We identify common genetic variants associated with cognitive performance using a two-stage approach, which we call the proxy-phenotype method. First, we conduct a genome-wide association study of educational attainment in a large sample (n = 106,736), which produces a set of 69 education-associated SNPs. Second, using independent samples (n = 24,189), we measure the association of these education-associated SNPs with cognitive performance. Three SNPs (rs1487441, rs7923609, and rs2721173) are significantly associated with cognitive performance after correction for multiple hypothesis testing. In an independent sample of older Americans (n = 8,652), we also show that a polygenic score derived from the education-associated SNPs is associated with memory and absence of dementia. Convergent evidence from a set of bioinformatics analyses implicates four specific genes (KNCMA1, NRXN1, POU2F3, and SCRT). All of these genes are associated with a particular neurotransmitter pathway involved in synaptic plasticity, the main cellular mechanism for learning and memory.
Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is an important risk factor in developing glaucoma, and variability in IOP might herald glaucomatous development or progression. We report the results of a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of 18 population cohorts from the International Glaucoma Genetics Consortium (IGGC), comprising 35,296 multi-ancestry participants for IOP. We confirm genetic association of known loci for IOP and primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and identify four new IOP-associated loci located on chromosome 3q25.31 within the FNDC3B gene (P = 4.19 × 10(-8) for rs6445055), two on chromosome 9 (P = 2.80 × 10(-11) for rs2472493 near ABCA1 and P = 6.39 × 10(-11) for rs8176693 within ABO) and one on chromosome 11p11.2 (best P = 1.04 × 10(-11) for rs747782). Separate meta-analyses of 4 independent POAG cohorts, totaling 4,284 cases and 95,560 controls, showed that 3 of these loci for IOP were also associated with POAG.
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.
Genetic testing may be the next step in clinical medicine for a more personalized approach in determining risk of disease. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) personal genome tests may fulfill this role. We explored the practicability and predictive value of DTC tests from four companies (23andMe, deCODEme, Easy DNA, Genetic Testing Laboratories) for AMD.
Glaucoma is characterized by irreversible optic nerve degeneration and is the most frequent cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Here, the International Glaucoma Genetics Consortium conducts a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of vertical cup-disc ratio (VCDR), an important disease-related optic nerve parameter. In 21,094 individuals of European ancestry and 6,784 individuals of Asian ancestry, we identify 10 new loci associated with variation in VCDR. In a separate risk-score analysis of five case-control studies, Caucasians in the highest quintile have a 2.5-fold increased risk of primary open-angle glaucoma as compared with those in the lowest quintile. This study has more than doubled the known loci associated with optic disc cupping and will allow greater understanding of mechanisms involved in this common blinding condition.
Oxidative stress and inflammation are major contributors to accelerated age-related relative telomere length (RTL) shortening. Both conditions are strongly linked to leptin and adiponectin, the most prominent adipocyte-derived protein hormones. As high leptin levels and low levels of adiponectin have been implicated in inflammation, one expects adiponectin to be positively associated with RTL while leptin should be negatively associated. Within the ENGAGE consortium, we investigated the association of RTL with adiponectin and leptin in seven independent cohorts with a total of 11,448 participants. We performed partial correlation analysis on Z-transformed RTL and LN-transformed leptin/adiponectin, adjusting for age and sex. In extended models we adjusted for body mass index (BMI) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Adiponectin showed a borderline significant association with RTL. This appeared to be determined by a single study and when the outlier study was removed, this association disappeared. The association between RTL and leptin was highly significant (r = -0.05; p = 1.81 × 10(-7)). Additional adjustment for BMI or CRP did not change the results. Sex-stratified analysis revealed no difference between men and women. Our study suggests that high leptin levels are associated with short RTL.
Recent evidence suggests that the type I 3?-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, a steroidogenic enzyme encoded by the HSD3B1 gene, could be involved in aldosterone production and that genetic variation in HSD3B1 is associated with blood pressure. These findings challenge the long-standing hypothesis that all adrenocortical steroidogenesis is executed by the type II iso-enzyme, encoded by HSD3B2.
Age at menarche is a marker of timing of puberty in females. It varies widely between individuals, is a heritable trait and is associated with risks for obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and all-cause mortality. Studies of rare human disorders of puberty and animal models point to a complex hypothalamic-pituitary-hormonal regulation, but the mechanisms that determine pubertal timing and underlie its links to disease risk remain unclear. Here, using genome-wide and custom-genotyping arrays in up to 182,416 women of European descent from 57 studies, we found robust evidence (P?5?×?10(-8)) for 123 signals at 106 genomic loci associated with age at menarche. Many loci were associated with other pubertal traits in both sexes, and there was substantial overlap with genes implicated in body mass index and various diseases, including rare disorders of puberty. Menarche signals were enriched in imprinted regions, with three loci (DLK1-WDR25, MKRN3-MAGEL2 and KCNK9) demonstrating parent-of-origin-specific associations concordant with known parental expression patterns. Pathway analyses implicated nuclear hormone receptors, particularly retinoic acid and ?-aminobutyric acid-B2 receptor signalling, among novel mechanisms that regulate pubertal timing in humans. Our findings suggest a genetic architecture involving at least hundreds of common variants in the coordinated timing of the pubertal transition.
Variation in body iron is associated with or causes diseases, including anaemia and iron overload. Here, we analyse genetic association data on biochemical markers of iron status from 11 European-population studies, with replication in eight additional cohorts (total up to 48,972 subjects). We find 11 genome-wide-significant (P<5 × 10(-8)) loci, some including known iron-related genes (HFE, SLC40A1, TF, TFR2, TFRC, TMPRSS6) and others novel (ABO, ARNTL, FADS2, NAT2, TEX14). SNPs at ARNTL, TF, and TFR2 affect iron markers in HFE C282Y homozygotes at risk for hemochromatosis. There is substantial overlap between our iron loci and loci affecting erythrocyte and lipid phenotypes. These results will facilitate investigation of the roles of iron in disease.
To identify genetic variants associated with refractive astigmatism in the general population, meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies were performed for: White Europeans aged at least 25 years (20 cohorts, N = 31,968); Asian subjects aged at least 25 years (7 cohorts, N = 9,295); White Europeans aged <25 years (4 cohorts, N = 5,640); and all independent individuals from the above three samples combined with a sample of Chinese subjects aged <25 years (N = 45,931). Participants were classified as cases with refractive astigmatism if the average cylinder power in their two eyes was at least 1.00 diopter and as controls otherwise. Genome-wide association analysis was carried out for each cohort separately using logistic regression. Meta-analysis was conducted using a fixed effects model. In the older European group the most strongly associated marker was downstream of the neurexin-1 (NRXN1) gene (rs1401327, P = 3.92E-8). No other region reached genome-wide significance, and association signals were lower for the younger European group and Asian group. In the meta-analysis of all cohorts, no marker reached genome-wide significance: The most strongly associated regions were, NRXN1 (rs1401327, P = 2.93E-07), TOX (rs7823467, P = 3.47E-07) and LINC00340 (rs12212674, P = 1.49E-06). For 34 markers identified in prior GWAS for spherical equivalent refractive error, the beta coefficients for genotype versus spherical equivalent, and genotype versus refractive astigmatism, were highly correlated (r = -0.59, P = 2.10E-04). This work revealed no consistent or strong genetic signals for refractive astigmatism; however, the TOX gene region previously identified in GWAS for spherical equivalent refractive error was the second most strongly associated region. Analysis of additional markers provided evidence supporting widespread genetic co-susceptibility for spherical and astigmatic refractive errors.
