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Hypertension. 2010 Mar;55(3):706-14. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.109.146720. Epub 2010 Jan 18.

Functional variation in the androgen-receptor gene is associated with visceral adiposity and blood pressure in male adolescents.

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  • 1Brain and Body Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.


Intra-abdominal accumulation of fat is a hallmark of male body-fat distribution and a major risk factor for hypertension. Sympathoactivation may be one of the mechanisms linking intra-abdominal obesity to hypertension. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether a functional variation in the androgen-receptor gene (AR, a variable number of CAG repeats in exon 1) is associated with intra-abdominal adiposity, sympathetic modulation of vasomotor tone, and blood pressure in adolescent boys but not girls. We studied 223 boys and 259 girls (age 12 to 18 years) from a French-Canadian founder population. Intra-abdominal fat and subcutaneous-abdominal fat were quantified with an MRI. Blood pressure was recorded beat-to-beat during an hour-long protocol including physical and mental challenges, and these blood pressure time series were used to assess sympathetic modulation of vasomotor tone by power spectral analysis. The results showed that boys with a "low" versus "intermediate" or "high" CAG-repeat number in AR demonstrated higher intra-abdominal fat (by 28% and 48%, respectively) but not subcutaneous-abdominal fat. These intra-abdominal fat differences remained significant after adjusting for serum levels of sex hormones and subcutaneous-abdominal fat. Furthermore, boys with low versus intermediate or high CAG-repeat numbers also showed higher blood pressure, with the differences being most pronounced during mental stress (8.0 and 8.5 mm Hg, respectively) and higher sympathetic modulation of vasomotor tone. As expected, no such differences were seen among girls. In adolescent boys, low CAG-repeat numbers in AR may be a genetic risk factor for intra-abdominal obesity and hypertension; sympathoactivation may be an underlying link between the 2 conditions.

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