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2017

GWAS: 1000 genomes-based meta-analysis identifies 10 novel loci for kidney function

Authors: Gorski M, Van der Most PJ, Teumer A, Chu AY, Li M, Mijatovic V, Nolte IM, et al.

HapMap imputed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed >50 loci at which common variants with minor allele frequency >5% are associated with kidney function. GWAS using more complete reference sets for imputation, such as those from The 1000 Genomes project, promise to identify novel loci that have been missed by previous efforts. To investigate the value of such a more complete variant catalog, we conducted a GWAS meta-analysis of kidney function based on the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) in 110,517 European ancestry participants using 1000 Genomes imputed data. We identified 10 novel loci with p-value < 5 × 10-8 previously missed by HapMap-based GWAS. Six of these loci (HOXD8, ARL15, PIK3R1, EYA4, ASTN2, and EPB41L3) are tagged by common SNPs unique to the 1000 Genomes reference panel. Using pathway analysis, we identified 39 significant (FDR < 0.05) genes and 127 significantly (FDR < 0.05) enriched gene sets, which were missed by our previous analyses. Among those, the 10 identified novel genes are part of pathways of kidney development, carbohydrate metabolism, cardiac septum development and glucose metabolism. These results highlight the utility of re-imputing from denser reference panels, until whole-genome sequencing becomes feasible in large samples.

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GWAS: Genome-wide meta-analysis of 241,258 adults accounting for smoking behaviour identifies novel loci for obesity traits

Authors: Justice AE, Winkler TW, Feitosa MF, Graff M, Fisher VA, Young K, Barata L, et al.

Few genome-wide association studies (GWAS) account for environmental exposures, like smoking, potentially impacting the overall trait variance when investigating the genetic contribution to obesity-related traits. Here, we use GWAS data from 51,080 current smokers and 190,178 nonsmokers (87% European descent) to identify loci influencing BMI and central adiposity, measured as waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio both adjusted for BMI. We identify 23 novel genetic loci, and 9 loci with convincing evidence of gene-smoking interaction (GxSMK) on obesity-related traits. We show consistent direction of effect for all identified loci and significance for 18 novel and for 5 interaction loci in an independent study sample. These loci highlight novel biological functions, including response to oxidative stress, addictive behaviour, and regulatory functions emphasizing the importance of accounting for environment in genetic analyses. Our results suggest that tobacco smoking may alter the genetic susceptibility to overall adiposity and body fat distribution.

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GWAS: The low single nucleotide polymorphism heritability of plasma and saliva cortisol levels

Authors: Neumann A, Direk N, Crawford AA, Mirza S, Adams H, Bolton J, Hayward C, et al.

Cortisol is an important stress hormone affected by a variety of biological and environmental factors, such as the circadian rhythm, exercise and psychological stress. Cortisol is mostly measured using blood or saliva samples. A number of genetic variants have been found to contribute to cortisol levels with these methods. While the effects of several specific single genetic variants is known, the joint genome-wide contribution to cortisol levels is unclear. Our aim was to estimate the amount of cortisol variance explained by common single nucleotide polymorphisms, i.e. the SNP heritability, using a variety of cortisol measures, cohorts and analysis approaches. We analyzed morning plasma (n=5705) and saliva levels (n=1717), as well as diurnal saliva levels (n=1541), in the Rotterdam Study using genomic restricted maximum likelihood estimation. Additionally, linkage disequilibrium score regression was fitted on the results of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) performed by the CORNET consortium on morning plasma cortisol (n=12,597) and saliva cortisol (n=7703). No significant SNP heritability was detected for any cortisol measure, sample or analysis approach. Point estimates ranged from 0% to 9%. Morning plasma cortisol in the CORNET cohorts, the sample with the most power, had a 6% [95%CI: 0-13%] SNP heritability. The results consistently suggest a low SNP heritability of these acute and short-term measures of cortisol. The low SNP heritability may reflect the substantial environmental and, in particular, situational component of these cortisol measures. Future GWAS will require very large sample sizes. Alternatively, more long-term cortisol measures such as hair cortisol samples are needed to discover further genetic pathways regulating cortisol concentrations.

Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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GWAS: Genetics of depressive symptoms in adolescence

Authors: Sallis H, Evans J, Wootton R, Krapohl E, Oldehinkel AJ, Davey Smith G, Paternoster L, et al.

Background. Despite many attempts to understand the genetic architecture of depression, little progress has been made. The majority of these studies, however, have been carried out in adults and do not account for the potential influence of development. Methods. The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) is a longitudinal pregnancy cohort which recruited participants between April 1991 and December 1992. Analyses were replicated in two independent European cohorts. Genome-wide complex trait analysis (GCTA) software was used to investigate SNP-heritability (h2SNP) of depression across adolescence, the role of puberty was investigated by stratifying these estimates according to pubertal onset. Genome-wide association studies were performed to identify genetic variants associated with depression at different stages of development. Results. Heritability was estimated between the ages of 11 and 18 with sample sizes ranging from 3289 to 5480. Heritability was low with an apparent peak was found at age 13 (h2 = 0.17, p = 0.006). Confidence intervals around these estimates suggest an upper-bound to h2SNP of around 30%. A variant located on chromosome 7 was found to be associated with depressive symptoms at age 13 in ALSPAC (rs138191010: β = 0.142, p = 2.51 × 10-8), although this was not replicated. Conclusions. Although power is a potential limitation, the observed patterns provide interesting hypotheses surrounding the heritability of depression at different developmental stages. We found substantially lower estimates for depressive symptoms at age 11 (0.07) compared to those previously estimated in adults (0.21). We also found a peak in heritability at age 13. These findings suggest environmental factors are likely to be more important in the aetiology of depressive symptoms in early adolescence than in adulthood.

