OBJECTIVES: While genetic determinants of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels are well characterised in the general population, they are understudied in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our objective was to determine the association of established LDL and RA genetic alleles with LDL levels in RA cases compared with non-RA controls. METHODS: Using data from electronic medical records, we linked validated RA cases and non-RA controls to discarded blood samples. For each individual, we extracted data on: first LDL measurement, age, gender and year of LDL measurement. We genotyped subjects for 11 LDL and 44 non-HLA RA alleles, and calculated RA and LDL genetic risk scores (GRS). We tested the association between each GRS and LDL level using multivariate linear regression models adjusted for age, gender, year of LDL measurement and RA status. RESULTS: Among 567 RA cases and 979 controls, 80% were female and mean age at the first LDL measurement was 55 years. RA cases had significantly lower mean LDL levels than controls (117.2 vs 125.6 mg/dl, respectively, p<0.0001). Each unit increase in LDL GRS was associated with 0.8 mg/dl higher LDL levels in both RA cases and controls (p=3.0x10-7). Each unit increase in RA GRS was associated with 4.3 mg/dl lower LDL levels in both groups (p=0.01). CONCLUSIONS: LDL alleles were associated with higher LDL levels in RA. RA alleles were associated with lower LDL levels in both RA cases and controls. As RA cases carry more RA alleles, these findings suggest a genetic basis for epidemiological observations of lower LDL levels in RA.
OBJECTIVE: The significance of non-rheumatoid arthritis (RA) autoantibodies in patients with RA is unclear. The aim of this study was to assess associations of autoantibodies with autoimmune risk alleles and with clinical diagnoses from the electronic medical records (EMRs) among RA cases and non-RA controls. METHODS: Data on 1,290 RA cases and 1,236 non-RA controls of European genetic ancestry were obtained from the EMRs of 2 large academic centers. The levels of anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs), antinuclear antibodies (ANAs), anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (AGTAs), and anti-thyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO) antibodies were measured. All subjects were genotyped for autoimmune risk alleles, and the association between number of autoimmune risk alleles present and number of types of autoantibodies present was studied. A phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) was conducted to study potential associations between autoantibodies and clinical diagnoses among RA cases and non-RA controls. RESULTS: The mean ages were 60.7 years in RA cases and 64.6 years in non-RA controls. The proportion of female subjects was 79% in each group. The prevalence of ACPAs and ANAs was higher in RA cases compared to controls (each P < 0.0001); there were no differences in the prevalence of anti-TPO antibodies and AGTAs. Carriage of higher numbers of autoimmune risk alleles was associated with increasing numbers of autoantibody types in RA cases (P = 2.1 x 10(-5)) and non-RA controls (P = 5.0 x 10(-3)). From the PheWAS, the presence of ANAs was significantly associated with a diagnosis of Sjogren's/sicca syndrome in RA cases. CONCLUSION: The increased frequency of autoantibodies in RA cases and non-RA controls was associated with the number of autoimmune risk alleles carried by an individual. PheWAS of EMR data, with linkage to laboratory data obtained from blood samples, provide a novel method to test for the clinical significance of biomarkers in disease.
Newly released definitions of autism spectrum disorder demonstrate the need for precise diagnoses informed by the integration of clinical, molecular, and biochemical characteristics in a patient-information commons.
In Huntington's disease (HD), the size of the expanded HTT CAG repeat mutation is the primary driver of the processes that determine age at onset of motor symptoms. However, correlation of cellular biochemical parameters also extends across the normal repeat range, supporting the view that the CAG repeat represents a functional polymorphism with dominant effects determined by the longer allele. A central challenge to defining the functional consequences of this single polymorphism is the difficulty of distinguishing its subtle effects from the multitude of other sources of biological variation. We demonstrate that an analytical approach based upon continuous correlation with CAG size was able to capture the modest ( approximately 21%) contribution of the repeat to the variation in genome-wide gene expression in 107 lymphoblastoid cell lines, with alleles ranging from 15 to 92 CAGs. Furthermore, a mathematical model from an iterative strategy yielded predicted CAG repeat lengths that were significantly positively correlated with true CAG allele size and negatively correlated with age at onset of motor symptoms. Genes negatively correlated with repeat size were also enriched in a set of genes whose expression were CAG-correlated in human HD cerebellum. These findings both reveal the relatively small, but detectable impact of variation in the CAG allele in global data in these peripheral cells and provide a strategy for building multi-dimensional data-driven models of the biological network that drives the HD disease process by continuous analysis across allelic panels of neuronal cells vulnerable to the dominant effects of the HTT CAG repeat.
