Diet plays a big in preventing high blood pressure in lungs

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In the study of pulmonary hypertension, a severe condition affecting the lungs’ blood vessels, researchers have made a pivotal discovery.

Unlike other blood vessels in the body, those in the lungs can stiffen and lead to serious health issues, including chronic lung disease and heart failure.

This stiffening process had baffled scientists until recent findings by Stephen Chan, a researcher from the University of Pittsburgh, and his international team, including Thomas Bertero from Université Côte d’Azur in France.

The team uncovered that the cells within these blood vessels have an unusually high demand for two amino acids: glutamine and serine. This craving leads to significant changes in how these cells function.

Typically, amino acids are nutrients that form the building blocks of proteins, essential for various bodily functions. However, in the case of pulmonary hypertension, the absorption of glutamine and serine causes the cells to produce excessive amounts of proline and glycine.

These are components of collagen, a protein that provides structure to our skin, muscles, and bones.

Excessive collagen in the lungs leads to the stiffening of blood vessels, a key problem in pulmonary hypertension. The study, published in the journal ‘Cell Metabolism’ on May 2, presents these findings and suggests a novel approach to treatment.

Chan and his colleagues experimented with rodent models, finding that limiting the intake of glutamine and serine could significantly reduce collagen build-up in the lungs.

For patients suffering from pulmonary hypertension, this research implies that dietary changes could enhance the effectiveness of existing treatments. By reducing foods rich in glutamine and serine, patients might see a reduction in the progression of their condition.

This is a groundbreaking concept in the management of pulmonary hypertension, which traditionally relied heavily on medications and surgeries.

Furthermore, Chan’s team developed a new diagnostic technique using positron emission tomography (PET) scans combined with a glutamine imaging tracer.

This innovative approach allows for the early detection of the disease and the monitoring of its progression. By tracking where glutamine travels in the body, the PET scan can highlight areas where cells are excessively consuming this amino acid.

This discovery not only sheds light on the peculiar nature of pulmonary hypertension but also opens up new pathways for treatment and diagnosis. By understanding the metabolic demands of lung vessel cells, medical professionals can now consider dietary interventions as a part of comprehensive patient care.

This approach offers hope for a more effective management of a disease that affects a significant number of older adults, improving their quality of life and potentially extending their lifespan.

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The research findings can be found in Cell Metabolism.

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