Scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University have discovered a new gene mechanism that appears to regulate triglyceride levels. This pathway may protect carriers of a gene variant against cardiovascular disease, especially among those with greater intakes of polyunsaturated fat (PUFA). The findings, published online this week in the American Journal of Human Genetics, contribute to research efforts to develop gene-specific diets that could potentially improve general health and complement chronic disease prevention and treatment.
The authors analyzed data from more than 27,000 men and women enrolled in ten epidemiological studies conducted in the United States and Europe that comprise the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium. Focusing on the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) rs13702, they observed that a type of small RNA known as microRNA (miR), impacts production of lipoprotein lipase (LPL), an enzyme that mediates the metabolism of circulating triglycerides.
"We saw no miR activity in carriers of the gene variant," said senior author José M. Ordovás, senior scientist and director of the Nutritional Genomics Laboratory at the HNRCA at Tufts University. "In the majority of the subjects the miR appeared to attach to the messenger RNA (mRNA), slowing down the manufacturing of LPL. Without that interference, people with the variant would presumably have more LPL available to breakdown excess triglycerides and prevent them from being deposited in the arteries, which could eventually lead to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases."
The authors also noted lower triglyceride levels and higher concentrations of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the so-called "healthy" cholesterol in association with the gene variant. Furthermore, carriers tended to have even lower triglyceride blood levels if they had higher PUFA intake.
"Based on the data, carriers of the gene variant may be able to further reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease by increasing their PUFA intake," said Kris Richardson, Ph.D., a USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) post-doctoral associate in the Nutritional Genomics Laboratory and a recent graduate of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University. "To build on our observational data, future studies might investigate the effect of treating human cells in culture with PUFA to determine if it will mediate LPL levels through the identified miR."
PUFA, found in foods such as salmon and vegetable oils, is considered a healthier fat. The current U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend replacing saturated fats with the more beneficial PUFA and monounsaturated fats whenever possible.
José M. Ordovás is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and a member of the Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics Faculty at the Sackler School.
This study is supported by grants from USDA and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), award number P50 HL105185-01. A complete list of funding sources is available in the supplemental data portion of the paper.
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus: http://www.tufts.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Understanding aggressive tumors in pets may lead to better treatments for the nastiest forms of the disease in people
Anti-GM activists will never accept anything ‘unnatural’, but the genetically modified potato being developed in Norwich could be of tremendous benefit
A new study is the first rigorous test of a controversial idea: that the everyday interactions between caregiver and child can change the way autism develops
Emergency crews who spent months clearing up after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York have higher rates of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
Six years ago, husband-and-wife scientists used gene therapy to cure colorblindness in monkeys. Now they're trying to make it work for the millions of people with faulty color vision.
Faced with unreliable screening, many women with a high lifetime risk of cancer opt for preventative surgery, just as Jolie did.
CAIRO (Reuters) - A team from a Spanish university has discovered what Egyptian authorities are calling the world's oldest evidence of breast cancer in the 4,200-year-old skeleton of an adult woman.
Early efforts to test legal marijuana are finding that it's got lots of buzzworthy THC. But it can also have fungus, chemical residue and bacteria. What that means for health and safety isn't clear.
Should the government recommend lean meat as part of a healthy diet? That's emerged as a political flashpoint. The panel working on federal guidelines says the evidence on lean meat is muddled.
A new coating makes ketchup slide out of the bottle and toothpaste slip out of a tube, right down to the last drop. So why not put the slick surface on an Ebola suit so the virus doesn't stick?