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1.  Variants in CPA1 are strongly associated with early-onset chronic pancreatitis 
Nature genetics  2013;45(10):1216-1220.
Chronic pancreatitis is an inflammatory disorder of the pancreas. We analyzed CPA1 encoding carboxypeptidase A1 in subjects with non-alcoholic chronic pancreatitis and controls in a German discovery cohort and three replication cohorts. Functionally impaired variants were present in 29/944 (3.1%) German patients and in 5/3,938 (0.1%) controls (odds ratio [OR] = 24.9; P = 1.5 × 10-16). The association was strongest in subjects aged ≤10 years (9.7%; OR = 84.0; P = 4.1 × 10-24). In the replication cohorts, defective CPA1 variants were observed in 8/600 (1.3%) patients and in 9/2,432 (0.4%) controls from Europe (P = 0.01), in 5/230 (2.2%) patients and 0/264 controls from India (P = 0.02), and in 5/247 (2.0%) patients but 0/341 controls from Japan (P = 0.013). The mechanism of increased pancreatitis risk by CPA1 variants may involve misfolding-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress rather than elevated trypsin activity as seen with other genetic risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3909499  PMID: 23955596
2.  Golden Helix Institute of Biomedical Research: Interdisciplinary research and educational activities in pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine 
Pharmacogenomics  2012;13(4):10.2217/pgs.12.7.
The Golden Helix Institute of Biomedical Research is an international non-profit scientific organization with interdisciplinary research and educational activities in the field of genome medicine in Europe, Asia and Latin America. These activities are supervised by an international scientific advisory council, consisting of world leaders in the field of genomics and translational medicine. Research activities include the regional coordination of the Pharmacogenomics for Every Nation Initiative in Europe, in an effort to integrate pharmacogenomics in developing countries, the development of several National/Ethnic Genetic databases and related web services and the critical assessment of the impact of genetics and genomic medicine to society in various countries. Also, educational activities include the organization of the Golden Helix Symposia®, which are high profile scientific research symposia in the field of personalized medicine, and the Golden Helix Pharmacogenomics Days, an international educational activity focused on pharmacogenomics, as part of its international pharmacogenomics education and outreach efforts.
PMCID: PMC3858958  PMID: 22379996
Golden Helix Institute; pharmacogenomics; translational medicine; genetic databases; symposia; genetics education; society
3.  Current issues in medically assisted reproduction and genetics in Europe: research, clinical practice, ethics, legal issues and policy 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2013;21(Suppl 2):S1-S21.
In March 2005, a group of experts from the European Society of Human Genetics and European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology met to discuss the interface between genetics and assisted reproductive technology (ART), and published an extended background paper, recommendations and two Editorials. Seven years later, in March 2012, a follow-up interdisciplinary workshop was held, involving representatives of both professional societies, including experts from the European Union Eurogentest2 Coordination Action Project. The main goal of this meeting was to discuss developments at the interface between clinical genetics and ARTs. As more genetic causes of reproductive failure are now recognised and an increasing number of patients undergo testing of their genome before conception, either in regular health care or in the context of direct-to-consumer testing, the need for genetic counselling and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) may increase. Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) thus far does not have evidence from randomised clinical trials to substantiate that the technique is both effective and efficient. Whole-genome sequencing may create greater challenges both in the technological and interpretational domains, and requires further reflection about the ethics of genetic testing in ART and PGD/PGS. Diagnostic laboratories should be reporting their results according to internationally accepted accreditation standards (International Standards Organisation – ISO 15189). Further studies are needed in order to address issues related to the impact of ART on epigenetic reprogramming of the early embryo. The legal landscape regarding assisted reproduction is evolving but still remains very heterogeneous and often contradictory. The lack of legal harmonisation and uneven access to infertility treatment and PGD/PGS fosters considerable cross-border reproductive care in Europe and beyond. The aim of this paper is to complement previous publications and provide an update of selected topics that have evolved since 2005.
PMCID: PMC3831061  PMID: 24225486
A subset (~3–5%) of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) develops severe liver disease (CFLD) with portal hypertension.
To assess whether any of 9 polymorphisms in 5 candidate genes (SERPINA1, ACE, GSTP1, MBL2, and TGFB1) are associated with severe liver disease in CF patients.
Design, Setting, and Participants
A 2-stage design was used in this case–control study. CFLD subjects were enrolled from 63 U.S., 32 Canadian, and 18 CF centers outside of North America, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) as the coordinating site. In the initial study, we studied 124 CFLD patients (enrolled 1/1999–12/2004) and 843 CF controls (patients without CFLD) by genotyping 9 polymorphisms in 5 genes previously implicated as modifiers of liver disease in CF. In the second stage, the SERPINA1 Z allele and TGFB1 codon 10 genotype were tested in an additional 136 CFLD patients (enrolled 1/2005–2/2007) and 1088 CF controls.
Main Outcome Measures
We compared differences in distribution of genotypes in CF patients with severe liver disease versus CF patients without CFLD.
The initial study showed CFLD to be associated with the SERPINA1 (also known as α1-antiprotease and α1-antitrypsin) Z allele (P value=3.3×10−6; odds ratio (OR) 4.72, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.31–9.61), and with transforming growth factor β-1 (TGFB1) codon 10 CC genotype (P=2.8×10−3; OR 1.53, CI 1.16–2.03). In the replication study, CFLD was associated with the SERPINA1 Z allele (P=1.4×10−3; OR 3.42, CI 1.54–7.59), but not with TGFB1 codon 10. A combined analysis of the initial and replication studies by logistic regression showed CFLD to be associated with SERPINA1 Z allele (P=1.5×10−8; OR 5.04, CI 2.88–8.83).
The SERPINA1 Z allele is a risk factor for liver disease in CF. Patients who carry the Z allele are at greater odds (OR ~5) to develop severe liver disease with portal hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3711243  PMID: 19738092
5.  Genetic characterization of northeastern Italian population isolates in the context of broader European genetic diversity 
Population genetic studies on European populations have highlighted Italy as one of genetically most diverse regions. This is possibly due to the country's complex demographic history and large variability in terrain throughout the territory. This is the reason why Italy is enriched for population isolates, Sardinia being the best-known example. As the population isolates have a great potential in disease-causing genetic variants identification, we aimed to genetically characterize a region from northeastern Italy, which is known for isolated communities. Total of 1310 samples, collected from six geographically isolated villages, were genotyped at >145 000 single-nucleotide polymorphism positions. Newly genotyped data were analyzed jointly with the available genome-wide data sets of individuals of European descent, including several population isolates. Despite the linguistic differences and geographical isolation the village populations still show the greatest genetic similarity to other Italian samples. The genetic isolation and small effective population size of the village populations is manifested by higher levels of genomic homozygosity and elevated linkage disequilibrium. These estimates become even more striking when the detected substructure is taken into account. The observed level of genetic isolation in Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is more extreme according to several measures of isolation compared with Sardinians, French Basques and northern Finns, thus proving the status of an isolate.
PMCID: PMC3658181  PMID: 23249956
population genetics; isolated population; genetic distance
6.  A Genome-Wide Analysis of Populations from European Russia Reveals a New Pole of Genetic Diversity in Northern Europe 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58552.
Several studies examined the fine-scale structure of human genetic variation in Europe. However, the European sets analyzed represent mainly northern, western, central, and southern Europe. Here, we report an analysis of approximately 166,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms in populations from eastern (northeastern) Europe: four Russian populations from European Russia, and three populations from the northernmost Finno-Ugric ethnicities (Veps and two contrast groups of Komi people). These were compared with several reference European samples, including Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Poles, Czechs, Germans, and Italians. The results obtained demonstrated genetic heterogeneity of populations living in the region studied. Russians from the central part of European Russia (Tver, Murom, and Kursk) exhibited similarities with populations from central–eastern Europe, and were distant from Russian sample from the northern Russia (Mezen district, Archangelsk region). Komi samples, especially Izhemski Komi, were significantly different from all other populations studied. These can be considered as a second pole of genetic diversity in northern Europe (in addition to the pole, occupied by Finns), as they had a distinct ancestry component. Russians from Mezen and the Finnic-speaking Veps were positioned between the two poles, but differed from each other in the proportions of Komi and Finnic ancestries. In general, our data provides a more complete genetic map of Europe accounting for the diversity in its most eastern (northeastern) populations.
PMCID: PMC3591355  PMID: 23505534
7.  Influence of concomitant heparin administration on pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A levels in acute coronary syndrome with ST segment elevation 
The time course of pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) levels was studied at admission, immediately after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and 1, 2, 4, 6, 12, 24 and 48 h after PCI in acute coronary syndrome with ST segment elevation (ACS-STE) to determine the impact of PCI, concomitant clinical complications and heparin administration.
