Using genome-wide data from 253,288 individuals, we identified 697 variants at genome-wide significance that together explained one-fifth of the heritability for adult height. By testing different numbers of variants in independent studies, we show that the most strongly associated ?2,000, ?3,700 and ?9,500 SNPs explained ?21%, ?24% and ?29% of phenotypic variance. Furthermore, all common variants together captured 60% of heritability. The 697 variants clustered in 423 loci were enriched for genes, pathways and tissue types known to be involved in growth and together implicated genes and pathways not highlighted in earlier efforts, such as signaling by fibroblast growth factors, WNT/?-catenin and chondroitin sulfate-related genes. We identified several genes and pathways not previously connected with human skeletal growth, including mTOR, osteoglycin and binding of hyaluronic acid. Our results indicate a genetic architecture for human height that is characterized by a very large but finite number (thousands) of causal variants.
The ageing of the global population calls for a better understanding of age-related metabolic consequences. Here we report the effects of age, sex and menopause on serum metabolites in 26,065 individuals of Northern European ancestry. Age-specific metabolic fingerprints differ significantly by gender and, in females, a substantial atherogenic shift overlapping the time of menopausal transition is observed. In meta-analysis of 10,083 women, menopause status associates with amino acids glutamine, tyrosine and isoleucine, along with serum cholesterol measures and atherogenic lipoproteins. Among 3,204 women aged 40-55 years, menopause status associates additionally with glycine and total, monounsaturated, and omega-7 and -9 fatty acids. Our findings suggest that, in addition to lipid alterations, menopause may contribute to future metabolic and cardiovascular risk via influencing amino-acid concentrations, adding to the growing evidence of the importance of amino acids in metabolic disease progression. These observations shed light on the metabolic consequences of ageing, gender and menopause at the population level.
The genetic contribution to the variation in human lifespan is ? 25%. Despite the large number of identified disease-susceptibility loci, it is not known which loci influence population mortality. We performed a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 7729 long-lived individuals of European descent (? 85 years) and 16 121 younger controls (<65 years) followed by replication in an additional set of 13 060 long-lived individuals and 61 156 controls. In addition, we performed a subset analysis in cases aged ? 90 years. We observed genome-wide significant association with longevity, as reflected by survival to ages beyond 90 years, at a novel locus, rs2149954, on chromosome 5q33.3 (OR = 1.10, P = 1.74 × 10(-8)). We also confirmed association of rs4420638 on chromosome 19q13.32 (OR = 0.72, P = 3.40 × 10(-36)), representing the TOMM40/APOE/APOC1 locus. In a prospective meta-analysis (n = 34 103), the minor allele of rs2149954 (T) on chromosome 5q33.3 associates with increased survival (HR = 0.95, P = 0.003). This allele has previously been reported to associate with low blood pressure in middle age. Interestingly, the minor allele (T) associates with decreased cardiovascular mortality risk, independent of blood pressure. We report on the first GWAS-identified longevity locus on chromosome 5q33.3 influencing survival in the general European population. The minor allele of this locus associates with low blood pressure in middle age, although the contribution of this allele to survival may be less dependent on blood pressure. Hence, the pleiotropic mechanisms by which this intragenic variation contributes to lifespan regulation have to be elucidated.
The Estonian Biobank cohort is a volunteer-based sample of the Estonian resident adult population (aged ?18 years). The current number of participants-close to 52000--represents a large proportion, 5%, of the Estonian adult population, making it ideally suited to population-based studies. General practitioners (GPs) and medical personnel in the special recruitment offices have recruited participants throughout the country. At baseline, the GPs performed a standardized health examination of the participants, who also donated blood samples for DNA, white blood cells and plasma tests and filled out a 16-module questionnaire on health-related topics such as lifestyle, diet and clinical diagnoses described in WHO ICD-10. A significant part of the cohort has whole genome sequencing (100), genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array data (20 000) and/or NMR metabolome data (11 000) available (http://www.geenivaramu.ee/for-scientists/data-release/). The data are continuously updated through periodical linking to national electronic databases and registries. A part of the cohort has been re-contacted for follow-up purposes and resampling, and targeted invitations are possible for specific purposes, for example people with a specific diagnosis. The Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu is actively collaborating with many universities, research institutes and consortia and encourages fellow scientists worldwide to co-initiate new academic or industrial joint projects with us.
