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Basic Res Cardiol. 2013 Jan;108(1):316. doi: 10.1007/s00395-012-0316-y. Epub 2012 Nov 30.

Mapping genetic determinants of coronary microvascular remodeling in the spontaneously hypertensive rat.

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Department of Radiology, Oncology and Pathology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.


The mechanisms underlying coronary microvascular remodeling and dysfunction, which are critical determinants of abnormal myocardial blood flow regulation in human hypertension, are poorly understood. The spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) exhibits many features of human hypertensive cardiomyopathy. We demonstrate that remodeling of intramural coronary arterioles is apparent in the SHR already at 4 weeks of age, i.e. before the onset of systemic hypertension. To uncover possible genetic determinants of coronary microvascular remodeling, we carried out detailed histological and histomorphometric analysis of the heart and coronary vasculature in 30 weeks old SHR, age-matched Brown Norway (BN-Lx) parentals and BXH/HXB recombinant inbred (RI) strains. Using previously mapped expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs), we carried out a genome-wide association analysis between genetic determinants of cardiac gene expression and histomorphometric traits. This identified 36 robustly mapped eQTLs in the heart which were associated with medial area of intramural coronary arterioles [false discovery rate (FDR) ~5%]. Transcripts, which were both under cis-acting genetic regulation and significantly correlated with medial area (FDR <5%), but not with blood pressure indices, were prioritized and four candidate genes were identified (Rtel1, Pla2g5, Dnaja4 and Rcn2) according to their expression levels and biological functions. Our results demonstrate that genetic factors play a role in the development of coronary microvascular remodeling and suggest blood pressure independent candidate genes for further functional experiments.

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