Low CETP levels linked to reduced hypertension

Hypertension, or chronically high blood pressure, is a widespread condition that forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through the arteries. Doctors typically assess blood pressure during annual medical check-ups, but those at higher risk may require more frequent monitoring. Left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other severe health issues. Did you know that low CETP levels may be linked to reduced hypertension?

Often, individuals are unaware of their high blood pressure until damage has occurred. Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, dizziness, nosebleeds, fatigue, and insomnia.

Doctors usually recommend lifestyle adjustments as the initial treatment for hypertension. A heart-healthy diet low in salt, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce blood pressure. If these changes prove insufficient, doctors may prescribe medications such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and calcium channel blockers.

Heart image
Heart image. Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash.

Several factors contribute to an increased risk of hypertension, including age, race, family history, obesity, smoking, stress, and other chronic conditions. Genetics may also play a role.

A recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that a genotype associated with reduced CETP levels may contribute to a lower prevalence of hypertension.

The Study

The study built upon earlier research demonstrating that individuals with a specific mutation in the CETP gene (I405V) had decreased CETP levels and lived longer.

The study involved 521 participants from the “Searching for Longevity Genes in the Historically Unique Ashkenazi Jewish Population Study”, divided into three groups: centenarians, their offspring, and controls. Researchers measured hypertension and CETP levels, defining hypertension as:

  • Systolic blood pressure greater than 140 mm Hg
  • Diastolic blood pressure greater than 90 mm Hg
  • Current treatment with antihypertensive medication


The results indicated that hypertension was associated with increased CETP activity, while participants with lower CETP levels demonstrated a lower prevalence of hypertension.

However, the study has some limitations. It only examined participants with lifelong low CETP levels and focused on the Ashkenazi Jewish population. Additionally, some blood pressure measurements could be prone to errors or inaccuracies in self-reporting.

Monitoring blood pressure
Monitoring blood pressure. Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

In conclusion, the study found that low CETP levels, reduce the risk of hypertension. This provides hope for potential developments of new CETP inhibitors that reduce hypertension.

The study also commented on torcetrapib, a previously developed CETP inhibitor, that failed clinical trials. The authors concluded that the adverse results with torcetrapib, are likely to represent the effects of this specific drug and suggested that other CETP inhibitors should be developed.

Examine your Genome!

Did you know you can use the Nebula Genome Browser (available with Deep and Ultra Deep WGS) to check whether you have a protective variant in the CETP gene (I405V) that is associated with reduced hypertension risk?

  1. Go to the Genome Browser. In the top left corner of the genome browser, you can find a search bar.
  2. The rsIDs for I405V is rs5882. Using the dbSNP database, you can find the genome coordinates in the format [chromosome number][chromosome location] is 16:56982180 (GRCh38 reference genome).
  3. Copy-paste this location into the search bar and press enter. 
  4. The genome browser will now zoom in on these locations. 
  5. Activate the “Center Line” in the bar at the top to better see the location that you are looking at.
  6. You should see stacked, gray stripes. Those are your personal DNA sequencing reads that are aligned to a reference genome sequence (colored letters above). If your DNA sequence matches the reference, then the stripes are gray. If the sequence is somehow different from the reference, then you will see various letters and symbols in different colors.
  7. For the variant rs5882, you have a protective allele if you see an A (instead of the reference G allele indicated by gray stripes).


Schechter CB, Barzilai N, Crandall JP, Atzmon G. Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) genotype and reduced CETP levels associated with decreased prevalence of hypertension. Mayo Clin Proc. 2010 Jun;85(6):522-6. doi: 10.4065/mcp.2009.0594. PMID: 20511482; PMCID: PMC2878255.

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