A Smoking Heart

Tobacco alters a gene connected with cardiovascular function

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Smoking just isn't good for you, we all know that. But for those who have been unable to stop, there may be new therapies developed which could positively influence disease risk for people still smoking.

A new study links tobacco smoking with a gene influencing the cardiovascular system.

This alteration may possibly identify the early stages of smoking-associated cardiovascular pathology and could guide future research strategies to identify and counteract mechanisms of smoking-induced damage.

"Quit smoking. Save your heart."

Lead study author Dr. Lutz P. Breitling, from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg and his colleagues used information gathered from 177 participants including current smokers, former smokers and those who have never smoked.

Smokers have an altered methylation which means the process isn't functioning properly. Methylation is a process where chemicals, known as methyl groups, are added to various proteins, DNA, and other molecules, to keep them in good working condition.

Altered methylation has been found in smokers with lung cancer before, but it has never been done in conjunction with gathering information from former smokers, non-smokers and heavy smokers who do not have lung cancer.

The research team used a recently developed genetic screening technique to conduct a genome-wide search for differential methylation correlated with tobacco smoking.

The researchers discovered a single section of DNA, located within a gene called coagulation factor II receptor-like 3 (F2RL3), exhibited lower methylation in smokers. Blood clotting and other cardiovascular functions has been linked with F2RL3.

Dr. Breitling thinks this gene could possibly cause the beginning of smoking-related cardiovascular pathology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 3, 2011
Last Updated:
April 8, 2011