Influence of genetic variance on sodium sensitivity of blood pressure

Research paper by F. C. Luft, J. Z. Miller, M. H. Weinberger, C. E. Grim, S. A. Daugherty, J. C. Christian

Indexed on: 01 Feb '87Published on: 01 Feb '87Published in: Klinische Wochenschrift


To examine the effect of genetic variance on blood pressure, sodium homeostasis, and its regulatory determinants, we studied 37 pairs of monozygotic twins and 18 pairs of dizygotic twins under conditions of volume expansion and contraction. We found that, in addition to blood pressure and body size, sodium excretion in response to provocative maneuvers, glomerular filtration rate, the renin-angiotensin system, and the sympathetic nervous system are influenced by genetic variance. To elucidate the interaction of genetic factors and an environmental influence, namely, salt intake, we restricted dietary sodium in 44 families of twin children. In addition to a modest decrease in blood pressure, we found heterogeneous responses in blood pressure indicative of sodium sensitivity and resistance which were normally distributed. Strong parent-offspring resemblances were found in baseline blood pressures which persisted when adjustments were made for age and weight. Further, mother-offspring resemblances were observed in the change in blood pressure with sodium restriction. We conclude that the control of sodium homeostasis is heritable and that the change in blood pressure with sodium restriction is familial as well. These data speak to the interaction between the genetic susceptibility to hypertension and environmental influences which may result in its expression.