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Importance and interaction of genetic and environmental factors in development of atherosclerosis


The major objective of the study was to investigate the expression of a parental history of premature coronary heart disease (CHD) in student populations that are exposed to different environments in Europe.

Coronary heart disease (CHD), the most common cause of death and disability in Europe, is unevenly distributed among countries within Europe. Environmental factors have been identified that explain part of this between population different in prevalence and incidence. Among these, nutritional factors, smoking habits and physical activity pattern seem to be of crucial importance. Risk prediction on an individual basis is more difficult since genetic predisposition or protection are clearly involved.

The project was designed to attempt to quantify the contributions which heredity and environment make to coronary risk in different populations in Europe and to determine which carries greater weight in increasing the risk of those individuals who are particularly susceptible to CHD in each population.

More specifically:
Within Student Populations
Differences between cases, students with a parental history of premature CHD, and age and sex-matched controls in:
(a) Genetic markers (eg certain RFLPs).
(b) Lifestyles (eg smoking habits, exercise, diet etc).
(c) Factors that are both determined by genetics and the environment (eg lipoprotein levels).

Between Student Population
The relative importance of each of the study variables in discriminating cases from controls. It could be hypothesised that in populations where the environment is less prone to CHD (less saturated fat intake for instance) the genetic markers should be more expressed and vice versa. In that sense interactions between genetic and environmental factors were studied.

Funding Scheme

CON - Coordination of research actions


Royal Infirmary

G4 0SF Glasgow
United Kingdom