Hypertension poses a serious health threat. Scientists discovered a gene responsible for water-salt metabolism and associated with a high risk of hypertension when they conducted genetic studies among Amish sect adherents who reject civilization and live in strict isolation in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Amish are perfect object of genetic studies. Because they live so isolated, the Amish can trace their forefathers 14 generations back to the middle of 18th century when the founders left Switzerland for the US. Genetic studies among the Amish have been conducting since 1993. Over the period, scientists discovered a lot of facts about genes responsible for various diseases.
The authors of the article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science scanned tens of thousands of genetic markers across the genome of the Amish sect members to detect hypertension-related genes.
After they studied 542 members of the Amish community and four other groups not related to the sect, the authors discovered a variant of the STK39 gene that is linked to high blood pressure.
This gene produces a variant of protein that regulates removing natrium ions through the kidneys and elevates blood pressure by 3.3 mm Hg (millimeter of mercury) compared to those with a “normal” gene.
The authors say that despite hypertension poses a serious health threat, its genetic mechanism is still uncovered. Hypertension is related to many other genes and conditions, but in this case the scientists found the gene that is able to regulate both systolic and diastolic blood pressures.