• Genetic loci associated with heart rate variability and their effects on cardiac disease risk.

    5 April 2018

    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.

  • The relationship between spatial configuration and functional connectivity of brain regions.

    27 March 2018

    Brain connectivity is often considered in terms of the communication between functionally distinct brain regions. Many studies have investigated the extent to which patterns of coupling strength between multiple neural populations relates to behaviour. For example, studies have used 'functional connectivity fingerprints' to characterise individuals' brain activity. Here, we investigate the extent to which the exact spatial arrangement of cortical regions interacts with measures of brain connectivity. We find that the shape and exact location of brain regions interact strongly with the modelling of brain connectivity, and present evidence that the spatial arrangement of functional regions is strongly predictive of non-imaging measures of behaviour and lifestyle. We believe that, in many cases, cross-subject variations in the spatial configuration of functional brain regions are being interpreted as changes in functional connectivity. Therefore, a better understanding of these effects is important when interpreting the relationship between functional imaging data and cognitive traits.

  • A decade of the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative: What have we accomplished? What have we learned?

    19 March 2018

    The Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative reflects on 10 years of working to improve the quality and efficiency of clinical trials. This article highlights many of the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative's accomplishments and offers examples of the impact that the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative has had on the clinical trials enterprise. After conducting more than 25 projects and issuing recommendations for specific strategies to improve the design and execution of clinical trials, some common themes and lessons learned have emerged. Lessons include the importance of engaging many stakeholders, advanced planning to address critical issues, discontinuation of non-value added practices, and new opportunities presented by technology. Through its work, the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative has also derived some operational best practices for conducting collaborative, multi-stakeholder projects covering project selection, project team dynamics and execution, and multi-stakeholder meetings and team discussions. Through these initiatives, the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative has helped move the needle toward needed change in the clinical trials enterprise that has directly impacted stakeholders and patients alike.

  • Impact of Apolipoprotein(a) Isoform Size on Lipoprotein(a) Lowering in the HPS2-THRIVE Study.

    27 March 2018

    BACKGROUND: Genetic studies have shown lipoprotein(a) (Lp[a]) to be an important causal risk factor for coronary disease. Apolipoprotein(a) isoform size is the chief determinant of Lp(a) levels, but its impact on the benefits of therapies that lower Lp(a) remains unclear. METHODS: HPS2-THRIVE (Heart Protection Study 2-Treatment of HDL to Reduce the Incidence of Vascular Events) is a randomized trial of niacin-laropiprant versus placebo on a background of simvastatin therapy. Plasma Lp(a) levels at baseline and 1 year post-randomization were measured in 3978 participants from the United Kingdom and China. Apolipoprotein(a) isoform size, estimated by the number of kringle IV domains, was measured by agarose gel electrophoresis and the predominantly expressed isoform identified. RESULTS: Allocation to niacin-laropiprant reduced mean Lp(a) by 12 (SE, 1) nmol/L overall and 34 (6) nmol/L in the top quintile by baseline Lp(a) level (Lp[a] ≥128 nmol/L). The mean proportional reduction in Lp(a) with niacin-laropiprant was 31% but varied strongly with predominant apolipoprotein(a) isoform size (PTrend=4×10-29) and was only 18% in the quintile with the highest baseline Lp(a) level and low isoform size. Estimates from genetic studies suggest that these Lp(a) reductions during the short term of the trial might yield proportional reductions in coronary risk of ≈2% overall and 6% in the top quintile by Lp(a) levels. CONCLUSIONS: Proportional reductions in Lp(a) were dependent on apolipoprotein(a) isoform size. Taking this into account, the likely benefits of niacin-laropiprant on coronary risk through Lp(a) lowering are small. Novel therapies that reduce high Lp(a) levels by at least 80 nmol/L (≈40%) may be needed to produce worthwhile benefits in people at the highest risk because of Lp(a). CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: URL: https://clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT00461630.

  • "I would like to discuss it further with an expert": a focus group study of Finnish adults' perspectives on genetic secondary findings.

    19 February 2018

    Lowered costs of genomic sequencing facilitate analyzing large segments of genetic data. Ethical debate has focused on whether and what kind of incidental or secondary findings (SFs) to report, and how to obtain valid informed consent. However, people's support needs after receiving SFs have received less attention. We explored Finnish adults' perspectives on reporting genetic SFs. In this qualitative study which included four focus group discussions (N = 23) we used four vignette letters, each reporting a genetic SF predisposing to a different disease: familial hypercholesterolemia, long QT syndrome, Lynch syndrome, and Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Transcribed focus group discussions were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Major themes were immediate shock, dealing with worry and heightened risk, fear of being left alone to deal with SFs, disclosing to family, and identified support needs. Despite their willingness to receive SFs, participants were concerned about being left alone to deal with them. Empathetic expert support and timely access to preventive care were seen as essential to coping with shock and worry, and disclosing SFs to family. Discussion around SFs needs to concern not only which findings to report, but also how healthcare systems need to prepare for providing timely access to preventive care and support for individuals and families.

