Big Hearts’ Genetic Origins

 1 December 2008  

Gene linked to heart growth

Stuart Cook and Tim Aitman published research in April that describes how a gene called osteoglycin (Ogn), not previously linked to heart function, plays a key role in the regulation of growth of the heart’s left ventricle; its main pumping chamber.

Abnormal regulation leads to a condition called Left Ventricular Mass (LVM), an increase in mass that causes the left ventricle to become stiff. The heart then needs more oxygen, which can lead to shortness of breath, and eventually a heart attack.

Cook summarized the importance of finding a gene ‘for’ heart enlargement: “Enlarged hearts are very common. A person whose heart is enlarged is more likely to suffer a heart attack or heart failure than someone whose heart is a normal size. We can’t currently treat the condition directly, so lowering a patient’s blood pressure is the only option we have.

Now that we are unravelling how genes control heart growth, we can gain a better understanding of common forms of heart disease. This should lead to new and more effective ways of treating people.”

Link to Nature Genetics paper