Hypertension (HT) is among the major components of the metabolic syndrome, i.e., obesity, dyslipidemia, and hyperglycemia/insulin resistance. It represents a significant health problem with foremost risks for chronic cardiovascular disease and a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Therefore, it is not surprising that this disorder constitutes a serious public health concern. Although multiple studies have stressed the multifactorial nature of HT, the pathogenesis remains largely unknown. However, if we want to reduce the global prevalence of HT, restrain the number of deaths (currently 9.4 million/year in the world), and alleviate the socio-economic burden, a deeper insight into the mechanisms is urgently needed in order to define new meaningful therapeutic targets. Recently, the role of epigenetics in the development of various complex diseases has attracted much attention. In the present review, we provide a critical update on the available literature and ongoing research regarding the epigenetic modifications of genes involved in several pathways of elevated blood pressure, especially those linked to the vascular epithelium. This review also focuses on the role of microRNA (miRNA) in the regulation of gene expression associated with HT and of fetal programming mediating susceptibility to HT in adulthood.
Keywords: Angiogenesis; DNA methylation; Epigenetics; Hypertension; MicroRNAs; Regulation of blood pressure.