OBJECTIVE: Differences in lipid levels associated with cardiovascular (CV) risk between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and the general population remain unclear. Determining these differences is important in understanding the role of lipids in CV risk in RA. METHODS: We studied 2,005 RA subjects from 2 large academic medical centers. We extracted electronic medical record data on the first low-density lipoprotein (LDL) measurement, and total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) measurements within 1 year of the LDL measurement. Subjects with an electronic statin prescription prior to the first LDL measurement were excluded. We compared lipid levels in RA patients to recently published levels from the general US population using the t-test and stratifying by published parameters, i.e., 2007-2010, and women. We determined lipid trends using separate linear regression models for total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol, testing the association between year of measurement (1989-2010) and lipid level, adjusted by age and sex. Lipid trends in RA were qualitatively compared to the published general population trends. RESULTS: Women with RA had a significantly lower total cholesterol (186 versus 200 mg/dl; P = 0.002) and LDL cholesterol (105 versus 118 mg/dl; P = 0.001) compared to the general population (2007-2010). HDL cholesterol was not significantly different in the 2 groups. In the RA cohort, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol significantly decreased each year, while HDL cholesterol increased (all with P < 0.0001), consistent with overall trends observed in a previous study. CONCLUSION: RA patients appear to have an overall lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol than the general population despite the general overall risk of CV disease in RA from observational studies.
Prior genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of major depressive disorder (MDD) have met with limited success. We sought to increase statistical power to detect disease loci by conducting a GWAS mega-analysis for MDD. In the MDD discovery phase, we analyzed more than 1.2 million autosomal and X chromosome single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 18 759 independent and unrelated subjects of recent European ancestry (9240 MDD cases and 9519 controls). In the MDD replication phase, we evaluated 554 SNPs in independent samples (6783 MDD cases and 50 695 controls). We also conducted a cross-disorder meta-analysis using 819 autosomal SNPs with P<0.0001 for either MDD or the Psychiatric GWAS Consortium bipolar disorder (BIP) mega-analysis (9238 MDD cases/8039 controls and 6998 BIP cases/7775 controls). No SNPs achieved genome-wide significance in the MDD discovery phase, the MDD replication phase or in pre-planned secondary analyses (by sex, recurrent MDD, recurrent early-onset MDD, age of onset, pre-pubertal onset MDD or typical-like MDD from a latent class analyses of the MDD criteria). In the MDD-bipolar cross-disorder analysis, 15 SNPs exceeded genome-wide significance (P<5 x 10(-8)), and all were in a 248 kb interval of high LD on 3p21.1 (chr3:52 425 083-53 822 102, minimum P=5.9 x 10(-9) at rs2535629). Although this is the largest genome-wide analysis of MDD yet conducted, its high prevalence means that the sample is still underpowered to detect genetic effects typical for complex traits. Therefore, we were unable to identify robust and replicable findings. We discuss what this means for genetic research for MDD. The 3p21.1 MDD-BIP finding should be interpreted with caution as the most significant SNP did not replicate in MDD samples, and genotyping in independent samples will be needed to resolve its status.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders with high heritability, yet a majority of genetic contribution to pathophysiology is not known. Siblings of individuals with ASD are at increased risk for ASD and autistic traits, but the genetic contribution for simplex families is estimated to be less when compared to multiplex families. To explore the genomic (dis-) similarity between proband and unaffected sibling in simplex families, we used genome-wide gene expression profiles of blood from 20 proband-unaffected sibling pairs and 18 unrelated control individuals. The global gene expression profiles of unaffected siblings were more similar to those from probands as they shared genetic and environmental background. A total of 189 genes were significantly differentially expressed between proband-sib pairs (nominal p < 0.01) after controlling for age, sex, and family effects. Probands and siblings were distinguished into two groups by cluster analysis with these genes. Overall, unaffected siblings were equally distant from the centroid of probands and from that of unrelated controls with the differentially expressed genes. Interestingly, five of 20 siblings had gene expression profiles that were more similar to unrelated controls than to their matched probands. In summary, we found a set of genes that distinguished probands from the unaffected siblings, and a subgroup of unaffected siblings who were more similar to probands. The pathways that characterized probands compared to siblings using peripheral blood gene expression profiles were the up-regulation of ribosomal, spliceosomal, and mitochondrial pathways, and the down-regulation of neuroreceptor-ligand, immune response and calcium signaling pathways. Further integrative study with structural genetic variations such as de novo mutations, rare variants, and copy number variations would clarify whether these transcriptomic changes are structural or environmental in origin.
