It is known that iron overload may lead to an increased risk for many diseases. According to GWAS studies, iron regulatory protein HFE gene variant H63D (rs1799945) was associated with hypertension, an observation which we were able to confirm also in our TAMRISK cohort. Thus, it is possible that abnormalities in iron homeostasis may predispose to hypertension. This prompted us to study whether there is an association between hypertension and another iron overload-associated gene, hemojuvelin (HJV), which has 2 common polymorphic sites (rs 16827043, rs7536827).
The study included 336 hypertensive cases and 480 controls. All participants were 50- year-old Finnish men and women, and the data was collected from the Tampere adult population cardiovascular risk study (TAMRISK). Genotypes were determined using Competitive Allelic Specific PCR (KASP).
We found that the minor variant of the HJV polymorphic site rs16827043 (G-allele) is a statistically significant factor associated with hypertension among 50 year-old individuals compared with the AA genotype carriers (OR = 1.66, 95% CI: 1.06 – 2.60, P = 0.03). The risk was even higher when overweight subjects (BMI>30) were excluded from the analyses. For the other polymorphic variant rs7536827, association with hypertension was found only among normal or slightly overweight A-allele carriers.
In conclusion, HJV genetic variants were associated with essential hypertension in Finnish subjects from the TAMRISK cohort. Previous studies together with the present one indicate that individuals with possible dysregulation of iron metabolism may have higher risk for hypertension than those with normal iron homeostasis.