Essential hypertension is a common, complex disorder affecting as many as one billion adults globally. Blood pressure is a highly heritable trait, with as much as 50 percent of the variation between individuals accounted for by familial relationships. Despite this strong heritability, determining the genetic architecture of hypertension in humans has proved challenging.
Recent technological and methodological developments have given rise to the field of “omics” – a domain of study that includes genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. For complex traits like hypertension, which involve multiple pathways and organs, omic approaches offer the advantage of allowing identification of novel hypertensive mechanisms to help further dissect and characterize the disorder's pathophysiology.
Investigators at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health recently published new research into the use of omic approaches to understanding hypertension as a population health issue. Dr. Donna Arnett, professor of Epidemiology and Dean, is lead author of the resulting publication appearing in Circulation Research. Steven A. Claas, senior research associate, is co-author.
The review by Arnett and Claas provides a primer on the omics of blood pressure and hypertension. For each omic approach, the authors an overview of its methods and an illustration of its potential use. They also offer a brief assessment of current methods aimed at integrating multiomic data, noting that that the review of the literature found genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic methods have been applied to dissect the pathophysiology of blood pressure and hypertension.
Arnett and Claas conclude that omic methods and integration of multiomic data represent a potentially fruitful approach to illuminating the complex pathophysiology of hypertension and, ultimately, may point to novel diagnostics and treatments.