Network-based analysis of the sphingolipid metabolism in hypertension

Mogens Fenger, Allan Linneberg, Jørgen Jeppesen

15 Citationer (Scopus)


Common diseases like essential hypertension or diabetes mellitus are complex as they are polygenic in nature, such that each genetic variation only has a small influence on the disease. Genes operates in integrated networks providing the blue-print for all biological processes and conditional of the complex genotype determines the state and dynamics of any trait, which may be modified to various extent by non-genetic factors. Thus, diseases are heterogenous ensembles of conditions with a common endpoint. Numerous studies have been performed to define genes of importance for a trait or disease, but only a few genes with small effect have been identified. The major reasons for this modest progress is the unresolved heterogeneity of the regulation of blood pressure and the shortcomings of the prevailing monogenic approach to capture genetic effects in a polygenic condition. Here, a two-step procedure is presented in which physiological heterogeneity is disentangled and genetic effects are analyzed by variance decomposition of genetic interactions and by an information theoretical approach including 162 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in 84 genes in the sphingolipid metabolism and related networks in blood pressure regulation. As expected, almost no genetic main effects were detected. In contrast, two-gene interactions established the entire sphingolipid metabolic and related genetic network to be highly involved in the regulation of blood pressure. The pattern of interaction clearly revealed that epistasis does not necessarily reflects the topology of the metabolic pathways i.e., the flow of metabolites. Rather, the enzymes and proteins are integrated in complex cellular substructures where communication flows between the components of the networks, which may be composite in structure. The heritabilities for diastolic and systolic blood pressure were estimated to be 0.63 and 0.01, which may in fact be the maximum heritabilities of these traits. This procedure provide a platform for studying and capturing the genetic networks of any polygenic trait, condition, or disease.

TidsskriftFrontiers in genetics
Sider (fra-til)84
StatusUdgivet - 2015


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