OBJECTIVES: The aging process affects responsiveness and other functions of endothelium and vascular smooth muscle cells, predisposing the old vessels to the development of atherosclerotic lesions. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (ecNOS) gene polymorphisms were shown to affect the occurrence of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). We hypothesized that aging may affect the association between the ecNOS gene polymorphism and AMI. METHODS: We investigated the age-related distribution of the ecNOS gene a/b polymorphism in 121 male AMI patients and 206 age-matched healthy male controls. RESULTS: The aa, ab and bb genotypes were found in 1, 49 and 156 cases among the control subjects and 5, 23 and 93 cases among the AMI patients, respectively. There was a significant correlation between the ecNOS polymorphism and AMI (p = 0.045). When the correlation was analyzed by age, the significance remained only in the group below the age of 51 (p = 0.009). The proportion of smokers was increased in the young patients when compared to the old patients (p = 0.033), indicating that smoking also has greater effect on the younger population. The incidences of hypertension and diabetes mellitus, however, were similar in both populations. CONCLUSION: Our work provides the first evidence that links ecNOS polymorphism to the risk of AMI in relation to age. Young persons who smoke or have ecNOSaa genotype may have an increased risk of developing AMI. The functional as well as structural changes associated with aging in the vascular endothelium may mask the effect of the ecNOS polymorphism in the development of AMI in old persons.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine