Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Yale researchers find genetic link between heart disease and brain aneurysms
Intracranial aneurysms occur with the bursting of blood vessels in the brain. Scientists had already identified five gene variants linked to aneurysms through two previous studies, and two days ago, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine announced that they have discovered three more variants associated with aneurysm risk. The study was conducted at the Yale Center for Genome Analysis and involved approximately 20,000 people. Aside from identifying the three new aneurysm-associated variants, one of the new variants was also linked to heart disease. This variant is found near the endothelin receptor type A gene, which is known to control the tone and elasticity of blood vessels. Since the endothelin receptor type A gene maintains the body's vasculature, it is no surprise that is has been associated with cardiovascular disorders. This is the first time, however, that endothelins have been linked to brain aneurysms. How exactly this gene variant increases the risk for aneurysms is unclear, but further study will continue to shed light on a deadly condition that affects more than half a million people around the world each year.