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Gene Variant Protects Black Heart Failure Patients
Date:4/21/2008

ilure, the adrenal glands produce more and more adrenaline to increase blood flow. Overproduction of adrenaline causes the heart to weaken faster. Beta blockers ease the pressure on the heart by blocking adrenaline receptors in heart muscle.

The researchers looked at two genes in the adrenaline pathway, GRK2 and GRK5. They found one specific variant, designated GRK5-Leu41, that reduced the effect of adrenaline on heart cells. A study of 375 black adults with heart failure showed that among those not taking beta blockers, those with the GRK5-Leu41 variant lived twice as long as those with the more common variant. The same prolonged survival was seen in those with the normal variant who took beta blockers. Beta blocker therapy did not increase the survival of individuals with the helpful gene variant.

The same kind of genetic analysis will inevitably be extended to other drugs and other diseases, Liggett said.

"Our idea is not to replace the physician's judgment, but to give a handle on which drugs they might want to push to higher levels and which are less likely to be helpful for specific individuals," he said.

More information

Heart failure and its treatment are described by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



SOURCES: Stephen B. Liggett, M.D., professor, medicine and physiology, University of Maryland, Baltimore; Gerald W. Dorn II, M.D., director, Center for Pharmacogenomics, Washington University, St. Louis; April 20, 2008, Nature Medicine online


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