):800. Epub 2020 Feb 10.

Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, UK.

Identifying biological correlates of late life cognitive function is important if we are to ascertain biomarkers for, and develop treatments to help reduce, age-related cognitive decline. Here, we investigated the associations between plasma levels of 90 neurology-related proteins (Olink® Proteomics) and general fluid cognitive ability in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (LBC1936, N = 798), Lothian Birth Cohort 1921 (LBC1921, N = 165), and the INTERVAL BioResource (N = 4451). In the LBC1936, 22 of the proteins were significantly associated with general fluid cognitive ability (β between -0.11 and -0.17). MRI-assessed total brain volume partially mediated the association between 10 of these proteins and general fluid cognitive ability. In an age-matched subsample of INTERVAL, effect sizes for the 22 proteins, although smaller, were all in the same direction as in LBC1936. Plasma levels of a number of neurology-related proteins are associated with general fluid cognitive ability in later life, mediated by brain volume in some cases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-14161-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7010796PMC
February 2020

Attitudes to ageing, biomarkers of ageing and mortality: the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936.

J Epidemiol Community Health 2020 04 28;74(4):377-383. Epub 2020 Jan 28.

Psychology, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Objective: To investigate whether people with more positive attitudes to ageing are biologically younger as defined by leucocyte telomere length, accelerated DNA methylation GrimAge (AgeAccelGrim) and brain-predicted age difference, and whether these biomarkers explain relationships between attitudes to ageing and mortality.

Methods: We used linear regression to examine cross-sectionally attitudes to ageing (measured using the Attitudes to Ageing Questionnaire) and the three biomarkers in 758 adults, mean age 72.5 years, from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936. We used Cox proportional hazards models to examine longitudinally attitudes to ageing and mortality and the role of the biomarkers.

Results: More positive attitude to physical change was associated with younger biological age, as measured by AgeAccelGrim and brain-predicted age difference in age-adjusted and sex-adjusted models: for an SD higher score, AgeAccelGrim was lower by -0.73 (95% CI -1.03 to -0.42) of a year, and brain-predicted age difference was lower by -0.87 (1.51 to 0.23) of a year. Both associations were attenuated by adjustment for covariates and not significant after simultaneous adjustment for all covariates and correction for multiple testing. More positive attitudes to physical change were associated with lower mortality: for an SD higher score the age-adjusted and sex-adjusted HR (95% CI) was 0.66 (0.56 to 0.78). Adjustment for AgeAccelGrim or brain-predicted age difference attenuated this association slightly. It remained significant after adjustment for all covariates.

Conclusion: We found partial evidence that attitudes to ageing are linked with ageing biomarkers but they accounted for only a little of the association between attitudes and mortality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jech-2019-213462DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7079194PMC
April 2020

An epigenetic predictor of death captures multi-modal measures of brain health.

Mol Psychiatry 2019 Dec 3. Epub 2019 Dec 3.

Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Individuals of the same chronological age exhibit disparate rates of biological ageing. Consequently, a number of methodologies have been proposed to determine biological age and primarily exploit variation at the level of DNA methylation (DNAm). A novel epigenetic clock, termed 'DNAm GrimAge' has outperformed its predecessors in predicting the risk of mortality as well as many age-related morbidities. However, the association between DNAm GrimAge and cognitive or neuroimaging phenotypes remains unknown. We explore these associations in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (n = 709, mean age 73 years). Higher DNAm GrimAge was strongly associated with all-cause mortality over the eighth decade (Hazard Ratio per standard deviation increase in GrimAge: 1.81, P < 2.0 × 10). Higher DNAm GrimAge was associated with lower age 11 IQ (β = -0.11), lower age 73 general cognitive ability (β = -0.18), decreased brain volume (β = -0.25) and increased brain white matter hyperintensities (β = 0.17). There was tentative evidence for a longitudinal association between DNAm GrimAge and cognitive decline from age 70 to 79. Sixty-nine of 137 health- and brain-related phenotypes tested were significantly associated with GrimAge. Adjusting all models for childhood intelligence attenuated to non-significance a small number of associations (12/69 associations; 6 of which were cognitive traits), but not the association with general cognitive ability (33.9% attenuation). Higher DNAm GrimAge associates with lower cognitive ability and brain vascular lesions in older age, independently of early-life cognitive ability. This epigenetic predictor of mortality associates with different measures of brain health and may aid in the prediction of age-related cognitive decline.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-019-0616-9DOI Listing
December 2019

Loss-of-Function Mutations in the ALPL Gene Presenting with Adult Onset Osteoporosis and Low Serum Concentrations of Total Alkaline Phosphatase.

