Scientists discover new heart-disease risk

31 August 2012

Scientists have identified a new genetic risk for inflammation in African-American women, which could shed light on heart disease.

African-Americans have higher blood levels of a certain protein which, in European Americans, is linked to increased heart-disease risk.

This is despite the fact that African-Americans have higher 'good' HDL cholesterol levels and lower 'bad' triglyceride levels.

According to scientists, this could be explained by a genetic variant, identified in a new report published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Lead researcher Alexander Reiner, epidemiologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, explained: "Since minorities – African Americans and Hispanic Americans in particular – tend to have higher CRP levels than other U.S. racial and ethnic groups, it's important to understand whether genetic factors might contribute to these differences."

Reiner and his colleagues discovered that African-Americans exhibited a variation in TREM2, a family of genes on the chromosome 6p21 that are expressed in white blood cells.

The scientists believe these genes are instrumental for regulating the degree of inflammation that occurs when white blood cells respond to infection or tissue injury.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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