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Breakthrough in understanding the genetics of high blood pressure
Date:11/9/2011

A researcher from the University of Leicester's Department of Cardiovascular Sciences has been involved in a ground-breaking study into the causes of high blood pressure.

The study, published in the academic journal Hypertension, analysed genetic material in human kidneys in a search for genes that might contribute to high blood pressure. The findings open up new avenues for future investigation into the causes of high blood pressure in humans.

The study identified key genes, messenger RNAs and micro RNAs present in the kidneys that may contribute to human hypertension. It also uncovered two microRNAs that contribute to the regulation of renin a hormone long thought to play to part in controlling blood pressure.

Although scientists have long known that the kidneys play a role in regulating blood pressure, this is the first time that key genes involved in the process have been identified through a large, comprehensive gene expression analysis of the human kidneys. It is also the first time that researchers have identified miRNAs that control the expression of the hormone renin.

The scientists studied tissue samples from the kidneys of 15 male hypertensive patients (patients with high blood pressure) and 7 male patients with normal blood pressure, and compared their messenger RNA (mRNA) and micro RNA (miRNA).

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a single-stranded molecule that helps in the production of protein from DNA. Genetic information is copied from DNA to mRNA strands, which provide a template from which the cell can make new proteins. MicroRNA (miRNA) is a very small molecule that helps regulate the process of converting mRNA into proteins.

The study was co-authored by the University of Leicester's Dr Maciej Tomaszewski, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, and a Consultant Physician in Leicester Blood Pressure Clinic - European Centre of Excelle
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Contact: Dr Maciej Tomaszewski
44-011-625-63019
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

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