Mega- or meta-analytic studies (e.g. genome-wide association studies) are increasingly used in behavior genetics. An issue in such studies is that phenotypes are often measured by different instruments across study cohorts, requiring harmonization of measures so that more powerful fixed effect meta-analyses can be employed. Within the Genetics of Personality Consortium, we demonstrate for two clinically relevant personality traits, Neuroticism and Extraversion, how Item-Response Theory (IRT) can be applied to map item data from different inventories to the same underlying constructs. Personality item data were analyzed in >160,000 individuals from 23 cohorts across Europe, USA and Australia in which Neuroticism and Extraversion were assessed by nine different personality inventories. Results showed that harmonization was very successful for most personality inventories and moderately successful for some. Neuroticism and Extraversion inventories were largely measurement invariant across cohorts, in particular when comparing cohorts from countries where the same language is spoken. The IRT-based scores for Neuroticism and Extraversion were heritable (48 and 49 %, respectively, based on a meta-analysis of six twin cohorts, total N = 29,496 and 29,501 twin pairs, respectively) with a significant part of the heritability due to non-additive genetic factors. For Extraversion, these genetic factors qualitatively differ across sexes. We showed that our IRT method can lead to a large increase in sample size and therefore statistical power. The IRT approach may be applied to any mega- or meta-analytic study in which item-based behavioral measures need to be harmonized.
Blood pressure (BP) is a heritable, quantitative trait with intraindividual variability and susceptibility to measurement error. Genetic studies of BP generally use single-visit measurements and thus cannot remove variability occurring over months or years. We leveraged the idea that averaging BP measured across time would improve phenotypic accuracy and thereby increase statistical power to detect genetic associations. We studied systolic BP (SBP), diastolic BP (DBP), mean arterial pressure (MAP), and pulse pressure (PP) averaged over multiple years in 46,629 individuals of European ancestry. We identified 39 trait-variant associations across 19 independent loci (p < 5 × 10(-8)); five associations (in four loci) uniquely identified by our LTA analyses included those of SBP and MAP at 2p23 (rs1275988, near KCNK3), DBP at 2q11.2 (rs7599598, in FER1L5), and PP at 6p21 (rs10948071, near CRIP3) and 7p13 (rs2949837, near IGFBP3). Replication analyses conducted in cohorts with single-visit BP data showed positive replication of associations and a nominal association (p < 0.05). We estimated a 20% gain in statistical power with long-term average (LTA) as compared to single-visit BP association studies. Using LTA analysis, we identified genetic loci influencing BP. LTA might be one way of increasing the power of genetic associations for continuous traits in extant samples for other phenotypes that are measured serially over time.
Although age-dependent effects on blood pressure (BP) have been reported, they have not been systematically investigated in large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWASs). We leveraged the infrastructure of three well-established consortia (CHARGE, GBPgen, and ICBP) and a nonstandard approach (age stratification and metaregression) to conduct a genome-wide search of common variants with age-dependent effects on systolic (SBP), diastolic (DBP), mean arterial (MAP), and pulse (PP) pressure. In a two-staged design using 99,241 individuals of European ancestry, we identified 20 genome-wide significant (p ? 5 × 10(-8)) loci by using joint tests of the SNP main effect and SNP-age interaction. Nine of the significant loci demonstrated nominal evidence of age-dependent effects on BP by tests of the interactions alone. Index SNPs in the EHBP1L1 (DBP and MAP), CASZ1 (SBP and MAP), and GOSR2 (PP) loci exhibited the largest age interactions, with opposite directions of effect in the young versus the old. The changes in the genetic effects over time were small but nonnegligible (up to 1.58 mm Hg over 60 years). The EHBP1L1 locus was discovered through gene-age interactions only in whites but had DBP main effects replicated (p = 8.3 × 10(-4)) in 8,682 Asians from Singapore, indicating potential interethnic heterogeneity. A secondary analysis revealed 22 loci with evidence of age-specific effects (e.g., only in 20 to 29-year-olds). Age can be used to select samples with larger genetic effect sizes and more homogenous phenotypes, which may increase statistical power. Age-dependent effects identified through novel statistical approaches can provide insight into the biology and temporal regulation underlying BP associations.
The aim of our study is to investigate whether single-nucleotide dystrophin gene (DMD) variants associate with variability in cognitive functions in healthy populations. The study included 1240 participants from the Erasmus Rucphen family (ERF) study and 1464 individuals from the Rotterdam Study (RS). The participants whose exomes were sequenced and who were assessed for various cognitive traits were included in the analysis. To determine the association between DMD variants and cognitive ability, linear (mixed) modeling with adjustment for age, sex and education was used. Moreover, Sequence Kernel Association Test (SKAT) was used to test the overall association of the rare genetic variants present in the DMD with cognitive traits. Although no DMD variant surpassed the prespecified significance threshold (P<1 × 10(-4)), rs147546024:A>G showed strong association (?=1.786, P-value=2.56 × 10(-4)) with block-design test in the ERF study, while another variant rs1800273:G>A showed suggestive association (?=-0.465, P-value=0.002) with Mini-Mental State Examination test in the RS. Both variants are highly conserved, although rs147546024:A>G is an intronic variant, whereas rs1800273:G>A is a missense variant in the DMD which has a predicted damaging effect on the protein. Further gene-based analysis of DMD revealed suggestive association (P-values=0.087 and 0.074) with general cognitive ability in both cohorts. In conclusion, both single variant and gene-based analyses suggest the existence of variants in the DMD which may affect cognitive functioning in the general populations.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 17 September 2014; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.183.
Refractive error (RE) is a complex, multifactorial disorder characterized by a mismatch between the optical power of the eye and its axial length that causes object images to be focused off the retina. The two major subtypes of RE are myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), which represent opposite ends of the distribution of the quantitative measure of spherical refraction. We performed a fixed effects meta-analysis of genome-wide association results of myopia and hyperopia from 9 studies of European-derived populations: AREDS, KORA, FES, OGP-Talana, MESA, RSI, RSII, RSIII and ERF. One genome-wide significant region was observed for myopia, corresponding to a previously identified myopia locus on 8q12 (p?=?1.25×10(-8)), which has been reported by Kiefer et al. as significantly associated with myopia age at onset and Verhoeven et al. as significantly associated to mean spherical-equivalent (MSE) refractive error. We observed two genome-wide significant associations with hyperopia. These regions overlapped with loci on 15q14 (minimum p value?=?9.11×10(-11)) and 8q12 (minimum p value 1.82×10(-11)) previously reported for MSE and myopia age at onset. We also used an intermarker linkage- disequilibrium-based method for calculating the effective number of tests in targeted regional replication analyses. We analyzed myopia (which represents the closest phenotype in our data to the one used by Kiefer et al.) and showed replication of 10 additional loci associated with myopia previously reported by Kiefer et al. This is the first replication of these loci using myopia as the trait under analysis. "Replication-level" association was also seen between hyperopia and 12 of Kiefer et al.'s published loci. For the loci that show evidence of association to both myopia and hyperopia, the estimated effect of the risk alleles were in opposite directions for the two traits. This suggests that these loci are important contributors to variation of refractive error across the distribution.
