Studying the Genetics of Complex But Common Human Diseases Using Mice
Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases that result from atherosclerosis and hypertension account for a large proportion of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Females are generally less susceptible to these conditions until after menopause, when they rapidly become as susceptible as males. In addition to gender, the genetic makeup of an individual is clearly important in the etiology of these diseases, and genetic analyses based on human population and family studies have successfully identified various factors associated with atherosclerosis and with hypertension thanks to the advancement of molecular techniques. The genetic heterogeneity of humans, however, makes it difficult to dissect the roles of individual genetic factors and to determine fundamental cause and effect relationships. In addition, environmental factors that significantly influence the development of these diseases are difficult to control in humans.
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