Genes involved in vasoconstriction and vasodilation system affect salt-sensitive hypertension

Lorena Citterio, Marco Simonini, Laura Zagato, Erika Salvi, Simona Delli Carpini, Chiara Lanzani, Elisabetta Messaggio, Nunzia Casamassima, Francesca Frau, Francesca D'Avila, Daniele Cusi, Cristina Barlassina, Paolo Manunta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The importance of excess salt intake in the pathogenesis of hypertension is widely recognized. Blood pressure is controlled primarily by salt and water balance because of the infinite gain property of the kidney to rapidly eliminate excess fluid and salt. Up to fifty percent of patients with essential hypertension are salt-sensitive, as manifested by a rise in blood pressure with salt loading. We conducted a two-stage genetic analysis in hypertensive patients very accurately phenotyped for their salt-sensitivity. All newly discovered never treated before, essential hypertensives underwent an acute salt load to monitor the simultaneous changes in blood pressure and renal sodium excretion. The first stage consisted in an association analysis of genotyping data derived from genome-wide array on 329 subjects. Principal Component Analysis demonstrated that this population was homogenous. Among the strongest results, we detected a cluster of SNPs located in the first introns of PRKG1 gene (rs7897633, p = 2.34E-05) associated with variation in diastolic blood pressure after acute salt load. We further focused on two genetic loci, SLC24A3 and SLC8A1 (plasma membrane sodium/calcium exchange proteins, NCKX3 and NCX1, respectively) with a functional relationship with the previous gene and associated to variations in systolic blood pressure (the imputed rs3790261, p = 4.55E-06; and rs434082, p = 4.7E-03). In stage 2, we characterized 159 more patients for the SNPs in PRKG1, SLC24A3 and SLC8A1. Combined analysis showed an epistatic interaction of SNPs in SLC24A3 and SLC8A1 on the pressure-natriuresis (p interaction = 1.55E-04, p model = 3.35E-05), supporting their pathophysiological link in cellular calcium homeostasis. In conclusions, these findings point to a clear association between body sodium-blood pressure relations and molecules modulating the contractile state of vascular cells through an increase in cytoplasmic calcium concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere19620
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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