Scientists have identified proteins that play an important role in the control of blood circulation and vascular resistance.
The study was conducted at the University of Missouri and involved blood vessels isolated from the body. Atomic force microscopy was subsequently used to apply a controlled force to proteins located on the surface of smooth muscle cells on the blood vessel wall.
Under the force, the smooth muscle cells reacted, constricting or contracting depending on the proteins that were targeted, allowing scientists to determine exactly which proteins participate in which process.
Given that high blood pressure causes blood vessels to contract and low pressure causes them to relax, the scientists believe the experiment brings them closer to understanding vascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
“This research provides new clues for the cause of vascular diseases and may be used in the future as a possible therapeutic target,” says Professor Gerald Meininger, director of MUs Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center.
In the meantime, lifestyle changes that may help those at risk of heart and metabolic conditions include a healthy diet, appropriate body weight, smoking cessation and routine screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.