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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

DNA particles in the blood may help speed detection of coronary artery disease

Higher levels of DNA particles in the blood were linked to high levels of coronary artery calcium deposits in a study. These particles are potentially markers of disease, and may eventually help identify patients with severely narrowed coronary arteries, predict how many coronary vessels were affected, and even whether a patient is likely to suffer a serious heart problem or heart-related death.

The study involved 282 patients, ages 34 to 83, who reported chest pain and were suspected of having coronary artery disease. Researchers used computed tomography imaging to look for hardened, or calcified, buildup in the blood vessels that supply the heart. Blood samples also were tested for bits of genetic material. Release of small DNA particles in the blood occurs during chronic inflammatory conditions such as coronary artery disease.


It is plausible to think that the DNA particles themselves might contribute to the progression of atherosclerosis and the risk of dangerous blood vessel blockages, the study’s authors wrote. “The more the ongoing cell death, which is normal with inflammation, the more DNA enters the circulation and more plaque builds up,” Borissoff said. “Cells get damaged, and the products released from the damaged cells can cause even more damage and inflammatory responses.”
The researchers are testing the DNA particle components further, he said, to see which ones are most sensitive and to understand more about how their levels might vary — for instance, during different stages of progression of atherosclerosis, or during a treadmill test, or after treatment for a heart attack.
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