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BACKGROUND - Few studies have described patterns of transmission of viral acute respiratory infections (ARI) in children in developing countries. We examined the spatial and temporal spread of viral ARI among young children in rural Peruvian highland communities. Previous studies have described intense social interactions in those communities, which could influence the transmission of viral infections.
METHODS - We enrolled and followed children <3 years of age for detection of ARI during the 2009 to 2011 respiratory seasons in a rural setting with relatively wide geographic dispersion of households and communities. Viruses detected included influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus and parainfluenza 2 and 3 viruses (PIV2, PIV3). We used geospatial analyses to identify specific viral infection hot spots with high ARI incidence. We also explored the local spread of ARI from index cases using standard deviational ellipses.
RESULTS - Geospatial analyses revealed hot spots of high ARI incidence around the index cases of influenza outbreaks and RSV outbreak in 2010. Although PIV3 in 2009 and PIV2 in 2010 showed distinct spatial hot spots, clustering was not in proximity to their respective index cases. No significant aggregation around index cases was noted for other viruses. Standard deviational ellipse analyses suggested that influenza B and RSV in 2010, and human metapneumovirus in 2011 spread temporally in alignment with the major road network.
CONCLUSIONS - Despite the geographic dispersion of communities in this rural setting, we observed a rapid spread of viral ARI among young children. Influenza strains and RSV in 2010 had distinctive outbreaks arising from their index cases.
High-altitude pulmonary hypertension (HAPH) has heritable features and is a major cause of death in cattle in the Rocky Mountains, USA. Although multiple genes are likely involved in the genesis of HAPH, to date no major gene variant has been identified. Using whole-exome sequencing, we report the high association of an EPAS1 (HIF2α) double variant in the oxygen degradation domain of EPAS1 in Angus cattle with HAPH, mean pulmonary artery pressure >50 mm Hg in two independent herds. Expression analysis shows upregulation of 26 of 27 HIF2α target genes in EPAS1 carriers with HAPH. Of interest, this variant appears to be prevalent in lowland cattle, in which 41% of a herd of 32 are carriers, but the variant may only have a phenotype when the animal is hypoxemic at altitude. The EPAS1 variant will be a tool to determine the cells and signalling pathways leading to HAPH.
BACKGROUND - Although it has long been proposed that genetic factors contribute to adaptation to high altitude, such factors remain largely unverified. Recent advances in high-throughput sequencing have made it feasible to analyze genome-wide patterns of genetic variation in human populations. Since traditionally such studies surveyed only a small fraction of the genome, interpretation of the results was limited.
RESULTS - We report here the results of the first whole genome resequencing-based analysis identifying genes that likely modulate high altitude adaptation in native Ethiopians residing at 3,500 m above sea level on Bale Plateau or Chennek field in Ethiopia. Using cross-population tests of selection, we identify regions with a significant loss of diversity, indicative of a selective sweep. We focus on a 208 kbp gene-rich region on chromosome 19, which is significant in both of the Ethiopian subpopulations sampled. This region contains eight protein-coding genes and spans 135 SNPs. To elucidate its potential role in hypoxia tolerance, we experimentally tested whether individual genes from the region affect hypoxia tolerance in Drosophila. Three genes significantly impact survival rates in low oxygen: cic, an ortholog of human CIC, Hsl, an ortholog of human LIPE, and Paf-AHα, an ortholog of human PAFAH1B3.
CONCLUSIONS - Our study reveals evolutionarily conserved genes that modulate hypoxia tolerance. In addition, we show that many of our results would likely be unattainable using data from exome sequencing or microarray studies. This highlights the importance of whole genome sequencing for investigating adaptation by natural selection.
The hypoxic conditions at high altitudes present a challenge for survival, causing pressure for adaptation. Interestingly, many high-altitude denizens (particularly in the Andes) are maladapted, with a condition known as chronic mountain sickness (CMS) or Monge disease. To decode the genetic basis of this disease, we sequenced and compared the whole genomes of 20 Andean subjects (10 with CMS and 10 without). We discovered 11 regions genome-wide with significant differences in haplotype frequencies consistent with selective sweeps. In these regions, two genes (an erythropoiesis regulator, SENP1, and an oncogene, ANP32D) had a higher transcriptional response to hypoxia in individuals with CMS relative to those without. We further found that downregulating the orthologs of these genes in flies dramatically enhanced survival rates under hypoxia, demonstrating that suppression of SENP1 and ANP32D plays an essential role in hypoxia tolerance. Our study provides an unbiased framework to identify and validate the genetic basis of adaptation to high altitudes and identifies potentially targetable mechanisms for CMS treatment.
Copyright © 2013 The American Society of Human Genetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In Latin America, gastric cancer is a leading cancer, and countries in the region have some of the highest mortality rates worldwide, including Chile, Costa Rica, and Colombia. Geographic variation in mortality rates is observed both between neighboring countries and within nations. We discuss epidemiological observations suggesting an association between altitude and gastric cancer risk in Latin America. In the Americas, the burden of gastric cancer mortality is concentrated in the mountainous areas along the Pacific rim, following the geography of the Andes sierra, from Venezuela to Chile, and the Sierra Madre and Cordillera de Centroamérica, from southern Mexico to Costa Rica. Altitude is probably a surrogate for host genetic, bacterial, dietary, and environmental factors that may cluster in the mountainous regions. For example, H. pylori strains from patients of the Andean Nariño region of Colombia display European ancestral haplotypes, whereas strains from the Pacific coast are predominantly of African origin. The observation of higher gastric cancer rates in the mountainous areas is not universal: the association is absent in Chile, where risk is more strongly associated with the age of H. pylori acquisition and socio-economic determinants. The dramatic global and regional variations in gastric cancer incidence and mortality rates offer the opportunity for scientific discovery and focused prevention programs.
People living at high altitude appear to have lower blood glucose levels and decreased incidence of diabetes. Faster glucose uptake and increased insulin sensitivity are likely explanations for these findings: skeletal muscle is the largest glucose sink in the body, and its adaptation to the hypoxia of altitude may influence glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity. This study tested the hypothesis that chronic normobaric hypoxia increases insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in soleus muscles and decreases plasma glucose levels. Adult male C57BL/6J mice were kept in normoxia [fraction of inspired O₂ = 21% (Control)] or normobaric hypoxia [fraction of inspired O₂ = 10% (Hypoxia)] for 4 wk. Then blood glucose and insulin levels, in vitro muscle glucose uptake, and indexes of insulin signaling were measured. Chronic hypoxia lowered blood glucose and plasma insulin [glucose: 14.3 ± 0.65 mM in Control vs. 9.9 ± 0.83 mM in Hypoxia (P < 0.001); insulin: 1.2 ± 0.2 ng/ml in Control vs. 0.7 ± 0.1 ng/ml in Hypoxia (P < 0.05)] and increased insulin sensitivity determined by homeostatic model assessment 2 [21.5 ± 3.8 in Control vs. 39.3 ± 5.7 in Hypoxia (P < 0.03)]. There was no significant difference in basal glucose uptake in vitro in soleus muscle (1.59 ± 0.24 and 1.71 ± 0.15 μmol·g⁻¹·h⁻¹ in Control and Hypoxia, respectively). However, insulin-stimulated glucose uptake was 30% higher in the soleus after 4 wk of hypoxia than Control (6.24 ± 0.23 vs. 4.87 ± 0.37 μmol·g⁻¹·h⁻¹, P < 0.02). Muscle glycogen content was not significantly different between the two groups. Levels of glucose transporters 4 and 1, phosphoinositide 3-kinase, glycogen synthase kinase 3, protein kinase B/Akt, and AMP-activated protein kinase were not affected by chronic hypoxia. Akt phosphorylation following insulin stimulation in soleus muscle was significantly (25%) higher in Hypoxia than Control (P < 0.05). Neither glycogen synthase kinase 3 nor AMP-activated protein kinase phosphorylation changed after 4 wk of hypoxia. These results demonstrate that the adaptation of skeletal muscles to chronic hypoxia includes increased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake.