Alzheimer's disease is a common debilitating dementia with known heritability, for which 20 late onset susceptibility loci have been identified, but more remain to be discovered. This study sought to identify new susceptibility genes, using an alternative gene-wide analytical approach which tests for patterns of association within genes, in the powerful genome-wide association dataset of the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project Consortium, comprising over 7 m genotypes from 25,580 Alzheimer's cases and 48,466 controls.
Coffee, one of the most popular beverages in the world, contains many different physiologically active compounds with a potential impact on people's health. Despite the recent attention given to the genetic basis of its consumption, very little has been done in understanding genes influencing coffee preference among different individuals. Given its markedly bitter taste, we decided to verify if bitter receptor genes (TAS2Rs) variants affect coffee liking. In this light, 4066 people from different parts of Europe and Central Asia filled in a field questionnaire on coffee liking. They have been consequently recruited and included in the study. Eighty-eight SNPs covering the 25 TAS2R genes were selected from the available imputed ones and used to run association analysis for coffee liking. A significant association was detected with three SNP: one synonymous and two functional variants (W35S and H212R) on the TAS2R43 gene. Both variants have been shown to greatly reduce in vitro protein activity. Surprisingly the wild type allele, which corresponds to the functional form of the protein, is associated to higher liking of coffee. Since the hTAS2R43 receptor is sensible to caffeine, we verified if the detected variants produced differences in caffeine bitter perception on a subsample of people coming from the FVG cohort. We found a significant association between differences in caffeine perception and the H212R variant but not with the W35S, which suggests that the effect of the TAS2R43 gene on coffee liking is mediated by caffeine and in particular by the H212R variant. No other significant association was found with other TAS2R genes. In conclusion, the present study opens new perspectives in the understanding of coffee liking. Further studies are needed to clarify the role of the TAS2R43 gene in coffee hedonics and to identify which other genes and pathways are involved in its genetics.
Several clinical studies suggest the involvement of premature aging processes in COPD. Using an epidemiological approach we studied whether accelerated aging indicated by telomere length, a marker of biological age, is associated with COPD and asthma, and whether intrinsic age-related processes contribute to the inter-individual variability of lung function.Our meta-analysis of 14 studies included 934 COPD cases with 15,846 controls defined according to GLI criteria (or 1,189 COPD cases according to GOLD), 2,834 asthma cases with 28,195 controls, and spirometric parameters (FEV1, FVC and FEV1/FVC) of 12,595 individuals. Associations with telomere length were tested by linear regression, adjusting for age, sex, and smoking status.We observed negative associations between telomere length and asthma (?=?-0.0452, p=0.024) as well as COPD (?=?-0.0982, p=0.001), with associations being stronger and more significant when using GLI in comparison to GOLD. In both diseases, effects were stronger in females compared to males. The investigation of spirometric indices showed positive associations between telomere length and FEV1 (p=1.07×10(-7)), FVC (p=2.07×10(-5)), and their ratio FEV1/FVC (p=5.27×10(-3)). The effect was somewhat weaker in apparently healthy subjects compared to COPD or asthma patients.Our results provide indirect evidence for the hypothesis that cellular senescence may contribute to the pathogenesis of COPD and asthma and that lung function may reflect biological aging primarily due to intrinsic processes which are likely to be aggravated in lung diseases.
Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is a hereditary neurodegenerative disease, characterized by optic nerve changes including increased excavation, notching and optic disc hemorrhages. The excavation can be described by the vertical cup-disc ratio (VCDR). Previously, genome-wide significant evidence for the association of rs10483727 in SIX1-SIX6 locus with VCDR and subsequent POAG was found. Using 1000 genomes-based imputation of four independent population-based cohorts in the Netherlands, we identified a missense variant rs33912345 (His141Asn) in SIX6 associated with VCDR (Pmeta = 7.74 × 10(-7), n = 11 473) and POAG (Pmeta = 6.09 × 10(-3), n = 292). Exome sequencing analysis revealed another missense variant rs146737847 (Glu129Lys) also in SIX6 associated with VCDR (P = 5.09 × 10(-3), n = 1208). These two findings point to SIX6 as the responsible gene for the previously reported association signal. Functional characterization of SIX6 in zebrafish revealed that knockdown of six6b led to a small eye phenotype. Histological analysis showed retinal lamination, implying an apparent normal development of the eye, but an underdeveloped lens, and reduced optic nerve diameter. Expression analysis of morphants at 3 dpf showed a 5.5-fold up-regulation of cdkn2b, a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, involved in cell cycle regulation and previously associated with VCDR and POAG in genome-wide association studies (GWASs). Since both six6b and cdkn2b play a key role in cell proliferation, we assessed the proliferative activity in the eye of morphants and found an alteration in the proliferative pattern of retinal cells. Our findings in humans and zebrafish suggest a functional involvement of six6b in early eye development, and open new insights into the genetic architecture of POAG.
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.
Migraine is the most common brain disorder, affecting approximately 14% of the adult population, but its molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. We report the results of a meta-analysis across 29 genome-wide association studies, including a total of 23,285 individuals with migraine (cases) and 95,425 population-matched controls. We identified 12 loci associated with migraine susceptibility (P<5×10(-8)). Five loci are new: near AJAP1 at 1p36, near TSPAN2 at 1p13, within FHL5 at 6q16, within C7orf10 at 7p14 and near MMP16 at 8q21. Three of these loci were identified in disease subgroup analyses. Brain tissue expression quantitative trait locus analysis suggests potential functional candidate genes at four loci: APOA1BP, TBC1D7, FUT9, STAT6 and ATP5B.
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.
Genetic loci for body mass index (BMI) in adolescence and young adulthood, a period of high risk for weight gain, are understudied, yet may yield important insight into the etiology of obesity and early intervention. To identify novel genetic loci and examine the influence of known loci on BMI during this critical time period in late adolescence and early adulthood, we performed a two-stage meta-analysis using 14 genome-wide association studies in populations of European ancestry with data on BMI between ages 16 and 25 in up to 29 880 individuals. We identified seven independent loci (P < 5.0 × 10??) near FTO (P = 3.72 × 10?²³), TMEM18 (P = 3.24 × 10?¹?), MC4R (P = 4.41 × 10?¹?), TNNI3K (P = 4.32 × 10?¹¹), SEC16B (P = 6.24 × 10??), GNPDA2 (P = 1.11 × 10??) and POMC (P = 4.94 × 10??) as well as a potential secondary signal at the POMC locus (rs2118404, P = 2.4 × 10?? after conditioning on the established single-nucleotide polymorphism at this locus) in adolescents and young adults. To evaluate the impact of the established genetic loci on BMI at these young ages, we examined differences between the effect sizes of 32 published BMI loci in European adult populations (aged 18-90) and those observed in our adolescent and young adult meta-analysis. Four loci (near PRKD1, TNNI3K, SEC16B and CADM2) had larger effects and one locus (near SH2B1) had a smaller effect on BMI during adolescence and young adulthood compared with older adults (P < 0.05). These results suggest that genetic loci for BMI can vary in their effects across the life course, underlying the importance of evaluating BMI at different ages.
