Andrew Merelman
University of New Hampshire - Manchester

Coronary artery disease (CAD) refers to the buildup of plaque in or hardening of the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries branch off the base of the ascending aorta and wrap around the heart, supplying it with oxygenated blood. They are relatively small arteries meaning they can easily become blocked, causing a myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack. The process of CAD usually takes place over a long period of time and is a result of many contributing factors. These factors include poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, and genetic factors (Cassar et al., 2009).

There are two main types of coronary artery disease:
Arteriosclerosis: The thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries. This can be due to accumulation of calcium or the natural aging process. Vessels lose their elasticity leading to decreased ability to adjust to physiologic changes.
Atherosclerosis: The accumulation of cholesterol and triglycerides along the walls of arteries. This process is worsened by arteriosclerosis. It can be brought on by inflammation or damage to the arterial wall (Cassar et al., 2009).

The coronary arteries (red) and veins (blue) (Obtained from Google Public Domain)

Genetic factors for CAD have been suspected for many years. There have since been many studies which implicate a variety of genes in CAD. There have been many genes associated with an increased risk for CAD and problems that can lead to CAD such as hyperlipidemia and hypertension.

Coronary angiogram showing areas of narrowing caused by CAD (obtained from Google Public Domain)

Research questions:
Which gene is most commonly linked to the development of CAD?

Is this gene present in other species and how does it relate to the human gene?

What are the major protein characteristics related to CDKN2A?

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Primary Research
Data and Results