News

Systematic meta-analyses identify differentially expressed microRNAs in Parkinson’s disease

The aim of this study was to identify microRNAs that show consistent differential expression across all published expression studies in Parkinson’s disease (PD). To this end, we performed a systematic literature search on microRNA expression studies in PD and meta-analyzed the extracted data. We identified several microRNAs that showed highly significant differential expression in PD blood and brain. Future studies need to assess the possible role of these miRNAs in PD pathogenesis and progression as well as the utility as biomarkers for diagnosis, progression or prediction of PD. The study was published as pre-print on bioRxiv.

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New genes identified for human longevity

Elucidating factors that influence human longevity is of great interest to a number of disciplines in medicine and biology. In this study, LIGA contributed genome-wide data from the Berlin Aging Study II to a meta-analysis using parental life span in >600000 individuals as outcome measure. We identified associations at HLA-DQA/DRB1 and LPA and found that genetic variants that increase educational attainment positively affects lifespan whereas increasing BMI showed negative effects. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Sixteen new genes for reproductive behavior in humans

This work represents the first bona-fide genome-wide association study (GWAS) assessing reproductive behavior in humans, to which LIGA contributed the data from the Berlin Aging Study II. Overall, nearly 350,000 individuals were analyzed leading to the identification of 16 independent loci that are significantly associated with ‘age at first birth’ and/or ‘number of children ever born’. These identified loci harbor genes that are likely to have a role,in human reproduction and infertility. The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics.

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GxE study on inflammation and air polution in PD

Both air pollution exposure and systemic inflammation have been linked to Parkinson’s disease (PD). In this study, led by long-time LIGA collaborator Prof. Beate Ritz at UCLA in the USA, we correlated long term traffic related air pollution measures with genetic markers for inflammation. The analyses showed suggestive evidence that a combination of traffic-related air pollution and genetic variation in the IL1B gene may contribute to risk of developing PD. The results were published in the journal Environmental Research.

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First genome-wide GxE study in PD published

The LIGA team was part of a collaborative effort where we performed the first ever genome-wide gene-environment interaction (GxE) analysis of pesticide exposure and risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The results of this effort suggest that the effect of pesticide exposure on PD risk may be modified by SNPs in the ERCC6L2 gene. This finding needs to be replicated in independent samples before it should be considered as established. The results were published in the journal Parkinsonism and Related Disorders.

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