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Tiny molecules may tell big story about cardiovascular disease risk
Date:2/19/2010

DURHAM, NC Tiny bits of molecular "trash" found in circulating blood appear to be good predictors of cardiovascular disease and untimely death, say researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

The discovery, published online in the April issue of the journal Circulation Genetics, comes from the largest study of its kind for cardiovascular disease, and is the first to identify specific metabolic profiles associated with coronary artery disease, heart attacks and death among patients who have undergone coronary catheterization.

The Duke study analyzed metabolites, the molecular debris left over after the body breaks food down into energy sources and building blocks of cells and tissues.

Scientists believe metabolites may be useful in diagnosing disease, said Svati Shah, M.D., M.H.S., a cardiologist in the Duke Heart Center, the Duke Center for Human Genetics and the lead author of the study. But the tiny molecules are notoriously hard to identify, quantify and characterize. Shah has been studying metabolic signatures in heart disease for several years and led earlier research showing that metabolic profiles associated with early-onset coronary artery disease can be inherited.

Shah and William Kraus, M.D., professor of medicine at Duke and the senior author of the study, wanted to know if they could isolate and identify particular metabolites associated with coronary artery disease. They began their investigation with information in Duke's CATHGEN biorepository which holds health records and blood samples from nearly 10,000 patients who had come to Duke over the past eight years for catheterization. Collaboration with Christopher B. Newgard, PhD., director of Duke's Sarah W. Stedman Center for Nutrition and Metabolism, allowed Shah, Kraus and others to accurately quantify and characterize the metabolites.

Researchers selected 174 patients who had experienced early-onset coronary artery disease (CAD) and
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Contact: Debbe Geiger
Debbe.Geiger@duke.edu
919-660-9461
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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