  • Relative effectiveness of insulin pump treatment over multiple daily injections and structured education during flexible intensive insulin treatment for type 1 diabetes: Cluster randomised trial (REPOSE)

    27 March 2018

    Objective To compare the effectiveness of insulin pumps with multiple daily injections for adults with type 1 diabetes, with both groups receiving equivalent training in flexible insulin treatment. Design Pragmatic, multicentre, open label, parallel group, cluster randomised controlled trial (Relative Effectiveness of Pumps Over MDI and Structured Education (REPOSE) trial). Setting Eight secondary care centres in England and Scotland. Participants Adults with type 1 diabetes who were willing to undertake intensive insulin treatment, with no preference for pumps or multiple daily injections. Participants were allocated a place on established group training courses that taught flexible intensive insulin treatment ("dose adjustment for normal eating," DAFNE). The course groups (the clusters) were then randomly allocated in pairs to either pump or multiple daily injections. Interventions Participants attended training in flexible insulin treatment (using insulin analogues) structured around the use of pump or injections, followed for two years. Main outcome measures The primary outcomes were a change in glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) values (%) at two years in participants with baseline HbA1c value of ≥7.5% (58 mmol/mol), and the proportion of participants achieving an HbA1c value of < 7.5%. Secondary outcomes included body weight, insulin dose, and episodes of moderate and severe hypoglycaemia. Ancillary outcomes included quality of life and treatment satisfaction. Results 317 participants (46 courses) were randomised (156 pump and 161 injections). 267 attended courses and 260 were included in the intention to treat analysis, of which 235 (119 pump and 116 injection) had baseline HbA1c values of ≥7.5%. Glycaemic control and rates of severe hypoglycaemia improved in both groups. The mean change in HbA1c at two years was -0.85% with pump treatment and -0.42% with multiple daily injections. Adjusting for course, centre, age, sex, and accounting for missing values, the difference was -0.24% (-2.7 mmol/mol) in favour of pump users (95% confidence interval -0.53 to 0.05, P=0.10). Most psychosocial measures showed no difference, but pump users showed greater improvement in treatment satisfaction and some quality of life domains (dietary freedom and daily hassle) at 12 and 24 months. Conclusions Both groups showed clinically relevant and long lasting decreases in HbA1c, rates of severe hypoglycaemia, and improved psychological measures, although few participants achieved glucose levels currently recommended by national and international guidelines. Adding pump treatment to structured training in flexible intensive insulin treatment did not substantially enhance educational benefits on glycaemic control, hypoglycaemia, or psychosocial outcomes in adults with type 1 diabetes. These results do not support a policy of providing insulin pumps to adults with poor glycaemic control until the effects of training on participants level of engagement in intensive self management have been determined.

  • Erratum: Sequence data and association statistics from 12,940 type 2 diabetes cases and controls.

    6 April 2018

    This corrects the article DOI: 10.1038/sdata.2017.179.

  • Global analysis of DNA methylation variation in adipose tissue from twins reveals links to disease-associated variants in distal regulatory elements.

    3 April 2018

    Epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation play a key role in gene regulation and disease susceptibility. However, little is known about the genome-wide frequency, localization, and function of methylation variation and how it is regulated by genetic and environmental factors. We utilized the Multiple Tissue Human Expression Resource (MuTHER) and generated Illumina 450K adipose methylome data from 648 twins. We found that individual CpGs had low variance and that variability was suppressed in promoters. We noted that DNA methylation variation was highly heritable (h(2)median = 0.34) and that shared environmental effects correlated with metabolic phenotype-associated CpGs. Analysis of methylation quantitative-trait loci (metQTL) revealed that 28% of CpGs were associated with nearby SNPs, and when overlapping them with adipose expression quantitative-trait loci (eQTL) from the same individuals, we found that 6% of the loci played a role in regulating both gene expression and DNA methylation. These associations were bidirectional, but there were pronounced negative associations for promoter CpGs. Integration of metQTL with adipose reference epigenomes and disease associations revealed significant enrichment of metQTL overlapping metabolic-trait or disease loci in enhancers (the strongest effects were for high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and body mass index [BMI]). We followed up with the BMI SNP rs713586, a cg01884057 metQTL that overlaps an enhancer upstream of ADCY3, and used bisulphite sequencing to refine this region. Our results showed widespread population invariability yet sequence dependence on adipose DNA methylation but that incorporating maps of regulatory elements aid in linking CpG variation to gene regulation and disease risk in a tissue-dependent manner.