University of Missouri researchers, using atomic force microscopy, have uncovered how specific proteins affect relaxation and contraction of blood vessels. According to Gerald Meininger, professor and director of MU’s Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, “We have identified an important receptor that is responsible for the ability of small arteries in the body. This research provides new clues for the cause of vascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes and may be used in the future as a possible therapeutic target.”
The scientists took blood cells from the body and used a high resolution microscope to apply force to individual proteins. They then observed which proteins were responsible for reactions in the blood cells. Depending on which proteins were targeted, the blood cells either relaxed or constricted, allowing the researchers to pinpoint exactly which proteins may be responsible for high blood pressure.
Preventing vascular disease is the target of much research. Dietary treatment, lifestyle modifications, and long term use of medications are the primary methods for treating high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Until now, no one has known what proteins play a role in high or low blood pressure. Steady rises in the incidence of high blood pressure have been seen, especially in women, over the past decade.
The cause of high blood pressure is unknown in the majority of cases. The new study should provide a new target for blood pressure treatment in children and adults.
The findings are published in the American Journal of Physiology Cell Physiology.
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