Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene Enhances Effects Of Estrogen On Good Cholesterol

Date:
March 28, 2002
Source:
Wake Forest University School Of Medicine
Summary:
A genetic variant seems to determine how well women's good cholesterol responds to estrogen therapy, reports David Herrington, M.D., from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in this week's New England Journal of Medicine. The finding could help doctors identify women most likely to gain a heart benefit from hormone therapy.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A genetic variant seems to determine how well women's good cholesterol responds to estrogen therapy, reports David Herrington, M.D., from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in this week's New England Journal of Medicine. The finding could help doctors identify women most likely to gain a heart benefit from hormone therapy.

"If our findings hold true, a simple gene test could help doctors and women make better decisions about the use of hormone replacement therapy for prevention of heart disease," said Herrington, a professor of cardiology.

In an analysis of 309 women with heart disease who took hormone replacement therapy or placebo, Herrington found that women with a common mutation in the estrogen receptor alpha gene had dramatic increases in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or the "good" cholesterol.

"The increase in HDL was more than twice as much as in women without the gene variant," said Herrington.

These findings are important since increases in HDL cholesterol are believed to be helpful to prevent heart disease, especially in women.

Herrington found that 18 percent of women had a genetic predisposition to high levels of HDL cholesterol when taking estrogen. The HDL increase was dramatic -- it was two or three times what is normally achieved with cholesterol drugs used to raise HDL.

"More research is needed to see if the higher HDL levels translate into fewer heart attacks," said Herrington. "We also need to know if women with the gene variant are more sensitive to estrogen's other effects. But, this finding is exciting because it shows the potential for doctors to use genetic testing to improve decisions about drug therapy."

There are similar reports that different gene variants influence the effects of other commonly used medications, such as cholesterol lowering drugs and drugs to treat high blood pressure and asthma.

"Previous studies of cholesterol drugs show that raising HDL to this extent might reduce heart disease events by 25 to 40 percent," said Herrington. "Studies with estrogen haven't shown the same connection between HDL raising and heart disease benefit, but it's possible this was because we were focusing on all women, rather than the sub-group with this gene variant."

Herrington's research is the latest development in the story of hormone replacement and heart disease. For years, doctors prescribed hormone replacement therapy to prevent heart disease in postmenopausal women. These treatment decisions were based on observational studies showing that women who took estrogen had fewer heart attacks.

But recently, assumptions about the heart disease benefits of hormone therapy have been questioned. Several major studies have shown that in women with heart disease, taking hormone replacement does not slow heart disease progression.

"Our research suggests that genetics may identify some women who respond more favorably to hormone replacement therapy than others," said Herrington.

He said additional research is needed to learn if this gene variant also makes women more sensitive to other beneficial effects of estrogen -- including maintaining bone mineral density and reducing hot flashes -- as well as to negative effects of estrogen, such as formation of blood clots in the legs.

"It makes sense that if one area -- cholesterol -- is affected, others might be too."

Herrington said it is too soon for doctors to begin testing for this gene variant and they should continue to follow the American Heart Association's guidelines concerning the use of estrogen and other therapies for preventing heart disease in women.

"However, if findings such as this are confirmed in other studies, it's likely that testing for gene variants will soon become a regular part of the practice of medicine," said Herrington.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University School Of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University School Of Medicine. "Gene Enhances Effects Of Estrogen On Good Cholesterol." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020328074555.htm>.
Wake Forest University School Of Medicine. (2002, March 28). Gene Enhances Effects Of Estrogen On Good Cholesterol. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020328074555.htm
Wake Forest University School Of Medicine. "Gene Enhances Effects Of Estrogen On Good Cholesterol." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020328074555.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) An ingredient in erectile-dysfunction medications such as Viagra could improve heart function. Perhaps not surprising, given Viagra's history. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 20, 2014) Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Calls for New Ebola Safety Guidelines

CDC Calls for New Ebola Safety Guidelines

AP (Oct. 20, 2014) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden laid out new guidelines for health care workers when dealing with the deadly Ebola virus including new precautions when taking off personal protective equipment. (Oct. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins