BACKGROUND: Blood pressure regulation is a complex process influenced by numerous environmental and genetic factors. Consequently, there's no cookie-cutter approach for the elucidation of of the genetic mechanism involved. One of the goals of molecular geneticists in the field of hypertension is to unravel the genetic architecture of blood pressure regulation.
METHODS: With the aim of identifying quantitative trait loci participating in the control of blood pressure, we carried out a pilot study on a sample population of middle-aged, U.S. Caucasians (44 subjects). The design of the study was to search for associations between clinical variables of blood pressure regulation pertaining to the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (systolic and diastolic blood pressures, urinary excretion of sodium, potassium and aldosterone, plasma renin activity) and a genetic marker at a candidate gene locus - the human insulin gene (INS) RESULTS: We observed significant associations between a variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) marker (visualized as a biallelic, class I/class III marker system) localized at the 5' end of the human INS gene, and plasma renin activity and urinary sodium, potassium and aldosterone.
CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that between 6 and 10 QTLs with comparable effects could be involved in blood pressure regulation via the rennin angiotensin system.