Background: The band 9p21.3 contains an established genomic risk zone for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Since the initial 2007 Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium study (WTCCC), the increased CVD risk associated with 9p21.3 has been confirmed by multiple studies in different continents. However, many years later there was still no confirmed report of a corresponding association of 9p21.3 with hypertension, a major CV risk factor, nor with blood pressure (BP).
Theory: In this contribution, we review the bipartite haplotype structure of the 9p21.3 risk locus: one block is devoid of protein-coding genes but contains the lead CVD risk SNPs, while the other block contains the first exon and regulatory DNA of the gene for the cell cycle inhibitor p15. We consider how findings from molecular biology offer possibilities of an involvement of p15 in hypertension etiology, with expression of the p15 gene modulated by genetic variation from within the 9p21.3 risk locus.
Results: We present original results from a Colombian study revealing moderate but persistent association signals for BP and hypertension within the classic 9p21.3 CVD risk locus. These SNPs are mostly confined to a 'hypertension island' that spans less than 60 kb and coincides with the p15 haplotype block. We find confirmation in data originating from much larger, recent European BP studies, albeit with opposite effect directions.
Conclusion: Although more work will be needed to elucidate possible mechanisms, previous findings and new data prompt reconsidering the question of how variation in 9p21.3 might influence hypertension components of cardiovascular risk.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Internal Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine