Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS), caused by a heterozygous deletion at 7q11.23, represents a model for studying hypertension, the leading risk factor for mortality worldwide, in a genetically determined disorder. Haploinsufficiency at the elastin gene is known to lead to the vascular stenoses in WBS and is also thought to predispose to hypertension, present in approximately 50% of patients. Detailed clinical and molecular characterization of 96 patients with WBS was performed to explore clinical-molecular correlations. Deletion breakpoints were precisely defined and were found to result in variability at two genes, NCF1 and GTF2IRD2. Hypertension was significantly less prevalent in patients with WBS who had the deletion that included NCF1 (P=.02), a gene coding for the p47(phox) subunit of the NADPH oxidase. Decreased p47(phox) protein levels, decreased superoxide anion production, and lower protein nitrotyrosination were all observed in cell lines from patients hemizygous at NCF1. Our results indicate that the loss of a functional copy of NCF1 protects a proportion of patients with WBS against hypertension, likely through a lifelong reduced angiotensin II-mediated oxidative stress. Therefore, antioxidant therapy that reduces NADPH oxidase activity might have a potential benefit in identifiable patients with WBS in whom serious complications related to hypertension have been reported, as well as in forms of essential hypertension mediated by a similar pathogenic mechanism.
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