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Ann Hum Genet. 2006 Nov;70(Pt 6):934-45.

The impact on coronary artery disease of common polymorphisms known to modulate responses to pathogens.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland.


There are two distinct models to explain how genetic variants contributing to cardiovascular disease may have arisen. Firstly, variants may result from random, initially neutral, mutations whose effects are largely revealed in post-reproductive individuals in industrialized societies. Alternatively, the introduced variants may confer an adaptive advantage in certain circumstances. Resistance to pathogens is one of the strongest selection pressures on human proteins. To determine whether this evolutionary pressure has made a large contribution to heart disease we tested whether seventeen polymorphisms in fourteen innate-immunity genes, with documented evidence of modulating response to pathogens, had an impact on heart disease. Genotyping was performed in 1,598 CAD subjects (ACS or stable angina) and 332 controls. The TLR4 399Ile allele had the greatest impact on ACS risk (uncorrected p = 0.006); however there was no evidence overall that the resistance alleles cumulatively influenced the risk of ACS compared to controls or stable angina patients (p = 0.12, and p = 0.40, respectively). We did note a significant interaction between age at onset of disease and combined resistance allele carriership when the ACS and non-thrombotic, stable angina groups were compared (p = 0.04, 16 d.f.). This suggests that innate immunity factors could have a greater impact on thrombus formation among younger CAD patients.

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