Case Western Reserve University is part of a landmark study that has discovered four novel gene variations which are associated with blood pressure. The 19-site meta-analysis, involving nearly 30,000 African-Americans, also found that the set of genetic mutations are also associated with blood pressure across other populations.
Epidemiology and biostatistics professor Xiaofeng Zhu, PhD, is co-senior author of the paper, which appears in The American Journal of Human Genetics. The Continental Origins and Genetic Epidemiology Network (COGENT) consortium conducted the research, which is the largest genome-wide association study of blood pressure in individuals of African ancestry. Most gene discovery studies to date have been performed using individuals of European ancestry. Previous genome-wide association studies using samples from individuals of African descent failed to detect any replicable genes associated with blood pressure.
"In addition to their disproportionate suffering, hypertension occurs earlier in life for African-Americans compared to individuals of other ancestries," Zhu explained. "Therefore, it is important to study this population to better understand genetic susceptibility to hypertension."
Zhu and his colleagues also confirmed that previous findings regarding other genes whose presence correlates with increased hypertension risk.
"Although it is unknown how the genes regulate blood pressure," Zhu added, "our findings contribute to better understanding of blood pressure pathways that can lead to future development of drug target for hypertension and may guide therapy for clinical care."
Experts estimate genetic make-up accounts for roughly 40-50 percent of individuals' susceptibility to hypertension. Other factors associated with the disease include lifestyle, diet, and obesity. Compared to Americans of European-ancestry, African-Americans' increased hypertension prevalence contributes t
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Case Western Reserve University