Genetic Regulators Of High Blood Pressure Discovered
September 12, 2011

Genetic Regulators Of High Blood Pressure Discovered


An international team of researchers revealed on Sunday that they had discovered multiple DNA sequence variations which could influence hypertension, also known as or high blood pressure.

According to a September 11 Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions press release, the study of more than 200,000 subjects from around the globe helped scientists pinpoint 29 different genes which could influence blood pressure. These sequence variations, which can be found in locations across the human genome, have been linked to heart disease and stroke risk.

The study was conducted by the International Consortium for Blood Pressure Genome-Wide Association Studies, a collaborative effort from 351 scientists for 234 different institutions in 24 countries, including researchers from Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and Queen Mary, University of London. They analyzed more than a decade's worth of population data and published their findings Sunday in the journals Nature and Nature Genetics.

"The combined effect of these variations on blood pressure is similar to the effect of a standard blood pressure lowering medicine," a separate, Queen Mary, University of London press release noted. "Importantly, they showed that genetic effects on blood pressure are broadly similar in people of European, East Asian, South Asian, and African ancestries."

Perhaps more importantly, according to the MGH members of the team, is the detection of a new pathway described as "central to blood pressure regulation." Three of the genetic areas linked to hypertension are part of a pathway known as the guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) system, which they say in involved in the relaxation of blood vessels as well as the excretion of sodium by the kidneys--"two fundamental mechanisms of hypertension treatment."

The discovery, according to BBC News Health Reporter James Gallagher, could lead to new treatments designed to deal specifically with these genetic high blood pressure triggers.

"Your blood pressure is a function of these genes we just identified as well as perhaps a hundred others we haven't found yet," Dr. Aravinda Chakravarti, a professor of medicine, pediatrics and molecular biology and genetics at the Johns Hopkins McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, said in a statement.

"By revealing the genetic architecture of blood pressure, both studies will help us to understand the biology of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and, eventually, may lead to better therapies," Chakravarti confirmed.


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