Discovery of new molecule in blood-pressure control system
The United States ranked 29th in the world in infant mortality in 2004, compared to 27th in 2000, 23rd in 1990 and 12th in 1960, according to a new report from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.78 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004, the latest
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Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Dentistry have discovered that the nerve cells controlling heart rate and blood pressure synthesize a molecule known to be critically important for proper nervous system growth.
The finding could someday play a significant role in the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and high blood pressure. According to the National Institutes of Health, SIDS is the leading cause of death in children between 1 month and 1 year of age. About one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure.
The new discovery was published in a January issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry (vol. 108, pp. 450-464) and released online December 1, 2008. The Journal of Neurochemistry is a leading peer-reviewed neuroscience journal.
“Our discovery sheds light on how the nerve supply to the cardiovascular system is established during development,” said Agnieszka Balkowiec, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator, OHSU School of Dentistry assistant professor of integrative biosciences and OHSU School of Medicine adjunct assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology. “Someday we hope to better understand cardiorespiratory developmental disorders such as SIDS.”
Changes in blood pressure are signaled to the brain by nerve cells called baroreceptors. The OHSU study shows that baroreceptors make a molecule called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which belongs to the family of neurotrophins that play a critical role in the development and plasticity of other nerve cells. (Studies suggest that developmental abnormalities in nerve pathways that control the cardiovascular and respiratory system may result in SIDS).
Balkowiec and her team found that the stimulation of baroreceptors, as experienced during an increase in blood pressure, leads to the release of BDNF. The study also discovered that BDNF is present at the central end of baroreceptors in the brainstem.
“In fact, BDNF is likely to play the most important role at the central end of baroreceptors, where they connect to second-order neurons in the blood-pressure control pathway,” said Balkowiec. “BDNF has previously been shown to play an important role in establishing neuronal connections in other parts of the nervous system, but this is the first time it has been considered a factor in the blood pressure control system.”
Studies under way, in collaboration with Virginia Brooks, Ph.D., OHSU School of Medicine professor of physiology and pharmacology, indicate that levels of BDNF in cardiorespiratory nerve cells increase dramatically when blood pressure rises. This suggests a direct role of BDNF in regulation of blood pressure, said Balkowiec.
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Dentistry have discovered a novel function of the peptide known as Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the development of the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve provides the signaling pathway for periodontal pain, dental surgical pain, and pain associated with temporomandibular disorder, trigeminal neuralgia, migraine, and other
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People from black and south Asian communities in the UK are not benefiting as much as white people from doctors’ interventions to reduce their blood pressure, according to a new study published today in the journal Annals of Family Medicine. The study looked at the treatment of over 8,800 people with high blood pressure, visiting
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Continuously measuring blood pressure may help predict heart disease and related deaths among individuals with treatment-resistant hypertension, while blood pressure readings taken in a medical office do not appear to predict future heart risks, according to a report in November 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. About 10 percent to 30 percent of individuals
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