A new study has identified the enzyme believed to be responsible for obesity-related hypertension, which could guide future treatments. The research has been published in the journal Obesity.

William Durante, PhD, of the University of Missouri School of Medicine, and colleagues initially found that compared to lean animals, arginase activity was significantly increased within blood vessels and in the blood of obese rats. This activity may reduce nitric oxide levels, which can lead to the constriction of blood vessels and high blood pressure. The team first supplemented the diet of obese rats with L-arginine and then with medications that block the arginase activity.

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While both interventions restored nitric oxide levels and reversed hypertension in the obese animals, the authors believe that arginase-inhibiting drugs could be a more effective treatment because they directly target the underlying biochemical defect in obesity. Future research will focus on the cause of the increase in arginase activity in blood vessels and in the blood and the role of arginase in the development of treatments for obesity-related hypertension.

For more information visit Medicine.Missouri.Edu.