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Heart Health

A Genetic Link Between Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease

Researchers have discovered possible genetic links between type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The two conditions have long been known to occur together and to have similar risk factors such as obesity, but this is the first time they’ve been linked at the level of genes, proteins, and fundamental physiology.

The investigators, from Brown University, found that the two illnesses shared eight “molecular pathways” as well as “key drivers” that appear to orchestrate gene networks within the pathways.
The study was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.

In reaching their conclusion, the researchers looked at genetic samples and health records of 8,155 black women, 3,494 Hispanic women and 3,697 white women gathered by the Women’s Health Initiative, a research project funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

When they compared women with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes with healthy women, the team found significant differences in eight pathways. These pathways, among other functions, regulated calcium signaling (how cells communicate) and cell adhesions (how cells adhere with tissues). The team also found a few pathways that were specific to ethnicity.

Now that these pathways have been identified, the researchers said, scientists can begin to design new treatments that could target them.

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