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.
Refractive errors are common eye disorders of public health importance worldwide. Ocular axial length (AL) is the major determinant of refraction and thus of myopia and hyperopia. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for AL, combining 12,531 Europeans and 8,216 Asians. We identified eight genome-wide significant loci for AL (RSPO1, C3orf26, LAMA2, GJD2, ZNRF3, CD55, MIP, and ALPPL2) and confirmed one previously reported AL locus (ZC3H11B). Of the nine loci, five (LAMA2, GJD2, CD55, ALPPL2, and ZC3H11B) were associated with refraction in 18 independent cohorts (n = 23,591). Differential gene expression was observed for these loci in minus-lens-induced myopia mouse experiments and human ocular tissues. Two of the AL genes, RSPO1 and ZNRF3, are involved in Wnt signaling, a pathway playing a major role in the regulation of eyeball size. This study provides evidence of shared genes between AL and refraction, but importantly also suggests that these traits may have unique pathways.
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.
Visual refractive errors (REs) are complex genetic traits with a largely unknown etiology. To date, genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of moderate size have identified several novel risk markers for RE, measured here as mean spherical equivalent (MSE). We performed a GWAS using a total of 7280 samples from five cohorts: the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS); the KORA study (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg); the Framingham Eye Study (FES); the Ogliastra Genetic Park-Talana (OGP-Talana) Study and the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Genotyping was performed on Illumina and Affymetrix platforms with additional markers imputed to the HapMap II reference panel. We identified a new genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 16 (rs10500355, P = 3.9 × 10(-9)) in a combined discovery and replication set (26 953 samples). This single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is located within the RBFOX1 gene which is a neuron-specific splicing factor regulating a wide range of alternative splicing events implicated in neuronal development and maturation, including transcription factors, other splicing factors and synaptic proteins.
Distinguishing true from false positive findings is a major challenge in human genetic epidemiology. Several strategies have been devised to facilitate this, including the positive predictive value (PPV) and a set of epidemiological criteria, known as the "Venice" criteria. The PPV measures the probability of a true association, given a statistically significant finding, while the Venice criteria grade the credibility based on the amount of evidence, consistency of replication and protection from bias. A vast majority of journals use significance thresholds to identify the true positive findings. We studied the effect of p value thresholds on the PPV and used the PPV and Venice criteria to define usable thresholds of statistical significance. Theoretical and empirical analyses of data published on AlzGene show that at a nominal p value threshold of 0.05 most "positive" findings will turn out to be false if the prior probability of association is below 0.10 even if the statistical power of the study is higher than 0.80. However, in underpowered studies (0.25) with a low prior probability of 1 × 10(-3), a p value of 1 × 10(-5) yields a high PPV (>96 %). Here we have shown that the p value threshold of 1 × 10(-5) gives a very strong evidence of association in almost all studies. However, in the case of a very high prior probability of association (0.50) a p value threshold of 0.05 may be sufficient, while for studies with very low prior probability of association (1 × 10(-4); genome-wide association studies for instance) 1 × 10(-7) may serve as a useful threshold to declare significance.
The 9p21.3 locus is strongly associated with the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) and with type 2 diabetes (T2D). We investigated the association of 9p21.3 variants with severity of CAD (defined by the number of vessel diseased [VD]) in the presence and absence of T2D.
Refractive error is the most common eye disorder worldwide and is a prominent cause of blindness. Myopia affects over 30% of Western populations and up to 80% of Asians. The CREAM consortium conducted genome-wide meta-analyses, including 37,382 individuals from 27 studies of European ancestry and 8,376 from 5 Asian cohorts. We identified 16 new loci for refractive error in individuals of European ancestry, of which 8 were shared with Asians. Combined analysis identified 8 additional associated loci. The new loci include candidate genes with functions in neurotransmission (GRIA4), ion transport (KCNQ5), retinoic acid metabolism (RDH5), extracellular matrix remodeling (LAMA2 and BMP2) and eye development (SIX6 and PRSS56). We also confirmed previously reported associations with GJD2 and RASGRF1. Risk score analysis using associated SNPs showed a tenfold increased risk of myopia for individuals carrying the highest genetic load. Our results, based on a large meta-analysis across independent multiancestry studies, considerably advance understanding of the mechanisms involved in refractive error and myopia.
Telomere length (TL) has been associated with aging and mortality, but individual differences are also influenced by genetic factors, with previous studies reporting heritability estimates ranging from 34 to 82%. Here we investigate the heritability, mode of inheritance and the influence of parental age at birth on TL in six large, independent cohort studies with a total of 19,713 participants. The meta-analysis estimate of TL heritability was 0.70 (95% CI 0.64-0.76) and is based on a pattern of results that is highly similar for twins and other family members. We observed a stronger mother-offspring (r=0.42; P-value=3.60 × 10(-61)) than father-offspring correlation (r=0.33; P-value=7.01 × 10(-5)), and a significant positive association with paternal age at offspring birth (?=0.005; P-value=7.01 × 10(-5)). Interestingly, a significant and quite substantial correlation in TL between spouses (r=0.25; P-value=2.82 × 10(-30)) was seen, which appeared stronger in older spouse pairs (mean age ?55 years; r=0.31; P-value=4.27 × 10(-23)) than in younger pairs (mean age<55 years; r=0.20; P-value=3.24 × 10(-10)). In summary, we find a high and very consistent heritability estimate for TL, evidence for a maternal inheritance component and a positive association with paternal age.
Depression is a heritable trait that exists on a continuum of varying severity and duration. Yet, the search for genetic variants associated with depression has had few successes. We exploit the entire continuum of depression to find common variants for depressive symptoms.
Genetic determinants of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) remain largely unknown. To identify genetic variants associated with the ankle-brachial index (ABI), a noninvasive measure of PAD, we conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association study data from 21 population-based cohorts.
Blood pressure is a heritable trait influenced by several biological pathways and responsive to environmental stimuli. Over one billion people worldwide have hypertension (?140?mm?Hg systolic blood pressure or? ?90?mm?Hg diastolic blood pressure). Even small increments in blood pressure are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events. This genome-wide association study of systolic and diastolic blood pressure, which used a multi-stage design in 200,000 individuals of European descent, identified sixteen novel loci: six of these loci contain genes previously known or suspected to regulate blood pressure (GUCY1A3-GUCY1B3, NPR3-C5orf23, ADM, FURIN-FES, GOSR2, GNAS-EDN3); the other ten provide new clues to blood pressure physiology. A genetic risk score based on 29 genome-wide significant variants was associated with hypertension, left ventricular wall thickness, stroke and coronary artery disease, but not kidney disease or kidney function. We also observed associations with blood pressure in East Asian, South Asian and African ancestry individuals. Our findings provide new insights into the genetics and biology of blood pressure, and suggest potential novel therapeutic pathways for cardiovascular disease prevention.
The FTO gene harbors the strongest known susceptibility locus for obesity. While many individual studies have suggested that physical activity (PA) may attenuate the effect of FTO on obesity risk, other studies have not been able to confirm this interaction. To confirm or refute unambiguously whether PA attenuates the association of FTO with obesity risk, we meta-analyzed data from 45 studies of adults (n?=?218,166) and nine studies of children and adolescents (n?=?19,268).