Early identification of ambulatory persons at high short-term risk of death could benefit targeted prevention. To identify biomarkers for all-cause mortality and enhance risk prediction, we conducted high-throughput profiling of blood specimens in two large population-based cohorts.
Not all obese subjects have an adverse metabolic profile predisposing them to developing type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. The BioSHaRE-EU Healthy Obese Project aims to gain insights into the consequences of (healthy) obesity using data on risk factors and phenotypes across several large-scale cohort studies. Aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of obesity, metabolic syndrome (MetS) and metabolically healthy obesity (MHO) in ten participating studies.
Human leukocyte telomere length (LTL) decreases with age and shorter LTL has previously been associated with increased prospective mortality. However, it is not clear whether LTL merely marks the health status of an individual by its association with parameters of immune function, for example, or whether telomere shortening also contributes causally to lifespan variation in humans.
Levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides and total cholesterol are heritable, modifiable risk factors for coronary artery disease. To identify new loci and refine known loci influencing these lipids, we examined 188,577 individuals using genome-wide and custom genotyping arrays. We identify and annotate 157 loci associated with lipid levels at P < 5 × 10(-8), including 62 loci not previously associated with lipid levels in humans. Using dense genotyping in individuals of European, East Asian, South Asian and African ancestry, we narrow association signals in 12 loci. We find that loci associated with blood lipid levels are often associated with cardiovascular and metabolic traits, including coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, waist-hip ratio and body mass index. Our results demonstrate the value of using genetic data from individuals of diverse ancestry and provide insights into the biological mechanisms regulating blood lipids to guide future genetic, biological and therapeutic research.
Genome-wide association studies are becoming computationally more demanding with the growing amounts of data. Combinatorial traits can increase the data dimensions beyond the computational capabilities of the current tools. We addressed this issue by creating an application for quick association analysis that is ten to hundreds of times faster than the leading fast methods. Our tool (RegScan) is designed for performing basic linear regression analysis with continuous traits maximally fast on large data sets. RegScan specifically targets association analysis of combinatorial traits in metabolomics. It can both generate and analyze the combinatorial traits efficiently. RegScan is capable of analyzing any number of traits together without the need to specify each trait individually. The main goal of the article is to show that RegScan can be the preferred analytical tool when large amounts of data need to be analyzed quickly using the allele frequency test.Availability: Precompiled RegScan (all major platforms), source code, user guide and examples are freely available at www.biobank.ee/regscan.Requirements: Qt 4.4.3 or newer for dynamic compilations.
Identifying the downstream effects of disease-associated SNPs is challenging. To help overcome this problem, we performed expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) meta-analysis in non-transformed peripheral blood samples from 5,311 individuals with replication in 2,775 individuals. We identified and replicated trans eQTLs for 233 SNPs (reflecting 103 independent loci) that were previously associated with complex traits at genome-wide significance. Some of these SNPs affect multiple genes in trans that are known to be altered in individuals with disease: rs4917014, previously associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), altered gene expression of C1QB and five type I interferon response genes, both hallmarks of SLE. DeepSAGE RNA sequencing showed that rs4917014 strongly alters the 3 UTR levels of IKZF1 in cis, and chromatin immunoprecipitation and sequencing analysis of the trans-regulated genes implicated IKZF1 as the causal gene. Variants associated with cholesterol metabolism and type 1 diabetes showed similar phenomena, indicating that large-scale eQTL mapping provides insight into the downstream effects of many trait-associated variants.
Although antidepressants are widely used in the pharmacotherapy of major depressive disorder (MDD), their efficacy is still insufficient as approximately one-third of the patients do not fully recover even after several treatment trials. Inter-individual genetic differences are thought to contribute to the variability in antidepressant response; however, current findings from pharmacogenetic studies are uncertain or not clearly replicated. Here we report the first application of full exome sequencing for the analysis of pharmacogenomics on antidepressant treatment. After 12 weeks of treatment with the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor escitalopram, we selected five clear responders and five clear non-responders for exome sequencing. By comparing the allele counts of previously known single nucleotide polymorphisms and novel polymorphisms we selected 38 markers for further genotyping in two independent patient samples treated with escitalopram (n=116 and n=394). The A allele, carried by approximately 30% of the patients with MDD, of rs41271330 in the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP5) gene showed strong association with worse treatment response in both sample sets (p=0.001), indicating that this is an promising pharmacogenetic marker for prediction of antidepressant therapeutic outcome.
