Gene Marker May Predict Diabetes Risk

'Telomeres' at chromosomes' ends shorten as disease nears, experts say

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FRIDAY, April 6, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Checking genetic markers called telomeres could help predict a person's future risk for coronary heart disease, according to researchers at the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation in India.

Telomeres prevent the ends of chromosomes from fraying and sticking to one another. They are also believed to regulate how many times an individual cell can divide, according to background information in a news release about the study.

People with pre-diabetes or obesity-linked type 2 diabetes, who are at increased risk for coronary heart disease, have much shorter telomeres than healthy people, the researchers noted. Telomeres also become shorter as a person progresses from pre-diabetes to full diabetes.

Diabetics are more susceptible to oxidization and inflammation, and this could contribute to telomere shortening. So, a test to detect the shortening of telomeres could indicate the onset of diabetes and ultimately be a predictor for coronary heart disease, the researchers said.

The work is expected to be presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology.

More information

The American Heart Association outlines risk factors for coronary heart disease.

SOURCE: Society for Experimental Biology, news release, March 31, 2007

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