Environmental and genetic factors influence a persons blood fat, or lipid levels, important risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD). While there is some understanding of the environmental contribution, the role of genetics has been less defined. Now, in an international collaboration supported primarily by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), scientists have discovered more than 25 genetic variants in 18 genes connected to cholesterol and lipid levels. Seven of the 18 genes previously had not been connected to these levels, while the 11 others confirm previous discoveries. In the investigation, published online January 13 and in the February print issue of Nature Genetics, the associated genes were found through studies of more than 20,000 individuals and more than 2 million genetic variants, spanning the entire genome. These variants potentially open the door to strategies for the treatment and prevention of CAD.
Heart disease is a leading cause of illness, disability and death in industrialized countries, particularly for older people, says National Institute on Aging (NIA) Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. We know that certain lifestyle factors like smoking, diet and physical activity greatly affect a persons lipid profiles. This study is an important, basic step in finding the genes that influence lipid levels and heart disease so that we can better understand the genetic contribution to cardiovascular risk.
Cristen Willer, Ph.D., at the University of Michigans School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, and Serena Sanna, Ph.D., at the C.N.R. Institute of Neurogenetics and Neuropharmacology, Monserrato, Italy, and other members of the SardiNIA Study of Aging, including investigators at NIA, conducted the study, along with members of the Finland-United States Investigation of Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus Genetics (FUSION) study, which included investigators in North Carolina, Michigan, Finland, Los Angeles and from the Nation
|Contact: Megan Homer|
NIH/National Institute on Aging