Researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Bosto, Massachusetts have identified a gene variant that ups the risk of coronary heart disease within people with type 2 diabetes.
The research team investigated to find any genetic variations that were linked with an increased risk of heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes but not within the general population. The team reviewed genetic information from over 4,000 people with type 2 diabetes, of which just over 1,500 had coronary heart disease (CHD) and over 2,000 people without type 2 diabetes, around 740 of which had CHD.
The team identified a genetic variant of the GLUL gene which increased the risk of heart disease only if type 2 diabetes was present. The GLUL gene plays a role in the metabolism of glutamine/glutamic acid, an amino acid found in any protein sources in the diet.
Glutamine has been found in previous clinical studies to be linked with a protective role against cardiovascular disease whereas an inability to properly metabolise glutamine has been associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance as well as heart disease.
The researchers are keen to widen the study to investigate whether the genetic variant is also associated with an increased risk of heart problems in people with type 1 diabetes.
Dr Alessandro Doria, co-senior author of the study commented on the study: “It may give us new insights into the mechanisms underlying the increased risk of CHD in diabetic individuals and enable us to identify targets for new cardioprotective drugs that are specific for the diabetic population.”

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