Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The influence of genes on blood pressure may vary based on gender

Toronto Daily News:

“Sex is like a prism that refracts the effects of the gene very differently for men and women,” said Daniel T. O’Connor, M.D., UCSD professor of Medicine and Pharmacology.

The research team found that the gene-by-sex interaction was the rule, not the exception in their study of a large, community-based sample of 1,200 primary care patients in Southern California.

“Our findings show that specific genetic variations – which give rise to receptors that might be targets for ACE inhibitors or beta-blockers and other therapies used to treat hypertension – impact blood pressure differently in men and women."

"Knowing these genetic mutations may help us better diagnose hypertension and select the appropriate therapy," said O’Connor, adding that these findings support that the most appropriate therapy might well depend on whether the patient is a man or a woman.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a serious disease that can result in heart attacks, strokes or kidney failure. Scientists have known for some time that hypertension is a “heritable” condition that runs in families, though diet and other factors also contribute to high blood pressure. It is also known that there are differences in the occurrence of hypertension between men and women, and varied responses to treatments. For example, men normally have slightly higher BP readings than women.

The study yielded 48 different genetic variations, or polymorphisms, on 35 different genes that encode proteins involved in blood pressure regulation. Thirty-three of the genes were on autosomes (chromosomes found in both sexes), and two were on the “X-linked” or sex chromosomes.

“Of the 35 genes, we found six genes that were quite different in the frequency of variation between people of either sex who had extremely high or low blood pressure,” said O’Connor.

Surprising Interaction Between Genes, Gender, And Hypertension

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