Catalase is an important antioxidant enzyme that detoxifies H2O2 into oxygen and water and thus limits the deleterious effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Because chronic exposure to excess ROS may contribute to vascular damage, we investigated whether genetic variation in catalase was associated with susceptibility to essential hypertension (EHYT) in 324 individuals (at least 50 years old) who were randomly sampled from an isolated population living in Xiangchang, China. They were screened for genetic variation in the promoter of catalase by direct sequencing. In total, four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified. The association between the SNPs and EHYT was investigated by a linear regression model under phenotypic selection; in our analyses, we used both SBP>150 mmHg and SBP>160 mmHg as thresholds. A SNP 844 bp upstream of the start codon (SNP-844) demonstrated strong evidence of association with EHYT (SBP>150 mmHg: F=5.09, P=0.008; SBP>160 mmHg: F=7.13, P=0.002). This is the first study to implicate genetic variation in catalase in susceptibility to EHYT and suggests that polymorphisms in promoter regions may be particularly relevant to the study of complex diseases.
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