Renal failure, stroke, myocardial infarction and heart failure – just some of the results of hypertension which affects one in three adults, with another 30 % at risk. One EU project has taken a close look at what role our immune systems play.
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Despite extensive research, the mechanisms of most cases of hypertension remain unclear. In spite of therapies available, over 40 % of treated patients do not improve on medication and since the mid-1980s, no new classes of drugs have been successfully developed to treat hypertension.Noting that mice lacking T cells or monocytes are protected from severe hypertension and renal/vascular dysfunction, the EU-supported research carried out by the ImmunoTension project, considered a novel mechanism for hypertension. They assessed the involvement of T lymphocytes, monocytes and dendritic cells in the condition. But the relevance for human hypertension remained unclear, so the ImmunoTension project stepped in to try and clarify what the interaction is.
The immune system, which seems to be an essential component in the hypertension mechanism, has been overlooked as it was not typically associated with blood pressure regulation in classical physiology.