Research highlight

Genetic variants associated with blood pressure traits

Nature Genetics

September 12, 2011

Scientists have identified genetic variants newly associated with blood pressure, pulse pressure, and mean arterial pressure in individuals of European descent. Findings presented inNature and Nature Genetics this week provide new insights into the genetics of blood pressure traits that could contribute to diagnostic and therapeutic studies.

In a genome-wide association and follow-up study in 200,000 individuals, reported inNature, Aravinda Chakravarti and co-workers identify 16 loci newly associated with blood pressure. Of these, several are also found to be associated with blood pressure in individuals of non-European ancestry. They construct a genetic risk score that suggests an association also with blood-pressure-related organ damage and clinical cardiovascular disease, but not with kidney disease.

In Nature Genetics, Paul Elliott and colleagues identify five loci newly associated with pulse pressure and three with mean arterial pressure from a genome-wide association and follow-up study in over 120,000 individuals, including one associated with both traits that was recently associated with systolic blood pressure in east Asians. They also identify 24 loci for these two traits that are also associated with blood pressure. Their findings suggest different pathways may be involved in these blood-pressure-related traits. They constructed genetic risk scores and found these showed suggestive association also with hypertension, stroke and coronary heart disease.

Over one billion people worldwide have hypertension, or high blood pressure, a condition associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events. The loci newly associated with these blood pressure traits suggest pathways that may be important for hypertension treatment.

doi: 10.1038/ng.922

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