Genetic link between body clocks and blood pressure

Aug 31, 2007

A region of DNA involved in the body’s inbuilt 24 hour cycle (the circadian rhythm) is also involved in controlling blood pressure, report scientists from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) at the University of Oxford.

The results indicate that altered circadian regulation of biological functions increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The research, funded mainly by the Wellcome Trust, used genetic studies in rat models and humans to demonstrate a link between changes in a gene involved with the body’s ‘clock’ and risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The results of the study are published online this week by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous research from other institutions into the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease and diabetes had already shown they are somehow linked, but this is the first genetic evidence.

It is known that key biological functions, such as body temperature, sleep-wake rhythms, feeding, blood pressure, blood glucose, and numerous neural and hormonal signals, show a 24-hour pattern. The same is true of some diseases, including heart attacks and stroke (which are more frequent in the early hours of the morning) and some features of psychiatric disorders.

The gene BMAL1 has been shown to be a key component of the body’s molecular clock. If BMAL1 is inactivated, the body clock stops working and blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and body weight and metabolism are altered.

This study provides direct evidence that a genetic change in BMAL1 is linked to high blood pressure. This is the first evidence in humans for a direct causal link between changes in the body clock and increased risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

The research also highlights the importance of cross species studies to test new hypotheses. Study leader Professor Dominique Gauguier said:‘The regulation of circadian rhythm is central to a wide range of biological processes and this type of genetic study should be extended to other disease areas.’

The results of the study may lead to changes in how the diseases involved are managed, as the body’s response to drugs used for treatment could also be linked to the body’s internal clock.

Source: University of Oxford

Explore further: First successful vaccination against 'mad cow'-like wasting disease in deer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Philips to buy US medical imaging firm Volcano

Dec 17, 2014

Royal Philips NV said Wednesday it has agreed to acquire U.S. medical equipment maker Volcano Corp. for $1.2 billion (around 1 billion euros) in a deal that would beef up its presence in technology which allows doctors to ...

Thinking outside the box

Dec 16, 2014

Natural habitats are changing at ever-faster rates. Can wildlife cope? And what can humans learn from their responses? A range of research projects at Glasgow examining wildlife in country and city environments ...

Health checks will be seated by Sharp

Dec 08, 2014

(Phys.org) —Sharp unveiled a news-making prototype of a sensor earlier this month at Semicon Japan 2014, which took place from Dec 3 to 5. As its title suggests, Sharp's "Blood Vessel Aging Degree Sensor" ...

Study confirms controversial nitrite hypothesis

Dec 12, 2014

Understanding how nitrite can improve conditions such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke has been the object of worldwide research studies. New research from Wake Forest University has potentially moved the science ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.