J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci. 2001 Mar;20(2):85-94.

Endogamy and variation in blood pressure levels in Croatian island isolates.

Narancic NS, Rudan I.

Institute for Anthropological Research, Zagreb, Croatia. nina@luka.inantro.hr

Blood pressure variation was investigated among populations inhabiting islands and peninsula of Middle Dalmatia, Croatia. The number of previous anthropological studies pointed to isolation and different genetic population structure in this environmentally fairly homogeneous area. Variation in blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) among the populations of the islands of Brac, Hvar, Korcula, and the Peljesac peninsula was assessed at three levels involving village populations, regional (western and eastern) populations and the entire island populations. The blood pressure data were collected from 3834 adult individuals inhabiting 37 rural communities and were adjusted for age and body mass index. Variation in blood pressure levels existed among regions and villages. Due to the history of differential settlement, small village sizes and high levels of reproductive isolation, the observed blood pressure variation could be attributed to founder effect, genetic drift and inbreeding. The involvement of genetic factors was tested by relating blood pressure variation among villages to degree of isolation among them. Blood pressure means and proportions of hypertensives increased with endogamy levels in males. In females, this effect could not be observed. However, in both sexes the highest proportions of hypertensives (more than 40%) were found in villages that are most reproductively closed (endogamy greater than 80%). These populations are considered particularly promising for further genetic epidemiological research.