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Nov 25, 2022

A Bizarre Case of Hypertension Immunity

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Scientists in Berlin have been studying a strange hereditary condition that causes half the people in certain families to have shockingly short fingers and abnormally high blood pressure for decades. If untreated, affected individuals often die of a stroke at the age of 50. Researchers at the Max Delbrück Center (MDC) in Berlin discovered the origin of the condition in 2015 and were able to verify it five years later using animal models: a mutation in the phosphodiesterase 3A gene (PDE3A) causes its encoded enzyme to become overactive, altering bone growth and causing blood vessel hyperplasia, resulting in high blood pressure.

“High blood pressure almost always leads to the heart becoming weaker,” says Dr. Enno Klußmann, head of the Anchored Signaling Lab at the Max Delbrück Center and a scientist at the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK). As it has to pump against a higher pressure, Klußmann explains, the organ tries to strengthen its left ventricle. “But ultimately, this results in the thickening of the heart muscle – known as cardiac hypertrophy – which can lead to heart failure greatly decreasing its pumping capacity.”

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