Adenosine-to-inosine (A-to-I) RNA editing is a neurodevelopmentally regulated epigenetic modification shown to modulate complex behavior in animals. Little is known about human A-to-I editing, but it is thought to constitute one of many molecular mechanisms connecting environmental stimuli and behavioral outputs. Thus, comprehensive exploration of A-to-I RNA editing in human brains may shed light on gene-environment interactions underlying complex behavior in health and disease. Synaptic function is a main target of A-to-I editing, which can selectively recode key amino acids in synaptic genes, directly altering synaptic strength and duration in response to environmental signals. Here, we performed a high-resolution survey of synaptic A-to-I RNA editing in a human population, and examined how it varies in autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder in which synaptic abnormalities are a common finding. Using ultra-deep (>1000 x ) sequencing, we quantified the levels of A-to-I editing of 10 synaptic genes in postmortem cerebella from 14 neurotypical and 11 autistic individuals. A high dynamic range of editing levels was detected across individuals and editing sites, from 99.6% to below detection limits. In most sites, the extreme ends of the population editing distributions were individuals with autism. Editing was correlated with isoform usage, clusters of correlated sites were identified, and differential editing patterns examined. Finally, a dysfunctional form of the editing enzyme adenosine deaminase acting on RNA B1 was found more commonly in postmortem cerebella from individuals with autism. These results provide a population-level, high-resolution view of A-to-I RNA editing in human cerebella and suggest that A-to-I editing of synaptic genes may be informative for assessing the epigenetic risk for autism.
The Electronic Medical Records and Genomics Network is a National Human Genome Research Institute-funded consortium engaged in the development of methods and best practices for using the electronic medical record as a tool for genomic research. Now in its sixth year and second funding cycle, and comprising nine research groups and a coordinating center, the network has played a major role in validating the concept that clinical data derived from electronic medical records can be used successfully for genomic research. Current work is advancing knowledge in multiple disciplines at the intersection of genomics and health-care informatics, particularly for electronic phenotyping, genome-wide association studies, genomic medicine implementation, and the ethical and regulatory issues associated with genomics research and returning results to study participants. Here, we describe the evolution, accomplishments, opportunities, and challenges of the network from its inception as a five-group consortium focused on genotype-phenotype associations for genomic discovery to its current form as a nine-group consortium pivoting toward the implementation of genomic medicine.Genet Med advance online publication 6 June 2013Genetics in Medicine (2013); doi:10.1038/gim.2013.72.
For certain research questions related to long-term outcomes or to rare disorders, designing prospective studies is impractical or prohibitively expensive. Such studies could instead utilize clinical and magnetic resonance imaging data (MRI) collected as part of routine clinical care, stored in the electronic medical record (EMR). Using major depressive disorder (MDD) as a disease model, we examined the feasibility of studying brain morphology and associations with remission using clinical and MRI data exclusively drawn from the EMR. Advanced automated tools were used to select MDD patients and controls from the EMR who had brain MRI data, but no diagnosed brain pathology. MDD patients were further assessed for remission status by review of clinical charts. Twenty MDD patients (eight full-remitters, six partial-remitters, and six non-remitters), and 15 healthy control subjects met all study criteria for advanced morphometric analyses. Compared to controls, MDD patients had significantly smaller right rostral-anterior cingulate volume, and level of non-remission was associated with smaller left hippocampus and left rostral-middle frontal gyrus volume. The use of EMR data for psychiatric research may provide a timely and cost-effective approach with the potential to generate large study samples reflective of the real population with the illness studied.
