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Gene Variants Linked to Blood Pressure in Blacks Identified

Study finds one variant already targeted by calcium channel blockers

FRIDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Gene variants associated with blood pressure have been identified in African-Americans and West Africans, including one variant that is already a target of calcium channel blockers, according to a study published online July 17 in PLoS Genetics.

Adebowale Adeyemo, M.D., from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues performed a genome-wide association study examining over 800,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 1,017 African-Americans to identify genes linked to blood pressure.

The researchers found gene variants significantly associated with systolic blood pressure in or near five genes. Two of these genes, SLC24A4 and CACNA1H, were potentially associated with blood pressure regulation based on known physiology, and CACNA1H is already a target of calcium channel blockers, they note. The findings were replicated in a group of 980 West Africans with and without hypertension, and they found that some of the variants detected in African-Americans were also associated with blood pressure in West Africans.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study that used a genome-wide association approach to study hypertension and blood pressure in an African-American population, a minority group that experiences hypertension more frequently and more severely than other population groups in the United States," Adeyemo and colleagues write. "The findings will be useful to other researchers seeking to advance our understanding of the genetic factors that influence blood pressure with the hope that these insights will eventually translate to new and better treatment options for hypertension in African-Americans and other global populations."

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