Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Finding the link between fat and high blood pressure

10.09.2003


How fat contributes to high blood pressure is the focus of a new study at the Medical College of Georgia that is part of a National Institutes of Health initiative to understand the relationship between obesity and cardiovascular disease.


Drs. Gregory A. Harshfield and Paule Barbeau are looking at how fat contributes to high blood pressure.



"You have obesity and you have hypertension. Where is the link?" says Dr. Gregory A. Harshfield, principal investigator on the $1.4 million grant from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute that will study 160 adolescents, half lean and half overweight or obese, in pursuit of that link. Dr. Paule Barbeau, exercise physiologist, is a co-investigator

Obesity is a risk factor for high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.


The Augusta researchers and others leaders in the field of hypertension say that obesity may increase pressure by increasing volume rather than constriction.

"We think it’s increased volume because of sodium handling," Dr. Harshfield says. "When we put people under stress, the normal response is to increase your blood pressure through vasoconstriction." The kidneys also hold onto sodium to help increase blood volume throughout the body. As the stress ends, so should these normal physiological responses.

But Dr. Harshfield’s studies at MCG’s Georgia Prevention Institute have shown that some people keep holding onto sodium long after the stress has gone, delaying a process called natriuresis, the body’s way of eliminating sodium. His studies have shown this mechanism is impaired in about 30 percent of adolescent blacks and 15 percent of adolescent whites; the prolonged, elevated pressures may contribute to the development of hypertension.

Fat, or adipose tissue, was once considered storage material only, says Dr. Barbeau. "Now we realize that it secretes all kinds of substances, such as angiotensinogen (which constricts blood vessels) and leptin. The more fat you have, the more of these substances you make."

And different fat depots secrete different substances. Subcutaneous fat, or fat under the skin, secretes leptin, an appetite suppressant also involved in functions such as reproduction and blood pressure regulation. Visceral fat, packed in and around the organs in the abdominal cavity, secretes angiotensinogen, which makes angiotensin II, a powerful vasoconstrictor that also directs the kidneys to absorb more sodium.

"When you gain weight, leptin is supposed to be secreted by the adipose tissue and that tells your brain, ’Don’t eat that much,’" Dr. Barbeau says. "But for some reason, in obese people, that feedback loop doesn’t work any more," she says, equating the scenario to a type 2 diabetic’s resistance to insulin.

Another leptin-driven system seems to fail as well in the obese and contribute to hypertension. Leptin tells the brain to keep producing the neurotransmitter catecholamine which gears up the stress-triggered sympathetic nervous system. Catecholamine, in turn, is supposed to shut down leptin production, but, inexplicably, that doesn’t happen either, says Dr. Harshfield.

The researchers say that stress increases angiotensin II levels and therefore blood pressure. Furthermore, in obese individuals, fat-produced leptin and angiotensinogen keep the blood pressure up by interfering with the natural process of sodium excretion that should occur when the stress is gone. The net result may be early development of hypertension and the damage it causes major organs such as the heart and kidneys.

"How stress interacts with fat in the production of damage to the kidneys is what we are looking at primarily," Dr. Harshfield says. "I think what we are going to see is that in the high-fat kids, the stress will produce greater sodium retention and longer levels of elevated blood pressure."

The MCG researchers began recruiting the 15- to 19-year-olds this fall, a mixture of black and white males and females. Each participant engages in a protocol developed by Dr. Harshfield that includes two hours of rest followed by an hour-long stressful video game, then two more hours of rest. Blood pressure and sodium excretion are measured throughout. Participants are put on a diet for three days prior to the test protocol to regulate their sodium levels. They also get a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DXA, study to measure body fat, and an MRI at MCG Medical Center to assess visceral fat in the abdominal cavity, as well as studies to look at the size of the heart’s pumping chamber and kidney function.

"This is a logical place to go with the work we already are doing," Dr. Harshfield says, which is why he opted to pursue the proposal request from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for novel approaches to help clarify the biologic basis of obesity-related cardiovascular problems such as hypertension and atherosclerosis.

Today more than 60 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese and Drs. Harshfield and Barbeau have seen some of the ill effects in the young people who come to the Georgia Prevention Institute with hopes of being a healthy participant in a study only to learn they already have high blood pressure or other problems.

"This is a highly meritorious application from an established productive (principal investigator) and outstanding investigative team," reviewers of the grant proposal wrote. "The goal of this study is to test a hypothesis that links adolescent obesity to cardiovascular disease through impaired stress-evoked pressure natriuresis. This is an interesting and novel hypothesis, and will be adequately approached by the proposed studies. Whether or not the hypothesis turns out to be correct, important new data will result from the proposed study."


For more information about study participation, call the Georgia Prevention Institute at (706) 721-1755.

Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcg.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'
16.11.2018 | Purdue University

nachricht Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal
14.11.2018 | Michigan Technological University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New materials: Growing polymer pelts

19.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Earthquake researchers finalists for supercomputing prize

19.11.2018 | Information Technology

Controlling organ growth with light

19.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>