BACKGROUND: Decades of research strongly suggest that the genetic etiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is heterogeneous. However, most published studies focus on group differences between cases and controls. In contrast, we hypothesized that the heterogeneity of the disorder could be characterized by identifying pathways for which individuals are outliers rather than pathways representative of shared group differences of the ASD diagnosis. METHODS: Two previously published blood gene expression data sets - the Translational Genetics Research Institute (TGen) dataset (70 cases and 60 unrelated controls) and the Simons Simplex Consortium (Simons) dataset (221 probands and 191 unaffected family members) - were analyzed. All individuals of each dataset were projected to biological pathways, and each sample's Mahalanobis distance from a pooled centroid was calculated to compare the number of case and control outliers for each pathway. RESULTS: Analysis of a set of blood gene expression profiles from 70 ASD and 60 unrelated controls revealed three pathways whose outliers were significantly overrepresented in the ASD cases: neuron development including axonogenesis and neurite development (29% of ASD, 3% of control), nitric oxide signaling (29%, 3%), and skeletal development (27%, 3%). Overall, 50% of cases and 8% of controls were outliers in one of these three pathways, which could not be identified using group comparison or gene-level outlier methods. In an independently collected data set consisting of 221 ASD and 191 unaffected family members, outliers in the neurogenesis pathway were heavily biased towards cases (20.8% of ASD, 12.0% of control). Interestingly, neurogenesis outliers were more common among unaffected family members (Simons) than unrelated controls (TGen), but the statistical significance of this effect was marginal (Chi squared P < 0.09). CONCLUSIONS: Unlike group difference approaches, our analysis identified the samples within the case and control groups that manifested each expression signal, and showed that outlier groups were distinct for each implicated pathway. Moreover, our results suggest that by seeking heterogeneity, pathway-based outlier analysis can reveal expression signals that are not apparent when considering only shared group differences.
BACKGROUND: Psychiatric co-morbidity, in particular major depression and anxiety, is common in patients with Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Prior studies examining this may be confounded by the co-existence of functional bowel symptoms. Limited data exist examining an association between depression or anxiety and disease-specific endpoints such as bowel surgery. AIMS: To examine the frequency of depression and anxiety (prior to surgery or hospitalisation) in a large multi-institution electronic medical record (EMR)-based cohort of CD and UC patients; to define the independent effect of psychiatric co-morbidity on risk of subsequent surgery or hospitalisation in CD and UC, and to identify the effects of depression and anxiety on healthcare utilisation in our cohort. METHODS: Using a multi-institution cohort of patients with CD and UC, we identified those who also had co-existing psychiatric co-morbidity (major depressive disorder or generalised anxiety). After excluding those diagnosed with such co-morbidity for the first time following surgery, we used multivariate logistic regression to examine the independent effect of psychiatric co-morbidity on IBD-related surgery and hospitalisation. To account for confounding by disease severity, we adjusted for a propensity score estimating likelihood of psychiatric co-morbidity influenced by severity of disease in our models. RESULTS: A total of 5405 CD and 5429 UC patients were included in this study; one-fifth had either major depressive disorder or generalised anxiety. In multivariate analysis, adjusting for potential confounders and the propensity score, presence of mood or anxiety co-morbidity was associated with a 28% increase in risk of surgery in CD (OR: 1.28, 95% CI: 1.03-1.57), but not UC (OR: 1.01, 95% CI: 0.80-1.28). Psychiatric co-morbidity was associated with increased healthcare utilisation. CONCLUSIONS: Depressive disorder or generalised anxiety is associated with a modestly increased risk of surgery in patients with Crohn's disease. Interventions addressing this may improve patient outcomes.
OBJECTIVE: To quantify the impact of citalopram and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors on corrected QT interval (QTc), a marker of risk for ventricular arrhythmia, in a large and diverse clinical population. DESIGN: A cross sectional study using electrocardiographic, prescribing, and clinical data from electronic health records to explore the relation between antidepressant dose and QTc. Methadone, an opioid known to prolong QT, was included to demonstrate assay sensitivity. SETTING: A large New England healthcare system comprising two academic medical centres and outpatient clinics. PARTICIPANTS: 38,397 adult patients with an electrocardiogram recorded after prescription of antidepressant or methadone between February 1990 and August 2011. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Relation between antidepressant dose and QTc interval in linear regression, adjusting for potential clinical and demographic confounding variables. For a subset of patients, change in QTc after drug dose was also examined. RESULTS: Dose-response association with QTc prolongation was identified for citalopram (adjusted beta 0.10 (SE 0.04), P<0.01), escitalopram (adjusted beta 0.58 (0.15), P<0.001), and amitriptyline (adjusted beta 0.11 (0.03), P<0.001), but not for other antidepressants examined. An association with QTc shortening was identified for bupropion (adjusted beta 0.02 (0.01) P<0.05). Within-subject paired observations supported the QTc prolonging effect of citalopram (10 mg to 20 mg, mean QTc increase 7.8 (SE 3.6) ms, adjusted P<0.05; and 20 mg to 40 mg, mean QTc increase 10.3 (4.0) ms, adjusted P<0.01). CONCLUSIONS: This study confirmed a modest prolongation of QT interval with citalopram, and identified additional antidepressants with similar observed risk. Pharmacovigilance studies using electronic health record data may be a useful method of identifying potential risk associated with treatments.
