Giraffe has a unique gene that protects against hypertension

Giraffe may help prevent blood pressure in people

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Giraffe has a unique gene that protects against hypertension
Image Credit: Unsplash

Biologists hope that further study of the FGFRL1 gene will be the key to treating blood pressure problems in humans.

Scientists from Northwestern Polytechnic University in China and Copenhagen University have decoded the giraffe’s genome and identified specific mutations that have allowed it to adapt to high blood pressure and extreme growth. 

As you know, giraffes have unique biological characteristics. Thus, blood pressure in animals is twice as high as in humans and most other mammals, which is associated with a high head position. 

They also grow very quickly and develop very dense and strong bones. 

Biologists analyzed the giraffe’s genome at the chromosomal level to understand how the animal managed to avoid the side effects of high blood pressure. 

During the study, it turned out that the FGFRL1 gene in the giraffe’s genome has undergone many changes compared to all other animals. The introduction of the altered gene to laboratory mice showed that experimental animals, compared with normal ones, suffered less cardiovascular and internal damage when taking a drug that increases blood pressure, and their bones became more compact and dense. 

Scientists also tried to explain the poorly developed sense of smell in giraffes. Growth allows animals to scan the horizon with superior vision, and the genes associated with smell are likely to have lost their strength due to the drastic dilution of odors at a height of five meters above ground level. 

According to the authors, their discovery not only provides insight into the main pathways of the evolution of giraffes, but also shows how the same gene can influence several different aspects of the phenotype. 

Scientists hope that further study of the FGFRL1 gene will be the key to creating a new treatment for hypertension in humans.

The study was published in Science Advances.