Material and methods
Pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A serum levels, examined by the KryptorTM system, were studied in 30 heparinized PCI ACS-STE patients, in 10 elective PCIs and 12 coronary angiographies with heparin, and in 5 patients with normal coronary angiogram without heparin.
Heparin caused a high PAPP-A increase in ACS-STE patients, in all patients with heparin without ACS and angiographic signs of significant atherosclerosis. This increase was directly associated with heparin dosage and activated clotting time (ACT) (r = 0.71, p = 0.0001) and inversely with the interval between heparin applications and time of serum sampling. It was followed by a rapid decrease within 1 to 2 h and return to normal levels in 10 to 12 h. In ACS-STE patients the decrease was significantly slower than in heparinized elective PCI and angiography patients. The PAPP-A increase was not significantly dependent on the length of PCI. Persistent increase after 24 h was associated in 4/7 patients with concomitant clinical complications.
The diagnostic validity of PAPP-A can be verified only within the 1st h after clinical onset of ACS before heparin administration, the prognostic value in heparinized patients not earlier than 12 h after the last heparin application, if ACT is normal and serious clinical concomitant complications are eliminated.
PMCID: PMC3264989  PMID: 22328880
pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A; myocardial infarction; heparin; percutaneous coronary intervention
8.  Modifier gene study of meconium ileus in cystic fibrosis: statistical considerations and gene mapping results 
Human genetics  2009;126(6):763-778.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a monogenic disease due to mutations in the CFTR gene. Yet, variability in CF disease presentation is presumed to be affected by modifier genes, such as those recently demonstrated for the pulmonary aspect. Here, we conduct a modifier gene study for meconium ileus (MI), an intestinal obstruction that occurs in 16–20% of CF newborns, providing linkage and association results from large family and case–control samples. Linkage analysis of modifier traits is different than linkage analysis of primary traits on which a sample was ascertained. Here, we articulate a source of confounding unique to modifier gene studies and provide an example of how one might overcome the confounding in the context of linkage studies. Our linkage analysis provided evidence of a MI locus on chromosome 12p13.3, which was segregating in up to 80% of MI families with at least one affected offspring (HLOD = 2.9). Fine mapping of the 12p13.3 region in a large case–control sample of pancreatic insufficient Canadian CF patients with and without MI pointed to the involvement of ADIPOR2 in MI (p = 0.002). This marker was substantially out of Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium in the cases only, and provided evidence of a cohort effect. The association with rs9300298 in the ADIPOR2 gene at the 12p13.3 locus was replicated in an independent sample of CF families. A protective locus, using the phenotype of no-MI, mapped to 4q13.3 (HLOD = 3.19), with substantial heterogeneity. A candidate gene in the region, SLC4A4, provided preliminary evidence of association (p = 0.002), warranting further follow-up studies. Our linkage approach was used to direct our fine-mapping studies, which uncovered two potential modifier genes worthy of follow-up.
PMCID: PMC2888886  PMID: 19662435
11.  Genes that determine immunology and inflammation modify the basic defect of impaired ion conductance in cystic fibrosis epithelia 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2010;48(1):24-31.
The cystic fibrosis (CF) basic defect, caused by dysfunction of the apical chloride channel CFTR in the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract epithelia, has not been employed so far to support the role of CF modifier genes.
Patients were selected from 101 families with a total of 171 F508del-CFTR homozygous CF patients to identify CF modifying genes. A candidate gene based association study of 52 genes on 16 different chromosomes with a total of 182 genetic markers was performed. Differences in haplotype and/or diplotype distribution between case and reference CF subpopulations were analysed.
Variants at immunologically relevant genes were associated with the manifestation of the CF basic defect (0.01
The inherited capabilities of the innate and adaptive immune system determine the manifestation of the CF basic defect. Variants on F508del-CFTR chromosomes contribute to the observed patient-to-patient variability among F508del-CFTR homozygotes. A survivor effect, manifesting as a transmission disequilibrium at many loci, is consistent with the improvement of clinical care over the last decades, resulting in a depletion of risk alleles at modifier genes. Awareness of non-genetic factors such as improvement of patient care over time is crucial for the interpretation of CF modifier studies.
