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Common gene variants increase risk of hypertension, may lead to new therapies
Date:2/15/2009

ted in the same individuals for any association with blood pressure levels.

Results of that third stage which suggested two hypertension-associated SNPs were validated in another study group. One identified variant, found in almost 90 percent of the population, was associated with a 20 percent reduction of ANP levels and an 18 percent greater incidence of hypertension. The other variant had a similar although less pronounced effect on ANP levels and blood pressure.

"Natriuretic peptides are known to be produced by the heart when it is stressed, and screening for peptide levels is widely used to diagnose heart failure, a condition in which they are sharply elevated," says senior author Thomas Wang, MD, of the MGH Cardiology Division. "It's currently premature to advocate screening natriuretic peptide levels or gene variants to diagnose hypertension risk, but someday it may be possible to treat natriuretic-peptide-deficient individuals with therapies that restore normal levels and reduce risk."

Newton-Cheh adds, "It's likely that many more genes will be found to contribute to changes in blood pressure, and the real challenge will be understanding the mechanism behind their effects. An advantage of these variants is that we know they act by influencing a well-studied pathway that may be modified with therapies that are currently being developed." He and Wang are both assistant professors of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and were co-corresponding authors on the paper.


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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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