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New genetic variants associated with lipid levels, risk for coronary artery disease
Date:1/13/2008

al Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). SardiNIA and FUSION investigators also coordinated the efforts of other groups in France, the United Kingdom and across the United States.

The purpose of the study was to identify comprehensively genetic variants that influence lipid levels and to examine the relationships between these genetic variants and risk of CAD. High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (bad cholesterol) appear to increase the risk of CAD by narrowing or blocking arteries that carry blood to the heart. High levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (good cholesterol) appear to lower the risk. High levels of triglycerides, which make up a large part of the bodys fat and are also found in the bloodstream, are also associated with increased risk of CAD.

To identify genetic variants that play a role in lipid levels, researchers turned to a relatively new approach, known as a genome-wide association study (GWAS). The GWAS strategy enables researchers to survey the entire human genetic blueprint, or genome, not just the genetic variants in a few genes. The human genome contains approximately 3 billion base pairs, or letters, of DNA. Small, single-letter variations naturally occur about once in every 1,000 letters of the DNA code. Most of these genetic variants have not yet been associated with particular traits or disease risks. However, in some instances, people with a certain trait, such as higher levels of LDL cholesterol, tend to have one version of the variant, while those with lower levels are more likely to have the other version. In such instances, researchers may infer that there is an association between the values of the trait and the variants in the gene.

Typically, GWAS studies have been carried out in samples where all individuals are examined with the same gene chip, an experimental device that allows investigators to measure more than 100,000 genetic variants in a single experiment. But in this study, in
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Contact: Megan Homer
nianews3@mail.nih.gov
301-496-1752
NIH/National Institute on Aging
Source:Eurekalert

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