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PLOS Papers on Genetics of Pandemic Wellbeing, Atrial Fibrillation, Dengue Virus in Angola

In PLOS Genetics, a University of Groningen-led group considers genetic associations with questionnaire-based wellbeing during the first 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Based on questionnaire responses collected between March, 2020 and January of 2021 for more than 27,500 Lifelines population biobank participants genotyped with the global screening array or a HumanCytoSNP-12 array — together with genome-wide association study summary statistics related to 17 phenotypic, personality, psychiatric, or behavioral traits — the investigators saw signs that genetic variants seemed to contribute to individuals' perceived quality of life and other wellbeing-related markers, particularly as the pandemic progressed. "Our results suggest that the relative contribution of an individuals' genetics increased over time," the authors write, adding that "our findings demonstrate that the relative contribution of genetic variation to complex phenotypes, such as wellbeing, is dynamic rather than static."

Another team of researchers from the University of Groningen and the Oncode Institute reports on findings from an atrial fibrillation (AF) meta-analysis for a paper in PLOS One. Using data for 38,981 individuals from seven AFGen consortium cohorts, including almost 4,800 participants who developed AF during an average of 13 years of follow-up, the researchers considered potential ties between individuals' genotype, atrial fibrillation status, and baseline heart rate, measured using an electrocardiogram. Together, the results suggested that "genetically determined resting heart rate was inversely associated with incident AF for resting heart rates below 65 [beats per minute]," they report, adding that these and other findings hint that "low resting heart rate is not only a risk marker for AF, but may also cause incident AF."

Investigators in Angola, the UK, France, and other international centers outline dengue virus patterns detected in Angola over two years for a paper appearing in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The team turned to RT-PCR-based screening, whole-genome sequencing, phylogenetics, and other approaches to assess more than 400 blood samples from suspected dengue virus cases in more than a dozen Angolan provinces by the country's Ministry of Health from early 2017 to February of 2019. The approach uncovered dengue virus infections in 66 of the 351 study participants with available demographic and epidemiological data. Of those, the authors explain, 93 percent involved viruses from the dengue virus serotype 2, including a cosmopolitan dengue virus 2-II genotype suspected of being imported from Southern Asia in the fall of 2015. These and other findings point to the "importance of maintaining an active arbovirus surveillance programme throughout the country to investigate [dengue virus] transmission patterns and the risk of hyperendemicity in Angola," they write.

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