BACKGROUND: Non-adherence to prescribed medications is a serious health problem in the United States, costing an estimated $100 billion per year. While poor adherence should be addressable with point of care health information technology, integrating new solutions with existing electronic health records (EHR) systems require customization within each organization, which is difficult because of the monolithic software design of most EHR products. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to create a published algorithm for predicting medication adherence problems easily accessible at the point of care through a Web application that runs on the Substitutable Medical Apps, Reusuable Technologies (SMART) platform. The SMART platform is an emerging framework that enables EHR systems to behave as "iPhone like platforms" by exhibiting an application programming interface for easy addition and deletion of third party apps. The app is presented as a point of care solution to monitoring medication adherence as well as a sufficiently general, modular application that may serve as an example and template for other SMART apps. METHODS: The widely used, open source Django framework was used together with the SMART platform to create the interoperable components of this app. Django uses Python as its core programming language. This allows statistical and mathematical modules to be created from a large array of Python numerical libraries and assembled together with the core app to create flexible and sophisticated EHR functionality. Algorithms that predict individual adherence are derived from a retrospective study of dispensed medication claims from a large private insurance plan. Patients' prescription fill information is accessed through the SMART framework and the embedded algorithms compute adherence information, including predicted adherence one year after the first prescription fill. Open source graphing software is used to display patient medication information and the results of statistical prediction of future adherence on a clinician-facing Web interface. RESULTS: The user interface allows the physician to quickly review all medications in a patient record for potential non-adherence problems. A gap-check and current medication possession ratio (MPR) threshold test are applied to all medications in the record to test for current non-adherence. Predictions of 1-year non-adherence are made for certain drug classes for which external data was available. Information is presented graphically to indicate present non-adherence, or predicted non-adherence at one year, based on early prescription fulfillment patterns. The MPR Monitor app is installed in the SMART reference container as the "MPR Monitor", where it is publically available for use and testing. MPR is an acronym for Medication Possession Ratio, a commonly used measure of adherence to a prescribed medication regime. This app may be used as an example for creating additional functionality by replacing statistical and display algorithms with new code in a cycle of rapid prototyping and implementation or as a framework for a new SMART app. CONCLUSIONS: The MPR Monitor app is a useful pilot project for monitoring medication adherence. It also provides an example that integrates several open source software components, including the Python-based Django Web framework and python-based graphics, to build a SMART app that allows complex decision support methods to be encapsulated to enhance EHR functionality.
OBJECTIVES: Psychiatric comorbidity is common in Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-related surgery or hospitalizations represent major events in the natural history of the disease. The objective of this study is to examine whether there is a difference in the risk of psychiatric comorbidity following surgery in CD and UC. METHODS: We used a multi-institution cohort of IBD patients without a diagnosis code for anxiety or depression preceding their IBD-related surgery or hospitalization. Demographic-, disease-, and treatment-related variables were retrieved. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to individually identify risk factors for depression and anxiety. RESULTS: Our study included a total of 707 CD and 530 UC patients who underwent bowel resection surgery and did not have depression before surgery. The risk of depression 5 years after surgery was 16% and 11% in CD and UC patients, respectively. We found no difference in the risk of depression following surgery in the CD and UC patients (adjusted odds ratio, 1.11; 95% confidence interval, 0.84-1.47). Female gender, comorbidity, immunosuppressant use, perianal disease, stoma surgery, and early surgery within 3 years of care predicted depression after CD surgery; only the female gender and comorbidity predicted depression in UC patients. Only 12% of the CD cohort had >/=4 risk factors for depression, but among them nearly 44% subsequently received a diagnosis code for depression. CONCLUSIONS: IBD-related surgery or hospitalization is associated with a significant risk for depression and anxiety, with a similar magnitude of risk in both diseases.