Genetic markers linked to increased lipopolysaccharide level in blood discovered

Microorganisms are part of the human body, and bacteria or their components mostly end up in circulation. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a bacterial component, is a toxin and its increased concentrations in the blood induce sepsis.

Genetic markers linked to increased lipopolysaccharide level in blood discovered
Image Credit: Mostphotos.

Low LPS levels, called endotoxemia, drive low-grade inflammation. Endotoxemia generally occurs in connection, for instance, with obesity, foretelling an increased risk for both diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

The recent research carried out at the University of Helsinki measured LPS levels in the blood of over 11,000 Finns. Later, a genome-wide association examination was carried out to chart the association to the genome. The FinnGen cohort was utilized in further analyses and it includes genome and disease data on close to 200,000 Finns.

The research was completed collaboratively by the University of Helsinki, the Folkhälsan Research Center, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, and the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM).

As an entirely new find, we identified an apparent link between the human genome and the number of bacterial toxins in the blood.”

Jaakko Leskelä, Researcher, University of Helsinki

Low-grade inflammation linked to thrombosis

Blood coagulation and defense against infections are interconnected and are useful, for instance, for the healing of wounds: bleeding should be arrested and the wound should be safeguarded against infection. In the current research, a connection between endotoxemia and certain genes linked with blood coagulation was discovered.

Our findings connected endotoxemia particularly with blood clots, strokes, and other diseases related to blood coagulation.”

Jaakko Leskelä, Researcher, University of Helsinki

Thus, the genes having a favorable effect on wound healing also have an unfavorable association with low-grade inflammation in the body.

Leskelä further adds, “While we do not yet know how exactly these genes associated with coagulation can affect endotoxemia, demonstrating a link is a big step forward as such.”

Further research to provide information relevant to treating low-grade inflammation

The observations show that the quality of the human microbiome sets a difference in the risk of emerging cardiovascular diseases.

We have a long road ahead of us in investigating this finding further. However, it is already clear that our results can help to discover new methods for studying and treating low-grade inflammation associated with endotoxemia.”

Jaakko Leskelä, Researcher, University of Helsinki

Source:
Journal reference:

Leskelä, J., et al. (2021) Genetic Profile of Endotoxemia Reveals an Association With Thromboembolism and Stroke. Journal of the American Heart Association. doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.121.022482.

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