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Cell-type-specific insight into the function of risk factors in coronary artery disease

Using single cell technology, a new study sheds light on the significance of genetic risk factors for, and the diversity of cells involved in, the development of coronary artery disease. The researchers analyzed human atherosclerotic lesions to map the chromatin accessibility of more than 7, oxycodone 40s 000 cells. The chromatin accessibility is known to reflect active regions and genes in the genome. The findings were published in Circulation Research.

Genome-wide association studies of the human genome have identified over 200 loci associated with coronary artery disease. More than 90% of them are located outside protein-coding genes, in so called cis-regulatory elements, whose significance in the pathogenesis of coronary artery disease remains unclear.

Previous research has demonstrated that the development of coronary artery disease involves a variety of cells and their subtypes. The now published study is the first to use single cell technology to map epigenetic changes in these cells. The researchers used the ATAC-seq sequencing method to discover the nuclear chromatin structure of endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells, as well as immune system monocytes, macrophages, NK/T and B cells, providing a unique resource to study the cell-type specific activity of the cis-regulatory elements in the disease affected vessel wall.

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