The findings - published in Human Immunology - build on earlier research by The University of Manchester team that had already associated one of these genes with the condition.
The discovery of two further risk genes, say the paper's authors, is a major step forward in understanding the causes of cot death or `sudden infant death syndrome' (SIDS).
“We first identified an association between SIDS and specific variants of a gene called Interleukin-10 five years ago,” said microbiologist Dr David Drucker, who led the research. “Quite simply, a baby who had particular variations of this gene was at greater risk of SIDS than other babies.
“Now, we have discovered two more genes implicated in SIDS and when a baby has certain genetic variants or `polymorphisms' of all three of these genes he or she can be up to 14 times more likely to die from the condition.”
The genes investigated by the team all play a roll in the body's immune response to infection. Previous research, carried out with colleagues at Lancaster University, had shown that SIDS is associated with commonly occurring bacteria that babies up to the age of one year may lack immunity to.
Infants aged two to four months, in particular, have very weak immune systems and may not cope well with infectious agents they encounter in their environment.
Interleukin-10 (IL-10), as well as the other two genes - Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) – are involved in the production of chemicals called cytokines which are important for the correct functioning of our immune system.
Specific variants of these cytokine-producing genes, says the research, leads to an excessive inflammatory response to bacterial infection resulting in cot death. In the case of VEGF, the polymorphism associated with SIDS could conceivably result in poor fetal lung development.
“This research greatly advances our understanding of the basic causes of SIDS, which is not a single disease but a collection of different causes of death,” said Dr Drucker, who carried out the work in collaboration with paediatric pathologist Dr Anthony Barson.
“Being able to detect high-risk babies means that health care and social provision can be aimed at the most vulnerable infants. In theory, commercially available and licensed human immune serum could be given to those children most at risk.”
Dr Drucker, whose previous work has also explained why smoking and sleeping position are also risk factors in SIDS, says this latest research will help establish the cause of death in certain cases.
“Forensic scientists would be able to assess the likelihood of a baby dying from SIDS through genetic measurements and so help prevent the sort of tragic miscarriages of justice that have happened in the past.
“But ultimately, this research will improve our ability to identify in advance which babies will be at risk of SIDS so their mothers can be personally advised to eliminate other risk factors such as dangerous sleeping position for their infant.”
Aeron Haworth | alfa
Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy