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      Genetic Models of Hypertension in Experimental Animals

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          Genetic animal models are central to ongoing efforts to elucidate the pathophysiology and genetic basis of hypertension. The rat is the leading species in experimental hypertension. Several rat models of hypertension are available for research, including inbred strains, congenic lines, transgenic animals and recombinant inbred strains. Each of these models has been designed to express different phenotypes, including spontaneous hypertension, salt sensitivity, stress sensitivity and susceptibility to end-organ damage. All these models have been extremely useful in the search for the physiological mechanisms that underlie hypertension, but some of them have been specifically designed for detecting the hypertension genes. This latter task is extremely complex in spontaneous hypertension, but genetic animal models may simplify the task by enabling to focus on specific phenotypes. Despite intensive efforts over nearly 3 decades, the genetic basis of hypertension has not been unveiled so far in the rat or in other species. Recent dense mapping of the rat genome, the development of new strategies and technologies in molecular genetics including differential gene expression, expressed sequence tags and DNA biochips render hope that the formidable task of identification of new candidate genes in hypertension will move another major step forward. Once these genes are identified, their function and role in hypertension will have to be determined, utilizing functional genomic strategies and bioinformatics. Finally, the findings in genetic animal models of hypertension will have to be extrapolated to humans by homology and syntenic mapping strategies.

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          Most cited references 10

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          Polymorphisms of alpha-adducin and salt sensitivity in patients with essential hypertension.

          Abnormalities in renal sodium transport may be involved in hypertension. Adducin, an alpha/beta heterodimeric protein found in the renal tubule is thought to regulate ion transport through changes in the actin cytoskeleton. We investigated whether an alpha-adducin polymorphism (Gly 460 Trp) is involved in essential hypertension in two separate populations. Linkage analysis of three DNA markers at different distances from the alpha-adducin locus (20-2500 kb) was done in 137 hypertensive sibling-pairs. 477 hypertensive and 322 normotensive individuals were genotyped for the alpha-adducin polymorphism. The blood-pressure response to acute and chronic changes in sodium balance was studied in hypertensive individuals with and without the 460 Trp alpha-adducin allele. Significant linkage was found for all three markers in the sibling-pair study. The extra shared alleles (9.1%, 6.5%, and 4.7%) and the significance level for linkage (p = 0.0006, p = 0.0119, and p = 0.0211) both decreased with increasing distance from the alpha-adducin locus. There was a significant association between the 460 Trp mutation and hypertension (p = 0.0003). In the salt-sensitivity test, to assess the acute blood-pressure response to changes in body sodium in 86 hypertensive patients, the decrease in mean arterial pressure was greater in 65 patients who were heterozygous for the mutant allele (Gly/Trp) than in 21 wild-type homozygotes (Gly/Gly) (mean decrease 15.9 [SE 2.0] vs 7.4 [1.3] mm Hg; p = 0.001). Similarly, 21 heterozygous hypertensive patients showed a greater fall in mean arterial pressure in response to 2 months' treatment with hydrochlorothiazide than did 37 wild-type homozygous hypertensive patients (mean decrease 14.7 [2.2] vs 6.8 [1.4] mm Hg; p = 0.002). Our findings of significant linkage of the alpha-adducin locus to essential hypertension and greater sensitivity to changes in sodium balance among patients with the mutant allele suggest that alpha-adducin is associated with a salt-sensitive form of essential hypertension. We suggest the alpha-adducin polymorphism may identify hypertensive patients who will benefit from diuretic treatment or manoeuvres to reduce total body sodium.
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            Prolongation of ovarian lifespan into advanced chronological age by Bax-deficiency.

            Female mammals are endowed with a finite number of oocytes at birth, each enclosed by a single layer of somatic (granulosa) cells in a primordial follicle. The fate of most follicles is atretic degeneration, a process that culminates in near exhaustion of the oocyte reserve at approximately the fifth decade of life in women, leading to menopause. Apoptosis has a fundamental role in follicular atresia, and recent studies have shown that Bax, which is expressed in both granulosa cells and oocytes, may be central to ovarian cell death. Here we show that young adult female Bax-/- mice possess threefold more primordial follicles in their ovarian reserve than their wild-type sisters, and this surfeit of follicles is maintained in advanced chronological age, such that 20-22-month-old female Bax-/- mice possess hundreds of follicles at all developmental stages and exhibit ovarian steroid-driven uterine hypertrophy. These observations contrast with the ovarian and uterine atrophy seen in aged wild-type female mice. Aged female Bax-/- mice fail to become pregnant when housed with young adult males; however, metaphase II oocytes can be retrieved from, and corpora lutea form in, ovaries of aged Bax-/- females following superovulation with exogenous gonadotropins, and some oocytes are competent for in vitro fertilization and early embryogenesis. Therefore, ovarian lifespan can be extended by selectively disrupting Bax function, but other aspects of normal reproductive performance remain defective in aged Bax-/- female mice.
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              Chromosomal mapping of quantitative trait loci contributing to stroke in a rat model of complex human disease.

              Stroke is a complex disorder with a poorly understood multifactorial and polygenic aetiology. We used the stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHRSP) as a model organism, mated it with the stroke-resistant spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) and performed a genome-wide screen in the resultant F2 cohort where latency until stroke, but not hypertension (a major confounder) segregated. We identified three major quantitative trait loci, STR1-3, with lod scores of 7.4, 4.7 and 3.0, respectively, that account for 28% of the overall phenotypic variance. STR2 colocalizes with the genes encoding atrial and brain natriuretic factor, peptides with important vasoactive properties. Our results demonstrate the existence of primary, blood pressure-independent genetic factors predisposing to a complex form of stroke.

                Author and article information

                Nephron Exp Nephrol
                Cardiorenal Medicine
                S. Karger AG
                October 2000
                06 October 2000
                : 9
                : 1
                : 1-9
                Laboratory for Molecular Medicine, Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University, Barzilai Medical Center Campus, Ashkelon, Israel
                20701 Exp Nephrol 2001;9:1–9
                © 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 3, References: 48, Pages: 9
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