Thursday, December 18, 2008

Study Finds Molecular Link Between Obesity, Hypertension

Signaling Through The Melanocortin-4 Receptor Controls Blood Pressure, Study Shows

“Most people know that obese individuals tend to have high blood pressure, but now British researchers have identified the molecular pathway that could explain that link. In findings published in the Dec. 17 online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Sadaf Farooqi, of the University of Cambridge, and her colleagues demonstrated that signaling through the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) helps to regulate blood pressure in humans. MC4R, Marks explained, is one of five melanocortin receptors in the brain; these proteins regulate skin coloration and stress, among other things. But MC4R regulates body weight, ‘and it does that by altering both appetite and energetics of your body -- your basal metabolic rate,’ at least partly via the sympathetic nervous system. MC4R deficiency is the most common genetic disorder causing obesity, Farooqi said; it accounts for 6 percent of individuals with early-onset obesity and 2.5 percent of obese adults.”

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