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Korean researchers find 2 new genes influencing atrial fibrillation
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2017.07.05 17:33
  • Updated 2017.07.05 17:33
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A Korean research team has found two new genes that affect the onset of atrial fibrillation (AF), while proving five genes responsible for causing AF in Europeans to apply to Koreans, too.

AF is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can cause blood clots, stroke, health failure, and other heart-related complications. Genetic factors play a significant role in the occurrence of the disease before the age of 60, called early atrial fibrillation.

AF affects 1.6 percent of Korean people and is the most common form of heart disease with the number of patients expected to double by 2050 due to the rapidly aging population. AF causes 20 to 25 percent of all ischemic stroke cases in the nation.

Pak Hui-nam, Professor at Severance Hospital

“Despite the increasing number of patients, the problem is that around 60 percent of AF patients do not feel any symptoms,” said Professor Pak Hui-nam박희남 of Severance Hosptial세브란스병원 who heads the team. “Patients often are diagnosed with the disease only after experiencing a stroke.”

Previous foreign researches have proved five genes to influence the onset of atrial fibrillation among Europeans, with a large-scale cohort study finding the risk of atrial fibrillation in children increased 1.9 times even if only one parent had AF. However, no national study had been conducted to provide data on Koreans.

Korean researchers led by Professor Pak and Kim Tae-hoon김태훈, also of Severance Hospital, set out to find whether the same genes influenced AF in Koreans.

The researchers conducted a gene analysis study on 6,384 people to find that Koreans are also affected by the same five genes (1q24/PRRX1, 4q25/PITX2, 10q24/NEURL, 12q24/TBX5, 16q22/ZFHX3). They also found two new genes (1q32.1/PPFIA4, 4q34.1/HAND2) to affect disease onset.

"It is encouraging that we have conducted a full-length genome-wide association analysis (GWAS) on a large number of Koreans and found two new genes associated with the development of AF," Professor Pak said. “It is also important to provide essential data to study the degree of early diagnosis of atrial fibrillation and the level of prediction of therapeutic response based on Koreans’ genes. It is a significant clinical result to serve as the foundation of future medical science."

The paper, titled “Korean atrial fibrillation network genome-wide association study for early-onset atrial fibrillation identifies novel susceptibility loci,” will appear in the upcoming issue of the European Heart Journal.


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