1. There is evidence to suggest that essential hypertension is a polygenic disorder and that it arises from yet-to-be-identified predisposing variants of certain genes that influence blood pressure. The cloning of various hormone, enzyme, adrenoceptor and hormone receptor genes whose products are involved in blood pressure control and the identification of polymorphisms of these has permitted us to test their genetic association with hypertension.
2. Cross-sectional analyses of a number of candidate gene markers were performed in hypertensive and normotensive subjects who were selected on the basis of both parents being either hypertensive or normotensive, respectively, and the difference in total alleles on all chromosomes for each polymorphism between the hypertensive and normotensive groups was tested by χ2 analysis with one degree of freedom.
3. A marked association was observed between hypertension and insertion alleles of polymorphisms of the insulin receptor gene (INSR) (P <0.0040) and the dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase-1 (angiotensin I-converting enzyme; kininase II) gene (DCP1) (P <0.0018). No association with hypertension was evident, however, for polymorphisms of the growth hormone, low-density lipoprotein receptor, renal kalli-krein, α2- and β1-adrenoreceptor, atrial natriuretic factor and insulin genes.
4. All but one of the hypertensive subjects had at least one of the hypertension-associated alleles, and although subjects homozygous for both were three times more frequent in the hypertensive group, examination of the nine possible genotypes suggested that the INSR and DCP1 alleles are independent markers for hypertension.
5. The present results suggest that genetic variant(s) in close linkage disequilibrium with polymorphisms at INSR and DCP1 may be involved in part in the aetiology of essential hypertension.