Grant renewal for major blood pressure study
29 October 2007
Professor Julian Paton and Dr Sergey Kasparov in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology have been awarded a five-year renewal of their British Heart Foundation Programme Grant.
The renewed £800,000 funding, which starts in March 2008, enables the continuation of their project, ‘Vascular-neuronal signaling in the nucleus tractus solitarii: novel implications for blood pressure control’.
The team has discovered that the nucleus tractus solitarii – a pivotal region in the brainstem that normally controls blood pressure – shows marked changes in the genes expressed before high blood pressure develops. The revolutionary finding is that these genes are located in the walls of the blood vessels supplying blood to the brainstem and not in the brain cells themselves. This has led to the novel idea that high blood pressure is a consequence of diseased blood vessels within the brainstem.
‘We want to understand how these genes influence brain cell activity to cause high blood pressure,’ explains Professor Paton. ‘One new idea we will test is that, in people who develop high blood pressure, the brainstem is partly starved of oxygen during maturation, causing the expression of genes in brainstem vessels that will ensure adequate oxygen delivery to the brain. However, this strategy has a pathological consequence, namely high systemic blood pressure which, as we know, is detrimental to the normal function of many organs.’