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  • Journal article
    Thanaj M, Mielke J, McGurk K, Bai W, Savioli N, Simoes Monteiro de Marvao A, Meyer H, Zeng L, Sohler F, Lumbers T, Wilkins M, Ware J, Bender C, Rueckert D, MacNamara A, Freitag D, O'Regan Det al., 2022,

    Genetic and environmental determinants of diastolic heart function

    , Nature Cardiovascular Research, Vol: 1, Pages: 361-371, ISSN: 2731-0590

    Diastole is the sequence of physiological events that occur in the heart during ventricular filling and principally depends onmyocardial relaxation and chamber stiffness. Abnormal diastolic function is related to many cardiovascular disease processesand is predictive of health outcomes, but its genetic architecture is largely unknown. Here, we use machine learning cardiacmotion analysis to measure diastolic functional traits in 39,559 participants of the UK Biobank and perform a genome-wideassociation study. We identified 9 significant, independent loci near genes that are associated with maintaining sarcomericfunction under biomechanical stress and genes implicated in the development of cardiomyopathy. Age, sex and diabetes wereindependent predictors of diastolic function and we found a causal relationship between genetically-determined ventricularstiffness and incident heart failure. Our results provide insights into the genetic and environmental factors influencing diastolicfunction that are relevant for identifying causal relationships and potential tractable targets.

  • Journal article
    Simoes Monteiro de Marvao A, McGurk K, Zheng S, Thanaj M, Bai W, Duan J, Biffi C, Mazzarotto F, Statton B, Dawes T, Savioli N, Halliday B, Xu X, Buchan R, Baksi A, Quinlan M, Tokarczuk P, Tayal U, Francis C, Whiffin N, Theotokis A, Zhang X, Jang M, Berry A, Pantazis A, Barton P, Rueckert D, Prasad S, Walsh R, Ho C, Cook S, Ware J, O'Regan Det al., 2021,

    Phenotypic expression and outcomes in individuals with rare genetic variants of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

    , Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Vol: 78, Pages: 1097-1110, ISSN: 0735-1097

    Background: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is caused by rare variants in sarcomereencoding genes, but little is known about the clinical significance of these variants in thegeneral population.Objectives: To compare lifetime outcomes and cardiovascular phenotypes according to thepresence of rare variants in sarcomere-encoding genes amongst middle-aged adults.Methods: We analysed whole exome sequencing and cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR)imaging in UK Biobank participants stratified by sarcomere-encoding variant status.Results: The prevalence of rare variants (allele frequency <0.00004) in HCM-associatedsarcomere-encoding genes in 200,584 participants was 2.9% (n=5,712; 1 in 35), and theprevalence of variants pathogenic or likely pathogenic for HCM (SARC-HCM-P/LP) was0.25% (n=493, 1 in 407). SARC-HCM-P/LP variants were associated with increased risk ofdeath or major adverse cardiac events compared to controls (HR 1.69, 95% CI 1.38 to 2.07,p<0.001), mainly due to heart failure endpoints (HR 4.23, 95% CI 3.07 to 5.83, p<0.001). In21,322 participants with CMR, SARC-HCM-P/LP were associated with asymmetric increasein left ventricular maximum wall thickness (10.9±2.7 vs 9.4±1.6 mm, p<0.001) buthypertrophy (≥13mm) was only present in 18.4% (n=9/49, 95% CI 9 to 32%). SARC-HCMP/LP were still associated with heart failure after adjustment for wall thickness (HR 6.74,95% CI 2.43 to 18.7, p<0.001).Conclusions: In this population of middle-aged adults, SARC-HCM-P/LP variants have lowaggregate penetrance for overt HCM but are associated with increased risk of adversecardiovascular outcomes and an attenuated cardiomyopathic phenotype. Although absoluteevent rates are low, identification of these variants may enhance risk stratification beyondfamilial disease.

  • Journal article
    Porter A, Youngstein T, Babar S, Mason JCet al., 2021,

    A rare life-threatening presentation of Takayasu arteritis

    , RHEUMATOLOGY, Vol: 60, Pages: 6-8, ISSN: 1462-0324
  • Journal article
    Boyle J, Seneviratne A, Cave L, Hyde G, Moestrup SK, Carling D, Mason JC, Haskard DOet al., 2021,

    Metformin directly suppresses atherosclerosis in normoglycemic mice via haematopoietic Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK)

