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 Jos- M. Ordov-s, 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."