Both genomics and environmental stressors play a significant role in increases in blood pressure (BP). In an attempt to further explain the hypertension (HTN) disparity among African Americans (AA), both genetic underpinnings (selected candidate genes) and stress due to perceived racial discrimination (as reported in the literature) have independently been linked to increased BP among AAs. Although Gene x Environment interactions on BP have been examined, the environmental component of these investigations has focused more on lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, diet, and physical activity, and less on psychosocial stressors such as perceived discrimination.
The present study uses candidate gene analyses to identify the relationship between Everyday Discrimination (ED) and Major Life Discrimination (MLD) with increases in systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) among AA in the Jackson Heart Study. Multiple linear regression models reveal no association between discrimination and BP after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), antihypertensive medication use, and current smoking status.
Subsequent candidate gene analysis identified 5 SNPs (rs7602215, rs3771724, rs1006502, rs1791926, and rs2258119) that interacted with perceived discrimination and SBP, and 3 SNPs (rs2034454, rs7602215, and rs3771724) that interacted with perceived discrimination and DBP. Most notably, there was a significant SNP × discrimination interaction for 2 SNPs on the SLC4A5 gene: rs3771724 (MLD: SBP P = .034, DBP P = .031; ED: DBP: P = .016) and rs1006502 (MLD: SBP P = .034, DBP P = .030; ED: DBP P = .015).
This study supports the idea that SNP × discrimination interactions combine to influence clinically relevant traits such as BP. Replication with similar epidemiological samples is required to ascertain the role of genes and psychosocial stressors in the development and expression of high BP in this understudied population.