Research Highlight

This enzyme increases risk of high blood pressure

doi:10.1038/nindia.2020.3 Published online 13 January 2020

Indian researchers have linked the elevated levels of a particular tissue-remodelling enzyme to the risk of high blood pressure in two unrelated groups of Indians1.

The researchers say that this finding may provide leads for developing strategies that could curtail the risk of high blood pressure.

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a group of enzymes that provide structural support to cells during tissue growth. The activities of MMPs in healthy adult tissues are normally quite low. MMP7, the smallest of these proteins, has been linked to the risk of high blood pressure.

However, it remains unknown how this enzyme contributes to that risk. To find out, scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology in Kolkata, the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, all in India, studied two unrelated populations with or without high blood pressure from North and South India.

The researchers, led by Nitish R. Mahapatra, found that the individuals with high blood pressure had elevated levels of MMP7 protein in their blood. Sequencing their genes, they identified a genetic variation in a DNA sequence that regulates the activity of the MMP7 gene that encodes the MMP7 protein.

They found that a change in the DNA sequence that regulates the activity of MMP7 gene elevates the levels of MMP7 protein. This, in turn, increases the risk of high blood pressure.

The researchers say that this understanding will help devise preventive strategies for individuals carrying the genetic variation that could lead to high blood pressure and related heart diseases.


References

1. Subramanian, L. et al.  A common tag nucleotide variant in MMP7 promoter increases risk for hypertension via enhanced interactions with CREB (Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein) transcription factor. Hypertension 74, 1448-1459 (2019)