Scientists find special link between obesity and high blood pressure

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is common in people with obesity.

Recent findings have shown that a part of the brain, the hypothalamus, has more blood vessels when a person eats a lot of calories.

Researchers think the hormone leptin might be linked to this change, and to high blood pressure. But how?

The Experiment with Mice

A research team led by Cristina García-Cáceres at Helmholtz Zentrum München studied obese mice to understand this better.

They found something surprising: mice that didn’t have the hormone leptin didn’t grow extra blood vessels in their hypothalamus. But, when these mice were given leptin, a type of brain cell called astrocytes made a growth factor.

This growth factor made the hypothalamus grow more vessels. This proved that leptin was the main reason for the extra vessels in the hypothalamus.

A New Perspective

Tim Gruber, the first author of the study, said their discovery changes how we see the brain’s role in controlling blood pressure in obesity. Before, people mostly studied neurons, another type of brain cell.

Now, the spotlight is on astrocytes. These cells were thought to be less important, but this study shows they play a big part in controlling blood pressure.

What’s Next?

The main question the team wants to answer now is: How do astrocytes talk to neurons? Cristina García-Cáceres said they’re starting to look into this with a special way of watching how these cells work together in real-time.

In summary, the hormone leptin and the brain cells called astrocytes are important in controlling blood pressure, especially in obesity.

This new understanding could help find better ways to treat or prevent high blood pressure in the future.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about how diets could help lower high blood pressure, and 3 grams of omega-3s a day keep high blood pressure at bay.

For more information about obesity, please see recent studies about low-carb keto diet could manage obesity effectively and results showing popular weight loss diets linked to heart disease and cancer.

The study was published in Cell Metabolism.

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