Common form of Y-chromosome linked to heart disease risk

10 February 2012

A major new mechanism by which increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) is passed from fathers to sons has been identified.
Reporting in The Lancet, researchers who studied over 3000 men say they have identified a common Y-chromosome haplogroup that increases the risk of CAD by about 50%; a haplogroup is a block of related genetic variants that tend to be inherited together.
The haplogroup I form of the Y-chromosome associated with higher CAD risk is present in around 20% of British men. This new observation may help explain the higher rates of heart disease among men compared with women of the same age.
The basis of this genetic susceptibility is presumed to rest with Y-chromosome genes that are involved in inflammation and immunity, but more research will be needed to identify these genes and how variants may affect heart disease.
Comment: Presently, only medical and lifestyle indicators (eg. blood pressure, cholesterol levels, age and sex) are used for predicting risk of heart disease. In time, information on specific genetic risk factors may be able to improve risk prediction models. 

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