Presdisposition to common heart disease 'passed on from father to son'

February 9, 2012

A common heart disease which kills thousands each year may be passed genetically from father to son, according to a study led by the University of Leicester.

A paper published in medical journal The Lancet today shows that the , a part of DNA present only in men, plays a role in the inheritance of (CAD).

The study, called Inheritance of coronary artery disease in men: an analysis of the role of the Y chromosome, was led by researchers at the University's Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and Department of Genetics. The research took four years to complete and was primarily funded by the British Foundation.

It was also supported by the National Institute for Health Research, LEW Cart Charitable Fund, National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the European Union, and the Wellcome Trust.

Coronary artery disease is the name given to the narrowing of blood vessels delivering blood to the heart, meaning that not enough oxygen can reach it. This can lead to angina symptoms, such as constriction of the chest, and heart attacks.

The British Heart Foundation found that coronary artery disease, also known as , caused 88,236 deaths in 2008 in the United Kingdom, with 49,665 deaths among men and 38,571 among women.

The team at the University of Leicester analysed DNA from over 3,000 men from British Heart Foundation Family Heart Study (BHF-FHS) and the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study (WOSCOPS).

They found that 90 per cent of British Y chromosomes belong to one of two major groups – named haplogroup I and haplogroup R1b1b2.

The risk of coronary artery disease among men who carry a Y chromosome from haplogroup I is 50 per cent higher than other men, and the risk is independent of traditional risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking.

The researchers believe the increased risk is down to the haplogroup I's influence on the immune system and inflammation – how our bodies respond to infections.

Principal investigator Dr Maciej Tomaszewski, a clinical senior lecturer at the University's Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, said: "We are very excited about these findings as they put the Y chromosome on the map of genetic susceptibility to disease. We wish to further analyse the human Y chromosome to find specific genes and variants that drive this association.

"The major novelty of these findings is that the human Y chromosome appears to play a role in the cardiovascular system beyond its traditionally perceived determination of male sex.

"The University of Leicester has been at the forefront of genetic research for many years. The success of this study builds up on excellence of support for genetic studies in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and the Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit."

The project also included researchers from King's College, London, the University of Glasgow, the University of Leeds, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, the University of Cambridge, the University of Ballarat and the Garvan Institute for Medical Research in Australia, the University of Lübeck and the University of Regensburg in Germany and the Marie Curie University and Medical School in Paris, France.

Explore further: Five new genes affecting the risk of coronary artery disease identified

Related Stories

Five new genes affecting the risk of coronary artery disease identified

September 22, 2011
An international consortium of scientists reports the discovery of five new genes that affect the risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart attacks in a study to be published in the open-access journal PLoS ...

New potential atherosclerosis risk marker discovered

April 11, 2011
How your carotid artery moves can reveal your risk of a future heart attack, and it is now possible to study this vessel aspect in more detail thanks to a new technique which could eventually be used to identify patients ...

Recommended for you

Scientists identify new way cells turn off genes

July 19, 2017
Cells have more than one trick up their sleeve for controlling certain genes that regulate fetal growth and development.

South Asian genomes could be boon for disease research, scientists say

July 18, 2017
The Indian subcontinent's massive population is nearing 1.5 billion according to recent accounts. But that population is far from monolithic; it's made up of nearly 5,000 well-defined sub-groups, making the region one of ...

Mutant yeast reveals details of the aberrant genomic machinery of children's high-grade gliomas

July 18, 2017
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital biologists have used engineered yeast cells to discover how a mutation that is frequently found in pediatric brain tumor high-grade glioma triggers a cascade of genomic malfunctions.

Late-breaking mutations may play an important role in autism

July 17, 2017
A study of nearly 6,000 families, combining three genetic sequencing technologies, finds that mutations that occur after conception play an important role in autism. A team led by investigators at Boston Children's Hospital ...

Newly discovered gene variants link innate immunity and Alzheimer's disease

July 17, 2017
Three new gene variants, found in a genome wide association study of Alzheimer's disease (AD), point to the brain's immune cells in the onset of the disorder. These genes encode three proteins that are found in microglia, ...

Newly identified genetic marker may help detect high-risk flu patients

July 17, 2017
Researchers have discovered an inherited genetic variation that may help identify patients at elevated risk for severe, potentially fatal influenza infections. The scientists have also linked the gene variant to a mechanism ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.