The association between adiposity and cardiometabolic traits is well known from epidemiological studies. Whilst the causal relationship is clear for some of these traits, for others it is not. We aimed to determine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits using the Mendelian randomization approach.
Given the anthropometric differences between men and women and previous evidence of sex-difference in genetic effects, we conducted a genome-wide search for sexually dimorphic associations with height, weight, body mass index, waist circumference, hip circumference, and waist-to-hip-ratio (133,723 individuals) and took forward 348 SNPs into follow-up (additional 137,052 individuals) in a total of 94 studies. Seven loci displayed significant sex-difference (FDR<5%), including four previously established (near GRB14/COBLL1, LYPLAL1/SLC30A10, VEGFA, ADAMTS9) and three novel anthropometric trait loci (near MAP3K1, HSD17B4, PPARG), all of which were genome-wide significant in women (P<5×10(-8)), but not in men. Sex-differences were apparent only for waist phenotypes, not for height, weight, BMI, or hip circumference. Moreover, we found no evidence for genetic effects with opposite directions in men versus women. The PPARG locus is of specific interest due to its role in diabetes genetics and therapy. Our results demonstrate the value of sex-specific GWAS to unravel the sexually dimorphic genetic underpinning of complex traits.
A genome-wide association study (GWAS) of educational attainment was conducted in a discovery sample of 101,069 individuals and a replication sample of 25,490. Three independent single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are genome-wide significant (rs9320913, rs11584700, rs4851266), and all three replicate. Estimated effects sizes are small (coefficient of determination R(2) ? 0.02%), approximately 1 month of schooling per allele. A linear polygenic score from all measured SNPs accounts for ?2% of the variance in both educational attainment and cognitive function. Genes in the region of the loci have previously been associated with health, cognitive, and central nervous system phenotypes, and bioinformatics analyses suggest the involvement of the anterior caudate nucleus. These findings provide promising candidate SNPs for follow-up work, and our effect size estimates can anchor power analyses in social-science genetics.
Interindividual variation in mean leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is associated with cancer and several age-associated diseases. We report here a genome-wide meta-analysis of 37,684 individuals with replication of selected variants in an additional 10,739 individuals. We identified seven loci, including five new loci, associated with mean LTL (P < 5 × 10(-8)). Five of the loci contain candidate genes (TERC, TERT, NAF1, OBFC1 and RTEL1) that are known to be involved in telomere biology. Lead SNPs at two loci (TERC and TERT) associate with several cancers and other diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Moreover, a genetic risk score analysis combining lead variants at all 7 loci in 22,233 coronary artery disease cases and 64,762 controls showed an association of the alleles associated with shorter LTL with increased risk of coronary artery disease (21% (95% confidence interval, 5-35%) per standard deviation in LTL, P = 0.014). Our findings support a causal role of telomere-length variation in some age-related diseases.
Elevated resting heart rate is associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. In a 2-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in up to 181,171 individuals, we identified 14 new loci associated with heart rate and confirmed associations with all 7 previously established loci. Experimental downregulation of gene expression in Drosophila melanogaster and Danio rerio identified 20 genes at 11 loci that are relevant for heart rate regulation and highlight a role for genes involved in signal transmission, embryonic cardiac development and the pathophysiology of dilated cardiomyopathy, congenital heart failure and/or sudden cardiac death. In addition, genetic susceptibility to increased heart rate is associated with altered cardiac conduction and reduced risk of sick sinus syndrome, and both heart rate-increasing and heart rate-decreasing variants associate with risk of atrial fibrillation. Our findings provide fresh insights into the mechanisms regulating heart rate and identify new therapeutic targets.
