Genetics, Nephrology, Hypertension, and Vascular Injury


Head of the Group

Prof. Dr. Friedrich Luft

The Department of Nephrology / Hypertension / Clinical Pharmacology, headed by Friedrich C. Luft, encompasses several research groups. The ultimate aim of our group is to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Our main focus is hypertension - the most important risk factor, in cardiovascular disease - and we are approaching the theme through several projects. We are pursuing the molecular genetics of hypertension and brachydactyly, two phenotypes which are closely linked in a family we discovered over 15 years ago. Hypertension and the organ damage that ensue from it are tremendously challenging topics for research because they arise through an interaction between many genes and environmental factors. This project began as a classic search for a mutation in a gene and has led us to new insights into one of the most interesting current themes in science: the epigenetic regulation of the genome. While trying to explain the brachydactyly phenotype, we discovered a series of very complex cis- and trans-regulatory epigenetic phenomena; they may serve as a model system to explore important open questions about genome architecture and regulation.

A second focus of the group concerns the pathogenesis of hypertension and the organ damage that it ultimately leads to. We are actively investigating the cytochrome P450 (CYP) pathway of eicosanoid formation, which has only recently been shown to play a pivotal role in these processes. Our studies of the mechanisms of CYP-eicosanoid action suggest a novel line of therapeutic strategies that might help prevent cardiac arrhythmias and acute kidney injury.

Finally, our group is collaborating on elucidating salt-related mechanisms causing hypertension; here we are using a novel magnetic resonance technique to measure body sodium stores.


  • Genetics and epigenetics in human disease

  • Cardiovascular function of CYP-eicosanoids

  • Salt-related mechanisms of hypertension