Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_89253

Heart attack gene clue

10 May 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 257

Japanese scientists have identified a key gene involved in heart attacks, based on a study of more than 2,600 patients and 2,500 healthy people. The researchers, who published their results in Nature, found that heart attack patients were more likely to have a particular version of a gene involved in inflammation. Team leader Toshihiro Tanaka, of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN) in Tokyo, says that blocking the gene's effect could lead to new drugs to prevent heart attacks.

It has long been known that people with a family history of coronary artery disease are at increased risk of having a heart attack, although factors such as diet, diabetes and smoking also play an important role. Coronary artery disease refers to a 'thickening' of the inside wall of the arteries that supply the heart with blood, usually caused by a build-up of cholesterol. If a blood clot arises and becomes trapped in the narrowed artery, then the condition can lead to a heart attack. Previous studies have identified several genetic factors that could increase the risk of this common disease.

In the latest study, the researchers found that a mutation in a gene called LGALS2, which makes a protein called galectin-2, is linked to an increased risk of heart attack. This in turn interacts with another protein, called lymphotoxin-alpha (LTA), which is involved with inflammation. Research suggests that inflammation, the body's response to injury, may play an important role in triggering heart attacks and strokes, since blood clotting forms part of this response.

Tanaka stresses that galectin-2 is not 'the single gene that causes heart attacks, so even people who don't have it could still be at risk'. Stephen Siegel, a US cardiologist, likened inflammation to the trigger of a gun. He explained that while researchers know that pulling the trigger will 'fire a bullet', and cause a heart attack, they don't know exactly how that process occurs. The new study is getting closer to the true cause, he said, like looking at a firing pin on a gun.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Gene is linked to heart attacks
BBC News Online |  5 May 2004
Gene Mutation May Up Your Risk of Heart Attack
HealthDay News |  5 May 2004
Genetic Variation for Heart Attack Risk Found
Reuters |  5 May 2004
Gene which plays a crucial role in heart attacks pinpointed by Japanese scientists
Medical News Today |  5 May 2004
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
27 June 2011 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A genetic mutation has been associated with a rare and potentially serious heart condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) that can affect woman before, during or shortly after childbirth. Researchers say the findings could lead to the development of diagnostic tests for PPCM....
9 February 2004 - by BioNews 
Icelandic, UK and US scientists have identified gene variants that double the risk of both heart attack and stroke. The team, lead by scientists at the Reykjavik-based firm deCODE Genetics, found that two versions of a gene called ALOX5AP are linked to an increased risk of both conditions. One version...
8 January 2004 - by BioNews 
US researchers have identified a common gene variation that can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke - but only in combination with a diet high in certain types of fat. The new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that people who inherit an altered version...
1 December 2003 - by BioNews 
US researchers have identified a gene, which, when altered, causes coronary artery disease and triggers heart attacks. Scientists at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland found that all members of an extended Iowa family who inherited a mutated MEF2A gene were affected by the disease, whereas all those who...
HAVE YOUR SAY
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.