Researchers from Taiwan and six other countries have identified five previously unknown genetic variants that influence blood pressure among populations with East Asian ancestry, according to Academia Sinica, the nation’s top research institute.
The strongest of the five variants was observed near the gene ALDH2, which is encoded with an enzyme that helps metabolize alcohol.
Part of the study concluded that blood pressure seems to be affected by alcohol intake, a finding that is supported by previous studies showing that this gene variant determines an individual’s tolerance for alcohol by altering the ALDH2 enzyme’s activity.
These findings provide new insights into how doctors can regulate blood pressure in East Asian populations.
The findings also suggest this kind of gene-blood pressure relationship may vary among populations with different ancestry.
Until now, most research in this area had been conducted in populations of European descent. The loci, or gene locations, uncovered in this study may eventually help develop new drugs for treating blood pressure related conditions.
The research group is part of the Asian Genetic Epidemiology Network consortium. The group consisted of four researchers from Academia Sinica, as well as 45 researchers from Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and the US.
The network conducts genetic epidemiology studies on cardiovascular disease and related conditions such as blood pressure, diabetes and obesity in Asian populations.
These findings were published online in the journal, Nature Genetics, on May 15.