A single base mutation in a key gene may affect an individual's susceptibility to heart attack, research in Nature (06 May 2004, Vol. 429, No. 6987, pp. 72-75) suggests.
Heart attacks have become one of the leading causes of death in the world. As the coronary artery ruptures, many different inflammation-mediating molecules are released, including one called lymphtoxin-alpha LTA. Toshihiro Tanaka and colleagues found that patients who had suffered a heart attack were more likely to carry a specific mutation within the gene that codes for galectin-2, a protein known to bind LTA. Changes in galectin-2 may affect the amount of LTA that is secreted, which may then affect the inflammatory process, the authors speculate.
The study pinpoints galectin-2 as a risk factor for heart attacks. This should further our understanding of the causes behind myocardial infarction, the authors say.
Toshihiro Tanaka (The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), Tokyo, Japan)
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