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BACKGROUND - We characterised the phenotypic consequence of genetic variation at the PCSK9 locus and compared findings with recent trials of pharmacological inhibitors of PCSK9.
METHODS - Published and individual participant level data (300,000+ participants) were combined to construct a weighted PCSK9 gene-centric score (GS). Seventeen randomized placebo controlled PCSK9 inhibitor trials were included, providing data on 79,578 participants. Results were scaled to a one mmol/L lower LDL-C concentration.
RESULTS - The PCSK9 GS (comprising 4 SNPs) associations with plasma lipid and apolipoprotein levels were consistent in direction with treatment effects. The GS odds ratio (OR) for myocardial infarction (MI) was 0.53 (95% CI 0.42; 0.68), compared to a PCSK9 inhibitor effect of 0.90 (95% CI 0.86; 0.93). For ischemic stroke ORs were 0.84 (95% CI 0.57; 1.22) for the GS, compared to 0.85 (95% CI 0.78; 0.93) in the drug trials. ORs with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) were 1.29 (95% CI 1.11; 1.50) for the GS, as compared to 1.00 (95% CI 0.96; 1.04) for incident T2DM in PCSK9 inhibitor trials. No genetic associations were observed for cancer, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or Alzheimer's disease - outcomes for which large-scale trial data were unavailable.
CONCLUSIONS - Genetic variation at the PCSK9 locus recapitulates the effects of therapeutic inhibition of PCSK9 on major blood lipid fractions and MI. While indicating an increased risk of T2DM, no other possible safety concerns were shown; although precision was moderate.
Importance - Whether low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) are associated with increased risk of sepsis and poorer outcomes is unknown.
Objective - To examine the association between LDL-C levels and risk of sepsis among patients admitted to the hospital with infection.
Design, Setting, and Participants - Cohort study in which deidentified electronic health records were used to define a cohort of patients admitted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, with infection. Patients were white adults, had a code indicating infection from the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification, and received an antibiotic within 1 day of hospital admission (N = 61 502). Data were collected from January 1, 1993, through December 31, 2017, and analyzed from January 24 through October 31, 2018.
Interventions - Clinically measured LDL-C levels (excluding measurements <1 year before hospital admission and those associated with acute illness) and a genetic risk score (GRS).
Main Outcomes and Measures - The primary outcome was sepsis; secondary outcomes included admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) and in-hospital death.
Results - Among the 3961 patients with clinically measured LDL-C levels (57.8% women; mean [SD] age, 64.1 [15.9] years) and the 7804 with a GRS for LDL-C (54.0% men; mean [SD] age, 59.8 [15.2] years), lower measured LDL-C levels were significantly associated with increased risk of sepsis (odds ratio [OR], 0.86; 95% CI, 0.79-0.94; P = .001) and ICU admission (OR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.76-0.96; P = .008), but not in-hospital mortality (OR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.63-1.00; P = .06); however, none of these associations were statistically significant after adjustment for age, sex, and comorbidity variables (OR for risk of sepsis, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.88-1.06]; OR for ICU admission, 0.94 [95% CI, 0.83-1.06]; OR for in-hospital death, 0.97 [95% CI, 0.76-1.22]; P > .05 for all). The LDL-C GRS correlated with measured LDL-C levels (r = 0.24; P < 2.2 × 10-16) but was not significantly associated with any of the outcomes.
Conclusions and Relevance - Results of this study suggest that lower measured LDL-C levels were significantly associated with increased risk of sepsis and admission to ICU in patients admitted to the hospital with infection; however, this association was due to comorbidities because both clinical models adjusted for confounders, and the genetic model showed no increased risk. Levels of LDL-C do not appear to directly alter the risk of sepsis or poor outcomes in patients hospitalized with infection.
Defining the full spectrum of human disease associated with a biomarker is necessary to advance the biomarker into clinical practice. We hypothesize that associating biomarker measurements with electronic health record (EHR) populations based on shared genetic architectures would establish the clinical epidemiology of the biomarker. We use Bayesian sparse linear mixed modeling to calculate SNP weightings for 53 biomarkers from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. We use the SNP weightings to computed predicted biomarker values in an EHR population and test associations with 1139 diagnoses. Here we report 116 associations meeting a Bonferroni level of significance. A false discovery rate (FDR)-based significance threshold reveals more known and undescribed associations across a broad range of biomarkers, including biometric measures, plasma proteins and metabolites, functional assays, and behaviors. We confirm an inverse association between LDL-cholesterol level and septicemia risk in an independent epidemiological cohort. This approach efficiently discovers biomarker-disease associations.
BACKGROUND - Observations from statin clinical trials and from Mendelian randomization studies suggest that low low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations may be associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Despite the findings from statin clinical trials and genetic studies, there is little direct evidence implicating low LDL-C concentrations in increased risk of T2DM.
METHODS AND FINDINGS - We used de-identified electronic health records (EHRs) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to compare the risk of T2DM in a cross-sectional study among individuals with very low (≤60 mg/dl, N = 8,943) and normal (90-130 mg/dl, N = 71,343) LDL-C levels calculated using the Friedewald formula. LDL-C levels associated with statin use, hospitalization, or a serum albumin level < 3 g/dl were excluded. We used a 2-phase approach: in 1/3 of the sample (discovery) we used T2DM phenome-wide association study codes (phecodes) to identify cases and controls, and in the remaining 2/3 (validation) we identified T2DM cases and controls using a validated algorithm. The analysis plan for the validation phase was constructed at the time of the design of that component of the study. The prevalence of T2DM in the very low and normal LDL-C groups was compared using logistic regression with adjustment for age, race, sex, body mass index (BMI), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and duration of care. Secondary analyses included prespecified stratification by sex, race, BMI, and LDL-C level. In the discovery cohort, phecodes related to T2DM were significantly more frequent in the very low LDL-C group. In the validation cohort (N = 33,039 after applying the T2DM algorithm to identify cases and controls), the risk of T2DM was increased in the very low compared to normal LDL-C group (odds ratio [OR] 2.06, 95% CI 1.80-2.37; P < 2 × 10-16). The findings remained significant in sensitivity analyses. The association between low LDL-C levels and T2DM was significant in males (OR 2.43, 95% CI 2.00-2.95; P < 2 × 10-16) and females (OR 1.74, 95% CI 1.42-2.12; P = 6.88 × 10-8); in normal weight (OR 2.18, 95% CI 1.59-2.98; P = 1.1× 10-6), overweight (OR 2.17, 95% CI 1.65-2.83; P = 1.73× 10-8), and obese (OR 2.00, 95% CI 1.65-2.41; P = 8 × 10-13) categories; and in individuals with LDL-C < 40 mg/dl (OR 2.31, 95% CI 1.71-3.10; P = 3.01× 10-8) and LDL-C 40-60 mg/dl (OR 1.99, 95% CI 1.71-2.32; P < 2.0× 10-16). The association was significant in individuals of European ancestry (OR 2.67, 95% CI 2.25-3.17; P < 2 × 10-16) but not in those of African ancestry (OR 1.09, 95% CI 0.81-1.46; P = 0.56). A limitation was that we only compared groups with very low and normal LDL-C levels; also, since this was not an inception cohort, we cannot exclude the possibility of reverse causation.
CONCLUSIONS - Very low LDL-C concentrations occurring in the absence of statin treatment were significantly associated with T2DM risk in a large EHR population; this increased risk was present in both sexes and all BMI categories, and in individuals of European ancestry but not of African ancestry. Longitudinal cohort studies to assess the relationship between very low LDL-C levels not associated with lipid-lowering therapy and risk of developing T2DM will be important.
INTRODUCTION - When a new drug enters the market, its full array of side effects remains to be defined. Current surveillance approaches targeting these effects remain largely reactive. There is a need for development of methods to predict specific safety events that should be sought for a given new drug during development and postmarketing activities.
OBJECTIVE - We present here a safety signal identification approach applied to a new set of drug entities, inhibitors of the serine protease proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9).
METHODS - Using phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) methods, we analyzed available genotype and clinical data from 29,722 patients, leveraging the known effects of changes in PCSK9 to identify novel phenotypes in which this protein and its inhibitors may have impact.
RESULTS - PheWAS revealed a significantly reduced risk of hypercholesterolemia (odds ratio [OR] 0.68, p = 7.6 × 10) in association with a known loss-of-function variant in PCSK9, R46L. Similarly, laboratory data indicated significantly reduced beta mean low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (- 14.47 mg/dL, p = 2.58 × 10) in individuals carrying the R46L variant. The R46L variant was also associated with an increased risk of spina bifida (OR 5.90, p = 2.7 × 10), suggesting that further investigation of potential connections between inhibition of PCSK9 and neural tube defects may be warranted.
CONCLUSION - This novel methodology provides an opportunity to put in place new mechanisms to assess the safety and long-term tolerability of PCSK9 inhibitors specifically, and other new agents in general, as they move into human testing and expanded clinical use.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS - Most familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) patients remain undertreated, and it is unclear what role health disparities may play for FH patients in the US. We sought to describe sex and racial/ethnic disparities in a national registry of US FH patients.
METHODS - We analyzed data from 3167 adults enrolled in the CAscade SCreening for Awareness and DEtection of Familial Hypercholesterolemia (CASCADE-FH) registry. Logistic regression was used to evaluate for disparities in LDL-C goals and statin use, with adjustments for covariates including age, cardiovascular risk factors, and statin intolerance.
RESULTS - In adjusted analyses, women were less likely than men to achieve treated LDL-C of <100 mg/dL (OR 0.68, 95% CI, 0.57-0.82) or ≥50% reduction from pretreatment LDL-C (OR 0.79, 95% CI, 0.65-0.96). Women were less likely than men to receive statin therapy (OR, 0.60, 95% CI, 0.50-0.73) and less likely to receive a high-intensity statin (OR, 0.60, 95% CI, 0.49-0.72). LDL-C goal achievement also varied by race/ethnicity: compared with whites, Asians and blacks were less likely to achieve LDL-C levels <100 mg/dL (Asians, OR, 0.47, 95% CI, 0.24-0.94; blacks, OR, 0.49, 95% CI, 0.32-0.74) or ≥50% reduction from pretreatment LDL-C (Asians, OR 0.56, 95% CI, 0.32-0.98; blacks, OR 0.62, 95% CI, 0.43-0.90).
CONCLUSIONS - In a contemporary US population of FH patients, we identified differences in LDL-C goal attainment and statin usage after stratifying the population by either sex or race/ethnicity. Our findings suggest that health disparities contribute to the undertreatment of US FH patients. Increased efforts are warranted to raise awareness of these disparities.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - Statin treatment and variants in the gene encoding HMG-CoA reductase are associated with reductions in both the concentration of LDL cholesterol and the risk of coronary heart disease, but also with modest hyperglycaemia, increased bodyweight, and modestly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, which in no way offsets their substantial benefits. We sought to investigate the associations of LDL cholesterol-lowering PCSK9 variants with type 2 diabetes and related biomarkers to gauge the likely effects of PCSK9 inhibitors on diabetes risk.
METHODS - In this mendelian randomisation study, we used data from cohort studies, randomised controlled trials, case control studies, and genetic consortia to estimate associations of PCSK9 genetic variants with LDL cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, HbA, fasting insulin, bodyweight, waist-to-hip ratio, BMI, and risk of type 2 diabetes, using a standardised analysis plan, meta-analyses, and weighted gene-centric scores.
FINDINGS - Data were available for more than 550 000 individuals and 51 623 cases of type 2 diabetes. Combined analyses of four independent PCSK9 variants (rs11583680, rs11591147, rs2479409, and rs11206510) scaled to 1 mmol/L lower LDL cholesterol showed associations with increased fasting glucose (0·09 mmol/L, 95% CI 0·02 to 0·15), bodyweight (1·03 kg, 0·24 to 1·82), waist-to-hip ratio (0·006, 0·003 to 0·010), and an odds ratio for type diabetes of 1·29 (1·11 to 1·50). Based on the collected data, we did not identify associations with HbA (0·03%, -0·01 to 0·08), fasting insulin (0·00%, -0·06 to 0·07), and BMI (0·11 kg/m, -0·09 to 0·30).
INTERPRETATION - PCSK9 variants associated with lower LDL cholesterol were also associated with circulating higher fasting glucose concentration, bodyweight, and waist-to-hip ratio, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. In trials of PCSK9 inhibitor drugs, investigators should carefully assess these safety outcomes and quantify the risks and benefits of PCSK9 inhibitor treatment, as was previously done for statins.
FUNDING - British Heart Foundation, and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre.
Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY license. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - The burden of subclinical atherosclerosis in asymptomatic individuals is heritable and associated with elevated risk of developing clinical coronary heart disease. We sought to identify genetic variants in protein-coding regions associated with subclinical atherosclerosis and the risk of subsequent coronary heart disease.