J Bone Miner Res 2020 04 7;35(4):657-661. Epub 2020 Jan 7.

Rheumatology and Bone Disease Unit, Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, MRC institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Hypophosphatasia (HPP) is a rare inherited disorder characterized by rickets and low circulating concentrations of total alkaline phosphatase (ALP) caused by mutations in ALPL. Severe HPP presents in childhood but milder forms can present in adulthood. The prevalence and clinical features of adult HPP are poorly defined. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and clinical significance of low serum total alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels in a clinic-based population of adult osteoporotic patients. We searched for patients with low ALP in a cohort of 3285 patients referred to an osteoporosis clinic over a 10-year period and performed mutation screening of ALPL in those with low ALP (≤40 U/L) on two or more occasions. These individuals were matched with four clinic controls with a normal ALP. We also evaluated the prevalence of low ALP and ALPL mutations in 639 individuals from the general population from the same region. We identified 16/3285 (0.49%) clinic patients with low ALP and 14 (87.5%) had potentially pathogenic variants in ALPL. Eight of these individuals were heterozygous for mutations previously described in HPP and 2 were heterozygous for novel mutations (p.Arg301Trp and p.Tyr101X). These mutations were not found in clinic controls or in the general population. Eight patients with low ALP, including 4 with ALPL mutations, were treated with bisphosphonates for an average of 6.5 years. In these individuals, the rate of fractures during treatment was comparable to that in normal ALP clinic controls who were treated with bisphosphonates. We conclude that heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in ALPL are common in osteoporosis patients with low ALP. Further studies are required to determine how best these individuals should be treated. © 2019 The Authors. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research published by American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jbmr.3928DOI Listing
April 2020

Increased ultra-rare variant load in an isolated Scottish population impacts exonic and regulatory regions.

PLoS Genet 2019 11 25;15(11):e1008480. Epub 2019 Nov 25.

MRC Human Genetics Unit, MRC IGMM, University of Edinburgh, Crewe Road, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Human population isolates provide a snapshot of the impact of historical demographic processes on population genetics. Such data facilitate studies of the functional impact of rare sequence variants on biomedical phenotypes, as strong genetic drift can result in higher frequencies of variants that are otherwise rare. We present the first whole genome sequencing (WGS) study of the VIKING cohort, a representative collection of samples from the isolated Shetland population in northern Scotland, and explore how its genetic characteristics compare to a mainland Scottish population. Our analyses reveal the strong contributions played by the founder effect and genetic drift in shaping genomic variation in the VIKING cohort. About one tenth of all high-quality variants discovered are unique to the VIKING cohort or are seen at frequencies at least ten fold higher than in more cosmopolitan control populations. Multiple lines of evidence also suggest relaxation of purifying selection during the evolutionary history of the Shetland isolate. We demonstrate enrichment of ultra-rare VIKING variants in exonic regions and for the first time we also show that ultra-rare variants are enriched within regulatory regions, particularly promoters, suggesting that gene expression patterns may diverge relatively rapidly in human isolates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1008480DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6901239PMC
November 2019

Associations of autozygosity with a broad range of human phenotypes.

Nat Commun 2019 10 31;10(1):4957. Epub 2019 Oct 31.

Department of Neurology, Brain Centre Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584 CX, The Netherlands.

In many species, the offspring of related parents suffer reduced reproductive success, a phenomenon known as inbreeding depression. In humans, the importance of this effect has remained unclear, partly because reproduction between close relatives is both rare and frequently associated with confounding social factors. Here, using genomic inbreeding coefficients (F) for >1.4 million individuals, we show that F is significantly associated (p < 0.0005) with apparently deleterious changes in 32 out of 100 traits analysed. These changes are associated with runs of homozygosity (ROH), but not with common variant homozygosity, suggesting that genetic variants associated with inbreeding depression are predominantly rare. The effect on fertility is striking: F equivalent to the offspring of first cousins is associated with a 55% decrease [95% CI 44-66%] in the odds of having children. Finally, the effects of F are confirmed within full-sibling pairs, where the variation in F is independent of all environmental confounding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12283-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6823371PMC
October 2019

Predicting incident dementia 3-8 years after brief cognitive tests in the UK Biobank prospective study of 500,000 people.

Alzheimers Dement 2019 12 13;15(12):1546-1557. Epub 2019 Oct 13.

Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE), Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Introduction: Prospective studies reporting associations between cognitive performance and subsequent incident dementia have been subject to attrition bias. Furthermore, the extent to which established risk factors account for such associations requires further elucidation.

Methods: We used UK Biobank baseline cognitive data (n ≤ 488,130) and electronically linked hospital inpatient and death records during three- to eight-year follow-up, to estimate risk of total dementia (n = 1051), Alzheimer's disease (n = 352), and vascular dementia (n = 169) according to four brief cognitive tasks, with/without adjustment for constitutional and modifiable risk factors.

Results: We found associations of cognitive task performance with all-cause and cause-specific dementia (P <  .01); these were not accounted for by established risk factors. Cognitive data added up to 5% to the discriminative accuracy of receiver operating characteristic curve models; areas under the curve ranged from 82% to 86%.

Discussion: This study offers robust evidence that brief cognitive testing could be a valuable addition to dementia prediction models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2019.07.014DOI Listing
December 2019

Epigenetic signatures of smoking associate with cognitive function, brain structure, and mental and physical health outcomes in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936.

Transl Psychiatry 2019 10 7;9(1):248. Epub 2019 Oct 7.

Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, UK.

Recent advances in genome-wide DNA methylation (DNAm) profiling for smoking behaviour have given rise to a new, molecular biomarker of smoking exposure. It is unclear whether a smoking-associated DNAm (epigenetic) score has predictive value for ageing-related health outcomes which is independent of contributions from self-reported (phenotypic) smoking measures. Blood DNA methylation levels were measured in 895 adults aged 70 years in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (LBC1936) study using the Illumina 450K assay. A DNA methylation score based on 230 CpGs was used as a proxy for smoking exposure. Associations between smoking variables and health outcomes at age 70 were modelled using general linear modelling (ANCOVA) and logistic regression. Additional analyses of smoking with brain MRI measures at age 73 (n = 532) were performed. Smoking-DNAm scores were positively associated with self-reported smoking status (P < 0.001, eta-squared ɳ = 0.63) and smoking pack years (r = 0.69, P < 0.001). Higher smoking DNAm scores were associated with variables related to poorer cognitive function, structural brain integrity, physical health, and psychosocial health. Compared with phenotypic smoking, the methylation marker provided stronger associations with all of the cognitive function scores, especially visuospatial ability (P < 0.001, partial eta-squared ɳp = 0.022) and processing speed (P < 0.001, ɳp = 0.030); inflammatory markers (all P < 0.001, ranges from ɳp = 0.021 to 0.030); dietary patterns (healthy diet (P < 0.001, ɳp = 0.052) and traditional diet (P < 0.001, ɳp = 0.032); stroke (P = 0.006, OR 1.48, 95% CI 1.12, 1.96); mortality (P < 0.001, OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.42, 1.79), and at age 73; with MRI volumetric measures (all P < 0.001, ranges from ɳp = 0.030 to 0.052). Additionally, education was the most important life-course predictor of lifetime smoking tested. Our results suggest that a smoking-associated methylation biomarker typically explains a greater proportion of the variance in some smoking-related morbidities in older adults, than phenotypic measures of smoking exposure, with some of the accounted-for variance being independent of phenotypic smoking status.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-019-0576-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6779733PMC
October 2019

Epigenome-wide association study of leukocyte telomere length.

Aging (Albany NY) 2019 08 26;11(16):5876-5894. Epub 2019 Aug 26.

Department of Human Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 9009, USA.

Telomere length is associated with age-related diseases and is highly heritable. It is unclear, however, to what extent epigenetic modifications are associated with leukocyte telomere length (LTL). In this study, we conducted a large-scale epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of LTL using seven large cohorts (n=5,713) - the Framingham Heart Study, the Jackson Heart Study, the Women's Health Initiative, the Bogalusa Heart Study, the Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936, and the Longitudinal Study of Aging Danish Twins. Our stratified analysis suggests that EWAS findings for women of African ancestry may be distinct from those of three other groups: males of African ancestry, and males and females of European ancestry. Using a meta-analysis framework, we identified DNA methylation (DNAm) levels at 823 CpG sites to be significantly associated (P<1E-7) with LTL after adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, and imputed white blood cell counts. Functional enrichment analyses revealed that these CpG sites are near genes that play a role in circadian rhythm, blood coagulation, and wound healing. Weighted correlation network analysis identified four co-methylation modules associated with LTL, age, and blood cell counts. Overall, this study reveals highly significant relationships between two hallmarks of aging: telomere biology and epigenetic changes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/aging.102230DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6738430PMC
August 2019

Improved precision of epigenetic clock estimates across tissues and its implication for biological ageing.

