During the past 20 years, the studies on genetics or pharmacogenomics of primary hypertension provided interesting results supporting the role of genetics, but no actionable finding ready to be translated into personalized medicine. Two types of approaches have been applied: a "hypothesis-driven" approach on the candidate genes, coding for proteins involved in the biochemical machinery underlying the regulation of BP, and an "unbiased hypothesis-free" approach with GWAS, based on the randomness principles of frequentist statistics. During the past 10-15 years, the application of the latter has overtaken the application of the former leading to an enlargement of the number of previously unknown candidate loci or genes but without any actionable result for the therapy of hypertension. In the present review, we summarize the results of our hypothesis-driven approach based on studies carried out in rats with genetic hypertension and in humans with essential hypertension at the pre-hypertensive and early hypertensive stages. These studies led to the identification of mutant adducin and endogenous ouabain as candidate genetic-molecular mechanisms in both species. Rostafuroxin has been developed for its ability to selectively correct Na(+) pump abnormalities sustained by the two abovementioned mechanisms and to selectively reduce BP in rats and in humans carrying the gene variants underlying the mutant adducin and endogenous ouabain (EO) effects. A clinical trial is ongoing to substantiate these findings. Future studies should apply both the candidate gene and GWAS approaches to fully exploit the potential of genetics in optimizing the personalized therapy.
Keywords: Adducin; Candidate gene; Endogenous ouabain; GWAS; Genetics; Hypertension; Kidney cross-transplantation; Personalized therapy; Pharmacogenomics; Rostafuroxin.