PMCID: PMC3003880  PMID: 20837493
Cystic fibrosis; modifier genes; association study; affected sib pairs; CF basic defect; genetics; immunology (including allergy); infectious diseases; epidemiology
Trials  2010;11:61.
Statins have been proved to be effective in reduction of mortality and morbidity when started in the early secondary prevention in stabilized patients after acute coronary syndrome (ACS). The safety and efficacy of statin administration directly in the first-line therapy in unstable ACS patients is not clear. The aim of our study was, therefore, to assess the effect of statin treatment initiated immediately at hospital admission of patients with ACS.
The trial was stopped prematurely after enrollment of one hundred and fifty-six patients with ACS that were randomized at admission to fluvastatin 80 mg (N = 78) or placebo (N = 78). Study medication was administered immediately after randomization and then once daily for 30 days; all patients were then encouraged to continue in open-label statin therapy and at the end of one-year follow-up 75% in the fluvastatin group and 78% in the placebo group were on statin therapy.
We did not demonstrate any difference between groups in the level of C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, and pregnancy-associated plasma protein A on Day 2 and Day 30 (primary endpoint). Fluvastatin-therapy, however, significantly reduced one-year occurrence of major adverse cardiovascular events (11.5% vs. 24.4%, odds ratio (OR) 0.40, 95% CI 0.17-0.95, P = 0.038). This difference was caused mainly by reduction of recurrent symptomatic ischemia (7.7% vs. 20.5%, OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.12-0.88, P = 0.037).
This study failed to prove the effect of fluvastatin given as first-line therapy of ACS on serum markers of inflammation and plaque instability. Fluvastatin therapy was, however, safe and it may reduce cardiovascular event rate that supports immediate use of a statin in patients admitted for ACS.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC2886041  PMID: 20500832
Human mutation  2010;31(4):421-428.
Over the last 20 years since the discovery of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, more than 1,600 different putatively pathological CFTR mutations have been identified. Until now, however, copy number mutations (CNMs) involving the CFTR gene have not been methodically analyzed, resulting almost certainly in the underascertainment of CFTR gene duplications compared with deletions. Here, high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridization (averaging one interrogating probe every 95 bp) was used to analyze the entire length of the CFTR gene (189 kb) in 233 cystic fibrosis chromosomes lacking conventional mutations. We succeeded in identifying five duplication CNMs that would otherwise have been refractory to analysis. Based upon findings from this and other studies, we propose that deletion and duplication CNMs in the human autosomal genome are likely to be generated in the proportion of approximately 2–3:1. We further postulate that intragenic gene duplication CNMs in other disease loci may have been routinely underascertained. Finally, our analysis of ±20 bp flanking each of the 40 CFTR breakpoints characterized at the DNA sequence level provide support for the emerging concept that non-B DNA conformations in combination with specific sequence motifs predispose to both recurring and nonrecurring genomic rearrangements.
PMCID: PMC2855493  PMID: 20052766
CFTR; copy number mutation; CNM; copy number variation; CNV; deletion; duplication; CGH
Nature genetics  2006;38(6):668-673.
Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is a common inflammatory disease of the pancreas. Mutations in the genes encoding cationic trypsinogen (PRSS1)1 and the pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor (SPINK1)2 are associated with CP. Since increased proteolytic activity due to mutated PRSS1 enhances the risk for CP, mutations in the gene encoding anionic trypsinogen (PRSS2) may also act disease predisposing. Here we analyzed PRSS2 in CP patients and controls and found, to our surprise, that a variant of codon 191 (G191R) is overrepresented in control subjects: G191R was present in 220/6,459 (3.4 %) controls but only in 32/2,466 (1.3 %) patients (odds ratio 0.37; P = 1.1 × 10-8). Upon activation by enterokinase or trypsin, purified recombinant G191R protein showed a complete loss of trypsin activity due to the introduction of a novel tryptic cleavage site that renders the enzyme hypersensitive to autocatalytic proteolysis. In conclusion, the G191R variant of PRSS2 mitigates intrapancreatic trypsin activity and thereby plays a protective role against chronic pancreatitis.
