Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genome-wide hunts reveal new regulators of blood pressure

12.09.2011
Researchers discover dozens of genetic variants associated with increased risk of hypertension, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases

A study involving more than 200,000 people worldwide has identified 29 DNA sequence variations in locations across the human genome that influence blood pressure. These genes, whose sequence changes are associated with alterations in blood pressure and are linked to heart disease and stroke, were found with the help of decades' worth of population data that were pooled and analyzed by a large international consortium, including Johns Hopkins researchers.

Among the findings was evidence that the same common genetic variants associated with hypertension in European populations also are frequently found in individuals of Asian and African ancestry, according to the report that appears September 11 in Nature.

"A genetic risk score that adds up the effects of all of these variants shows that the more of these variants an individual has, the greater are his or her chances of having hypertension, left ventricular wall thickness, stroke and coronary artery disease," says Aravinda Chakravarti, Ph.D., a professor of medicine, pediatrics and molecular biology and genetics at the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins, and one of the lead authors.

The individuals whose genomes were analyzed for this study had their blood pressures recorded when they originally entered other long-term cardiovascular research studies, and scientists used these measures to assess the predictive value of the genes and blood pressures in terms of the subjects' current cardiovascular status.

This genome-wide association study focused on systolic and diastolic blood pressures: measures of the maximum and minimum pressures exerted on the arteries. However, in a related genome-wide investigation reported September 11 in Nature Genetics, the same scientists found an additional six locations across the genome where variants affect blood pressure by focusing on two other relevant measures: pulse pressure (the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure) and mean arterial pressure (a weighted average of systolic and diastolic blood pressure). The group conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of pulse pressure and mean arterial pressure in 74,064 individuals of European ancestry from 35 studies and then followed up the results in 48,607 additional individuals.

"It's like using four different cops to find the same culprit," Chakravarti says. "The more ways we search for blood pressure genes, the better our ability to understand hypertension, whose affects are not uni-causal."

For the billion-plus people worldwide with hypertension, even small elevations in blood pressure are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Although it's generally known that hypertension has a familial component, the genetic regulatory mechanisms of blood pressure have been challenging to pin down so far, Chakravarti says, citing similar genetic studies three years ago that failed to detect any genes. He credits the recent spate of genetic discoveries – more than 300 genes for cardiovascular diseases have been identified in just the last few years – to the collective analyses of long-term prospective research efforts such as the pioneering Framingham Heart Study, begun in 1948, the Cardiovascular Heath Study, started in 1989, and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, started in 1987.

"Too often, people look at these studies that have a long provenance and wonder what is it doing for them today," says Chakravarti, who compares the studies to a retirement account. "Researchers visit them time and time again. Without them, this feat of genetic studies would be impossible."

Each genome-wide association study, often referred to as GWAS, reported what effects were observed at which locations on the genome in a scan of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) throughout the genome. Pronounced snips, SNPs are sites where a single letter in the DNA code is variable between humans.

"Your blood pressure is a function of these genes we just identified as well as perhaps a hundred others we haven't found yet," says Chakravarti. "By revealing the genetic architecture of blood pressure, both studies will help us to understand the biology of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and, eventually, may lead to better therapies."

Support for the international, multi-institutional project came from many funding mechanisms, including the National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute as well as European and private funding agencies.

Of more than 230 scientists who contributed to the Nature study, Chakravarti is a corresponding author. The lead author is Georg B. Ehret, also of the institute. Other Johns Hopkins authors are Vasyl Pihur, Josef Coresh, Judith A. Hoffman-Bolton, Linda Kao, Anna Kottgen, and J.Hunter Young.

In addition to Chakravarti, Johns Hopkins scientists who contributed to the Nature Genetics study include Georg B. Ehret and Vasyl Pihur.

On the Web:
Chakravarti lab: http://chakravarti.igm.jhmi.edu/AravindaChakravartiLab/Home.html
Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature/index.html
Nature Genetics: http://www.nature.com/ng/index.html
Media Contacts: Maryalice Yakutchik; 443-287-2251; myakutc1@jhmi.edu
Audrey Huang; 410-614-5105; audrey@jhmi.edu
Vanessa McMains; 410-502-9410; vmcmain1@jhmi.edu

Maryalice Yakutchik | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>