Carriers of "Plaque" Gene at Greater Risk
By Rosalie Marion
Bliss September 4, 2007
When it comes to obesity, all fat deposits are not alike. A study by
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
-funded scientists found that individuals who were born with a particular gene
variant had a significantly greater buildup of plaque in their arteries than
those who were not carriers. ARS is the U.S.
Department of Agricultures chief scientific research agency.
The study was headed by
M. Ordovas, a biochemist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research
Center on Aging (HNRCA)
at Tufts University in Boston, Mass. Ordovas
is director of the HNRCA
Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory. He and colleagues have been studying
genes that control blood levels of lipids, or fats, that affect heart disease
The researchers found that among more than 2,000 local study
participants in Framingham, Mass., those who had a particular variant of the
APOA5 gene had higher levels of arterial plaque, as measured by carotid
artery lining thickness.
Although obesity is a known contributing factor to heart disease, the
problem was shown to be even worse among the 13 percent of both men and women
who carry the less common gene variant.
High blood lipids, such as total and LDL cholesterol and
triglycerideswhich can be detected through blood testsare both
genetically and environmentally controlled contributors to coronary artery
disease risk. This study showed that it may be more important for some people
than for others to make preventive dietary and lifestyle changes, depending
upon their genetic makeup.
The association between the gene variant and hardening of the arteries
requires further study. But the comparatively high levels of arterial plaque
among carriers are consistent with levels associated with symptoms of heart
The study was published in the Journal of Lipid Research.
about the research in the September 2007 issue of Agricultural Research