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Herz. 2003 Dec;28(8):655-62.

Genetics of human hypertension.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Cardiology, Philipps University Marburg, Germany.



Hypertension is a multifactorial disease involving interactions among genetic, environmental, demographic, vascular and neuroendocrine factors. Essential hypertension is the most frequent diagnosis in this syndrome, indicating that a monocausal etiology has not been identified. However, a number of risk factors underlying essential hypertension have also been identified including age, sex, genetics, demographic factors, and others. Remarkable progress in molecular biological research has been achieved in clarifying the molecular basis of Mendelian hypertensive disorders. Causative genes and chromosomal fragments harboring disease susceptibility genes have been identified, e. g., for glucocorticoid-remediable aldosteronism, Liddle's syndrome, mineralocorticoid excess.


Molecular genetic studies have now identified mutations in eight genes that cause Mendelian forms of hypertension and nine genes that cause Mendelian forms of hypotension in humans. No single genetic variant has emerged from linkage or association analyses as consistently related to blood pressure level in every sample and in all populations. However, a number of polymorphisms in candidate genes have been associated with differences in blood pressure. Most prominent have been the polymorphisms in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.


Essential hypertension is likely to be a polygenic disorder that results from the inheritance of a number of susceptibility genes and involves multiple environmental determinants. These determinants complicate the study of blood pressure variations in the general population. The complex nature of the hypertension phenotype makes large-scale studies indispensable, when screening of familial and genetic factors is intended.

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