Gene for cellular receptors could be key for lower heart risk

People with a certain form of a gene that influences blood flow may have a lower risk of having a heart attack and dying from heart disease, according to a new study in today’s rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. The gene controls variations in beta-2 adrenergic receptors, which are on the surface of heart muscle cells and blood vessel cell walls. When activated by adrenaline and noradrenaline, these receptors set in motion a series of events that dilate the blood vessels and increase heart rate.

From the American Heart Association:
Gene for cellular receptors could be key for lower heart risk

DALLAS, April 8 ? People with a certain form of a gene that influences blood flow may have a lower risk of having a heart attack and dying from heart disease, according to a new study in today’s rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The gene controls variations in beta-2 adrenergic receptors, which are on the surface of heart muscle cells and blood vessel cell walls. When activated by adrenaline and noradrenaline, these receptors set in motion a series of events that dilate the blood vessels and increase heart rate.

“We know that variations in the gene for the beta-2 adrenergic receptor can change how the receptors respond to activation by adrenaline and related compounds,” says Susan R. Heckbert, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington in Seattle. “But there has been little information about how it relates to the risk of heart disease. The results of this study suggest that the genetic variation is related to the risk of heart attack and death from coronary disease.”

Heckbert and colleagues examined data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a large study of cardiovascular disease risk factors in a general population of people age 65 and older. The researchers screened 808 black and 4,441 white participants, average age 73, for variants of the beta-2 receptor at two different genetic “addresses” called codons. At codon 27 they looked for Glu27 and Gln27. At codon 16 they looked for Gly16 and Arg16.

Every person carries two copies of the gene for the beta-2 receptor. One copy is inherited from the father and one from the mother.

The researchers found that having at least one copy of the Gly16 and Glu27 forms of the beta-2 receptor gene was associated with a lower risk of heart attack or death due to coronary disease, compared to having two copies of Arg16 or Gln27.

“It would be premature to test for this genetic variation in patients,” Heckbert says, “but our results suggest several areas for future research about genetic variation in the systems that regulate cardiovascular function.”

Co-authors are Lucia A. Hindorff, M.P.H.; Karen L. Edwards, Ph.D.; Bruce M. Psaty, M.D., Ph.D.; Thomas Lumley, Ph.D.; David S. Siscovick, M.D., M.P.H.; Zhonghua Tang, Ph.D.; J. Peter Durda, M.S.; Richard A. Kronmal, Ph.D.; and Russell P. Tracy, Ph.D.

This research was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

NR03-1050 (Circ/Heckbert)

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