PMCID: PMC2746914  PMID: 16699518
Genetic matching potentially provides a means to alleviate the effects of incomplete Mendelian randomization in population-based gene–disease association studies. We therefore evaluated the genetic-matched pair study design on the basis of genome-wide SNP data (309 790 markers; Affymetrix GeneChip Human Mapping 500K Array) from 2457 individuals, sampled at 23 different recruitment sites across Europe. Using pair-wise identity-by-state (IBS) as a matching criterion, we tried to derive a subset of markers that would allow identification of the best overall matching (BOM) partner for a given individual, based on the IBS status for the subset alone. However, our results suggest that, by following this approach, the prediction accuracy is only notably improved by the first 20 markers selected, and increases proportionally to the marker number thereafter. Furthermore, in a considerable proportion of cases (76.0%), the BOM of a given individual, based on the complete marker set, came from a different recruitment site than the individual itself. A second marker set, specifically selected for ancestry sensitivity using singular value decomposition, performed even more poorly and was no more capable of predicting the BOM than randomly chosen subsets. This leads us to conclude that, at least in Europe, the utility of the genetic-matched pair study design depends critically on the availability of comprehensive genotype information for both cases and controls.
PMCID: PMC2986489  PMID: 19156175
population structure; matching; association; ancestry; microarray
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5472.
Using principal component (PC) analysis, we studied the genetic constitution of 3,112 individuals from Europe as portrayed by more than 270,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) genotyped with the Illumina Infinium platform. In cohorts where the sample size was >100, one hundred randomly chosen samples were used for analysis to minimize the sample size effect, resulting in a total of 1,564 samples. This analysis revealed that the genetic structure of the European population correlates closely with geography. The first two PCs highlight the genetic diversity corresponding to the northwest to southeast gradient and position the populations according to their approximate geographic origin. The resulting genetic map forms a triangular structure with a) Finland, b) the Baltic region, Poland and Western Russia, and c) Italy as its vertexes, and with d) Central- and Western Europe in its centre. Inter- and intra- population genetic differences were quantified by the inflation factor lambda (λ) (ranging from 1.00 to 4.21), fixation index (Fst) (ranging from 0.000 to 0.023), and by the number of markers exhibiting significant allele frequency differences in pair-wise population comparisons. The estimated lambda was used to assess the real diminishing impact to association statistics when two distinct populations are merged directly in an analysis. When the PC analysis was confined to the 1,019 Estonian individuals (0.1% of the Estonian population), a fine structure emerged that correlated with the geography of individual counties. With at least two cohorts available from several countries, genetic substructures were investigated in Czech, Finnish, German, Estonian and Italian populations. Together with previously published data, our results allow the creation of a comprehensive European genetic map that will greatly facilitate inter-population genetic studies including genome wide association studies (GWAS).
PMCID: PMC2675054  PMID: 19424496
DNA diagnostics of genetic diseases increasingly shifts towards utilization of commercial assays. Cystic fibrosis (CF)-related DNA diagnostics were used as a model for a pilot survey of the variability in the utilization of qualitative CE-marked in vitro diagnostic (IVD) assays and the scale of their modification by end users. A structured questionnaire, developed in the context of the EuroGentest project, was distributed within the frame of the 2005 annual CF external quality assessment (EQA) scheme. Its aim was to evaluate the variability in the use of different CE-marked IVD assays in routine CF DNA diagnostics. Survey results were analysed and sequentially discussed with respective users and/or manufacturers. In total, 125 responses from EQA scheme participants were received. Almost half of the respondents modified manufacturer-recommended protocols. They also reported sporadic and/or recurrent problems with assay performance and genotyping of particular alleles. Nonetheless, only half of the respondents performed in-house verification before the implementation of the assay in clinical diagnostics and/or after modification of the recommended protocol. Results of this survey substantiate the importance of guidelines for proper verification of CE-marked IVD assays in DNA diagnostics, using CF as a model.
PMCID: PMC2986222  PMID: 19050730
cystic fibrosis; CE-marked IVD assays; validation; verification; mutation detection; variability
Nature genetics  2007;40(1):78-82.
Chronic pancreatitis is a persistent inflammatory disease of the pancreas. The digestive protease trypsin plays a fundamental role in the pathogenesis. Here we analyzed the gene encoding the trypsin-degrading enzyme chymotrypsin C (CTRC) in German subjects with idiopathic or hereditary chronic pancreatitis. Two alterations, p.R254W and p.K247_R254del, were significantly overrepresented in the pancreatitis group and were present in 30/901 (3.3%) affected individuals but only in 21/2,804 (0.7%) controls (OR=4.6; CI=2.6−8.0; P=1.3×10−7). A replication study identified these two variants in 10/348 (2.9%) individuals with alcoholic chronic pancreatitis but only in 3/432 (0.7%) subjects with alcoholic liver disease (OR=4.2; CI=1.2−15.5; P=0.02). CTRC variants were also found in 10/71 (14.1%) Indian subjects with tropical pancreatitis but only in 1/84 (1.2%) control (OR=13.6; CI=1.7−109.2; P=0.0028). Functional analysis of the CTRC variants revealed impaired activity and/or reduced secretion. The results indicate that loss-of-function alterations in CTRC predispose to pancreatitis by diminishing its protective trypsin-degrading activity.
PMCID: PMC2650829  PMID: 18059268
The increasing number of laboratories offering molecular genetic analysis of the CFTR gene and the growing use of commercial kits strengthen the need for an update of previous best practice guidelines (published in 2000). The importance of organizing regional or national laboratory networks, to provide both primary and comprehensive CFTR mutation screening, is stressed. Current guidelines focus on strategies for dealing with increasingly complex situations of CFTR testing. Diagnostic flow charts now include testing in CFTR-related disorders and in fetal bowel anomalies. Emphasis is also placed on the need to consider ethnic or geographic origins of patients and individuals, on basic principles of risk calculation and on the importance of providing accurate laboratory reports. Finally, classification of CFTR mutations is reviewed, with regard to their relevance to pathogenicity and to genetic counselling.
PMCID: PMC2985951  PMID: 18685558
guidelines; recommendations; genetic testing; cystic fibrosis; CFTR; CFTR-related disorders
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;35(Database issue):D690-D695.
Frequency of INherited Disorders database (FINDbase) () is a relational database, derived from the ETHNOS software, recording frequencies of causative mutations leading to inherited disorders worldwide. Database records include the population and ethnic group, the disorder name and the related gene, accompanied by links to any corresponding locus-specific mutation database, to the respective Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man entries and the mutation together with its frequency in that population. The initial information is derived from the published literature, locus-specific databases and genetic disease consortia. FINDbase offers a user-friendly query interface, providing instant access to the list and frequencies of the different mutations. Query outputs can be either in a table or graphical format, accompanied by reference(s) on the data source. Registered users from three different groups, namely administrator, national coordinator and curator, are responsible for database curation and/or data entry/correction online via a password-protected interface. Databaseaccess is free of charge and there are no registration requirements for data querying. FINDbase provides a simple, web-based system for population-based mutation data collection and retrieval and can serve not only as a valuable online tool for molecular genetic testing of inherited disorders but also as a non-profit model for sustainable database funding, in the form of a ‘database-journal’.
PMCID: PMC1747180  PMID: 17135191
Activation of inflammatory pathways plays an important contributory role in coronary plaque instability and subsequent rupture, which can lead to the development of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Elevated levels of serum inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) represent independent risk factors for further cardiovascular events. Recent evidence indicates that in addition to lowering cholesterol levels, statins also decrease levels of inflammatory markers. Previous controlled clinical trials reporting the positive effects of statins in participants with ACS were designed for very early secondary prevention. To our knowledge, no controlled trials have evaluated the potential benefits of statin therapy, beginning immediately at the time of hospital admission. A previous pilot study performed by our group focused on early initiation of cerivastatin therapy. We demonstrated a highly significant reduction in levels of inflammatory markers (CRP and interleukin-6). Based on these preliminary findings, we are conducting a clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of another statin, fluvastatin, as an early intervention in patients with ACS.
The FACS-trial (Fluvastatin in the therapy of Acute Coronary Syndrome) is a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effects of fluvastatin therapy initiated at the time of hospital admission. The study will enroll 1,000 participants admitted to hospital for ACS (both with and without ST elevation). The primary endpoint for the study is the influence of fluvastatin therapy on levels of inflammatory markers (CRP and interleukin-6) and on pregnancy associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A). A combined secondary endpoint is 30-day and one-year occurrence of death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, recurrent symptomatic ischemia, urgent revascularization, and cardiac arrest.
The primary objective of the FACS trial is to demonstrate that statin therapy, when started immediately after hospital admission for ACS, results in reduction of inflammation and improvement of prognosis. This study may contribute to new knowledge regarding therapeutic strategies for patients suffering from ACS and may offer additional clinical indications for the use of statins.
PMCID: PMC555952  PMID: 15790413
statin; fluvastatin; acute coronary syndrome; C-reactive protein; interleukin 6; pregnancy-associated plasma protein A

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