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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2004 Feb;24(2):216-29. Epub 2003 Nov 13.

Genetic determinants of arterial thrombosis.

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Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, Boston University School of Medicine, 715 Albany St, W507, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


Arterial thrombosis is a complex disorder that involves multiple genetic and environmental factors interacting to produce the characteristic phenotype. In the past decades, investigators have focused on the molecular genetics of arterial vascular disorders and have identified numerous polymorphisms and mutations in genes related to the hemostatic system and to enzymes involved in the synthesis and bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO); however, the relation between most polymorphisms and the risk of coronary artery disease, ischemic stroke, and peripheral vascular disease remains highly controversial. In this review, we describe the most common genetic variations involved in the pathogenesis of arterial thrombosis, their functional implications, and their association with disease risk. Specifically, we consider polymorphisms in coagulation factors (fibrinogen, prothrombin, FV Leiden, FVII, and FXIII); fibrinolytic factors (tissue-type plasminogen activator, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, and thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor); platelet surface receptors; methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase; endothelial NO synthase; and the antioxidant enzymes paraoxonase and plasma glutathione peroxidase. Overall, there seems to be a modest contribution of individual genetic variants in the hemostatic and antioxidant systems to the risk of arterial thrombosis. Thus, future research ought to focus on identifying novel genetic determinants and on the interaction of these genetic risk factors with each other and the environment to understand better the pathobiology and susceptibility to arterial thrombotic disease.

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