Genetic traits related to hypertension and electrolyte metabolism

Roger R. Williams, Sandra J. Hasstedt, Steven C. Hunt, Lily L. Wu, Paul N. Hopkins, Thomas D. Berry, Barry M. Stults, Gary K. Barlow, Hiroshi Kuida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)


The genetic and cultural heritability and intercorrelation of traits related to hypertension have been carried out in 98 Utah pedigrees (2,500 person) and 58 sibships with two or more hypertensive persons (131 hypertensive persons). Although none of these traits has been established as a marker for "sodium-sensitive hypertension," many of them are related at least indirectly to both electrolyte metabolism and risk of hypertension. Significant recessive monogenic effects and high total heritability (52-84%) were found for urinary kallikrein, high fat pattern index, intraerythrocytic sodium, Na-Li countertransport, and ouabain binding sites. Familial correlations more strongly attributable to shared environment than to genetic effects were found for Na, K-ATPase pump activity, intraerythrocytic magnesium, plasma digoxin-like factor, plasma renin activity, and plasma sodium concentration. All anthropometric variables tested showed highly significant genetic heritability with low and insignificant shared family environmental effects. Several of the genetically determined cellular cation tests also correlated with other genetic traits including plasma lipids, anthropometric measurements, and other cellular cation tests. Among hypertensive individuals with familial dyslipidemic hypertension, plasma insulin levels correlated with obesity and lipid abnormalities and with several cellular cation flux tests associated with hypertension. Although multiple biochemical and anthropometric traits have been found to be both highly heritable and associated with hypertension, multiple intercorrelations between traits, relatively common recessive monogenic effects, and widespread polygenic effects suggest that hypertension in most persons is very likely to be the result of multiple genetic factors operating in concert with associated environmental factors. These findings also support the hope that further research will be able to elucidate the specific mechanisms that connect electrolyte factors to the pathophysiology and genetics of essential hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)I-69-I-73
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1991



  • Electrolytes
  • Essential hypertension
  • Genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

Cite this

Williams, R. R., Hasstedt, S. J., Hunt, S. C., Wu, L. L., Hopkins, P. N., Berry, T. D., Stults, B. M., Barlow, G. K., & Kuida, H. (1991). Genetic traits related to hypertension and electrolyte metabolism. Hypertension, 17(1), I-69-I-73.