August 8, 2023 by
Lucy Gardner Carson
Mark Nelson, Ph.D., chair and University Distinguished Professor of pharmacology and professor of molecular physiology and biophysics
(AUGUST 8, 2023) Research by Mark Nelson, Ph.D., chair and University Distinguished Professor of pharmacology and professor of molecular physiology and biophysics, and colleagues at the University of Manchester in the U.K. shines a light on the mechanism behind vascular dementia in a mouse model, which the investigators hope will lead to better treatments being developed for the neurodegenerative condition, according to Inside Precision Medicine.
As reported in the journal PNAS, reduced blood flow to the brain is known to be a key factor in the hypertension-induced vascular dementia disease process, but the mechanism behind this was unclear, making it difficult to design therapies to improve blood flow. The researchers used a mouse model of hypertension and vascular dementia to study the physiological mechanism behind the condition and found that the reduced cerebral blood flow was caused by a part of the smooth muscle cells becoming separated from the plasma membrane, leading to a breakdown in cell signaling that would under normal circumstances lead to the blood vessels relaxing.
“By uncovering how high blood pressure causes arteries in the brain to remain constricted, our research reveals a new avenue for drug discovery that may help to find the first treatment for vascular dementia. Allowing blood to return as normal to damaged areas of the brain will be crucial to stopping this devastating condition in its tracks,” said Adam Greenstein, a professor and clinician scientist at the University of Manchester and one of the leaders of the research, in a press statement.
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