Genes Responsible for High Blood Pressure Discovered in the Human Kidney
Research that the British Heart Foundation part-funded has led to the discovery of 179 kidney genes responsible for high blood pressure.
Scientists who led the study, which has been published in Nature Genetics, say that this sheds new light on our understanding of genes associated with the condition.
High blood pressure is a key risk factor for heart and circulatory diseases, such as heart attack and stroke, and can run in families. However, the exact ways in which genes can cause people to inherit the condition is not clear.
The study found how certain information inherited in DNA can translate into an increased likelihood of high blood pressure, through changes in the activity of certain kidney genes.
The research, led by Professor Maciej Tomaszewski at The University of Manchester, was possible through access to huge datasets of human DNA and biological material known as RNA from possibly the world’s largest source of human kidney tissue samples.
Around 80 per cent of the 179 genes discovered by the team have never been associated with high blood pressure before. Some of these genes can be targeted by existing medicines, creating new opportunities to treat the condition.
Missing piece of the puzzle
Professor James Leiper, BHF Associate Medical Director, said: “We have known for many years that the kidney is a major regulator of blood pressure, but our understanding of precisely how the kidney controls blood pressure is incomplete.
“The identification of this large set of genes that appear to directly affect blood pressure fills in an important missing piece of that puzzle. The researchers have also found a subset of these genes that are a potential new target for the treatment of hypertension.
“This is important because many people taking existing medications still struggle to control their blood pressure. If doctors have more tools to work with then it will help stop thousands of lives being lost each year from this potentially preventable condition.”
The study was also supported by Kidney Research UK.