Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genotyping & Gene Expression
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Underlying Genetics and Marker For Stroke Discovered

Published: Friday, March 21, 2014
Last Updated: Friday, March 21, 2014
Bookmark and Share
NIH-funded findings point to new potential strategies for disease prevention, treatment.

Scientists studying the genomes of nearly 5,000 people have pinpointed a genetic variant tied to an increased risk for stroke, and have also uncovered new details about an important metabolic pathway that plays a major role in several common diseases. Together, their findings may provide new clues to underlying genetic and biochemical influences in the development of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and may also help lead to new treatment strategies. 

"Our findings have the potential to identify new targets in the prevention and treatment of stroke, cardiovascular disease and many other common diseases," said Stephen R. Williams, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia Cardiovascular Research Center and the University of Virginia Center for Public Health Genomics, Charlottesville. 

Dr. Williams, Michele Sale, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine, Brad Worrall, M.D., professor of neurology and public health sciences, all at the University of Virginia, and their team reported their findings March 20, 2014 in PLoS Genetics. The investigators were supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Genomics and Randomized Trials Network (GARNET) program.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and a major cause of adult disability in this country, yet its underlying genetics have been difficult to understand. Numerous genetic and environmental factors can contribute to a person having a stroke. "Our goals were to break down the risk factors for stroke," Dr. Williams said. 

The researchers focused on one particular biochemical pathway called the folate one-carbon metabolism (FOCM) pathway. They knew that abnormally high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of common diseases such as stroke, cardiovascular disease and dementia. Homocysteine is a breakdown product of methionine, which is part of the FOCM pathway. The same pathway can affect many important cellular processes, including the methylation of proteins, DNA and RNA. DNA methylation is a mechanism that cells use to control which genes are turned on and off, and when. 

But clinical trials of homocysteine-lowering therapies have not prevented disease, and the genetics underlying high homocysteine levels -- and methionine metabolism gone awry -- are not well defined. 

Dr. Williams and his colleagues conducted genome-wide association studies of participants from two large long-term projects: the Vitamin Intervention for Stroke Prevention (VISP), a trial looking at ways to prevent a second ischemic stroke, and the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), which has followed the cardiovascular health and disease in a general population for decades. They also measured methionine metabolism - the ability to convert methionine to homocysteine - in both groups. In all, they studied 2,100 VISP participants and 2,710 FHS subjects. 

In a genome-wide association study, researchers scan the genome to identify specific genomic variants associated with a disease. In this case, the scientists were trying to identify variants associated with a trait -- the ability to metabolize methionine into homocysteine.  

Investigators identified variants in five genes in the FOCM pathway that were associated with differences in a person's ability to convert methionine to homocysteine. They found that among the five genes, one -- the ALDH1L1 gene -- was also strongly associated with stroke in the Framingham study. When the gene is not working properly, it has been associated with a breakdown in a normal cellular process called programmed cell death, and cancer cell survival. 

They also made important discoveries about the methionine-homocysteine process. "GNMT produces a protein that converts methionine to homocysteine. Of the five genes that we identified, it was the one most significantly associated with this process," Dr. Williams said. "The analyses suggest that differences in GNMT are the major drivers behind the differences in methionine metabolism in humans." 

"It's striking that the genes are in the same pathway, so we know that the genomic variants affecting that pathway contribute to the variability in disease and risk that we're seeing," he said. "We may have found how genetic information controls the regulation of GNMT."  

The group determined that the five genes accounted for 6 percent of the difference in individuals' ability to process methionine into homocysteine among those in the VISP trial. The genes also accounted for 13 percent of the difference in those participants in the FHS, a remarkable result given the complex nature of methionine metabolism and its impact on cerebrovascular risk. In many complex diseases, genomic variants often account for less than 5 percent of such differences. 

"This is a great example of the kinds of successful research efforts coming out of the GARNET program," said program director Ebony Madden, Ph.D. "GARNET scientists aim to identify variants that affect treatment response by doing association studies in randomized trials. These results show that variants in genes are associated with the differences in homocysteine levels in individuals."

The association of the ALDH1L1 gene variant with stroke is just one example of how the findings may potentially lead to new prevention efforts, and help develop new targets for treating stroke and heart disease, Dr. Williams said. 

"As genome sequencing becomes more widespread, clinicians may be able to determine if a person's risk for abnormally high levels of homocysteine is elevated," he said. "Changes could be made to an individual's diet because of a greater risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease." 

The investigators plan to study the other four genes in the pathway to try to better understand their potential roles in stroke and cardiovascular disease risk.

In addition to NHGRI, the research was supported by funds from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging and the Robert Dawson Evans Endowment of the Department of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Genome-Wide Study Yields Markers of Lithium Response
An international consortium of scientists has identified a stretch of chromosome that is associated with responsiveness to the mood-stabilizing medication lithium among patients with bipolar disorder.
Monday, February 01, 2016
Schizophrenia’s Strongest Known Genetic Risk Deconstructed
Suspect gene may trigger runaway synaptic pruning during adolescence – NIH-funded study.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
NIH Genome Sequencing Program Targets the Genomic Bases of Common, Rare Disease
The National Institutes of Health will fund a set of genome sequencing and analysis centers whose research will focus on understanding the genomic bases of common and rare human diseases.
Friday, January 15, 2016
Three Glaucoma-Related Genes Discovered
NIH-funded genetics analysis of glaucoma is largest to date.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Biomarkers Outperform Symptoms in Parsing Psychosis Subgroups
Multiple biological pathways lead to similar symptoms - NIH-funded study.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
NIH Supports New Studies to Find Alzheimer’s Biomarkers in Down Syndrome
Initiative will track dementia onset, progress in Down syndrome volunteers.
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
Charting Genetic Variation Across the Globe
An international team of scientists has created the world’s largest catalog of human genetic differences in populations around the globe.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Nuclear Transport Problems Linked to ALS and FTD
NIH-supported studies point to potential new target for treating neurodegenerative diseases.
Monday, October 19, 2015
Scientists Create World’s Largest Catalog of Human Genomic Variation
An international team of scientists from the 1000 Genomes Project Consortium has created the world’s largest catalog of genomic differences among humans, providing researchers with powerful clues to help them establish why some people are susceptible to various diseases.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
Bone Risks Linked to Genetic Variants
A large-scale genomic study uncovered novel genetic variants and led researchers to an unexpected gene that affects bone density and fracture risk.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Genetic Adaptations to Diet and Climate
Researchers found genetic variations in the Inuit of Greenland that reflect adaptations to their specific diet and climate.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
NIH Framework Points The Way Forward For Developing The President’s Precision Medicine Initiative
The NIH Advisory Committee to the Director has presented to NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., a detailed design framework for building a national research participant group, called a cohort, of 1 million or more Americans to expand our knowledge and practice of precision medicine.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Beth Israel Cardiology Team Awarded $3 Million by NIH
Work will help predict outcomes in patients with heart disease.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Diet, Exercise, Smoking Habits and Genes Interact To Affect and Risk
NIH-funded study points to converging factors that drive disease-related inflammation.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Using Genetic Sequencing to Manage Cancer in Children
A team of scientists have investigated the feasibility of incorporating clinical sequencing information into the care of young cancer patients.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Scientific News
Genetic Mechanism Behind Cancer-Causing Mutations
Researchers at Indiana University has identified a genetic mechanism that is likely to drive mutations that can lead to cancer.
How to Unlock Inaccessible Genes
An international team of biologists has discovered how specialized enzymes remodel the extremely condensed genetic material in the nucleus of cells in order to control which genes can be used.
Viral Gene Editing System Corrects Genetic Liver Disease
Penn study has implications for developing safe therapies for an array of rare diseases via new gene cut-and-paste methods.
Mapping Regulatory Elements
Systematically searching DNA for regulatory elements indicates limits of previous thinking
New Biomarker to Assess Stem Cells Developed
A research team led by scientists from UCL have found a way to assess the viability of 'manufactured' stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The team's discovery offers a new way to fast-track screening methods used in stem cell research.
'Junk' DNA Plays Role in Preventing Breast Cancer
Supposed "junk" DNA, found in between genes, plays a role in suppressing cancer, according to new research by Universities of Bath and Cambridge.
Genome-Wide Study Yields Markers of Lithium Response
An international consortium of scientists has identified a stretch of chromosome that is associated with responsiveness to the mood-stabilizing medication lithium among patients with bipolar disorder.
A Cancer’s Surprise Origins, Caught in Action
First demonstration of a melanoma arising from a single cell.
Understanding the Mechanisms Blocking Cancer Cell Growth
DNA damage can lead to gene inactivation or deregulation and cause various diseases such as cancer; however, many DNA repair mechanisms allow cells to survive against such damage.
Faster Drug Discovery?
Startup develops more cost-effective test for assessing how cells respond to chemicals.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,200+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!