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Study looks for genetic predictors of hypertension

d pressure during stress, immediately by constricting blood vessels and longer term by directing the kidneys to retain more sodium and so increase blood volume, says Dr. Harshfield, a co-investigator on Dr. Dong's latest grant. His own studies have shown the importance of the interaction between salt and stress in regulating blood pressure.

The new study should provide additional insight into the relationship between salt and stress as well as diet and genetics, Dr. Dong says.

Study participants will be on a salt-restricted diet for four days, then come to the GPI on the fifth day to rest for an hour, play competitive video games and rest again. Blood pressure and sodium excretion will be measured before games are played, immediately afterward, then two hours later.

The five genes alphaENaC, betaENaC, gamma ENaC, SGK-1 and Nedd4-2 taken from blood samples will be analyzed so specific variations can be correlated with variations in a youth's ability to excrete sodium after stress has passed. Gene-to-gene interactions also will be studied.

Researchers say poor sodium-handling is a major player in hypertension and that a youth's reduced ability to excrete salt following stress is a sign of what's to come.

If Dr. Dong's hypothesis holds, young people with risky genetic variations could have advance warning of their increased hypertension risk and make changes such as salt intake restriction and stress reduction management to ideally avoid the problem.

The body needs sodium but doesn't produce it, Dr. Dong notes. Still most people get adequate sodium in their diets without adding salt to food.


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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
19-Jun-2006


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