The interleukin-1 cluster, dyslipidaemia and risk of myocardial infarction
BHF Professor of Cardiology, Institute of Human Genetics, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
BMC Medicine 2010, 8:6 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-8-6Published: 13 January 2010
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is among the most serious worldwide health problems. Recent genetic studies have robustly identified a number of polymorphic loci throughout the genome that are associated with disease risk but it is certain that more remain to be discovered. It is well established that inflammation plays a key role in the pathophysiology of CHD. Determining whether or not polymorphisms in genes involved in the inflammatory cascade affect the risk of CHD is of considerable interest with respect to understanding the direction of the causal arrow between increased expression of inflammatory genes and CHD. Establishing an association between the variation in inflammatory genes and CHD would provide conceptual support for the use of appropriately specific anti-inflammatory agents in CHD prevention and, potentially, suggest new therapeutic targets. This month in BMC Medicine, Benjamin Brown and colleagues adopt a family-based case-control association study design to address this question. In a large number of CHD cases and healthy sibling controls genotyped for 51 mainly coding single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), they find evidence for the association of a common haplotype at the Interleukin-1 (IL-1) cluster with CHD which appears to be stronger in younger cases without hypercholesterolaemia. They also find suggestive evidence for an association between this same haplotype and hypercholesterolaemia. If replicated in other cohorts, these results could be of substantial importance in advancing the understanding of the way in which inflammatory genes affect coronary heart disease risk.