1. A structural alteration within the first intron of the renin gene in spontaneously hypertensive rats was demonstrated to co-segregate with blood pressure in some sets of F2 hybrids or recombinant inbred strains. There is no evidence as to whether restriction fragment length polymorphism of the renin gene is associated with any of the changes in the renin tissue level. For this reason we have determined renal renin activity in spontaneously hypertensive, Wistar-Kyoto and Brown Norway rats as well as in 22 recombinant inbred strains derived from F2 hybrids of spontaneously hypertensive and Brown Norway rats.
2. At the age of 4 months significantly lower renal renin activity was observed in spontaneously hypertensive rats than in both normotensive rat strains, Wistar-Kyoto and Brown Norway. The presence of the spontaneously hypertensive rat allele in recombinant inbred strains was associated with a substantially lower renal renin activity as compared with recombinant inbred strains bearing the Brown Norway rat allele. There was no relationship between renal renin activity and the polymorphism in either the angiotensinogen gene or the angiotensin-converting enzyme gene.
3. There was a borderline correlation between blood pressure and renal renin activity in recombinant inbred strains. Nevertheless, additional comparisons within recombinant inbred strains bearing the spontaneously hypertensive rat allele of the renin gene failed to reveal any significant relationship between blood pressure level and renal renin activity.
4. Our data suggest that the restriction fragment length polymorphism marking the renin gene of the spontaneously hypertensive rat is accompanied by an alteration in the renin-angiotensin system at the renal level. The mechanisms by which structural abnormalities of the renin gene might influence the renin level in the kidney remain to be investigated.