Approaches exploiting trait distribution extremes may be used to identify loci associated with common traits, but it is unknown whether these loci are generalizable to the broader population. In a genome-wide search for loci associated with the upper versus the lower 5th percentiles of body mass index, height and waist-to-hip ratio, as well as clinical classes of obesity, including up to 263,407 individuals of European ancestry, we identified 4 new loci (IGFBP4, H6PD, RSRC1 and PPP2R2A) influencing height detected in the distribution tails and 7 new loci (HNF4G, RPTOR, GNAT2, MRPS33P4, ADCY9, HS6ST3 and ZZZ3) for clinical classes of obesity. Further, we find a large overlap in genetic structure and the distribution of variants between traits based on extremes and the general population and little etiological heterogeneity between obesity subgroups.
Triglycerides are transported in plasma by specific triglyceride-rich lipoproteins; in epidemiological studies, increased triglyceride levels correlate with higher risk for coronary artery disease (CAD). However, it is unclear whether this association reflects causal processes. We used 185 common variants recently mapped for plasma lipids (P < 5 × 10(-8) for each) to examine the role of triglycerides in risk for CAD. First, we highlight loci associated with both low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglyceride levels, and we show that the direction and magnitude of the associations with both traits are factors in determining CAD risk. Second, we consider loci with only a strong association with triglycerides and show that these loci are also associated with CAD. Finally, in a model accounting for effects on LDL-C and/or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels, the strength of a polymorphisms effect on triglyceride levels is correlated with the magnitude of its effect on CAD risk. These results suggest that triglyceride-rich lipoproteins causally influence risk for CAD.
Early menopause (EM) affects up to 10% of the female population, reducing reproductive lifespan considerably. Currently, it constitutes the leading cause of infertility in the western world, affecting mainly those women who postpone their first pregnancy beyond the age of 30 years. The genetic aetiology of EM is largely unknown in the majority of cases. We have undertaken a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWASs) in 3493 EM cases and 13 598 controls from 10 independent studies. No novel genetic variants were discovered, but the 17 variants previously associated with normal age at natural menopause as a quantitative trait (QT) were also associated with EM and primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). Thus, EM has a genetic aetiology which overlaps variation in normal age at menopause and is at least partly explained by the additive effects of the same polygenic variants. The combined effect of the common variants captured by the single nucleotide polymorphism arrays was estimated to account for ?30% of the variance in EM. The association between the combined 17 variants and the risk of EM was greater than the best validated non-genetic risk factor, smoking.
Lung cancer is one of the deadliest types of cancer proven by the poor survival and high relapse rates after surgery. Recently discovered microRNAs (miRNAs), small noncoding RNA molecules, play a crucial role in modulating gene expression networks and are directly involved in the progression of a number of human cancers. In this study, we analyzed the expression profile of 858 miRNAs in 38 Estonian nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) samples (Stage I and II) and 27 adjacent nontumorous tissue samples using Illumina miRNA arrays. We found that 39 miRNAs were up-regulated and 33 down-regulated significantly in tumors compared with normal lung tissue. We observed aberrant expression of several well-characterized tumorigenesis-related miRNAs, as well as a number of miRNAs whose function is currently unknown. We show that low expression of miR-374a in early-stage NSCLC is associated with poor patient survival. The combinatorial effect of the up- and down-regulated miRNAs is predicted to most significantly affect pathways associated with cell migration, differentiation and growth, and several signaling pathways that contribute to tumorigenesis. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that expression of miR-374a at early stages of NSCLC progression can serve as a prognostic marker for patient risk stratification and may be a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of lung cancer.
Vesicular monoamine transporter 1 (VMAT-1) mRNA and protein were examined (1) to determine whether adult mouse brain expresses full-length VMAT-1 mRNA that can be translated to functional transporter protein and (2) to compare immunoreactive VMAT-1 proteins in brain and adrenal.
We propose a structural mean modeling approach to obtain compliance-adjusted estimates for treatment effects in a randomized-controlled trial comparing 2 active treatments. The model relates an individuals observed outcome to his or her counterfactual untreated outcome through the observed receipt of active treatments. Our proposed estimation procedure exploits baseline covariates that predict compliance levels on each arm. We give a closed-form estimator which allows for differential and unexplained selectivity (i.e. noncausal compliance-outcome association due to unobserved confounding) as well as a nonparametric error distribution. In a simple linear model for a 2-arm trial, we show that the distinct causal parameters are identified unless covariate-specific expected compliance levels are proportional on both treatment arms. In the latter case, only a linear contrast between the 2 treatment effects is estimable and may well be of key interest. We demonstrate the method in a clinical trial comparing 2 antidepressants.