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GWAS: Impact of common genetic determinants of hemoglobin A1c on type 2 diabetes risk and diagnosis in ancestrally diverse populations: A transethnic genome-wide meta-analysis

Authors: Wheeler E, Leong A, Liu CT, Hivert MF, Strawbridge RJ, Podmore C, Li M, et al.

Background. Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) is used to diagnose type 2 diabetes (T2D) and assess glycemic control in patients with diabetes. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified 18 HbA1c-associated genetic variants. These variants proved to be classifiable by their likely biological action as erythrocytic (also associated with erythrocyte traits) or glycemic (associated with other glucose-related traits). In this study, we tested the hypotheses that, in a very large scale GWAS, we would identify more genetic variants associated with HbA1c and that HbA1c variants implicated in erythrocytic biology would affect the diagnostic accuracy of HbA1c. We therefore expanded the number of HbA1c-associated loci and tested the effect of genetic risk-scores comprised of erythrocytic or glycemic variants on incident diabetes prediction and on prevalent diabetes screening performance. Throughout this multiancestry study, we kept a focus on interancestry differences in HbA1c genetics performance that might influence race-ancestry differences in health outcomes. Methods & Findings. Using genome-wide association meta-analyses in up to 159,940 individuals from 82 cohorts of European, African, East Asian, and South Asian ancestry, we identified 60 common genetic variants associated with HbA1c. We classified variants as implicated in glycemic, erythrocytic, or unclassified biology and tested whether additive genetic scores of erythrocytic variants (GS-E) or glycemic variants (GS-G) were associated with higher T2D incidence in multiethnic longitudinal cohorts (N = 33,241). Nineteen glycemic and 22 erythrocytic variants were associated with HbA1c at genome-wide significance. GS-G was associated with higher T2D risk (incidence OR = 1.05, 95% CI 1.04-1.06, per HbA1c-raising allele, p = 3 × 10-29); whereas GS-E was not (OR = 1.00, 95% CI 0.99-1.01, p = 0.60). In Europeans and Asians, erythrocytic variants in aggregate had only modest effects on the diagnostic accuracy of HbA1c. Yet, in African Americans, the X-linked G6PD G202A variant (T-allele frequency 11%) was associated with an absolute decrease in HbA1c of 0.81%-units (95% CI 0.66-0.96) per allele in hemizygous men, and 0.68%-units (95% CI 0.38-0.97) in homozygous women. The G6PD variant may cause approximately 2% (N = 0.65 million, 95% CI 0.55-0.74) of African American adults with T2D to remain undiagnosed when screened with HbA1c. Limitations include the smaller sample sizes for non-European ancestries and the inability to classify approximately one-third of the variants. Further studies in large multiethnic cohorts with HbA1c, glycemic, and erythrocytic traits are required to better determine the biological action of the unclassified variants. Conclusions. As G6PD deficiency can be clinically silent until illness strikes, we recommend investigation of the possible benefits of screening for the G6PD genotype along with using HbA1c to diagnose T2D in populations of African ancestry or groups where G6PD deficiency is common. Screening with direct glucose measurements, or genetically-informed HbA1c diagnostic thresholds in people with G6PD deficiency, may be required to avoid missed or delayed diagnoses.

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GWAS: Genomic analyses identify hundreds of variants associated with age at menarche and support a role for puberty timing in cancer risk

Authors: Day FR, Thompson DJ, Helgason H, Chasman DI, Finucane H, Sulem P, Ruth KS, et al.

The timing of puberty is a highly polygenic childhood trait that is epidemiologically associated with various adult diseases. Using 1000 Genomes Project-imputed genotype data in up to ∼370,000 women, we identify 389 independent signals (P < 5 × 10-8) for age at menarche, a milestone in female pubertal development. In Icelandic data, these signals explain ∼7.4% of the population variance in age at menarche, corresponding to ∼25% of the estimated heritability. We implicate ∼250 genes via coding variation or associated expression, demonstrating significant enrichment in neural tissues. Rare variants near the imprinted genes MKRN3 and DLK1 were identified, exhibiting large effects when paternally inherited. Mendelian randomization analyses suggest causal inverse associations, independent of body mass index (BMI), between puberty timing and risks for breast and endometrial cancers in women and prostate cancer in men. In aggregate, our findings highlight the complexity of the genetic regulation of puberty timing and support causal links with cancer susceptibility.

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GWAS: Genome-wide physical activity interactions in adiposity - A meta-analysis of 200,452 adults

Authors: Graff M, Scott RA, Justice AE, Young KL, Feitosa MF, Barata L, Winkler TW, et al.

Physical activity (PA) may modify the genetic effects that give rise to increased risk of obesity. To identify adiposity loci whose effects are modified by PA, we performed genome-wide interaction meta-analyses of BMI and BMI-adjusted waist circumference and waist-hip ratio from up to 200,452 adults of European (n = 180,423) or other ancestry (n = 20,029). We standardized PA by categorizing it into a dichotomous variable where, on average, 23% of participants were categorized as inactive and 77% as physically active. While we replicate the interaction with PA for the strongest known obesity-risk locus in the FTO gene, of which the effect is attenuated by ~30% in physically active individuals compared to inactive individuals, we do not identify additional loci that are sensitive to PA. In additional genome-wide meta-analyses adjusting for PA and interaction with PA, we identify 11 novel adiposity loci, suggesting that accounting for PA or other environmental factors that contribute to variation in adiposity may facilitate gene discovery.

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GWAS: CNV-association meta-analysis in 191,161 European adults reveals new loci associated with anthropometric traits

Authors: Macé A, Tuke MA, Deelen P, Kristiansson K, Mattsson H, Nõukas M, Sapkota Y, et al.

There are few examples of robust associations between rare copy number variants (CNVs) and complex continuous human traits. Here we present a large-scale CNV association meta-analysis on anthropometric traits in up to 191,161 adult samples from 26 cohorts. The study reveals five CNV associations at 1q21.1, 3q29, 7q11.23, 11p14.2, and 18q21.32 and confirms two known loci at 16p11.2 and 22q11.21, implicating at least one anthropometric trait. The discovered CNVs are recurrent and rare (0.01-0.2%), with large effects on height (>2.4 cm), weight (>5 kg), and body mass index (BMI) (>3.5 kg/m2). Burden analysis shows a 0.41 cm decrease in height, a 0.003 increase in waist-to-hip ratio and increase in BMI by 0.14 kg/m2 for each Mb of total deletion burden (P = 2.5 × 10-10, 6.0 × 10-5, and 2.9 × 10-3). Our study provides evidence that the same genes (e.g., MC4R, FIBIN, and FMO5) harbor both common and rare variants affecting body size and that anthropometric traits share genetic loci with developmental and psychiatric disorders.Individual SNPs have small effects on anthropometric traits, yet the impact of CNVs has remained largely unknown. Here, Kutalik and co-workers perform a large-scale genome-wide meta-analysis of structural variation and find rare CNVs associated with height, weight and BMI with large effect sizes.

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GWAS: Genetic loci associated with heart rate variability and their effects on cardiac disease risk

Authors: Nolte IM, Munoz ML, Tragante V, Amare AT, Jansen R, Vaez A, Von der Heyde B, et al.

Reduced cardiac vagal control reflected in low heart rate variability (HRV) is associated with greater risks for cardiac morbidity and mortality. In two-stage meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies for three HRV traits in up to 53,174 individuals of European ancestry, we detect 17 genome-wide significant SNPs in eight loci. HRV SNPs tag non-synonymous SNPs (in NDUFA11 and KIAA1755), expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) (influencing GNG11, RGS6 and NEO1), or are located in genes preferentially expressed in the sinoatrial node (GNG11, RGS6 and HCN4). Genetic risk scores account for 0.9 to 2.6% of the HRV variance. Significant genetic correlation is found for HRV with heart rate (-0.74<rg<-0.55) and blood pressure (-0.35<rg<-0.20). These findings provide clinically relevant biological insight into heritable variation in vagal heart rhythm regulation, with a key role for genetic variants (GNG11, RGS6) that influence G-protein heterotrimer action in GIRK-channel induced pacemaker membrane hyperpolarization.

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GWAS: Novel Blood Pressure Locus and Gene Discovery Using Genome-Wide Association Study and Expression Data Sets From Blood and the Kidney

Authors: Wain LV, Vaez A, Jansen R, Joehanes R, van der Most PJ, Erzurumluoglu AM, O'Reilly PF, et al.

Elevated blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and has a substantial genetic contribution. Genetic variation influencing blood pressure has the potential to identify new pharmacological targets for the treatment of hypertension. To discover additional novel blood pressure loci, we used 1000 Genomes Project-based imputation in 150 134 European ancestry individuals and sought significant evidence for independent replication in a further 228 245 individuals. We report 6 new signals of association in or near HSPB7, TNXB, LRP12, LOC283335, SEPT9, and AKT2, and provide new replication evidence for a further 2 signals in EBF2 and NFKBIA Combining large whole-blood gene expression resources totaling 12 607 individuals, we investigated all novel and previously reported signals and identified 48 genes with evidence for involvement in blood pressure regulation that are significant in multiple resources. Three novel kidney-specific signals were also detected. These robustly implicated genes may provide new leads for therapeutic innovation.

© 2017 American Heart Association, Inc.

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