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Genetic 'signature' discovered in plaque.

ITALY -- Researchers may have identified a genetic "signature" for dangerous plaque that leads to stroke. They found that a pattern of five microscopic bits of genetic material, called micro-ribonucleic acid (miRNA) was present only in the plaque of patients who had experienced a stroke. This is the first report to suggest that miRNA may provide an important clue about which type in plaque in artery walls is the most dangerous.

Plaque, which consists of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in the blood, can be stable or unstable. Some plaque remains as a bump or streak on the artery wall, and other forms of plaque can cause clots that lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Researchers studied 31 patients who had plaque buildup but had not had a stroke and 22 patients who had plaque and had experienced a stroke. They looked for miRNAs, which are shorter molecular chains than messenger RNA (mRNA). MiRNAs take the genetic information contained within the DNA and allow it to be turned into proteins with various functions. MiRNAs do not translate genetic information, but they bind to the longer mRNAs and act as an "on/off" switch to help regulate protein production.

(Source: Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, August 2011.)

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Jun 22, 2011
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