BACKGROUND - Bilirubin is an antioxidant that suppresses lipid oxidation and retards atherosclerosis formation. An inverse association between serum bilirubin and coronary heart disease has been reported. Linkage studies have identified a major locus at the chromosome 2q telomere that affects bilirubin concentrations. A candidate gene in the linkage region encodes hepatic bilirubin uridine diphosphate-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT1A1). The insertion of a TA in the TATAA box of the gene, an allele designated UGT1A1*28, decreases gene transcription. Individuals homozygous for UGT1A1*28 (genotype 7/7) have increased serum bilirubin levels compared with carriers of the 6 allele. To date, no significant association between UGT1A1*28 and cardiovascular disease (CVD) events has been reported. We performed an association study in the Framingham Heart Study population to investigate whether UGT1A1*28 is associated with the risk of CVD events. METHODS AND RESULTS - The study population included 1780 unrelated individuals from the Offspring cohort (49% males, mean age 36 years at entry) who had been followed up for 24 years. Individuals with genotype 7/7 had significantly higher bilirubin levels (mean±SD 1.14±0.44 mg/dL) than those with genotypes 6/6 and 6/7 (mean±SD 0.69±0.27 mg/dL, P<0.01). Using the Cox proportional hazards model, we found significant associations between the UGT1A1*28 allele and decreased risk of CVD. Individuals with genotype 7/7 (population frequency of 11%) had approximately one third the risk for CVD and coronary heart disease as carriers of the 6 allele, which resulted in a hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) of 0.36 (0.18 to 0.74) and 0.30 (0.12 to 0.74), respectively. CONCLUSIONS - Homozygote UGT1A1*28 allele carriers with higher serum bilirubin concentrations exhibit a strong association with lower risk of CVD.
- Cardiovascular diseases
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)