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Study Underway to Identify Genes Contributing to Heart Attack Risk

Youth (PDAY) study and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).

Using DNA data from the PDAY study, the scientists will work to pinpoint specific atherosclerosis genes. This autopsy study included about 3,000 young people, ages 15 to 34, who died from accidental causes, suicide and homicide. This study, which started in 1985, provided some of the best evidence that the process of atherosclerosis begins in childhood and adolescence. Using the latest technology, scientists will screen tissue samples from the study looking for genetic variants that may predispose individuals to develop early atherosclerosis.

“Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this study is the large number of genetic variants that we’re going to study,” said Herrington. “Using special technology provided by Perlegen Sciences, we will examine more than 2 million different gene variations.”

In part two of the study, the scientists will work to confirm their findings by determining if any genetic factors associated with early atherosclerosis in PDAY subjects also predict atherosclerosis in living participants of the $68 million MESA study. This 10-year multi-center study began in 2000 and is working to find new ways to detect heart disease before any symptoms occur.

The MESA study examined about 6,800 men and women, ages 45 to 84, who had no known heart disease. These participants were screened for atherosclerosis using non-invasive imaging tests. There are six study sites, including Wake Forest.

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