Genes linked to blood pressure in African-Americans

Five genetic variants related to blood pressure — hypertension — in African-Americans, revealed by a team of researchers from the National Institutes of Health, USA.

The effort marks the first time that a relatively new research approach, called a genome-wide association study, has focused on blood pressure and hypertension in an African-American population.

Hypertension, or chronic high blood pressure, underlies an array of life-threatening conditions, including heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Diet, physical activity and obesity all contribute to risk of hypertension, but researchers also think genetics plays an important role.

To produce their findings, researchers analyzed DNA samples from 1,017 participants in the Howard University Family Study, a multigenerational study of families from the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area who identified themselves as African-American.

About one-third of U.S. adults suffer from hypertension. The burden is considerably greater in the African-American community, in which the condition affects 39 percent of men and 43 percent of women.

“This work underscores the value of using genomic tools to untangle the complex genetic factors that influence the risk for hypertension and other common diseases,” said Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D., scientific director for the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of NIH. “We hope these findings eventually will translate into better ways of helping the millions of African-Americans at risk for hypertension, as well as improved treatment options for other populations.”

In addition to NHGRI researchers, scientists from the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, N.J.; Boston University; and Howard University, in Washington, D.C., collaborated on the study, which was published in the July 17 online issue of PLoS Genetics.

Source: National Human Genome Research Institute, USA



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