    , Cardiovascular Research, Vol: 117, Pages: 1295-1308, ISSN: 0008-6363

    AimsAtherosclerotic vascular disease has an inflammatory pathogenesis. Heme from intraplaque hemorrhage may drive a protective and pro-resolving macrophage M2-like phenotype, Mhem, via AMPK and ATF1. The anti-diabetic drug metformin may also activate AMPK-dependent signalling.HypothesisMetformin systematically induces atheroprotective genes in macrophages via AMPK and ATF1, and thereby suppresses atherogenesis.Methods and ResultsNormoglycemic Ldlr-/- hyperlipidemic mice were treated with oral metformin, which profoundly suppressed atherosclerotic lesion development (p < 5x10−11). Bone marrow transplantation from AMPK-deficient mice demonstrated that metformin-related atheroprotection required haematopoietic AMPK (ANOVA, p < 0.03). Metformin at a clinically relevant concentration (10μM) evoked AMPK-dependent and ATF1-dependent increases in Hmox1, Nr1h2 (Lxrb), Abca1, Apoe, Igf1 and Pdgf, increases in several M2-markers and decreases in Nos2, in murine bone marrow macrophages. Similar effects were seen in human blood-derived macrophages, in which metformin induced protective genes and M2-like genes, suppressible by si-ATF1-mediated knockdown. Microarray analysis comparing metformin with heme in human macrophages indicated that the transcriptomic effects of metformin were related to those of heme, but not identical. Metformin induced lesional macrophage expression of p-AMPK, p-ATF1 and downstream M2-like protective effects.ConclusionMetformin activates a conserved AMPK-ATF1-M2-like pathway in mouse and human macrophages, and results in highly suppressed atherogenesis in hyperlipidemic mice via haematopoietic AMPK.Translational perspectiveThe work shows that oral antidiabetic drug metformin may suppress atherosclerotic lesion development via hematopoietic AMPK at clinically relevant concentrations, rather than via a hypoglycemic effect. Activating Transcription Factor 1 (ATF1) may mediate induction of key atheroprotective genes

  • Journal article
    Uy CP, Tarkin JM, Gopalan D, Barwick TD, Tombetti E, Youngstein T, Mason JCet al., 2021,

    The impact of integrated non-invasive imaging in the management of takayasu arteritis

    , JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, Vol: 14, Pages: 495-500, ISSN: 1876-7591
  • Journal article
    Litvinukova M, Talavera-Lopez C, Maatz H, Reichart D, Worth CL, Lindberg EL, Kanda M, Polanski K, Heinig M, Lee M, Nadelmann ER, Roberts K, Tuck L, Fasouli ES, DeLaughter DM, McDonough B, Wakimoto H, Gorham JM, Samari S, Mahbubani KT, Saeb-Parsy K, Patone G, Boyle JJ, Zhang H, Zhang H, Viveiros A, Oudit GY, Bayraktar OA, Seidman JG, Seidman CE, Noseda M, Hubner N, Teichmann SAet al., 2020,

    Cells of the adult human heart

    , Nature, Vol: 588, Pages: 466-472, ISSN: 0028-0836

    Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Advanced insights into disease mechanisms and therapeutic strategies require deeper understanding of the healthy heart’s molecular processes. Knowledge of the full repertoire of cardiac cells and their gene expression profiles is a fundamental first step in this endeavor. Here, using state-of-the-art analyses of large-scale single-cell and nuclei transcriptomes, we characterise six anatomical adult heart regions. Our results highlight the cellular heterogeneity of cardiomyocytes, pericytes, and fibroblasts, revealing distinct atrial and ventricular subsets with diverse developmental origins and specialized properties. We define the complexity of the cardiac vasculature and its changes along the arterio-venous axis. In the immune compartment we identify cardiac resident macrophages with inflammatory and protective transcriptional signatures. Further, inference of cell-cell interactions highlight different macrophage-fibroblast-cardiomyocyte networks between atria and ventricles that are distinct from skeletal muscle. Our human cardiac cell atlas improves our understanding of the human heart and provides a healthy reference for future studies.

  • Journal article
    Mason J, Kiprianos A, Maughan R, 2021,

    Identification of susceptibility loci for Takayasu arteritis through a large multi-ancestral genome-wide association study

    , American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol: 108, Pages: 8-89, ISSN: 0002-9297

    Takayasu arteritis is a rare inflammatory disease of large arteries. We performed a genetic study in Takayasu arteritis comprising 6,670 individuals (1,226 cases) from five different populations. We revealed previously unreported HLA risk factors and four novel non-HLA susceptibility loci in VPS8, SVEP1, CFL2, and chr13q21, and reinforced IL12B, PTPK2B, and chr21q22 as robust susceptibility loci shared across ancestries. Functional analysis proposed plausible underlying disease mechanisms and pinpointed ETS2 as a potential causal gene for chr21q22 association. We also identified >60 candidate loci with suggestive association (p< 5X10-5) and devised a genetic risk score for Takayasu arteritis. Takayasu arteritis was compared to hundreds of other traits, revealing the closest genetic relatedness to inflammatory bowel disease. Epigenetic patterns within risk loci suggest roles for monocytes and B cells in Takayasu arteritis. This work enhances understanding of the genetic basis and pathophysiology of Takayasu arteritis and provides clues for potential new therapeutic targets.

