The largest study ever completed of genetic factors associated with heart attacks has identified nine genetic regions three not previously described that appear to increase the risk for early-onset myocardial infarction. The report from the Myocardial Infarction Genetics Consortium, based on information from a total of 26,000 inviduals in 10 countries, will appear in Nature Genetics and is receiving early online release.
"For several decades, it has been known that the risk for heart attack the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. clusters in families and that some of this familial clustering is due to differences in DNA sequence," says Sekar Kathiresan, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and corresponding author of the Nature Genetics report. "We set out to find specific, single-letter differences in the genome, what are called single-nucleotide polomorphisms (SNPs), that may be responsible for an increased familial risk for heart attack."
Groundwork for the current study was laid more than 10 years ago when co-author Christopher O'Donnell, MD, now based at the Framingham Heart Study, began to gather data on patients treated at the MGH for early-onset heart attack men under 50 and women under 60. Kathiresan soon joined the project, and in 2006 they formed the Myocardial Infarction Genetics Consortium along with David Altshuler, MD, PhD, of the MGH Center for Human Genetic Research and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, eventually involving six groups around the world that had collected samples on a total of about 3,000 early-onset heart attack patients and 3,000 healthy controls.
The current study took advantage of several scientific tools developed over the past decade. These include the International Haplotype Map, a comprehensive map of SNPs across the genome; genotyping arrays that allow screening of hundreds of thousands of SNPs at once; and
|Contact: Sue McGreevey|
Massachusetts General Hospital