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Catalase SNP linked to blood pressure
  
By Birgit Hofmann-Reinert

Forms of the human catalase gene may be a risk factor for hypertension, according to a study of blood pressure in an isolated Chinese population. Individuals with two copies of a particular variant had significantly higher than normal systolic blood pressure.


3D structure of catalase from E. coli.

Catalase is an antioxidant enzyme that converts hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. It helps prevent carbon dioxide bubbles from forming in the blood and has been a gene candidate for hypertension studies.

The Chinese and American research team identified four single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, in the human catalase gene in more than 300 residents of Xiangchang, in the Anhui Province of China. The SNP associated with blood pressure (SNP-844) lies in the promoter region of the catalase gene and may influence gene expression.

Although "catalase is ubiquitously expressed, its abundance and activity varies across different tissues," the researchers write in Human Genetics. "Therefore, it is particularly relevant that SNP-844 occurs in the promoter."

Li Jin, of the University of Texas-Houston, and colleagues screened the catalase gene in 324 individuals selected at random. The individuals were at least 50 years old and unrelated. Although it is unclear how long ago this population was founded, the researchers believe the founding population was small, because 80 percent of the study participants had only six different surnames.

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Jiang, Z. et al. A polymorphism in the promoter region of catalase is associated with blood pressure levels. Hum Genet 109, 95-98 (July 2001).
 

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