The findings, by a large international academic consortium including University College Cork (UCC), were published in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics yesterday.
Over one billion people worldwide have high blood pressure, a condition associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Professor Brendan Buckley, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at UCC, says by examining the differences in DNA sequences across the genomes of very large numbers of people, scientists sought to identify genes associated with blood pressure control.
The research examined more than 120,000 individuals using genome-wide association study (GWAS).
It has, says Prof Buckley, led to the identification of five DNA sequences (loci) newly-associated with pulse pressure and three with mean blood pressure.
The discoveries are the fruit of a collaboration which involved UCC and over 150 institutions around the world, including Harvard, Oxford and Leiden Universities.
In 1998 UCC President Dr Michael Murphy (then Professor of Pharmacology), Professor Brendan Buckley and colleagues conducted a major clinical trial, PROSPER, including over 2,000 people in Munster, which examined the effects of lowering cholesterol on the incidence of heart attacks over a four-year period.
“Blood samples which the participants in that study generously permitted us to store have allowed us to do a huge amount of research that has resulted in over 80 publications in international academic journals,” said Prof Buckley. “We have now embarked on publication of a further important body of genetic research to unravel how genes might influence the occurrence of a wide range of diseases, such as osteoporosis and kidney disease, using this biobank. Of course, no individual can be identified from this research.”