Research highlights from the literature


  • J. Jordan


  • Clinical Autonomic Research


  • Clin Auton Res 17 (6): 331-333


  • Genes influencing the autonomic nervous system continue as a focus of research. Recent publications applied different methods to identify genes influencing autonomic cardiovascular regulation in humans. Two reports relied on a candidate gene approach. Common genetic polymorphisms in the promoter region of the tyrosine hydroxylase gene were shown to influence catecholamine synthesis and blood pressure. The same group tested the hypothesis that the GTP cyclohydrolase 1 (GCH1) gene influences catecholamine excretion and cardiovascular regulation. GCH1 affects tyrosine hydroxylase function indirectly. The authors concluded that the GCH1 gene may influence cardiovascular autonomic regulation through changes in nitric oxide production rather than a change in tyrosine hydroxylase activity. The third genetic study used a single nucleotide polymorphism chip to analyze 100,000 genetic polymorphisms scattered throughout the genome in participants of the Framingham study. The authors identified several polymorphisms that may influence QT interval duration, heart rate, and heart rate variability. The respective genes have not been identified with certainty. Another study suggested that catecholamines may be released from phagocytes and regulate pulmonary inflammation through alpha-2 adrenoreceptor activation in an autocrine or paracrine fashion.