Areas of specialism

Statistical genetics; Multi-omics data

University roles and responsibilities

  • Academic Integrity Officer
  • Ethics Committee member

    Affiliations and memberships

    Frontiers in Genetics, section Human and Medical Genomics
    Associate Editor
    Genes journal
    Editorial board member


    Research interests

    Research collaborations


    Postgraduate research supervision

    Completed postgraduate research projects I have supervised



    Zhanna Balkhiiarova, Saqib Hassan, Marika Kaakinen, Harmen Draisma, Liudmila Zudina, Mohd A Ganie, Aafia Rashid, Zhanna Balkhiyarova, George S Kiran, Paris Vogazianos, Christos Shammas, Joseph Selvin, Athos Antoniades, Ayse Demirkan, Inga Prokopenko (2022)Bifidobacterium Is Enriched in Gut Microbiome of Kashmiri Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, In: Genes13(2)

    Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a very common endocrine condition in women in India. Gut microbiome alterations were shown to be involved in PCOS, yet it is remarkably understudied in Indian women who have a higher incidence of PCOS as compared to other ethnic populations. During the regional PCOS screening program among young women, we recruited 19 drug naive women with PCOS and 20 control women at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Kashmir, North India. We profiled the gut microbiome in faecal samples by 16S rRNA sequencing and included 40/58 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) detected in at least 1/3 of the subjects with relative abundance (RA) ≥ 0.1%. We compared the RAs at a family/genus level in PCOS/non-PCOS groups and their correlation with 33 metabolic and hormonal factors, and corrected for multiple testing, while taking the variation in day of menstrual cycle at sample collection, age and BMI into account. Five genera were significantly enriched in PCOS cases: , , and previously reported for PCOS , and confirmed by different statistical models. At the family level, the relative abundance of was enriched, whereas was decreased among cases. We observed increased relative abundance of and with higher fasting blood glucose levels, and and with larger hip, waist circumference, weight, and with lower prolactin levels. We also detected a novel association between and follicle-stimulating hormone levels and between and alkaline phosphatase, independently of the BMI of the participants. Our report supports that there is a relationship between gut microbiome composition and PCOS with links to specific reproductive health metabolic and hormonal predictors in Indian women.

    INGA PROKOPENKO, Gentaro Miyakawa, Bang Zheng, Jani Heikkinen, Daniela Petrova Quayle, Chinedu Udeh-Momoh, Annique Claringbould, Juliane Neumann, Hazal Haytural, MARIKA KAAKINEN, Elena Loizidou, EM Meissner, Lars Bertram, Djordje O Gveric, Steve M Gentleman, Johannes Attems, Robert Perneczky, Thomas Arzberger, Pierandrea Muglia, Christina M Lill, Laura Parkkinen, Lefkos T Middleton (2019)Alzheimer's disease pathology explains association between dementia with Lewy bodies and APOE-ε4/TOMM40 long poly-T repeat allele variants, In: Alzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions5(1)pp. 814-824 Wiley Open Access

    Introduction The role of TOMM40-APOE 19q13.3 region variants is well documented in Alzheimer's disease (AD) but remains contentious in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD). Methods We dissected genetic profiles within the TOMM40-APOE region in 451 individuals from four European brain banks, including DLB and PDD cases with/without neuropathological evidence of AD-related pathology and healthy controls. Results TOMM40-L/APOE-ε4 alleles were associated with DLB (ORTOMM40-L = 3.61; P value = 3.23 × 10−9; ORAPOE-ε4 = 3.75; P value = 4.90 × 10−10) and earlier age at onset of DLB (HRTOMM40-L = 1.33, P value = .031; HRAPOE-ε4 = 1.46, P value = .004), but not with PDD. The TOMM40-L/APOE-ε4 effect was most pronounced in DLB individuals with concomitant AD pathology (ORTOMM40-L = 4.40, P value = 1.15 × 10−6; ORAPOE-ε4 = 5.65, P value = 2.97 × 10−8) but was not significant in DLB without AD. Meta-analyses combining all APOE-ε4 data in DLB confirmed our findings (ORDLB = 2.93, P value = 3.78 × 10−99; ORDLB+AD = 5.36, P value = 1.56 × 10−47). Discussion APOE-ε4/TOMM40-L alleles increase susceptibility and risk of earlier DLB onset, an effect explained by concomitant AD-related pathology. These findings have important implications in future drug discovery and development efforts in DLB.

