Published online Dec 23, 2011. doi: 10.5494/wjh.v1.i1.10
Revised: October 27, 2011
Accepted: December 16, 2011
Published online: December 23, 2011
Estimated from family studies, the heritability of hypertension ranges from 31% to 68%. Linkage studies and candidate gene association studies were once widely used to investigate the genetic mechanisms of hypertension. However, results from these studies could only explain 1%-2% heritability. With the technological advances and subsequently the accomplishment of the Human Genome Project, genome-wide association studies (GWA studies) have been applied to find genome-wide significant signals for many common diseases. Current GWA studies of hypertension have identified dozens of hypertension or blood pressure associated variants. However, different GWA study identified different variants and the results could hardly be replicated in other studies. Therefore, a debate took place on whether GWA studies will unlock the genetic basis of hypertension and whether we shall continue throwing millions of dollars on GWA studies. This review gives a short introduction to the history of genetic study on hypertension and summarizes the current findings for GWA studies of hypertension or blood pressure. Finally, we will discuss that debate and try to find alternative strategies and technologies that may hold a greater chance to make progress in understanding the genetic risk factors of hypertension and blood pressure regulation.