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Shared molecular pathways and gene networks for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus in women across diverse ethnicities.

  • Author(s): Chan, Kei Hang K;
  • Huang, Yen-Tsung;
  • Meng, Qingying;
  • Wu, Chunyuan;
  • Reiner, Alexander;
  • Sobel, Eric M;
  • Tinker, Lesley;
  • Lusis, Aldons J;
  • Yang, Xia;
  • Liu, Simin
  • et al.


Although cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) share many common risk factors, potential molecular mechanisms that may also be shared for these 2 disorders remain unknown.

Methods and results

Using an integrative pathway and network analysis, we performed genome-wide association studies in 8155 blacks, 3494 Hispanic American, and 3697 Caucasian American women who participated in the national Women's Health Initiative single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) Health Association Resource and the Genomics and Randomized Trials Network. Eight top pathways and gene networks related to cardiomyopathy, calcium signaling, axon guidance, cell adhesion, and extracellular matrix seemed to be commonly shared between CVD and T2D across all 3 ethnic groups. We also identified ethnicity-specific pathways, such as cell cycle (specific for Hispanic American and Caucasian American) and tight junction (CVD and combined CVD and T2D in Hispanic American). In network analysis of gene-gene or protein-protein interactions, we identified key drivers that included COL1A1, COL3A1, and ELN in the shared pathways for both CVD and T2D. These key driver genes were cross-validated in multiple mouse models of diabetes mellitus and atherosclerosis.


Our integrative analysis of American women of 3 ethnicities identified multiple shared biological pathways and key regulatory genes for the development of CVD and T2D. These prospective findings also support the notion that ethnicity-specific susceptibility genes and process are involved in the pathogenesis of CVD and T2D.

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