Research Highlights

Ten new genes implicated in coronary heart disease

Published online 8 September 2015

New gene locations have been implicated in increased susceptibility to coronary artery disease.

Nadia El-Awady

An international research team — from Europe, East and South Asia, the US and Lebanon — managed to identify 10 new genes associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) after collecting clinical and genetic data from more than 60,000 patients and more than 123,000 healthy controls1

Through statistical modelling techniques they were able to identify patterns, called markers, specific to the DNA of CAD patients. By comparing these markers with those in the healthy controls, they were able to pinpoint genetic associations specific to CAD susceptibility.

The genes were similar across multiple ethnicities with diverse ancestries. 

“We have known for many years that heart attack, one of the most common causes of death worldwide, tends to cluster in blood relatives,” says cardiovascular geneticist Martin Farrall from the University of Oxford, UK. “Our study shows that scores of genes, each associated with a small increase in risk, can explain most of this familial clustering.” 

The identified genes also point to biological pathways that are disrupted in CAD patients, including aspects related to the biology of the heart vessel walls.

“In the long term, such knowledge has the potential to target the design of novel drugs that will complement existing treatments, like statins, to both prevent CAD and improve patient's prognoses,” says Farrall.

The team is now studying how the CAD genes might relate to other common diseases, including Alzheimer's disease.


Nikpay, M. et al. A comprehensive 1000 Genomes-based genome-wide association meta-analysis of coronary artery disease. Nat. Genet. (2015).