25.05.2021 change 25.05.2021

Over 170 genes affecting hypertension identified

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Over 170 ‘kidney genes’ which could create new possibilities for treating high blood pressure, have been identified by scientists.

Researchers led by Professor Maciej Tomaszewski from the University of Manchester focused on how information inherited in DNA translates into genetic predisposition to a high level of blood pressure through changes in the activity of some kidney genes.

Examples of identified genes include those affecting the kidney function or structure (WDR73) and those traditionally associated with diabetes (KCNJ11) and the immune system (IRF5 and IRAK1BP1). 

According to Jagiellonian University which took part in the research, 80 percent of the newly identified genes were not previously linked to hypertension. 

Arterial hypertension may lead to stroke, heart failure, peripheral artery diseases, renal failure, dementia, retinal damage and deterioration or loss of eyesight. Up to 40 percent of strokes are associated with excessive blood pressure.

Some of the 179 genes identified can be the targets of existing medicines, creating new possibilities for treating high blood pressure. This is also indicated by the fact that a number of identified genes are therapeutic targets for medicines with known blood pressure reduction activity. 

For example, KCNJ11 has been identified as a target for minoxydil and diazoxide, while GUCY1A3 has been identified as a target for nitrates and riociguat. 

Posting on Jagiellonian University website, researchers said: “It is highly likely that similar analyses of newly identified mechanistic genes may indicate potential new arterial hypertension therapies.”

Research included comprehensive analyses carried out at various 'levels' of molecular renal tissue, combining DNA, RNA and DNA methylation (responsible for the levels of gene expression) from the same set of kidney tissue samples. In order to determine the thousands of tested genes' causal relationship with hypertension, the researchers used the statistical method called Mendelian randomisation.

The results of research, in which researchers from several Polish universities (the Jagiellonian University's, Medical University of Silesia, Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Collegium Medicum of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń) have been published Nature Genetics https://www.nature.com/articles/s41588-021-00835-w


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