Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genes for nine health indicators: Population study finds genetics clues

08.12.2008
A new genome-wide study examines genetic variants associated with nine metabolic traits and is the first to draw out novel variants from a population unselected for current disease. The traits are indicators for common disease such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, inflammation and lipid levels.

Cohorts are followed throughout their lives, gathering lifelong information about their health: these data will help researchers to dissect the complex causes of common disease, whether genetic or environmental. The current study might indicate genetic variants that influence early development of disease, informing public health measures.

Unlike case-control studies, which make genomic comparisons of apparently healthy people with patients with a specific condition, cohort studies provide long-term information across a population.

"The power of studies such as ours lies in their ability to examine these traits for early life events, to reflect the genetic make-up of the wider population and to investigate the relationship between genetic variation and environment over time," says Professor Leena Peltonen, Head of Human Genetics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and a senior author of the paper. "Our study indicates that the environment accounts for around 30% or less of the consequences of the traits. Clearly we have to increase our efforts to understand the genetic factors involved."

The population study looked at a cohort of people born in northern Finland in 1966: the environmental exposure and genetic background of this population is relatively homogeneous and, because the sample includes almost all people born in that year, it reflects the overall composition of the population.

The team looked at more than 360,000 genetic variants in almost 5000 people. These samples were typed to uncover variants associated with levels of triglycerides, high density lipoprotein, low density lipoprotein, glucose, insulin, C-reactive protein, as well as body mass index and blood pressure. Eight ‘environmental’ factors, including alcohol use, smoking and birth weight, were also included in the analysis.

"We found 23 regions of the genome associated with these traits," says Professor Nelson Freimer, University of California, Los Angeles, the other senior author. "We were delighted that our study identified 14 that had been described before: it is essential that a study such as this picks up the known variants.

"More important, we found nine novel variants: in five of these cases, our knowledge of the role of the gene suggests they are good candidates for important variants."

The research differs from prior investigations in power and study design, which might explain its ability to identify nine previously unknown loci. Five of these associations - HDL with NR1H3 (LXRA), LDL with AR and FADS1/FADS2, glucose with MTNR1B, and insulin with PANK1 - implicate genes with known or postulated roles in metabolism, and are good candidates for further study of the biological role they might play in these conditions.

The comprehensive cohort study also allowed the team adjust for the additional data such as environmental influences and body mass index. Three regions were associated with LDL or insulin when the population was divided into normal or elevated body mass index.

"Our population sample allows us to look at gene-environment interactions," explains Professor Chiara Sabatti, University of California, Los Angeles, a co-author of the paper, "but we need to examine larger populations in order to validate these. We are only starting to have a glimpse of how the power of modern genetics can work with population data to uncover genes that will be able to help clinical and public health work in the future. We still have many challenges ahead."

Although genetic influences are thought to account for at least half of the variation in each of the traits, the current results explain perhaps one-tenth of that. There remains much more to be discovered.

Work underway, such as The 1000 Genomes Project and wider population studies, will help to determine whether the additional genetic effects lie in many common variants with relatively small effect or in rare variants with a larger effect.

Don Powell | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sanger.ac.uk
http://www.genetics.ucla.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How glial cells develop in the brain from neural precursor cells
11.12.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea
10.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>