Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discovery throws light on blood pressure regulation

Date:
July 29, 2011
Source:
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that a protein found in the walls of blood vessels plays a key role in maintaining healthy blood pressure -- a discovery that could one day lead to new treatments for people with high blood pressure.

Researchers have discovered that a protein found in the walls of blood vessels plays a key role in maintaining healthy blood pressure -- a discovery that could one day lead to new treatments for people with high blood pressure.

The research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF), shows that malfunction of the protein -- a potassium channel called Kv7.4 -- contributes to the maintenance of high blood pressure. The discovery is published in the journal Circulation.

Dr Iain Greenwood from St George's, University of London led the study. He said "High blood pressure is one of the most common diagnoses in the UK and one in three adults has it -- that's around 16 million people. People with high blood pressure are at much greater risk of heart attack, heart failure, and kidney disease and it's the main risk factor for stroke.

"We are trying to understand how our bodies go about regulating our blood pressure under normal circumstances -- the more we understand, the better we can get at spotting what is going wrong and intervening when someone has this common chronic health issue. This discovery is an important part of the puzzle and might one day lead to new treatments."

Dr Greenwood and his team have shown that Kv7.4 plays an essential role in maintaining the extent to which arteries are constricted or dilated. He said "We have to be able to change our blood pressure at the drop of a hat -- quite literally! If you dropped your hat and bent over to pick it up, you body would automatically reduce your blood pressure to account for the position of your head relative to your heart and the effect of gravity and then when you stood up again, your body would adjust it back up.

"The muscles in the walls of your blood vessels play a role in adjusting blood pressure and if they need to increase it, they squeeze the blood vessels more tightly to literally put mechanical pressure on your blood."

The researchers examined rodents that had high blood pressure and discovered that in some cases the Kv7.4 channels weren't working properly. These channels allow the passage of potassium out of the muscle cells in our blood vessels and they have to be open and closed at the right times so that the muscles can contract or relax when we need them to. In the animals that had high blood pressure and malfunctioning Kv7.4 channels, the problem was that the channels were blocked. This caused an imbalance in the finely controlled chemical environment of the muscle cell.

"The problem is," continued Dr Greenwood, "if the Kv7.4 channels cannot function, the muscle cells overreact to the signals the body is giving to increase blood pressure. We think that in the animals we studied the redundant Kv7.4 channels contributed markedly to their high blood pressure."

Whilst it is extremely unlikely that most people with high blood pressure have defective Kv7.4 channels, the researchers hope that by understanding the key role they play in maintaining healthy blood pressure we can use this knowledge to develop new strategies for adjusting blood pressure using drug treatments in the future.

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive, BBSRC said "If we are to have long, healthy lives, we need to understand how our bodies cope with the demands we place on them. Increasing our knowledge of the biology that underpins normal, healthy processes will pave the way for future strategies to prevent or treat health problems. Maintaining healthy blood pressure is an important part of keeping us all well and so this research could be of great benefit to many people in the future."

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said "Physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the amount of salt and alcohol you consume, and increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat can all play a part in lowering your risk of having high blood pressure. However, we still do not fully understand what causes the condition in most people -- and current medicines to treat it are often not fully effective. Crucial research such as this could lead to new medical treatments for high blood pressure."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. A. Jepps, P. S. Chadha, A. J. Davis, M. I. Harhun, G. W. Cockerill, S. P. Olesen, R. S. Hansen, I. A. Greenwood. Downregulation of Kv7.4 Channel Activity in Primary and Secondary Hypertension. Circulation, 2011; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.032136

Cite This Page:

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "Discovery throws light on blood pressure regulation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110711164531.htm>.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. (2011, July 29). Discovery throws light on blood pressure regulation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110711164531.htm
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "Discovery throws light on blood pressure regulation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110711164531.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins