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Inflammation May Play a Key Role in the Development of Hypertension

April 10, 2024 by Angela Ferrante

In a recent study published in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Hypertension, scientists from the Larner College of Medicine, including Timothy Plante, M.D., M.H.S., Russell Tracy, Ph.D., Debora Kamin Mukaz, Ph.D., M.S., Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., and Neil Zakai, M.D., M.Sc., explored the intricate relationship between specific inflammatory biomarkers and hypertension—with some surprising results.
In a recent study published in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Hypertension, scientists from the Larner College of Medicine, including Timothy Plante, M.D., M.H.S.Russell Tracy, Ph.D.Debora Kamin Mukaz, Ph.D., M.S.Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., and Neil Zakai, M.D., M.Sc., explored the intricate relationship between specific inflammatory biomarkers and hypertension—with some surprising results.

Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, stands as a serious cardiovascular risk factor, characterized by elevated blood pressure in the arteries. Leveraging data from the REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Difference in Stroke) study, a large-scale prospective cohort study involving nearly 2,000 Black and white adults without prior hypertension, the research team shed light on the dynamics between inflammation and hypertension, uncovering notable disparities across racial groups and genders.

Findings from the paper, titled “Inflammatory Biomarkers and Incident Hypertension,” suggest that inflammation may serve as a pivotal player in hypertension’s development. By targeting specific inflammatory pathways, Larner researchers predict a promising avenue for preventing or even reversing hypertension—a substantial shift from the conventional approach of simply lowering blood pressure with traditional medications.

While animal studies have hinted at the potential of targeting immune cells to stave off hypertension, this study bridged the gap by investigating how these findings translate to humans. Plante and his team validated associations between specific inflammatory markers—such as IL-6, TNF-α, and IFN-γ—and the risk of developing hypertension. These markers are potentially targets for medications or behavioral interventions. The team suggests that it might be possible to lower these levels to reduce the risk of developing hypertension, marking a major shift in the management of this condition.

In addition, Plante’s investigation unveiled disparities in how inflammatory markers correlate with hypertension risk across racial lines and genders. For example, while the inflammatory protein L-1β surfaced as a risk factor among white participants, its significance waned among Black participants. This disparity underscores potential variations in the underlying mechanisms driving hypertension among diverse racial demographics.

Plante’s study represents a significant advancement in hypertension research, helping doctors and scientists better understand how inflammation affects cardiovascular health. As researchers continue to delve further into this connection, the possibility of developing more precise interventions grows stronger—potentially helping millions of people suffering from this life-threatening condition.

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