Alcohol consumption is a moderately heritable trait, but the genetic basis in humans is largely unknown, despite its clinical and societal importance. We report a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of ?2.5 million directly genotyped or imputed SNPs with alcohol consumption (gram per day per kilogram body weight) among 12 population-based samples of European ancestry, comprising 26,316 individuals, with replication genotyping in an additional 21,185 individuals. SNP rs6943555 in autism susceptibility candidate 2 gene (AUTS2) was associated with alcohol consumption at genome-wide significance (P = 4 × 10(-8) to P = 4 × 10(-9)). We found a genotype-specific expression of AUTS2 in 96 human prefrontal cortex samples (P = 0.026) and significant (P < 0.017) differences in expression of AUTS2 in whole-brain extracts of mice selected for differences in voluntary alcohol consumption. Down-regulation of an AUTS2 homolog caused reduced alcohol sensitivity in Drosophila (P < 0.001). Our finding of a regulator of alcohol consumption adds knowledge to our understanding of genetic mechanisms influencing alcohol drinking behavior.
Migraine is a common neurological disorder with a genetically complex background. This paper describes a meta-analysis of genome-wide association (GWA) studies on migraine, performed by the Dutch-Icelandic migraine genetics (DICE) consortium, which brings together six population-based European migraine cohorts with a total sample size of 10,980 individuals (2446 cases and 8534 controls). A total of 32 SNPs showed marginal evidence for association at a P-value<10(-5). The best result was obtained for SNP rs9908234, which had a P-value of 8.00 × 10(-8). This top SNP is located in the nerve growth factor receptor (NGFR) gene. However, this SNP did not replicate in three cohorts from the Netherlands and Australia. Of the other 31 SNPs, 18 SNPs were tested in two replication cohorts, but none replicated. In addition, we explored previously identified candidate genes in the meta-analysis data set. This revealed a modest gene-based significant association between migraine and the metadherin (MTDH) gene, previously identified in the first clinic-based GWA study (GWAS) for migraine (Bonferroni-corrected gene-based P-value=0.026). This finding is consistent with the involvement of the glutamate pathway in migraine. Additional research is necessary to further confirm the involvement of glutamate.
Serum concentrations of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), triglycerides (TGs) and total cholesterol (TC) are important heritable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Although genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of circulating lipid levels have identified numerous loci, a substantial portion of the heritability of these traits remains unexplained. Evidence of unexplained genetic variance can be detected by combining multiple independent markers into additive genetic risk scores. Such polygenic scores, constructed using results from the ENGAGE Consortium GWAS on serum lipids, were applied to predict lipid levels in an independent population-based study, the Rotterdam Study-II (RS-II). We additionally tested for evidence of a shared genetic basis for different lipid phenotypes. Finally, the polygenic score approach was used to identify an alternative genome-wide significance threshold before pathway analysis and those results were compared with those based on the classical genome-wide significance threshold. Our study provides evidence suggesting that many loci influencing circulating lipid levels remain undiscovered. Cross-prediction models suggested a small overlap between the polygenic backgrounds involved in determining LDL-C, HDL-C and TG levels. Pathway analysis utilizing the best polygenic score for TC uncovered extra information compared with using only genome-wide significant loci. These results suggest that the genetic architecture of circulating lipids involves a number of undiscovered variants with very small effects, and that increasing GWAS sample sizes will enable the identification of novel variants that regulate lipid levels.
Open-angle glaucoma (glaucoma) is a major eye disorder characterized by optic disc pathology. Recent genome-wide association studies identified new loci associated with clinically relevant optic disc parameters, such as the optic disc area and vertical cup-disc ratio (VCDR). We examined to what extent these loci are involved in glaucoma. The loci studied include ATOH7, CDC7/TGFBR3 and SALL1 for optic disc area, and CDKN2B, SIX1, SCYL1/LTBP3, CHEK2, ATOH7 and DCLK1 for VCDR. We performed a meta-analysis using data from six independent studies including: the Rotterdam Study (n= 5736), Genetic Research in Isolated Populations combined with Erasmus Rucphen Family study (n= 1750), Amsterdam Glaucoma Study (n= 296) and cohorts from Erlangen and Tübingen (n= 1363), Southampton (n= 702) and deCODE (n= 36 151) resulting in a total of 3161 glaucoma cases and 42 837 controls. Of the eight loci, we found significant evidence (P= 1.41 × 10(-8)) for the association of CDKN2B with glaucoma [odds ratio (OR) for those homozygous for the risk allele: 0.76; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.70-0.84], for the role of ATOH7 (OR: 1.28; 95% CI: 1.12-1.47) and for SIX1 (OR: 1.20; 95% CI: 1.10-1.31) when adjusting for the number of tested loci. Furthermore, there was a borderline significant association of CDC7/TGFBR3 and SALL1 (both P= 0.04) with glaucoma. In conclusion, we found consistent evidence for three common variants (CDKN2B, ATOH7 and SIX1) significantly associated with glaucoma. These findings may shed new light on the pathophysiological protein pathways leading to glaucoma, and point to pathways involved in the growth and development of the optic nerve.
Numerous genetic loci have been associated with systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) in Europeans. We now report genome-wide association studies of pulse pressure (PP) and mean arterial pressure (MAP). In discovery (N = 74,064) and follow-up studies (N = 48,607), we identified at genome-wide significance (P = 2.7 × 10(-8) to P = 2.3 × 10(-13)) four new PP loci (at 4q12 near CHIC2, 7q22.3 near PIK3CG, 8q24.12 in NOV and 11q24.3 near ADAMTS8), two new MAP loci (3p21.31 in MAP4 and 10q25.3 near ADRB1) and one locus associated with both of these traits (2q24.3 near FIGN) that has also recently been associated with SBP in east Asians. For three of the new PP loci, the estimated effect for SBP was opposite of that for DBP, in contrast to the majority of common SBP- and DBP-associated variants, which show concordant effects on both traits. These findings suggest new genetic pathways underlying blood pressure variation, some of which may differentially influence SBP and DBP.
Genome-wide association studies have revealed new insights into the genetic determinants of open-angle glaucoma (OAG). This study was performed to determine to what extent variants within established genes (MYOC, OPTN, and WDR36) and newly identified common genetic variants (ATOH7, CDKN2B, and SIX1) contribute to the risk of OAG.
Genome-wide association studies have identified 32 loci influencing body mass index, but this measure does not distinguish lean from fat mass. To identify adiposity loci, we meta-analyzed associations between ?2.5 million SNPs and body fat percentage from 36,626 individuals and followed up the 14 most significant (P < 10(-6)) independent loci in 39,576 individuals. We confirmed a previously established adiposity locus in FTO (P = 3 × 10(-26)) and identified two new loci associated with body fat percentage, one near IRS1 (P = 4 × 10(-11)) and one near SPRY2 (P = 3 × 10(-8)). Both loci contain genes with potential links to adipocyte physiology. Notably, the body-fat-decreasing allele near IRS1 is associated with decreased IRS1 expression and with an impaired metabolic profile, including an increased visceral to subcutaneous fat ratio, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease and decreased adiponectin levels. Our findings provide new insights into adiposity and insulin resistance.
