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Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the commonest cause of death. A recent study in Nature Genetics, reports on the largest genetic study to date assessing the impact of common variation on CAD risk. 15 new risk alleles were identified, bringing the total number of confirmed CAD susceptibility loci in individuals of European and south Asian ancestry to 45.

Contractile smooth muscle cells. © Contractile SMCs in culture: F-actin in green and alpha-SM actin in red. Permission must be obtained from Ayman Al Haj Zen (ayman.alhajzen@cardiov.ox.ac.uk) before use.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the commonest cause of death. A recent study in Nature Genetics, reports on the largest genetic study to date assessing the impact of common variation on CAD risk. 15 new risk alleles were identified, bringing the total number of confirmed CAD susceptibility loci in individuals of European and south Asian ancestry to 45. Among these 45 loci, 12 are significantly associated with the concentrations of blood lipids (mainly LDL cholesterol) and 5 were associated with blood pressure. Network analysis of the results identified lipid metabolism and inflammation as key biological pathways involved in the genetic pathogenesis of CAD, with significant crosstalk between the two pathways. The research was carried out by the CARDIoGRAMplusC4D Consortium whose senior authors include Prof Hugh Watkins, Prof Mark McCarthy, Prof Rory Collins & Prof Martin Farrall from Oxford.

 

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