A new study suggests a striking link between genetics and the long-term success rate of a leg bypass surgery.
A bypass surgery in the leg is prescribed when there is the presence of blocked arteries. In the United States alone, about 8 million people suffer from peripheral artery disease. Treatment options, depending on the severity of the disease, can comprise of surgery and/or medications. Traditionally, bypass surgeries, stent insertions and angioplasties are done every year to manage the symptoms of peripheral artery disease like pain, and prevent debilitating complications like leg amputation. Unfortunately, the success rate is not very impressive, as some patients show a narrowing of the arteries in about three years’ time.
Dr. Michael S. Conte, the chief of the division of vascular and endovascular surgery and co-director of the Heart and Vascular Center at the University of California in San Francisco, explained that their study marks the first ever genetic marker that predicts blood flow restoration following a bypass surgery in the leg. Together with Dr. Alexander Clowes, a professor of surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle, the research team analyzed the variations in the DNA of the patients, and utilized ultrasound procedures to study the trends in the narrowing of the arteries after bypass surgeries.
The researchers closely observed a gene known as p27, and its nearby sequence variation. The proteins from the gene play a role in cell growth, and may play a part in the re-narrowing of arteries after bypass surgeries. As more cells grow in the bypassed arteries, scar tissue is formed, and blood flow is constricted.
The findings of the study, therefore, strongly prove the assumption that genes indeed play a role in the structural changes of blood vessels after bypass procedures.
The research was funded by Vascular Cures, and the National Institutes of Health. The results were presented last June 18, 2011 in Chicago, in time for the Vascular Annual Meeting.