METHODS AND RESULTS - We studied a total of 25 109 European ancestry and African ancestry participants with coronary artery calcification (CAC) measured by cardiac computed tomography and 52 869 participants with common carotid intima-media thickness measured by ultrasonography within the CHARGE Consortium (Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology). Participants were genotyped for 247 870 DNA sequence variants (231 539 in exons) across the genome. A meta-analysis of exome-wide association studies was performed across cohorts for CAC and carotid intima-media thickness. APOB p.Arg3527Gln was associated with 4-fold excess CAC (P=3×10). The APOE ε2 allele (p.Arg176Cys) was associated with both 22.3% reduced CAC (P=1×10) and 1.4% reduced carotid intima-media thickness (P=4×10) in carriers compared with noncarriers. In secondary analyses conditioning on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration, the ε2 protective association with CAC, although attenuated, remained strongly significant. Additionally, the presence of ε2 was associated with reduced risk for coronary heart disease (odds ratio 0.77; P=1×10).
CONCLUSIONS - Exome-wide association meta-analysis demonstrates that protein-coding variants in APOB and APOE associate with subclinical atherosclerosis. APOE ε2 represents the first significant association for multiple subclinical atherosclerosis traits across multiple ethnicities, as well as clinical coronary heart disease.
© 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.
Populations in sub-Saharan Africa are shifting from rural to increasingly urban. Although the burden of cardiovascular disease is expected to increase with this changing landscape, few large studies have assessed a wide range of risk factors in urban and rural populations, particularly in West Africa. We conducted a cross-sectional, population-based survey of 3317 participants from Ghana (≥18 years old), of whom 2265 (57% female) were from a mid-sized city (Sunyani, population ~250,000) and 1052 (55% female) were from surrounding villages (populations <5000). We measured canonical cardiovascular disease risk factors (BMI, blood pressure, fasting glucose, lipids) and fibrinolytic markers (PAI-1 and t-PA), and assessed how their distributions and related clinical outcomes (including obesity, hypertension and diabetes) varied with urban residence and sex. Urban residence was strongly associated with obesity (OR: 7.8, 95% CI: 5.3-11.3), diabetes (OR 3.6, 95% CI: 2.3-5.7), and hypertension (OR 3.2, 95% CI: 2.6-4.0). Among the quantitative measures, most affected were total cholesterol (+0.81 standard deviations, 95% CI 0.73-0.88), LDL cholesterol (+0.89, 95% CI: 0.79-0.99), and t-PA (+0.56, 95% CI: 0.48-0.63). Triglycerides and HDL cholesterol profiles were similarly poor in both urban and rural environments, but significantly worse among rural participants after BMI-adjustment. For most of the risk factors, the strength of the association with urban residence did not vary with sex. Obesity was a major exception, with urban women at particularly high risk (26% age-standardized prevalence) compared to urban men (7%). Overall, urban residents had substantially worse cardiovascular risk profiles, with some risk factors at levels typically seen in the developed world.
BACKGROUND - In the US familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), patients are underidentified, despite an estimated prevalence of 1:200 to 1:500. Criteria to identify FH patients include Simon Broome, Dutch Lipid Clinic Network (DLCN), or Make Early Diagnosis to Prevent Early Deaths (MEDPED). The use of these criteria in US clinical practices remains unclear.
OBJECTIVE - To characterize the FH diagnostic criteria applied by US lipid specialists participating in the FH Foundation's CASCADE FH (CAscade SCreening for Awareness and DEtection of Familial Hypercholesterolemia) patient registry.
METHODS - We performed an observational, cross-sectional analysis of diagnostic criteria chosen for each adult patient, both overall and by baseline patient characteristics, at 15 clinical sites that had contributed data to the registry as of September 8, 2015. A sample of 1867 FH adults was analyzed. The median age at FH diagnosis was 50 years, and the median pretreatment low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) value was 238 mg/dL. The main outcome was the diagnostic criteria chosen. Diagnostic criteria were divided into five nonexclusive categories: "clinical diagnosis," MEDPED, Simon Broome, DLCN, and other.
RESULTS - Most adults enrolled in CASCADE FH (55.0%) received a "clinical diagnosis." The most commonly used formal criteria was Simon-Broome only (21%), followed by multiple diagnostic criteria (16%), MEDPED only (7%), DLCN only (1%), and other (0.5%), P < .0001. Of the patients with only a "clinical diagnosis," 93% would have met criteria for Simon Broome, DLCN, or MEDPED based on the data available in the registry.
CONCLUSIONS - Our findings demonstrate heterogeneity in the application of FH diagnostic criteria in the United States. A nationwide consensus definition may lead to better identification, earlier treatment, and ultimately CHD prevention.
Copyright © 2016 National Lipid Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.