"By changing a single gene that is involved in hypertension, varying effects were revealed that we never expected," said Mark Chappell, Ph.D., senior researcher in the Hypertension and Vascular Disease Center. "These rats will allow us to study salt-sensitivity in hypertension as well as explore how estrogen depletion affects several body systems. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. We're just starting to discover what this animal model can teach us."
Chappell and colleagues are presenting three reports on their research this week at the American Heart Association's 59th Annual Fall Conference and Scientific Sessions of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research in association with the Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease. The meeting is in Washington, D.C.
"These projects suggest that estrogen may be protective, not only in renal function and development of hypertension, but in heart function," said Chappell. "Next, we will look at different therapies, including different formulations of estrogen that may lack some of the deleterious effects associated with estrogen therapy."
In a study led by Leanne Groban, M.D., an associate professor of cardiac anesthesia, the team looked at how estrogen depletion affects diastolic dysfunction. In this common form of heart failure, the heart muscle becomes stiff and cannot fill with enough blood to meet the body's demands. Diastolic dysfunction is more common in women after menopause and is frequently associated with hypertension.
In these rats, the researchers found that estrogen depletion exacerbates the progression of diastolic dysfunction. Scientists have long known that estrogen helps protect heart vessels from atherosclerosi
Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center