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High Blood Pressure and Renal Disease – Possible New Approach to treating Hypertension and avoiding Kidney Damage

April 6th, 2006

High Blood Pressure and Renal Disease – Possible New Approach to treating Hypertension and avoiding Kidney Damage

Blood Pressure Monitor

Researchers from the University of Florida tested gene therapy by using RNA interference for treatment of high blood pressure.  They were able to stop the high blood pressure from increasing in mice and also were able to prevent kidney damage.  The study was first reported in the online journal called Gene Therapy.

A corrective gene was injected into mice that were exposed to cold weather.  The treated mice had blood pressure that did not get worst and their kidney had almost no damage.  The cold weather caused the mice to have constricted blood vessels.  By constricting the blood flow the kidneys would be overloaded with hormones that could cause damage.

Cold weather can increase blood pressure and more heart attacks and strokes happen during the cold winter months.  That is why they studied 3 different groups of mice that were kept in an environment of 44 degree Fahrenheit for a total of five weeks.  They measured the blood pressure of the mice for a 3 week period of time.


The researchers believe that this corrective gene treatment could benefit humans with high blood pressure and be used for a long term treatment.  The treatment helps prevent damage to the kidneys.  The corrective gene blocks a protein in the kidneys that creates high blood pressure and kidney damage. 

The protein is called mineralocorticoid receptor.  This protein tells the body to retain sodium and water in the bloodstream.  When the amount of blood increases so does the blood pressure.  Treatments currently available for patients can do this kind of blocking for this protein but don’t do so directly like this gene therapy does.  The current medications also can have undesirable side effects.


"This new technique can specifically and efficiently inhibit the protein and prevent the progression of hypertension," said Zhongjie Sun, M.D., Ph.D., a UF assistant professor of medicine, physiology and functional genomics and is also the lead author of the study. "I'm very optimistic this gene complex will be used for human gene therapy to treat hypertension."

The block was achieved by using a gene therapy called RNA interference.  This is the first time that RNA interference has been applied for the treatment of hypertension and helps to prevent kidney damage.  The RNA is directed to stop that particular protein from occurring by either overpowering it or silencing it.

The tests did not lower the blood pressure to normal levels, but it kept the blood pressure from rising.  The study was a short 3 week period of time.  However the mice that did not get the RNA interference treatment had blood pressure that was continually on the rise during the duration of the study.


Future studies with RNA interference will be to measure mice for a longer duration of time to see were the blood pressure levels will end up.  The benefit of the reduction of kidney damage is probably the most interesting part of this study.  Hypertension can lead to kidney problems later on and may be a better treatment in the future.  It may take some time before it will be used in human trials.

"I think this will provide a new approach for the effective control of hypertension and renal disease," Sun said. "This (new research avenue) is definitely beneficial to patients."

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Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication

Books on Heart Disease

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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:48 PM