Although the vertical cup-disc ratio (VCDR) and intraocular pressure (IOP) are important determinants of open angle glaucoma (OAG), it is unclear to what extent the genetic origin of these traits overlap with those of OAG. We evaluated whether the same genes that determine VCDR and IOP also predict OAG.
Refractive errors are the most common ocular disorders worldwide and may lead to blindness. Although this trait is highly heritable, identification of susceptibility genes has been challenging. We conducted a genome-wide association study for refractive error in 5,328 individuals from a Dutch population-based study with replication in four independent cohorts (combined 10,280 individuals in the replication stage). We identified a significant association at chromosome 15q14 (rs634990, P = 2.21 × 10?¹?). The odds ratio of myopia compared to hyperopia for the minor allele (minor allele frequency = 0.47) was 1.41 (95% CI 1.16-1.70) for individuals heterozygous for the allele and 1.83 (95% CI 1.42-2.36) for individuals homozygous for the allele. The associated locus is near two genes that are expressed in the retina, GJD2 and ACTC1, and appears to harbor regulatory elements which may influence transcription of these genes. Our data suggest that common variants at 15q14 influence susceptibility for refractive errors in the general population.
Obesity is globally prevalent and highly heritable, but its underlying genetic factors remain largely elusive. To identify genetic loci for obesity susceptibility, we examined associations between body mass index and ? 2.8 million SNPs in up to 123,865 individuals with targeted follow up of 42 SNPs in up to 125,931 additional individuals. We confirmed 14 known obesity susceptibility loci and identified 18 new loci associated with body mass index (P < 5 × 10??), one of which includes a copy number variant near GPRC5B. Some loci (at MC4R, POMC, SH2B1 and BDNF) map near key hypothalamic regulators of energy balance, and one of these loci is near GIPR, an incretin receptor. Furthermore, genes in other newly associated loci may provide new insights into human body weight regulation.
To identify loci for age at menarche, we performed a meta-analysis of 32 genome-wide association studies in 87,802 women of European descent, with replication in up to 14,731 women. In addition to the known loci at LIN28B (P = 5.4 × 10???) and 9q31.2 (P = 2.2 × 10?³³), we identified 30 new menarche loci (all P < 5 × 10??) and found suggestive evidence for a further 10 loci (P < 1.9 × 10??). The new loci included four previously associated with body mass index (in or near FTO, SEC16B, TRA2B and TMEM18), three in or near other genes implicated in energy homeostasis (BSX, CRTC1 and MCHR2) and three in or near genes implicated in hormonal regulation (INHBA, PCSK2 and RXRG). Ingenuity and gene-set enrichment pathway analyses identified coenzyme A and fatty acid biosynthesis as biological processes related to menarche timing.
The optic nerve head is involved in many ophthalmic disorders, including common diseases such as myopia and open-angle glaucoma. Two of the most important parameters are the size of the optic disc area and the vertical cup-disc ratio (VCDR). Both are highly heritable but genetically largely undetermined. We performed a meta-analysis of genome-wide association (GWA) data to identify genetic variants associated with optic disc area and VCDR. The gene discovery included 7,360 unrelated individuals from the population-based Rotterdam Study I and Rotterdam Study II cohorts. These cohorts revealed two genome-wide significant loci for optic disc area, rs1192415 on chromosome 1p22 (p = 6.72x10(-19)) within 117 kb of the CDC7 gene and rs1900004 on chromosome 10q21.3-q22.1 (p = 2.67x10(-33)) within 10 kb of the ATOH7 gene. They revealed two genome-wide significant loci for VCDR, rs1063192 on chromosome 9p21 (p = 6.15x10(-11)) in the CDKN2B gene and rs10483727 on chromosome 14q22.3-q23 (p = 2.93x10(-10)) within 40 kbp of the SIX1 gene. Findings were replicated in two independent Dutch cohorts (Rotterdam Study III and Erasmus Rucphen Family study; N = 3,612), and the TwinsUK cohort (N = 843). Meta-analysis with the replication cohorts confirmed the four loci and revealed a third locus at 16q12.1 associated with optic disc area, and four other loci at 11q13, 13q13, 17q23 (borderline significant), and 22q12.1 for VCDR. ATOH7 was also associated with VCDR independent of optic disc area. Three of the loci were marginally associated with open-angle glaucoma. The protein pathways in which the loci of optic disc area are involved overlap with those identified for VCDR, suggesting a common genetic origin.
Waist-hip ratio (WHR) is a measure of body fat distribution and a predictor of metabolic consequences independent of overall adiposity. WHR is heritable, but few genetic variants influencing this trait have been identified. We conducted a meta-analysis of 32 genome-wide association studies for WHR adjusted for body mass index (comprising up to 77,167 participants), following up 16 loci in an additional 29 studies (comprising up to 113,636 subjects). We identified 13 new loci in or near RSPO3, VEGFA, TBX15-WARS2, NFE2L3, GRB14, DNM3-PIGC, ITPR2-SSPN, LY86, HOXC13, ADAMTS9, ZNRF3-KREMEN1, NISCH-STAB1 and CPEB4 (P = 1.9 × 10?? to P = 1.8 × 10???) and the known signal at LYPLAL1. Seven of these loci exhibited marked sexual dimorphism, all with a stronger effect on WHR in women than men (P for sex difference = 1.9 × 10?³ to P = 1.2 × 10?¹³). These findings provide evidence for multiple loci that modulate body fat distribution independent of overall adiposity and reveal strong gene-by-sex interactions.
Most common human traits and diseases have a polygenic pattern of inheritance: DNA sequence variants at many genetic loci influence the phenotype. Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have identified more than 600 variants associated with human traits, but these typically explain small fractions of phenotypic variation, raising questions about the use of further studies. Here, using 183,727 individuals, we show that hundreds of genetic variants, in at least 180 loci, influence adult height, a highly heritable and classic polygenic trait. The large number of loci reveals patterns with important implications for genetic studies of common human diseases and traits. First, the 180 loci are not random, but instead are enriched for genes that are connected in biological pathways (P = 0.016) and that underlie skeletal growth defects (P?0.001). Second, the likely causal gene is often located near the most strongly associated variant: in 13 of 21 loci containing a known skeletal growth gene, that gene was closest to the associated variant. Third, at least 19 loci have multiple independently associated variants, suggesting that allelic heterogeneity is a frequent feature of polygenic traits, that comprehensive explorations of already-discovered loci should discover additional variants and that an appreciable fraction of associated loci may have been identified. Fourth, associated variants are enriched for likely functional effects on genes, being over-represented among variants that alter amino-acid structure of proteins and expression levels of nearby genes. Our data explain approximately 10% of the phenotypic variation in height, and we estimate that unidentified common variants of similar effect sizes would increase this figure to approximately 16% of phenotypic variation (approximately 20% of heritable variation). Although additional approaches are needed to dissect the genetic architecture of polygenic human traits fully, our findings indicate that GWA studies can identify large numbers of loci that implicate biologically relevant genes and pathways.
