Essential hypertension is a common multifactorial trait that results in a significantly increased risk for heart attack and stroke. The condition has a genetic basis, although at present the number of genes is unknown. In order to identify such genes, we are utilising a linkage scanning approach using microsatellite markers and affected sibships. Here we provide evidence for the location of at least one hypertension susceptibility locus on chromosome 17. Analysis of 177 affected sibpairs gave evidence for significant excess allele sharing to D17S949 (SPLINK: P=0.0029; MAPMAKER SIBS: P=0.0033; ASPEX: P=0.0061; GENEHUNTER: P=0.0096; ANALYZE (SIBPAIR): P=0.0025) on 17q22-24, with significant allele sharing also indicated for an additional marker, D17S799 (SPLINK: P=0.025; MAPMAKER SIBS: P=0.025) located close to the centromere. Since these two genomic regions are well separated, our results indicate that there may be more than one chromosome 17 locus affecting human blood pressure. Moreover, further investigation of this chromosome, utilizing a polymorphism within the promoter of the iNOS candidate gene, NOS2A, revealed both increased allele sharing among sibpairs (SPLINK: P=0.02: ASPEX: P=0.00004) and positive association (P=0.034) of NOS2A to essential hypertension. Hence these results indicate that chromosome 17 and, more specifically, the NOS2A gene may play a role in human essential hypertension.
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