Are genetic polymorphisms in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system associated with essential hypertension? Evidence from genome-wide association studies

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In candidate gene era, dozens of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) have been reported to be significantly associated with hypertension. However, the unbiased genome-wide association studies (GWAS) rarely identified the SNPs within RAAS were associated with hypertension or blood pressure (BP) traits. In order to figure out whether genetic polymorphisms of RAAS are really associated with hypertension, we systemically searched the GWAS Catalogue and identified all the known RAAS genes and relevant diseases/traits. After data processing, we found that polymorphisms within REN, AGT, ACE2, CYP11B2, ATP6AP2 and HSD11B2 were not associated with any disease or trait. SNPs within ACE, AGTR1, AGTR2, MAS1, RENBP and NR3C2 were associated with other diseases or traits, but showed no direct connection with hypertension. The only SNP associated with a BP trait, systolic BP was rs17367504. However, it is located in the intronic region of MTHFR near many plausible candidate genes, including CLCN6, NPPA, NPPB and AGTRAP. Therefore, the effect of RAAS polymorphisms may have been overestimated during the ‘candidate gene era'. In the time of ‘precision medicine', the power of RAAS variants needs to be reconsidered when evaluating one's susceptibility of hypertension.

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