MedWire News: Three common genetic variants are associated with circulating levels of natriuretic peptides and blood pressure (BP) in the European population, important research shows.
The study appears in the journal Nature Genetics and represents the first discovery of a common gene variant that influences BP, a finding that could potentially lead to new antihypertensive therapies.
“It’s well known that hypertension can run in families, and a few rare genetic syndromes that raise BP have been identified,” said Christopher Newton-Cheh (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA), the study’s lead author. “But the common genetic basis for the type of hypertension that affects a billion individuals around the world has been very difficult to establish.”
For their study, Newton-Cheh’s team focused on the genes encoding NPPA (natriuretic peptide precursor A) and NPPB (natriuretic peptide precursor B), which are found on chromosome 1. They investigated whether cis-acting genetic variants influence natriuretic peptide concentrations and thus BP.
Newton-Cheh et al performed a genome-wide association study in 1705 individuals of European ancestry who participated in the Framingham Heart Study. They were looking for 13 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that capture the majority of common variation at the NPPA-NPPB locus.
Their analysis demonstrated that 3 SNPs – rs5068, rs198358, and rs632793 – were associated with both atrial and B-type natriuretic peptides. These SNPs were then validated in a further 14,743 individuals from four separate cohorts.
“It’s likely that many more genes will be found to contribute to changes in BP, and the real challenge will be understanding the mechanism behind their effects,” Newton-Cheh remarked.
“An advantage of these variants is that we know they act by influencing a well-studied pathway that may be modified with therapies that are currently being developed.”
MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a part of Springer Science+Business Media. © Current Medicine Group Ltd; 2009