    Zhanna Balkhiyarova, Rosa Luciano, Marika Kaakinen, Anna Ulrich, Aleksey Shmeliov, Marzia Bianchi, Laura Chioma, Bruno Dallapiccola, Inga Prokopenko, Melania Manco (2021)Relationship between glucose homeostasis and obesity in early life—a study of Italian children and adolescents, In: Human Molecular Geneticsddab287 Oxford University Press

    Epidemic obesity is the most important risk factor for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes (T2D) in youth as it is in adults. Obesity shares pathophysiological mechanisms with T2D and is likely to share part of the genetic background. We aimed to test if weighted genetic risk scores (GRSs) for T2D, fasting glucose (FG) and fasting insulin (FI) predict glycaemic traits and if there is a causal relationship between obesity and impaired glucose metabolism in children and adolescents. Genotyping of 42 SNPs established by genome-wide association studies for T2D, FG and FI was performed in 1660 Italian youths aged between 2 and 19 years. We defined GRS for T2D, FG and FI and tested their effects on glycaemic traits, including FG, FI, indices of insulin resistance/beta cell function and body mass index (BMI). We evaluated causal relationships between obesity and FG/FI using one-sample Mendelian randomization analyses in both directions. GRS-FG was associated with FG (beta = 0.075 mmol/l, SE = 0.011, P = 1.58 × 10 −11) and beta cell function (beta = −0.041, SE = 0.0090 P = 5.13 × 10 −6). GRS-T2D also demonstrated an association with beta cell function (beta = −0.020, SE = 0.021 P = 0.030). We detected a causal effect of increased BMI on levels of FI in Italian youths (beta = 0.31 ln (pmol/l), 95%CI [0.078, 0.54], P = 0.0085), while there was no effect of FG/FI levels on BMI. Our results demonstrate that the glycaemic and T2D risk genetic variants contribute to higher FG and FI levels and decreased beta cell function in children and adolescents. The causal effects of adiposity on increased insulin resistance are detectable from childhood age.

    Justiina Ronkainen, Rozenn Nedelec, Angelica Atehortua, ZHANNA BALKHIIAROVA, Anna Cascarano, Vien Ngoc Dang, Ahmed Elhakeem, Esther van Enckevort, Ana Goncalves Soares, Sido Haakma, Miia Halonen, Katharina F Heil, Anni Heiskala, Eleanor Hyde, B Jacquemin, Elina Keikkala, Jules Kerckhoffs, Anton Klåvus, Joanna A Kopinska, Irina Motoc, Johanna Lepeule, Francesca Marazzi, Mari Näätänen, Anton Ribbenstedt, Amanda Rundblad, Otto Savolainen, Valentina Simonetti, Nina de Toro Eadie, Evangelia Tzala, ANNA ULRICH, Thomas Wright, Iman Zarei, Enrico d’Amico, Federico Belotti, Carl Brunius, Christopher Castleton, Marie-Aline Charles, Romy Gaillard, Kati Hanhineva, Gerard Hoek, Kirsten B Holven, Vincent W.V Jaddoe, MARIKA KAAKINEN, Eero Kajantie, M Kavousi, Timo A. Lakka, Jason Matthews, Andrea Piano Mortari, Marja Vääräsmäki, Trudy Voortman, C Webster, Marie Zins, Vincenzo Atella, Maria Bulgheroni, M Chadeau-Hyam, Gabriella Conti, Jayne Evans, Janine F. Felix, Barbara Heude, Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, Marjukka Kolehmainen, Rikard Landberg, Karim Lekadir, Stefano Parusso, INGA PROKOPENKO, Susanne R de Rooij, Tessa Roseboom, Morris Swertz, Nicholas J. Timpson, Stine M Ulven, Roel Vermeulen, Teija Juola, Sylvain Sebert (2022)LongITools: Dynamic longitudinal exposome trajectories in cardiovascular and metabolic noncommunicable diseases, In: Environmental epidemiology6(1)e184