Genome Med 2019 08 23;11(1):54. Epub 2019 Aug 23.

Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia.

Background: DNA methylation changes with age. Chronological age predictors built from DNA methylation are termed 'epigenetic clocks'. The deviation of predicted age from the actual age ('age acceleration residual', AAR) has been reported to be associated with death. However, it is currently unclear how a better prediction of chronological age affects such association.

Methods: In this study, we build multiple predictors based on training DNA methylation samples selected from 13,661 samples (13,402 from blood and 259 from saliva). We use the Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 (LBC1921) and 1936 (LBC1936) to examine whether the association between AAR (from these predictors) and death is affected by (1) improving prediction accuracy of an age predictor as its training sample size increases (from 335 to 12,710) and (2) additionally correcting for confounders (i.e., cellular compositions). In addition, we investigated the performance of our predictor in non-blood tissues.

Results: We found that in principle, a near-perfect age predictor could be developed when the training sample size is sufficiently large. The association between AAR and mortality attenuates as prediction accuracy increases. AAR from our best predictor (based on Elastic Net, https://github.com/qzhang314/DNAm-based-age-predictor ) exhibits no association with mortality in both LBC1921 (hazard ratio = 1.08, 95% CI 0.91-1.27) and LBC1936 (hazard ratio = 1.00, 95% CI 0.79-1.28). Predictors based on small sample size are prone to confounding by cellular compositions relative to those from large sample size. We observed comparable performance of our predictor in non-blood tissues with a multi-tissue-based predictor.

Conclusions: This study indicates that the epigenetic clock can be improved by increasing the training sample size and that its association with mortality attenuates with increased prediction of chronological age.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13073-019-0667-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6708158PMC
August 2019

DNA methylation-based estimator of telomere length.

Aging (Albany NY) 2019 08 18;11(16):5895-5923. Epub 2019 Aug 18.

Department of Human Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

Telomere length (TL) is associated with several aging-related diseases. Here, we present a DNA methylation estimator of TL (DNAmTL) based on 140 CpGs. Leukocyte DNAmTL is applicable across the entire age spectrum and is more strongly associated with age than measured leukocyte TL (LTL) (-0.75 for DNAmTL versus -0.35 for LTL). Leukocyte DNAmTL outperforms LTL in predicting: i) time-to-death (p=2.5E-20), ii) time-to-coronary heart disease (p=6.6E-5), iii) time-to-congestive heart failure (p=3.5E-6), and iv) association with smoking history (p=1.21E-17). These associations are further validated in large scale methylation data (n=10k samples) from the Framingham Heart Study, Women's Health Initiative, Jackson Heart Study, InChianti, Lothian Birth Cohorts, Twins UK, and Bogalusa Heart Study. Leukocyte DNAmTL is also associated with measures of physical fitness/functioning (p=0.029), age-at-menopause (p=0.039), dietary variables (omega 3, fish, vegetable intake), educational attainment (p=3.3E-8) and income (p=3.1E-5). Experiments in cultured somatic cells show that DNAmTL dynamics reflect in part cell replication rather than TL . DNAmTL is not only an epigenetic biomarker of replicative history of cells, but a useful marker of age-related pathologies that are associated with it.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/aging.102173DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6738410PMC
August 2019

Genome and epigenome wide studies of neurological protein biomarkers in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936.

Nat Commun 2019 07 18;10(1):3160. Epub 2019 Jul 18.

Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK.

Although plasma proteins may serve as markers of neurological disease risk, the molecular mechanisms responsible for inter-individual variation in plasma protein levels are poorly understood. Therefore, we conduct genome- and epigenome-wide association studies on the levels of 92 neurological proteins to identify genetic and epigenetic loci associated with their plasma concentrations (n = 750 healthy older adults). We identify 41 independent genome-wide significant (P < 5.4 × 10) loci for 33 proteins and 26 epigenome-wide significant (P < 3.9 × 10) sites associated with the levels of 9 proteins. Using this information, we identify biological pathways in which putative neurological biomarkers are implicated (neurological, immunological and extracellular matrix metabolic pathways). We also observe causal relationships (by Mendelian randomisation analysis) between changes in gene expression (DRAXIN, MDGA1 and KYNU), or DNA methylation profiles (MATN3, MDGA1 and NEP), and altered plasma protein levels. Together, this may help inform causal relationships between biomarkers and neurological diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11177-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6639385PMC
July 2019