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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56096. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056096. Epub 2013 Feb 5.

Worse renal disease in postmenopausal F2[Dahl S x R]-intercross rats: detection of novel QTLs affecting hypertensive kidney disease.

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  • 1Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.


The prevalence of hypertension increases after menopause with 75% of postmenopausal women developing hypertension in the United States, along with hypertensive end organ diseases. While human and animal model studies have indicated a protective role for estrogen against cardiovascular disease and glomerulosclerosis, clinical studies of hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women have shown polar results with some improvement in hypertension but worsening of hypertensive kidney disease, or no effect at all. These observations suggest that the pathogenesis of postmenopausal hypertension and its target organ complications is more complex than projected, and that loss of endogenous estrogens induces epigenetic changes that alter genetic susceptibility to end-organ complications per se resulting in pathogenetic mechanisms beyond correction by hormone replacement. We studied postmenopausal-induced changes in renal disease and performed a total genome scan for quantitative trait loci (QTLs) affecting kidney disease in postmenopausal 16m-old F2[Dahl S x R]-intercross female rats. We used glomerular injury score (GIS) as quantitative trait. We compared QTLs amongst premenopausal, ovariectomized and postmenopausal F2[Dahl S x R]-intercross rats using identical phenotype characterization. Postmenopausal F2[Dahl S x R]-intercross rats exhibited increased hypertensive glomerulosclerosis (P<0.01) and equivalent levels of kidney disease when compared to premenopausal and ovariectomized F2[Dahl S x R]-intercross rats respectively. We detected three significant to highly significant GIS-QTLs (GIS-pm1 on chromosome 4, LOD 3.54; GIS-pm2 on chromosome 3, LOD 2.72; GIS-pm3 on chromosome 5, LOD 2.37) and two suggestive GIS-QTLs (GIS-pm4 on chromosome 2, LOD 1.70; GIS-pm5 on chromosome 7, LOD 1.28), all of which were unique to this postmenopausal population. Detection of increased renal disease phenotype in postmenopausal and ovariectomized subjects suggests a protective role of ovarian hormones. Furthermore, the detection of distinct GIS-QTLs in postmenopausal intercross female rats suggests that distinct genetic mechanisms underlie hypertensive glomerulosclerosis in premenopausal and postmenopausal states.

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