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Twin studies reveal genetic components leading to cardiac and kidney disease

called endothelin (ET-1), is trigged by a gene that regulates catecholamines, chemical compounds produced in the adrenal gland that are released in reaction to stress. The study measured the plasma concentration of ET-1 in about 300 twins. The results establish and verify a previously unsuspected link between catecholamines and the endothelial system, showing that this link is due to a genetic variation and therefore runs in families.

Heredity and Kidney Disease

The same twin pool study revealed the influence of heredity on renal protein (albumin) excretion. Excretion of the protein albumin in urine is one sign of kidney disease, which can be a complication of diabetes.

"Normally kidneys filter the blood to rid the body of accumulated toxins. In healthy kidneys, more than a million little ‘baskets?or ‘sieves?filter out the bad chemicals without leaking ‘good?cells or proteins," said O’Connor, adding that how well these filters work appears to be a heritable factor.

Albumin leaks are an indication that the permeability of these filters has increased, allowing leakage of good molecules with the bad. This trait is linked to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. The study shows that both elevated blood pressure and changes to the kidney’s filters are caused by genetic variation at multiple points along the adrenergic pathway. Links between adrenergic activity and renal injury could lead to novel approaches to predicting, preventing, diagnosing and treating kidney disease. These findings are published in the May 1, 2007 issue of Hypertension.
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Source:University of California - San Diego


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