Skin may regulate blood pressure, study finds

October 27, 2017  Source: medicalnewstoday 329

When it comes to high blood pressure, a lack of exercise and a poor diet are often the primary suspects. A new study, however, finds that our skin may play a significant role in the development of the condition.

By studying mice, researchers from the United Kingdom and Sweden found that the skin responds to levels of oxygen in the environment, which influences blood pressure levels.

Study co-author Prof. Randall Johnson, of the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., and colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal eLife.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is estimated to affect around 75 million adults in the United States.

The condition arises when blood pushes against the wall of the arteries with too much force. This can damage the lining of the arteries, which, in turn, increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease.

Being overweight, not partaking in physical activity, and eating a poor diet are major risk factors for high blood pressure, but according to Prof. Johnson and team, many hypertension cases arise with no known cause.

"Most research in this area," says Prof. Johnson, "tends to look at the role played by organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys, and so we know very little about what role other tissue and organs play."

According to the researchers, previous studies have shown that blood flow to a tissue rises when it is starved of oxygen, and that this is down to the presence of a family of proteins known as HIF.

For their study, Prof. Johnson and his colleagues set out to determine how oxygen starvation affects blood flow in the skin, and whether or not this influences blood pressure.

By Ddu