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New genetic variations linked to blood pressure

Published online 8 October 2015

Twenty new genes may be implicated in blood pressure and other diseases.

Biplab Das

Scanning the genomes of East Asians, Europeans and South Asians, an international research team has identified 20 candidate genes that might influence blood pressure1.

The scientists, including researches from the National Center for Global Health and Medicine, Japan and King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, discovered genetic variants at 12 new genetic loci associated with the major risk factor disease. 

The scientists studied the relationship between blood-pressure-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which are changes in a single base, and DNA methylation, which is an epigenetic process that controls gene expressions. They found that 28 of 35 blood pressure SNPs were associated with one or more DNA methylation markers, suggesting the potential role of DNA methylation in blood pressure regulation. 

The newly identified variations were associated with clinical cardio-metabolic phenotypes such as adiposity, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and kidney function, the researchers say. Other variants were linked to pulmonary hypertension, vascular smooth muscle contraction and potassium channel protein.

“DNA methylation might have wider role in linking common genetic variations to multiple phenotypes including complex diseases such as blood pressure and eventually provide leads for the development of new blood-pressure-lowering drugs,” says Norihiro Kato, the lead author of the study. 


  1. Kato, Norihiro. et al. Trans-ancestry genome-wide association study identifies 12 genetic loci influencing blood pressure and implicates a role for DNA methylation. Nat. Genet. (2015)