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Genetic experts investigate causes of harmful metabolic disorder

Cincinnati -- University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers have received more than $1.6 million from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to study genetic causes of metabolic syndrome, a disorder that can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

"Metabolic syndrome has emerged as a public health problem of epidemic proportions in Western societies like the United States," says Ranjan Deka, PhD, the UC environmental health professor who will lead the international study. "To combat this complex disease, we need to establish genetic biomarkersbut we also need to understand lifestyle patterns and make necessary changes."

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of inherited risk factors, and, according to the American Heart Association, about 25 percent of Americans have it. Untreated, it can lead to life-threatening health problems such as coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

This UC-led study aims to identify and isolate the specific genes associated with metabolic syndrome so that scientists can identify at-risk populations.

"Metabolic syndrome is a complex disease that can't be attributed to just one cause," explains Deka. "Genes don't act alone. They work in concert with the environment, so exposures as well as lifestyle choices and diet can contribute to it."

Deka believes that genetic dispositions may be coming together with changed lifestyleone of unhealthy food intake, little exercise and an overall sedentary lifestyle to cause metabolic syndrome.

Primary risk factors for the condition include central obesity (around and in the abdomen), high blood pressure, glucose intolerance and blood-fat disorders that promote plaque buildup in the artery walls.

Deka and his team will attempt to establish a genetic basis for metabolic syndrome by identifying chromosomal regions associated with it. They will collect data from a genetically isolated
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Contact: Amanda Harper
amanda.harper@uc.edu
513-558-4657
University of Cincinnati
5-Dec-2006


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