Smoking is a common risk factor for many diseases. We conducted genome-wide association meta-analyses for the number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) in smokers (n = 31,266) and smoking initiation (n = 46,481) using samples from the ENGAGE Consortium. In a second stage, we tested selected SNPs with in silico replication in the Tobacco and Genetics (TAG) and Glaxo Smith Kline (Ox-GSK) consortia cohorts (n = 45,691 smokers) and assessed some of those in a third sample of European ancestry (n = 9,040). Variants in three genomic regions associated with CPD (P < 5 x 10(-8)), including previously identified SNPs at 15q25 represented by rs1051730[A] (effect size = 0.80 CPD, P = 2.4 x 10(-69)), and SNPs at 19q13 and 8p11, represented by rs4105144[C] (effect size = 0.39 CPD, P = 2.2 x 10(-12)) and rs6474412-T (effect size = 0.29 CPD, P = 1.4 x 10(-8)), respectively. Among the genes at the two newly associated loci are genes encoding nicotine-metabolizing enzymes (CYP2A6 and CYP2B6) and nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunits (CHRNB3 and CHRNA6), all of which have been highlighted in previous studies of smoking and nicotine dependence. Nominal associations with lung cancer were observed at both 8p11 (rs6474412[T], odds ratio (OR) = 1.09, P = 0.04) and 19q13 (rs4105144[C], OR = 1.12, P = 0.0006).
By combining genome-wide association data from 8,130 individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and 38,987 controls of European descent and following up previously unidentified meta-analysis signals in a further 34,412 cases and 59,925 controls, we identified 12 new T2D association signals with combined P<5x10(-8). These include a second independent signal at the KCNQ1 locus; the first report, to our knowledge, of an X-chromosomal association (near DUSP9); and a further instance of overlap between loci implicated in monogenic and multifactorial forms of diabetes (at HNF1A). The identified loci affect both beta-cell function and insulin action, and, overall, T2D association signals show evidence of enrichment for genes involved in cell cycle regulation. We also show that a high proportion of T2D susceptibility loci harbor independent association signals influencing apparently unrelated complex traits.
The global prevalence of obesity has increased significantly in recent decades, mainly due to excess calorie intake and increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Here, we test the association between obesity measured by body mass index (BMI) and one of the best-known genetic variants showing strong selective pressure: the functional variant in the cis-regulatory element of the lactase gene. We tested this variant since it is presumed to provide nutritional advantage in specific physical and cultural environments. We genetically defined lactase persistence (LP) in 31 720 individuals from eight European population-based studies and one family study by genotyping or imputing the European LP variant (rs4988235). We performed a meta-analysis by pooling the beta-coefficient estimates of the relationship between rs4988235 and BMI from the nine studies and found that the carriers of the allele responsible for LP among Europeans showed higher BMI (P = 7.9 x 10(-5)). Since this locus has been shown to be prone to population stratification, we paid special attention to reveal any population substructure which might be responsible for the association signal. The best evidence of exclusion of stratification came from the Dutch family sample which is robust for stratification. In this study, we highlight issues in model selection in the genome-wide association studies and problems in imputation of these special genomic regions.
Plasma adiponectin is strongly associated with various components of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular outcomes. Concentrations are highly heritable and differ between men and women. We therefore aimed to investigate the genetics of plasma adiponectin in men and women.
Osteoporosis is a highly heritable trait. Many candidate genes have been proposed as being involved in regulating bone mineral density (BMD). Few of these findings have been replicated in independent studies.
Central abdominal fat is a strong risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. To identify common variants influencing central abdominal fat, we conducted a two-stage genome-wide association analysis for waist circumference (WC). In total, three loci reached genome-wide significance. In stage 1, 31,373 individuals of Caucasian descent from eight cohort studies confirmed the role of FTO and MC4R and identified one novel locus associated with WC in the neurexin 3 gene [NRXN3 (rs10146997, p = 6.4x10(-7))]. The association with NRXN3 was confirmed in stage 2 by combining stage 1 results with those from 38,641 participants in the GIANT consortium (p = 0.009 in GIANT only, p = 5.3x10(-8) for combined analysis, n = 70,014). Mean WC increase per copy of the G allele was 0.0498 z-score units (0.65 cm). This SNP was also associated with body mass index (BMI) [p = 7.4x10(-6), 0.024 z-score units (0.10 kg/m(2)) per copy of the G allele] and the risk of obesity (odds ratio 1.13, 95% CI 1.07-1.19; p = 3.2x10(-5) per copy of the G allele). The NRXN3 gene has been previously implicated in addiction and reward behavior, lending further evidence that common forms of obesity may be a central nervous system-mediated disorder. Our findings establish that common variants in NRXN3 are associated with WC, BMI, and obesity.
To identify genetic loci influencing central obesity and fat distribution, we performed a meta-analysis of 16 genome-wide association studies (GWAS, N = 38,580) informative for adult waist circumference (WC) and waist-hip ratio (WHR). We selected 26 SNPs for follow-up, for which the evidence of association with measures of central adiposity (WC and/or WHR) was strong and disproportionate to that for overall adiposity or height. Follow-up studies in a maximum of 70,689 individuals identified two loci strongly associated with measures of central adiposity; these map near TFAP2B (WC, P = 1.9x10(-11)) and MSRA (WC, P = 8.9x10(-9)). A third locus, near LYPLAL1, was associated with WHR in women only (P = 2.6x10(-8)). The variants near TFAP2B appear to influence central adiposity through an effect on overall obesity/fat-mass, whereas LYPLAL1 displays a strong female-only association with fat distribution. By focusing on anthropometric measures of central obesity and fat distribution, we have identified three loci implicated in the regulation of human adiposity.
Bone mineral density (BMD) is a heritable complex trait used in the clinical diagnosis of osteoporosis and the assessment of fracture risk. We performed meta-analysis of five genome-wide association studies of femoral neck and lumbar spine BMD in 19,195 subjects of Northern European descent. We identified 20 BMD loci that reached genome-wide significance (GWS; P < 5 x 10(-8)), of which 13 map to regions not previously associated with this trait: 1p31.3 (GPR177), 2p21 (SPTBN1), 3p22 (CTNNB1), 4q21.1 (MEPE), 5q14 (MEF2C), 7p14 (STARD3NL), 7q21.3 (FLJ42280), 11p11.2 (LRP4, ARHGAP1, F2), 11p14.1 (DCDC5), 11p15 (SOX6), 16q24 (FOXL1), 17q21 (HDAC5) and 17q12 (CRHR1). The meta-analysis also confirmed at GWS level seven known BMD loci on 1p36 (ZBTB40), 6q25 (ESR1), 8q24 (TNFRSF11B), 11q13.4 (LRP5), 12q13 (SP7), 13q14 (TNFSF11) and 18q21 (TNFRSF11A). The many SNPs associated with BMD map to genes in signaling pathways with relevance to bone metabolism and highlight the complex genetic architecture that underlies osteoporosis and variation in BMD.