    The current epidemics of cardiovascular and metabolic noncommunicable diseases have emerged alongside dramatic modifications in lifestyle and living environments. These correspond to changes in our “modern” postwar societies globally characterized by rural-to-urban migration, modernization of agricultural practices, and transportation, climate change, and aging. Evidence suggests that these changes are related to each other, although the social and biological mechanisms as well as their interactions have yet to be uncovered. LongITools, as one of the 9 projects included in the European Human Exposome Network, will tackle this environmental health equation linking multidimensional environmental exposures to the occurrence of cardiovascular and metabolic noncommunicable diseases.

    V Lagou, Reedik Magi, JJ Hottenga, Harald Grallert, John R. Perry, Nabila Bouatia-Naji, Letizia Marullo, Denis Rybin, R Jansen, JL Min, AS Dimas, ANNA ULRICH, LIUDMILA ZUDINA, Jesper R Gådin, Longda Jiang, Alessia Faggian, Amélie Bonnefond, Joao Fadista, Maria G Stathopoulou, Aaron Isaacs, SM Willems, Pau Navarro, T Tanaka, Anne U Jackson, May E Montasser, Jeff R O'Connell, Lawrence F Bielak, R. Webster, Richa Saxena, Jeanette M Stafford, Beate St Pourcain, Nicholas J. Timpson, Perttu Salo, SY Shin, Najaf Amin, Albert V Smith, Guo Li, Niek Verweij, Anuj Goel, Ian Ford, Paul C D Johnson, T Johnson, Karen Kapur, G Thorleifsson, RJ Strawbridge, Laura J Rasmussen-Torvik, Tõnu Esko, Evelin Mihailov, T Fall, Ross M Fraser, A Mahajan, Stavroula Kanoni, Vilmantas Giedraitis, ME Kleber, Günther Silbernagel, Julia Meyer, Martina Müller-Nurasyid, Andrea Ganna, Antti-Pekka Sarin, Loic Yengo, Dmitry Shungin, J Luan, Momoko Horikoshi, Ping An, S Sanna, Yvonne Boettcher, NW Rayner, Ilja M Nolte, Tatijana Zemunik, Erik van Iperen, Peter Kovacs, Nicholas D Hastie, SH Wild, Stela McLachlan, SS Campbell, Ozren Polasek, Olga Carlson, Josephine Egan, Wieland Kiess, G Willemsen, Johanna Kuusisto, Markku Laakso, Maria Dimitriou, A Hicks, Rainer Rauramaa, S Bandinelli, B Thorand, Yongmei Liu, Iva Miljkovic, L Lind, Alex Doney, M Perola, AD Hingorani, M Kivimäki, Meena Kumari, Amanda J Bennett, C Groves, C Herder, Heikki A Koistinen, Leena Kinnunen, Ulf de Faire, Stephan J L Bakker, Matti Uusitupa, Colin N. A Palmer, J Wouter Jukema, N Sattar, A Pouta, H Snieder, E Boerwinkle, James S Pankow, PK Magnusson, Ulrika Krus, Chiara Scapoli, Eco J C N de Geus, Matthias Blüher, Bruce H R Wolffenbuttel, Michael A Province, G Abecasis, James B Meigs, G Kees Hovingh, Jaana Lindström, James F Wilson, Alan F Wright, GV Dedoussis, Stefan R Bornstein, Peter E H Schwarz, Anke Tönjes, BR Winkelmann, B Boehm, W März, Andres Metspalu, Jackie F Price, P Deloukas, Antje Körner, Timo A. Lakka, Sirkka M Keinanen-Kiukaanniemi, Timo E Saaristo, Richard N Bergman, J Tuomilehto, N Wareham, Claudia Langenberg, S Männistö, Paul Franks, C Hayward, Veronique Vitart, J Kaprio, Sophie Visvikis-Siest, Beverley Balkau, D Altshuler, Igor Rudan, Michael Stumvoll, Harry Campbell, Cornelia van Duijn, C Gieger, T Illig, L Ferrucci, NL Pedersen, Peter P Pramstaller, Michael Boehnke, Timothy M. Frayling, AR Shuldiner, Patricia A Peyser, Sharon L R Kardia, Lyle J. Palmer, BW Penninx, Pierre Meneton, T Harris, G Navis, Pim van der Harst, George Davey Smith, NG Forouhi, Ruth J F Loos, V Salomaa, N Soranzo, D Boomsma, Leif Groop, Tiinamaija Tuomi, Albert Hofman, Patricia B. Munroe, V Gudnason, DS Siscovick, H Watkins, Cecile Lecoeur, P Vollenweider, A Franco-Cereceda, P Eriksson, Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, K Stefansson, A Hamsten, G Nicholson, Fredrik Karpe, ET Dermitzakis, C Lindgren, MI McCarthy, P Froguel, MARIKA KAAKINEN, VG Lyssenko, R Watanabe, E Ingelsson, Jose C Florez, J Dupuis, I Barroso, AP Morris, INGA PROKOPENKO (2021)Sex-dimorphic genetic effects and novel loci for fasting glucose and insulin variability, In: Nature Communications1224 Nature Research