Globally, it is estimated that > 140 million people live at a high altitude (HA), defined as > 2,500 m (8,200 ft), and that countless others sojourn to the mountains for work, travel, and sport. The distribution of exposure to HA is worldwide, including 35 million in the Andes and > 80 million in Asia, including China and central Asia. HA stress primarily is due to the hypoxia of low atmospheric pressure, but dry air, intense solar radiation, extreme cold, and exercise contribute to acute and chronic disorders. The acute disorders are acute mountain sickness (also known as soroche), HA cerebral edema, and HA pulmonary edema (HAPE). Of these, HAPE is highly correlated with acute pulmonary hypertension. The first chronic syndrome described in HA dwellers in Peru was chronic mountain sickness (Monge disease), which has a large component of relative hypoventilation and secondary erythrocytosis. The prevalence of chronic mountain sickness in HA dwellers ranges from 1.2% in native Tibetans to 5.6% in Chinese Han; 6% to 8% in male residents of La Paz, Bolivia; and 15.6% in the Andes. Subacute mountain sickness is an exaggerated pulmonary hypertensive response to HA hypoxia occurring over months, most often in infants and very young children. Chronic pulmonary hypertension with heart failure but without hypoventilation is seen in Asia. Not only does HA pulmonary hypertension exact health consequences for the millions affected, but also the mechanisms of disease relate to pulmonary hypertension associated with multiple other disorders. Genetic understanding of these disorders is in its infancy.
BACKGROUND - Life at altitude depends on adaptation to ambient hypoxia. In the Andes, susceptibility to chronic mountain sickness (CMS), a clinical condition that occurs to native highlanders or to sea level natives with prolonged residence at high altitude, remains poorly understood. We hypothesized that hypoxia-associated gene expression in children of men with CMS might identify markers that predict the development of CMS in adults. We assessed distinct patterns of gene expression of hypoxia-responsive genes in children of highland Andean men, with and without CMS.
METHODS - We compared molecular signatures in children of highland (HA) men with CMS (n = 10), without CMS (n = 10) and in sea level (SL) children (n = 20). Haemoglobin, haematocrit, and oxygen saturation were measured. Gene expression in white cells was assessed at HA and then, in the same subjects, within one hour of arrival at sea level.
RESULTS - HA children showed higher expression levels of genes regulated by HIF (hypoxia inducible factor) and lower levels of those involved in glycolysis and in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1(PDK1) and HIF prolyl hydroxylase 3 (HPH3) mRNA expressions were lowest in children of CMS fathers at altitude. At sea level the pattern of gene expression in the 3 children's groups was indistinguishable.
CONCLUSION - The molecular signatures of children of CMS patients show impaired adaptation to hypoxia. At altitude children of CMS fathers had defective coupling between glycolysis and mitochondria TCA cycle, which may be a key mechanism/biomarker for adult CMS. Early biologic markers of disease susceptibility in Andeans might impact health services and social planning.
The study of the biology of evolution has been confined to laboratories and model organisms. However, controlled laboratory conditions are unlikely to model variations in environments that influence selection in wild populations. Thus, the study of "fitness" for survival and the genetics that influence this are best carried out in the field and in matching environments. Therefore, we studied highland populations in their native environments, to learn how they cope with ambient hypoxia. The Andeans, African highlanders and Himalayans have adapted differently to their hostile environment. Chronic mountain sickness (CMS), a loss of adaptation to altitude, is common in the Andes, occasionally found in the Himalayas; and absent from the East African altitude plateau. We compared molecular signatures (distinct patterns of gene expression) of hypoxia-related genes, in white blood cells (WBC) from Andeans with (n = 10), without CMS (n = 10) and sea-level controls from Lima (n = 20) with those obtained from CMS (n = 8) and controls (n = 5) Ladakhi subjects from the Tibetan altitude plateau. We further analyzed the expression of a subset of these genes in Ethiopian highlanders (n = 8). In all subjects, we performed the studies at their native altitude and after they were rendered normoxic. We identified a gene that predicted CMS in Andeans and Himalayans (PDP2). After achieving normoxia, WBC gene expression still distinguished Andean and Himalayan CMS subjects. Remarkably, analysis of the small subset of genes (n = 8) studied in all 3 highland populations showed normoxia induced gene expression changes in Andeans, but not in Ethiopians nor Himalayan controls. This is consistent with physiologic studies in which Ethiopians and Himalayans show a lack of responsiveness to hypoxia of the cerebral circulation and of the hypoxic ventilatory drive, and with the absence of CMS on the East African altitude plateau.