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New Study will Seek Genes Tied to Heart Patients Who Are Depressed
Researchers at The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston have been awarded a $2.4 million study to identify a subgroup of heart disease patients that suffer from depression and have certain genetic markers that can increase their odds of having a major coronary event.
"We've shown that heart patients who are depressed are more likely to have worse outcomes than those who are not depressed," said Lorraine Frazier, Ph.D., associate professor in the nursing school and principal investigator of the five-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) study. "Now we want to look at a subgroup that has increased inflammatory proteins when they are depressed."
An estimated 12.4 million Americans are living with heart disease and the prevalence of depression in hospitalized heart patients is 20 to 30 percent, according to Frazier. Increased inflammatory proteins can exacerbate heart disease.
Researchers will enroll 1,300 patients admitted to St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, home of the Texas Heart Institute. Blood samples will be taken to measure inflammatory proteins and test for genetic markers and patients will be screened for depression. The patients will be followed for two years.
"Once we identify this group, we will treat them differently because these patients are more likely to have another event," Frazier said. "We can perhaps give them more intense interventions and cognitive therapy as well as medication for depression so they will have better outcomes."
Frazier said the study advances the NIH's interest in studying environmental factors of disease, in particular the environmental triggers of depression and the effects of depression treatments including medications, psychotherapies and self-management techniques such as exercise. In February of 2006, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched an NIH initiative to identify the genetic and environmental links to common illnesses.
The study will include the nursing school's Biological Sciences Laboratory, The University of Texas Science Center at Houston's Human Genetics Center and its Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, along with Baylor College of Medicine's Maria and Alando J. Ballantyne, M.D., Atherosclerosis Clinical Research Laboratory.
Co-investigators include: Eric Boerwinkle, Ph.D., professor and director, and Kathy Klos, Ph.D., both of the Human Genetics Center; and F. Gerard Moeller, M.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Both Boerwinkle and Moeller also are on faculty at the UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
By Deborah Mann Lake, Institutional Advancement
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