Genes to blood pressure: The effects of variation in genes of the renin-angiotensin system on the hormonal and renal control of blood pressure

Alan Lee Biddinger, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Objective. Essential hypertension affects 25% of the US adult population and is a leading contributor to morbidity and mortality. Because BP is a multifactorial phenotype that resists simple genetic analysis, intermediate phenotypes within the complex network of BP regulatory systems may be more accessible to genetic dissection. The Renin-Angiotensin System (RAS) is known to influence intermediate and long-term blood pressure regulation through alterations in vascular tone and renal sodium and fluid resorption. This dissertation examines associations between renin (REN), angiotensinogen (AGT), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1) gene variation and interindividual differences in plasma hormone levels, renal hemodynamics, and BP homeostasis. Methods. A total of 150 unrelated men and 150 unrelated women, between 20.0 and 49.9 years of age and free of acute or chronic illness except for a history of hypertension (11 men and 7 women, all off medications), were studied after one week on a controlled sodium diet. RAS plasma hormone levels, renal hemodynamics and BP were determined prior to and during angiotensin II (Ang II) infusion. Individuals were genotyped by PCR for a variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) polymorphism in REN, and for the following restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP): AGT M235T, ACE I/D, and AT1 A1166C. Associations between clinical measurements and allelic variation were examined using multiple linear regression statistical models. Results. Women homozygous for the AT1 1166C allele demonstrated higher intracellular levels of sodium (p = 0.044). Men homozygous for the AGT T235 allele demonstrated a blunted decrement in renal plasma flow in response to Ang II infusion (p = 0.0002). There were no significant associations between RAS gene variation and interindividual variation in RAS plasma hormone levels or BP. Conclusions. Rather than identifying new BP controlling genes or alleles, the study paradigm employed in this thesis (i.e., measured genes, controlled environments and interventions) may provide mechanistic insight into how candidate genes affect BP homeostasis.

Subject Area

Genetics|Molecular biology|Pathology|Anatomy & physiology|Animals

Recommended Citation

Biddinger, Alan Lee, "Genes to blood pressure: The effects of variation in genes of the renin-angiotensin system on the hormonal and renal control of blood pressure" (1997). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9732762.