Objective: To study the heritability of four blood pressure traits and the proportion of variance explained by four blood-pressure-related genes.
Methods: All participants are members of an extended pedigree from a Dutch genetically isolated population. Heritability and genetic correlations of systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure and pulse pressure were assessed using a variance components approach (SOLAR). Polymorphisms of the alpha-adducin (ADD1), angiotensinogen (AGT), angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R) and G protein beta3 (GNB3) genes were typed.
Results: Heritability estimates were significant for all four blood pressure traits, ranging between 0.24 and 0.37. Genetic correlations between systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and mean arterial pressure were high (0.93-0.98), and those between pulse pressure and diastolic blood pressure were low (0.05). The ADD1 polymorphism explained 0.3% of the variance of pulse pressure (P = 0.07), and the polymorphism of GNB3 explained 0.4% of the variance of systolic blood pressure (P = 0.02), 0.2% of mean arterial pressure (P = 0.05) and 0.3% of pulse pressure (P = 0.06).
Conclusion: Genetic factors contribute to a substantial proportion of blood pressure variance. In this study, the effect of polymorphisms of ADD1, AGT, AT1R and GNB3 explained a very small proportion of the heritability of blood pressure traits. As new genes associated with blood pressure are localized in the future, their effect on blood pressure variance should be calculated.