Genes linked with hypertension identified

May 11th, 2009 - 1:00 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 11 (ANI): An international team of scientists, including an Indian-origin researcher, have identified new genes associated with hypertension.

Dr. Aravinda Chakravarti, head of the Centre for Complex Disease Genomics in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Hopkins, says that the finding attains significance as it may pave the way for new treatments for elevated blood pressure, which can increase a patient’s risk of stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.

“Strikingly, none of the genes we identified as having common variation are part of the system we know about that regulates blood pressure - the genes identified are not the ones targeted by current prescription drugs to control hypertension,” Nature magazine quoted Dr. Chakravarti, as saying.

“If we can increase the number of genes implicated in blood pressure maintenance from the current 12 to the expected 50 in the next year, our understanding of the biology will change completely,” he added.

During the study, the researchers examined the genomes of 30,000 people whose average systolic blood pressures ranged from 118 mm Hg to 143 mm Hg, and average diastolic blood pressures ranged from 72 mm Hg to 83 mm Hg.

They looked for genetic differences that associated with high blood pressure, and found 11 variations or changes in DNA sequence that appeared to regulate blood pressure levels.

The study showed that changes in gene called ATP2B1 were associated with both blood pressure and hypertension. This gene makes a protein that pumps calcium out of the cells that line the interior of blood vessels.

The researchers also found that changes in SH2B3, a protein involved in the immune response, were also linked to increased blood pressure.

According to Dr. Chakravarti, the team also identified changes in genes involved in cell growth as well as genes necessary for correct heart development.

He believes that the combination of multiple changes in different genes may increase blood pressure significantly, though the affect of each individual change on blood pressure is small.

“Hypertension is difficult to study; it is a trait, not a disease per se unless left untreated, and many things contribute to it,” said Dr. Chakravarti.

“These findings identify more pathways important for blood pressure maintenance and may lead to improvements in hypertension therapy and the formation of early detection systems,” he added.

The findings appear in journal Nature Genetics. (ANI)

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