Anaemia is a chief determinant of global ill health, contributing to cognitive impairment, growth retardation and impaired physical capacity. To understand further the genetic factors influencing red blood cells, we carried out a genome-wide association study of haemoglobin concentration and related parameters in up to 135,367 individuals. Here we identify 75 independent genetic loci associated with one or more red blood cell phenotypes at P?10(-8), which together explain 4-9% of the phenotypic variance per trait. Using expression quantitative trait loci and bioinformatic strategies, we identify 121 candidate genes enriched in functions relevant to red blood cell biology. The candidate genes are expressed preferentially in red blood cell precursors, and 43 have haematopoietic phenotypes in Mus musculus or Drosophila melanogaster. Through open-chromatin and coding-variant analyses we identify potential causal genetic variants at 41 loci. Our findings provide extensive new insights into genetic mechanisms and biological pathways controlling red blood cell formation and function.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the commonest cause of death. Here, we report an association analysis in 63,746 CAD cases and 130,681 controls identifying 15 loci reaching genome-wide significance, taking the number of susceptibility loci for CAD to 46, and a further 104 independent variants (r(2) < 0.2) strongly associated with CAD at a 5% false discovery rate (FDR). Together, these variants explain approximately 10.6% of CAD heritability. Of the 46 genome-wide significant lead SNPs, 12 show a significant association with a lipid trait, and 5 show a significant association with blood pressure, but none is significantly associated with diabetes. Network analysis with 233 candidate genes (loci at 10% FDR) generated 5 interaction networks comprising 85% of these putative genes involved in CAD. The four most significant pathways mapping to these networks are linked to lipid metabolism and inflammation, underscoring the causal role of these activities in the genetic etiology of CAD. Our study provides insights into the genetic basis of CAD and identifies key biological pathways.
Although single nucleotide polymorphisms of the human vesicular monoamine transporter 1 (hVMAT1) gene SLC18A1 have been associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, there is limited information on the function of naturally occurring hVMAT1 variant proteins. This study evaluated transport activity of full length hVMAT1 isoform-a (NP_003044.1) with a threonine (Thr) or isoleucine (Ile) at amino acid 136 and hVMAT1 isoform-b (NP_00135796.1) with a 136-Thr and deletion of 32 amino acids in the central region of the protein. Genetic studies have previously linked the 136-Thr to bipolar disorder.
There is evidence across several species for genetic control of phenotypic variation of complex traits, such that the variance among phenotypes is genotype dependent. Understanding genetic control of variability is important in evolutionary biology, agricultural selection programmes and human medicine, yet for complex traits, no individual genetic variants associated with variance, as opposed to the mean, have been identified. Here we perform a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of phenotypic variation using ?170,000 samples on height and body mass index (BMI) in human populations. We report evidence that the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs7202116 at the FTO gene locus, which is known to be associated with obesity (as measured by mean BMI for each rs7202116 genotype), is also associated with phenotypic variability. We show that the results are not due to scale effects or other artefacts, and find no other experiment-wise significant evidence for effects on variability, either at loci other than FTO for BMI or at any locus for height. The difference in variance for BMI among individuals with opposite homozygous genotypes at the FTO locus is approximately 7%, corresponding to a difference of ?0.5?kilograms in the standard deviation of weight. Our results indicate that genetic variants can be discovered that are associated with variability, and that between-person variability in obesity can partly be explained by the genotype at the FTO locus. The results are consistent with reported FTO by environment interactions for BMI, possibly mediated by DNA methylation. Our BMI results for other SNPs and our height results for all SNPs suggest that most genetic variants, including those that influence mean height or mean BMI, are not associated with phenotypic variance, or that their effects on variability are too small to detect even with samples sizes greater than 100,000.
To extend understanding of the genetic architecture and molecular basis of type 2 diabetes (T2D), we conducted a meta-analysis of genetic variants on the Metabochip, including 34,840 cases and 114,981 controls, overwhelmingly of European descent. We identified ten previously unreported T2D susceptibility loci, including two showing sex-differentiated association. Genome-wide analyses of these data are consistent with a long tail of additional common variant loci explaining much of the variation in susceptibility to T2D. Exploration of the enlarged set of susceptibility loci implicates several processes, including CREBBP-related transcription, adipocytokine signaling and cell cycle regulation, in diabetes pathogenesis.
The male-to-female sex ratio at birth is constant across world populations with an average of 1.06 (106 male to 100 female live births) for populations of European descent. The sex ratio is considered to be affected by numerous biological and environmental factors and to have a heritable component. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of common allele modest effects at autosomal and chromosome X variants that could explain the observed sex ratio at birth. We conducted a large-scale genome-wide association scan (GWAS) meta-analysis across 51 studies, comprising overall 114 863 individuals (61 094 women and 53 769 men) of European ancestry and 2 623 828 common (minor allele frequency >0.05) single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Allele frequencies were compared between men and women for directly-typed and imputed variants within each study. Forward-time simulations for unlinked, neutral, autosomal, common loci were performed under the demographic model for European populations with a fixed sex ratio and a random mating scheme to assess the probability of detecting significant allele frequency differences. We do not detect any genome-wide significant (P < 5 × 10(-8)) common SNP differences between men and women in this well-powered meta-analysis. The simulated data provided results entirely consistent with these findings. This large-scale investigation across ~115 000 individuals shows no detectable contribution from common genetic variants to the observed skew in the sex ratio. The absence of sex-specific differences is useful in guiding genetic association study design, for example when using mixed controls for sex-biased traits.
Stature is a classical and highly heritable complex trait, with 80%-90% of variation explained by genetic factors. In recent years, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have successfully identified many common additive variants influencing human height; however, little attention has been given to the potential role of recessive genetic effects. Here, we investigated genome-wide recessive effects by an analysis of inbreeding depression on adult height in over 35,000 people from 21 different population samples. We found a highly significant inverse association between height and genome-wide homozygosity, equivalent to a height reduction of up to 3 cm in the offspring of first cousins compared with the offspring of unrelated individuals, an effect which remained after controlling for the effects of socio-economic status, an important confounder (?(2) = 83.89, df = 1; p = 5.2 × 10(-20)). There was, however, a high degree of heterogeneity among populations: whereas the direction of the effect was consistent across most population samples, the effect size differed significantly among populations. It is likely that this reflects true biological heterogeneity: whether or not an effect can be observed will depend on both the variance in homozygosity in the population and the chance inheritance of individual recessive genotypes. These results predict that multiple, rare, recessive variants influence human height. Although this exploratory work focuses on height alone, the methodology developed is generally applicable to heritable quantitative traits (QT), paving the way for an investigation into inbreeding effects, and therefore genetic architecture, on a range of QT of biomedical importance.
Despite of intense research in early cancer detection, there is a lack of biomarkers for the reliable detection of malignant tumors, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). DNA methylation changes are common and relatively stable in various types of cancers, and may be used as diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers.
The Estonian Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy (EPHT) Trial assigned 4170 potential participants prior to recruitment to blind or non-blind hormone therapy (HT), with placebo or non-treatment the respective alternatives. Before having to decide on participation, women were told whether they had been randomised to the blind or non-blind trial. Eligible women who were still willing to join the trial were recruited. After recruitment participants in the non-blind trial (N = 1001) received open-label HT or no treatment, participants in the blind trial (N = 777) remained blinded until the end of the trial. The aim of this paper is to analyse the effect of blinding on internal and external validity of trial outcomes.
To newly identify loci for age at natural menopause, we carried out a meta-analysis of 22 genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in 38,968 women of European descent, with replication in up to 14,435 women. In addition to four known loci, we identified 13 loci newly associated with age at natural menopause (at P < 5 × 10(-8)). Candidate genes located at these newly associated loci include genes implicated in DNA repair (EXO1, HELQ, UIMC1, FAM175A, FANCI, TLK1, POLG and PRIM1) and immune function (IL11, NLRP11 and PRRC2A (also known as BAT2)). Gene-set enrichment pathway analyses using the full GWAS data set identified exoDNase, NF-?B signaling and mitochondrial dysfunction as biological processes related to timing of menopause.
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