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J Hum Hypertens. 2001 May;15(5):341-51.

Genetic bottlenecks, perceived racism, and hypertension risk among African Americans and first-generation African immigrants.

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  • 1Mid America Heart Institute and University of Missouri-Kansas City, MO 64110, USA.


The complexity of factors influencing the development of hypertension (HTN) in African Americans has given rise to theories suggesting that genetic changes occurred due to selection pressures/genetic bottleneck effects (ie, constriction of existing genetic variability) over the course of the slave trade. Ninety-nine US-born and 86 African-born health professionals were compared in a cross-sectional survey examining genetic and psychosocial predictors of HTN. We examined the distributions of three genetic loci (G-protein, AGT-235, and ACE I/D) that have been associated with increased HTN risk. There were no significant differences between US-born African Americans and African-born immigrants in the studied genetic loci or biological variables (eg, plasma renin and angiotensin converting enzyme activity), except that the AGT-235 homozygous T genotype was somewhat more frequent among African-born participants than US-born African Americans. Only age, body mass index, and birthplace consistently demonstrated associations with HTN status. Thus, there was no evidence of a genetic bottleneck in the loci studied, ie, that US-born African Americans have different genotype distributions that increase their risk for HTN. In fact, some of the genotypic distributions evidenced lower frequencies of HTN-related alleles among US-born African Americans, providing evidence of European admixture. The consistent finding that birthplace (ie, US vs Africa) was associated with HTN, even though it was not always significant, suggests potential and unmeasured cultural, lifestyle, and environmental differences between African immigrants and US-born African Americans that are protective against HTN.

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