Hypertension

16 March 2010

Women's chromosomes may affect blood pressure

Scientists have believed that testosterone and estrogen play a major role in regulating blood pressure, but a new study in mice suggests that female sex chromosomes could also be key, at least after menopause begins.

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MONDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have believed that testosterone and estrogen play a major role in regulating blood pressure, but a new study in mice suggests that female sex chromosomes could also be key, at least after menopause begins.

In the study, researchers genetically engineered male mice to have female chromosomes (XX) and females to have male chromosomes (YY). They found that the chromosomes affected the rodents' blood pressure on their own.

"XX mice have a greater magnitude of hypertension than XY mice regardless of whether they are male or female," lead investigator Kathryn Sandberg, director of the Georgetown University Medical Center for the Study of Sex Differences in Health, Aging and Disease, said in a news release from Georgetown.

"Up until now, it has been impossible to separate the influence of sex chromosomes from the effects of sex hormones, and in this paper, we have shown for the first time that sex chromosomes are impacting blood pressure -- independent of sex hormones," she said. "That is not to say sex hormones don't matter in blood pressure regulation, because they do, but we now know they aren't the only players."

Why does this matter?

Because "there is a real jump in blood pressure and incidence of hypertension in menopausal women, and while the condition is treatable, blood pressure in many of these women is not fully under control, making them far more susceptible to cardiovascular and kidney disease and stroke," Sandberg said. "Therefore, it would be wonderful to have specific therapies that target the root cause of this hypertension."

The study appears online March 15 in the journal Hypertension.

More information:

There's more on hypertension at the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

 

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Dr Jacomien de Villiers qualified as a specialist physician at the University of Pretoria in 1995. She worked at various clinics at the Department of Internal Medicine, Steve Biko Hospital, these include General Internal Medicine, Hypertension, Diabetes and Cardiology. She has run a private practice since 2001, as well as a consultant post at the Endocrine Clinic of Steve Biko Hospital.

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