(HealthDay News) — A variant of a gene involved in fatty acid synthesis that is often overproduced in cancers is associated with a higher risk of developing uterine fibroids, according to research published in the Oct. 5 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Stacey L. Eggert, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues performed a genome-wide analysis in 261 pairs of white sisters, both of whom had uterine leiomyomata, and their families, to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms linked to fibroids. Genome-wide association studies were also performed in two independent groups of white women and a meta-analysis was performed.

The researchers found that both studies identified a candidate variant in 17q25.3, rs4247357 (odds ratio 1.299), which spanned three genes, including fatty acid synthase (FASN). Fatty acid synthase (FAS) levels were three-fold higher in fibroid tissue compared with matched myometrial tissue. FAS transcripts and protein levels were higher in various cancers and implicated in tumor cell survival.

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FASN represents the initial uterine leiomyomata risk allele identified in white women by a genome-wide, unbiased approach and opens a path to management and potential therapeutic intervention,” Eggert and colleagues conclude.

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