Genetic links to coronary artery disease found

Genetic variants linked to increased risk of developing CHD have been identified in analyses involving more than 100,000 people.

Genome-wide findings were assessed across different studies (Photograph: SPL)
Genome-wide findings were assessed across different studies (Photograph: SPL)

Researchers led by Professor Hugh Watkins from Oxford University carried out a meta-analysis of four large genome-wide association studies of coronary artery disease (CAD). They studied data from 15,420 individuals with coronary artery disease and 15,062 controls.

The team found little evidence that associations between gene variants and disease risk were linked to particular genetic ancestry. This suggests results can be combined from different studies, they said.

Professor Watkins and his team found five genetic locations associated with CAD risk. They said their findings identified new pathways for CAD susceptibility.

The researchers said that this same approach could be used on an even larger scale to find more genetic links and improve knowledge of the disease. 'Greater understanding of the genetic variants underlying CAD, and particularly the pathways involved, may lead to development of new therapeutic approaches to help address the world's leading cause of death.'

In a separate study, Dr Heribert Schunkert and colleagues from the University of Lubeck in Germany analysed 14 genome-wide association studies. These involved 22,233 individuals with CAD and 64,762 controls.

The researchers found 13 new genetic 'loci' linked to raised risk of CAD.

They concluded: 'Elucidation of the mechanisms by which these loci affect CAD risk carries the potential for better prevention and treatment of this common disease.'

In another study, a team led by Dr Qing Wang from Huazhong University in China also used a genome-wide association to uncover a mutation linked to susceptibility to CHD.

They acknowledged, however, that further studies would be needed to find the find the variants of this gene that led to the increased disease risk.

Results of all three studies have been published online in Nature Genetics.

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Nature Genetics Online 2011

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