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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Australian-led international study reveals the cause of hypertension in obesity

Leptin, a hormone that regulates the amount of fat stored in the body, also drives the increase in blood pressure that occurs with weight gain, according to researchers from Monash, Warwick, Cambridge and several American universities.

In a ground-breaking study published today in the journal Cell, a research team led by Professor Michael Cowley, from the Faculty of Biomedical and Psychological Sciences, have discovered the link between obesity and hypertension.

Being obese or overweight has long been acknowledged as a major risk factor for the development of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. Whilst a number of factors may be involved, the precise explanation for the link between these two conditions has been unclear until now.

This research has discovered that the hormone leptin, which is secreted by fat cells and is significantly elevated following weight gain and in obesity, acts in the brain to elevate blood pressure. Mice and humans, including a cohort who had problems producing or processing the hormone leptin were compared with ‘healthy’ individuals to see whether this hormone could provide the link.

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