    Differences between sexes contribute to variation in the levels of fasting glucose and insulin. Epidemiological studies established a higher prevalence of impaired fasting glucose in men and impaired glucose tolerance in women, however, the genetic component underlying this phenomenon is not established. We assess sex-dimorphic (73,089/50,404 women and 67,506/47,806 men) and sex-combined (151,188/105,056 individuals) fasting glucose/fasting insulin genetic effects via genome-wide association study meta-analyses in individuals of European descent without diabetes. Here we report sex dimorphism in allelic effects on fasting insulin at IRS1 and ZNF12 loci, the latter showing higher RNA expression in whole blood in women compared to men. We also observe sex-homogeneous effects on fasting glucose at seven novel loci. Fasting insulin in women shows stronger genetic correlations than in men with waist-to-hip ratio and anorexia nervosa. Furthermore, waist-to-hip ratio is causally related to insulin resistance in women, but not in men. These results position dissection of metabolic and glycemic health sex dimorphism as a steppingstone for understanding differences in genetic effects between women and men in related phenotypes.

    Eleni M Loizidou, Anastasia Kucherenko, Pavlo Tatarskyy, Sergey Chernushyn, Ganna Livshyts, Roman Gulkovskyi, Iryna Vorobiova, Yurii Antipkin, Oleksandra Gorodna, MARIKA KAAKINEN, INGA PROKOPENKO, Ludmila Livshits (2021)Risk of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss in the Ukrainian Population Using a Combined Effect of Genetic Variants: A Case-Control Study, In: Genes12(1)64 MDPI