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common, highly heritable, neuropsychiatric disorder among children. Linkage studies in isolated populations have proved powerful to detect variants for complex diseases, such as ADHD. We performed a genome-wide linkage scan for ADHD in nine patients from a genetically isolated population in the Netherlands, who were linked to each other within 10 generations through multiple lines of descent. The genome-wide scan was performed with a set of 400 microsatellite markers with an average spacing of +/-10-12 cM. We performed multipoint parametric linkage analyses using both recessive and dominant models. Our genome scan pointed to several chromosomal regions that may harbour ADHD susceptibility genes. None exceeded the empirical genome-wide significance threshold, but the Log of odds (LOD) scores were >1.5 for regions 6p22 (Heterogenetic log of odds (HLOD)=1.67) and 18q21-22 (HLOD=2.13) under a recessive model. We followed up these two regions in a larger sample of ADHD patients (n=21, 9 initial and 12 extra patients). The LOD scores did not increase after increasing the sample size (6p22 (HLOD=1.51), 18q21-22 (HLOD=1.83)). However, the LOD score on 6p22 increased to 2 when a separate analysis was performed for the inattentive type ADHD children. The linkage region on chromosome 18q overlaps with the findings of association of rs2311120 (P=10(-5)) and rs4149601 (P=10(-4)) in the genome-wide association analysis for ADHD performed by the Genetic Association Information Network consortium. Furthermore, there was an excess of regions harbouring serotonin receptors (HTR1B, HTR1E, HTR4, HTR1D, and HTR6) that showed a LOD score >1 in our genome-wide scan.
For the identification of genes associated with smoking initiation and current smoking, genome-wide association analyses were carried out in 3497 subjects. Significant genes that replicated in three independent samples (n = 405, 5810, and 1648) were visualized into a biologically meaningful network showing cellular location and direct interaction of their proteins. Several interesting groups of proteins stood out, including glutamate receptors (e.g., GRIN2B, GRIN2A, GRIK2, GRM8), proteins involved in tyrosine kinase receptor signaling (e.g., NTRK2, GRB14), transporters (e.g., SLC1A2, SLC9A9) and cell-adhesion molecules (e.g., CDH23). We conclude that a network-based genome-wide association approach can identify genes influencing smoking behavior.
Four types of antipsychotic-induced movement disorders: tardive dyskinesia (TD), parkinsonism, akathisia and tardive dystonia, subtypes of TD (orofacial and limb truncal dyskinesia), subtypes of parkinsonism (rest tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia), as well as a principal-factor of the movement disorders and their subtypes, were examined for association with variation in 7 candidate genes (GRIN2B, GRIN2A, HSPG2, DRD3, DRD4, HTR2C, and NQO1).
Personality traits are complex phenotypes related to psychosomatic health. Individually, various gene finding methods have not achieved much success in finding genetic variants associated with personality traits. We performed a meta-analysis of four genome-wide linkage scans (N=6149 subjects) of five basic personality traits assessed with the NEO Five-Factor Inventory. We compared the significant regions from the meta-analysis of linkage scans with the results of a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) (N?17?000). We found significant evidence of linkage of neuroticism to chromosome 3p14 (rs1490265, LOD=4.67) and to chromosome 19q13 (rs628604, LOD=3.55); of extraversion to 14q32 (ATGG002, LOD=3.3); and of agreeableness to 3p25 (rs709160, LOD=3.67) and to two adjacent regions on chromosome 15, including 15q13 (rs970408, LOD=4.07) and 15q14 (rs1055356, LOD=3.52) in the individual scans. In the meta-analysis, we found strong evidence of linkage of extraversion to 4q34, 9q34, 10q24 and 11q22, openness to 2p25, 3q26, 9p21, 11q24, 15q26 and 19q13 and agreeableness to 4q34 and 19p13. Significant evidence of association in the GWAS was detected between openness and rs677035 at 11q24 (P-value=2.6 × 10(-06), KCNJ1). The findings of our linkage meta-analysis and those of the GWAS suggest that 11q24 is a susceptible locus for openness, with KCNJ1 as the possible candidate gene.
Chronic widespread pain (CWP) is a common disorder affecting ?10% of the general population and has an estimated heritability of 48-52%. In the first large-scale genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis, we aimed to identify common genetic variants associated with CWP.
Plasma concentrations of A?40 and A?42 rise with age and are increased in people with mutations that cause early-onset Alzheimers disease (AD). Amyloid beta (A?) plasma levels were successfully used as an (endo)phenotype for gene discovery using a linkage approach in families with dominant forms of disease. Here, we searched for loci involved in A? plasma levels in a series of non-demented patients with hypertension in the Erasmus Rucphen Family study. A?40 and A?42 levels were determined in 125 subjects with severe hypertension. All patients were genotyped with a 6,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) illumina array designed for linkage analysis. We conducted linkage analysis of plasma A? levels. None of the linkage analyses yielded genome-wide significant logarithm of odds (LOD) score over 3.3, but there was suggestive evidence for linkage (LOD > 1.9) for two regions: 1q41 (LOD = 2.07) and 11q14.3 (LOD = 2.97), both for A?40. These regions were followed up with association analysis in the study subjects and in 320 subjects from a population-based cohort. For the A?40 region on chromosome 1, association of several SNPs was observed at the presenilin 2 gene (PSEN2) (p = 2.58 × 10(-4) for rs6703170). On chromosome 11q14-21, we found some association (p = 3.1 × 10(-3) for rs2514299). This linkage study of plasma concentrations of A?40 and A?42 yielded two suggestive regions, of which one points toward a known locus for familial AD.
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.
Common diseases such as type 2 diabetes are phenotypically heterogeneous. Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, but patients vary appreciably in body mass index. We hypothesized that the genetic predisposition to the disease may be different in lean (BMI<25 Kg/m²) compared to obese cases (BMI?30 Kg/m²). We performed two case-control genome-wide studies using two accepted cut-offs for defining individuals as overweight or obese. We used 2,112 lean type 2 diabetes cases (BMI<25 kg/m²) or 4,123 obese cases (BMI?30 kg/m²), and 54,412 un-stratified controls. Replication was performed in 2,881 lean cases or 8,702 obese cases, and 18,957 un-stratified controls. To assess the effects of known signals, we tested the individual and combined effects of SNPs representing 36 type 2 diabetes loci. After combining data from discovery and replication datasets, we identified two signals not previously reported in Europeans. A variant (rs8090011) in the LAMA1 gene was associated with type 2 diabetes in lean cases (P?=?8.4×10??, OR?=?1.13 [95% CI 1.09-1.18]), and this association was stronger than that in obese cases (P?=?0.04, OR?=?1.03 [95% CI 1.00-1.06]). A variant in HMG20A--previously identified in South Asians but not Europeans--was associated with type 2 diabetes in obese cases (P?=?1.3×10??, OR?=?1.11 [95% CI 1.07-1.15]), although this association was not significantly stronger than that in lean cases (P?=?0.02, OR?=?1.09 [95% CI 1.02-1.17]). For 36 known type 2 diabetes loci, 29 had a larger odds ratio in the lean compared to obese (binomial P?=?0.0002). In the lean analysis, we observed a weighted per-risk allele OR?=?1.13 [95% CI 1.10-1.17], P?=?3.2×10?¹?. This was larger than the same model fitted in the obese analysis where the OR?=?1.06 [95% CI 1.05-1.08], P?=?2.2×10?¹?. This study provides evidence that stratification of type 2 diabetes cases by BMI may help identify additional risk variants and that lean cases may have a stronger genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes.
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