Genetic 'off switch' linked to increased risk factors for heart disease

June 19, 2013, American Heart Association

Risk of heart and blood vessel disease may increase when a particular gene is switched off, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Emerging Science Series Webinar.

Two known biomarkers are high blood levels of certain fats – low-density lipoproteins ("bad" cholesterol) and high triglycerides. Another recognized biomarker is a protein called , which is made in fat tissue and helps regulate the process of turning food into energy. At low levels it is associated with increased disease risk.

Researchers examined these biomarkers in relation to a particular gene, called CPT1A in 888 patients from the Genetics of Lipid-Lowering Drugs and Diet Network study. The gene makes a that helps break down fat in food. They also monitored a biochemical process called methylation that switches off genes. During this process carbon and combine to form a compound called a methyl group, which binds to a portion of a gene and turns off its activity.

"Our results open the door to the development of new screening tools and a clearer understanding of the that underlie heart disease," said Stella Aslibekyan, Ph.D., study lead author and assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

They found that patients who had methyl groups bound to CPT1A had significantly higher triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein levels, and lower adiponectin.

Heart disease is the number one killer among adults in the United States, and researchers are trying to identify individual genetic differences that might increase risk. One way to do this is by studying subtle variations in indicators of disease, or biomarkers, to identify people who are at greatest risk for developing heart disease.

"This is one step on the road to personalized medicine," Aslibekyan said. "In the future, we may be able to screen for methylation of CPT1A to identify at-risk individuals."

Explore further: Heart-healthy diet helps men lower bad cholesterol, regardless of weight loss

Related Stories

Heart-healthy diet helps men lower bad cholesterol, regardless of weight loss

May 1, 2013
A heart-healthy diet helped men at high risk for heart disease reduce their bad cholesterol, regardless of whether they lost weight, in a study presented at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and ...

Four genes indentified that influence levels of 'bad' cholesterol

May 15, 2013
Scientists at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio have identified four genes in baboons that influence levels of "bad" cholesterol. This discovery could lead to the development of new drugs to reduce the ...

Biomarker trio predicts near-term heart risk

May 21, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Cardiologists have identified a trio of biomarkers that may predict which patients with heart disease have a high risk of heart attack or death in the next two years.

Low HDL-cholesterol—Not quantity, but quality

April 30, 2013
Many of the genes regulating the inflammation and immune response of the body are also associated with low HDL-cholesterol levels in the circulation, tells the recent study conducted at the University of Helsinki, Finland. ...

Study deflates notion that pear-shaped bodies more healthy than apples

January 10, 2013
People who are "apple-shaped"—with fat more concentrated around the abdomen—have long been considered more at risk for conditions such as heart disease and diabetes than those who are "pear-shaped" and carry weight more ...

Liver, belly fat may identify high risks of heart disease in obese people

July 21, 2011
Obese people with high levels of abdominal fat and liver fat may face increased risks for heart disease and other serious health problems, according to research published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology: ...

Recommended for you

Heart researchers develop a new, promising imaging technique for cardiac arrhythmias

February 22, 2018
Every five minutes in Germany alone, a person dies of sudden cardiac arrest or fibrillation, the most common cause of death worldwide. This is partly due to the fact that doctors still do not fully understand exactly what ...

Scientists use color-coded tags to discover how heart cells develop

February 22, 2018
UCLA researchers used fluorescent colored proteins to trace how cardiomyocytes—cells in heart muscle that enable it to pump blood—are produced in mouse embryos. The findings could eventually lead to methods for regenerating ...

Beetroot juice supplements may help certain heart failure patients

February 22, 2018
Beetroot juice supplements may help enhance exercise capacity in patients with heart failure, according to a new proof-of-concept study. Exercise capacity is a key factor linked to these patients' quality of life and even ...

'Beetroot pill' could help save patients from kidney failure after heart X-ray

February 22, 2018
Beetroot may reduce the risk of kidney failure in patients having a heart x-ray, according to research led by Queen Mary University of London.

Women once considered low risk for heart disease show evidence of previous heart attack scars

February 20, 2018
Women who complain about chest pain often are reassured by their doctors that there is no reason to worry because their angiograms show that the women don't have blockages in the major heart arteries, a primary cause of heart ...

Heart attack symptoms often misinterpreted in younger women

February 20, 2018
Young women who report heart attack symptoms are more likely to have them dismissed by their providers as not heart related, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) finds.

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.