  • Journal article
    Bai W, Suzuki H, Huang J, Francis C, Wang S, Tarroni G, Guitton F, Aung N, Fung K, Petersen SE, Piechnik SK, Neubauer S, Evangelou E, Dehghan A, O'Regan DP, Wilkins MR, Guo Y, Matthews PM, Rueckert Det al., 2020,

    A population-based phenome-wide association study of cardiac and aortic structure and function

    , Nature Medicine, Vol: 26, Pages: 1654-1662, ISSN: 1078-8956

    Differences in cardiac and aortic structure and function are associated with cardiovascular diseases and a wide range of other types of disease. Here we analyzed cardiovascular magnetic resonance images from a population-based study, the UK Biobank, using an automated machine-learning-based analysis pipeline. We report a comprehensive range of structural and functional phenotypes for the heart and aorta across 26,893 participants, and explore how these phenotypes vary according to sex, age and major cardiovascular risk factors. We extended this analysis with a phenome-wide association study, in which we tested for correlations of a wide range of non-imaging phenotypes of the participants with imaging phenotypes. We further explored the associations of imaging phenotypes with early-life factors, mental health and cognitive function using both observational analysis and Mendelian randomization. Our study illustrates how population-based cardiac and aortic imaging phenotypes can be used to better define cardiovascular disease risks as well as heart–brain health interactions, highlighting new opportunities for studying disease mechanisms and developing image-based biomarkers.

  • Journal article
    Seneviratne A, Han Y, Wong E, Walter E, Jiang L, Cave L, Long NJ, Carling D, Mason JC, Haskard DO, Boyle Jet al., 2020,

    Hematoma resolution in vivo is directed by Activating Transcription Factor 1

    , Circulation Research, Vol: 127, Pages: 928-944, ISSN: 0009-7330

    Rationale: The efficient resolution of tissue hemorrhage is an important homeostatic function. In human macrophages in vitro, heme activates an adenosine monophosphate activated protein kinase / activating transcription factor 1 (AMPK/ATF1) pathway that directs Mhem macrophages through coregulation of heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX1, HO-1) and lipid homeostasis genes.Objective: We asked whether this pathway had an in vivo role in mice.Methods and Results: Perifemoral hematomas were used as a model of hematoma resolution. In mouse bone marrow derived macrophages (mBMM), heme induced HO-1, lipid regulatory genes including LXR, the growth factor IGF1, and the splenic red pulp macrophage gene Spic. This response was lost in mBMM from mice deficient in AMPK (Prkab1-/-) or ATF1 (Atf1-/-). In vivo, femoral hematomas resolved completely between day 8 and day 9 in littermate control mice (n=12), but were still present at day 9 in mice deficient in either AMPK (Prkab1-/-) or ATF1 (Atf1-/-) (n=6 each). Residual hematomas were accompanied by increased macrophage infiltration, inflammatory activation and oxidative stress. We also found that fluorescent lipids and a fluorescent iron-analog were trafficked to lipid-laden and iron-laden macrophages respectively. Moreover erythrocyte iron and lipid abnormally colocalized in the same macrophages in Atf1-/- mice. Therefore, iron-lipid separation was Atf1-dependent.Conclusions: Taken together, these data demonstrate that both AMPK and ATF1 are required for normal hematoma resolution.

  • Journal article
    Meyer H, Dawes T, Serrani M, Bai W, Tokarczuk P, Cai J, Simoes Monteiro de Marvao A, Henry A, Lumbers T, Gierten J, Thumberger T, Wittbrodt J, Ware J, Rueckert D, Matthews P, Prasad S, Costantino M, Cook S, Birney E, O'Regan Det al., 2020,

    Genetic and functional insights into the fractal structure of the heart

    , Nature, Vol: 584, Pages: 589-594, ISSN: 0028-0836

    The inner surfaces of the human heart are covered by a complex network of muscular strands that is thought to be a vestigeof embryonic development.1,2 The function of these trabeculae in adults and their genetic architecture are unknown. Toinvestigate this we performed a genome-wide association study using fractal analysis of trabecular morphology as animage-derived phenotype in 18,096 UK Biobank participants. We identified 16 significant loci containing genes associatedwith haemodynamic phenotypes and regulation of cytoskeletal arborisation.3,4 Using biomechanical simulations and humanobservational data, we demonstrate that trabecular morphology is an important determinant of cardiac performance. Throughgenetic association studies with cardiac disease phenotypes and Mendelian randomisation, we find a causal relationshipbetween trabecular morphology and cardiovascular disease risk. These findings suggest an unexpected role for myocardialtrabeculae in the function of the adult heart, identify conserved pathways that regulate structural complexity, and reveal theirinfluence on susceptibility to disease

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