    We assessed the predictive ability of a combined genetic variant panel for the risk of recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) through a case-control study. Our study sample was from Ukraine and included 114 cases with idiopathic RPL and 106 controls without any pregnancy losses/complications and with at least one healthy child. We genotyped variants within 12 genetic loci reflecting the main biological pathways involved in pregnancy maintenance: blood coagulation (F2, F5, F7, GP1A), hormonal regulation (ESR1, ADRB2), endometrium and placental function (ENOS, ACE), folate metabolism (MTHFR) and inflammatory response (IL6, IL8, IL10). We showed that a genetic risk score (GRS) calculated from the 12 variants was associated with an increased risk of RPL (odds ratio 1.56, 95% CI: 1.21, 2.04, p = 8.7 × 10−4). The receiver operator characteristic (ROC) analysis resulted in an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.64 (95% CI: 0.57, 0.72), indicating an improved ability of the GRS to classify women with and without RPL. Ιmplementation of the GRS approach can help define women at higher risk of complex multifactorial conditions such as RPL. Future well-powered genome-wide association studies will help in dissecting biological pathways previously unknown for RPL and further improve the identification of women with RPL susceptibility.

    Alexessander Da Silva Couto Alves, N. Maneka G. De Silva, Ville Karhunen, Ulla Sovio, Shikta Das, H. Rob Taal, Nicole M. Warrington, Alexandra M. Lewin, Marika Kaakinen, Diana L. Cousminer, Elisabeth Thiering, Nicholas J. Timpson, Tom A. Bond, Estelle Lowry, Christopher D. Brown, Xavier Estivill, Virpi Lindi, Jonathan P. Bradfield, Frank Geller, Doug Speed, Lachlan J. M. Coin, Marie Loh, Sheila J. Barton, Lawrence J. Beilin, Hans Bisgaard, Klaus Bonnelykke, Rohia Alili, Ida J. Hatoum, Katharina Schramm, Rufus Cartwright, Marie-Aline Charles, Vincenzo Salerno, Karine Clement, Annique A.J Claringbould, BIOS Consortium, Cornelia M. van Duijin, Elena Moltchanova, Johan G. Eriksson, Cathy Elks, Bjarke Feenstra, Claudia Flexeder, Stephen Franks, Timothy M. Frayling, Rachel M. Freathy, Paul Elliot, Elisabeth Widen, Hakon Hakonarson, Andrew T. Hattersley, Alina Rodriguez, Marco Banterle, Joachim Heinrich, Barbara Heude, John W. Holloway, Albert Hofman, Elina Hypponen, Hazel Inskip, Lee M. Kaplan, Asa K. Hedman, Esa Laara, Holger Prokisch, Harald Grallert, Timo A. Lakka, Debbie A. Lawlor, Mads Melbye, Tarunveer S. Ahluwalia, Marcella Marinelli, Iona Y. Millwood, Lyle J. Palmer, Craig E. Pennell, John R. Perry, Susan M. Ring, Markku J. Savolainen, Fernando Rivadeneira, Marie Standl, Jordi Sunyer, Carla M.T Tiesler, Andre G. Uitterlinden, William Schierding, Justin M. O'Sullivan, Inga Prokopenko, Karl-Heinz Herzig, George Davey Smith, Paul O'Reilly, Janine F. Felix, Jessica L. Buxton, Alexandra L. F Blakemore, Ken K. Ong, Vincent W.V Jaddoe, Struan F.A Grant, Sylvain Sebert, Mark L. McCarthy, Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin (2019)GWAS on longitudinal growth traits reveals different genetic factors influencing infant, child, and adult BMI, In: Science Advances5(9) American Association for the Advancement of Science

    Early childhood growth patterns are associated with adult health, yet the genetic factors and the developmental stages involved are not fully understood. Here, we combine genome-wide association studies with modeling of longitudinal growth traits to study the genetics of infant and child growth, followed by functional, pathway, genetic correlation, risk score, and colocalization analyses to determine how developmental timings, molecular pathways, and genetic determinants of these traits overlap with those of adult health. We found a robust overlap between the genetics of child and adult body mass index (BMI), with variants associated with adult BMI acting as early as 4 to 6 years old. However, we demonstrated a completely distinct genetic makeup for peak BMI during infancy, influenced by variation at the LEPR/LEPROT locus. These findings suggest that different genetic factors control infant and child BMI. In light of the obesity epidemic, these findings are important to inform the timing and targets of prevention strategies.

    Additional publications