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Researchers identify blood pressure-alcohol link in East Asian genes

2011/05/20 21:47:54

Taipei, May 20 (CNA) Researchers from Taiwan and six othercountries have identified five previously unknown genetic variantsthat influence blood pressure among populations of East Asianancestry, Academia Sinica, the nation's highest research institute,said Friday.

The strongest one of the five variants was observed near ALDH2,an enzyme that helps metabolize alcohol.

Part of the study concludes that the influence on blood pressureseems to be largely affected by alcohol intake, a finding that issupported by previous studies showing this gene variant determines anindividual's tolerance of alcohol by altering the ALDH2 enzyme'sactivity.

These findings provide new insights on how doctors can regulateblood pressure in East Asian populations.

The findings also suggest this kind of gene-blood pressurerelationship may vary among populations with differing ancestry.

Up until now, most research in this area had been conducted inpopulations of European descent. The loci, gene locations, uncoveredin this study may eventually help develop new drugs for treatingblood pressure related conditions.

The research group is part of the Asian Genetic EpidemiologyNetwork Blood Pressure consortium. It consisted of four researchersfrom Academia Sinica, as well as 45 researchers from Japan, Korea,China, Singapore, and the United States.

The Asian Genetic Epidemiology Network conducts geneticepidemiology studies of cardiovascular disease and related conditionssuch as blood pressure (or hypertension) , diabetes and obesity inAsian populations.

For this study, the consortium provided blood pressure data from19,608 individuals of East Asian descent, spread across eightdifferent countries.

These findings were published online in the journal, NatureGenetics, on May 15, 2011.

(By Lin Szu-yu and Lilian Wu)