OHSU logoAround one in three adults in the U.S. are said to be affected by high blood pressure. Scientists at Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Dentistry claim to have discovered nitric oxide to be a powerful regulator of a molecule that may play a key role in the development and function of the nervous system. This analysis could someday have a critical part in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure.

Nerve cells called baroreceptors are known to signal modifications in blood pressure to the brain. Earlier, the OHSU dental school team had found baroreceptors to make a molecule called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The latter apparently belongs to the family of neurotrophins that play a significant role in the development and plasticity of other nerve cells.

This new finding offers details on what could ascertain availability of the molecules that could be involved in blood pressure control. In baroreceptor neurons, the OHSU team uncovered nitric oxide to be a potent regulator of BDNF.

“This is the first study to show the role of nitric oxide in inhibiting BDNF release from peripheral nerve cells,” mentioned Agnieszka Balkowiec, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator, associate professor of integrative biosciences in the OHSU School of Dentistry, and adjunct assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology in the OHSU School of Medicine. “This finding supports our hypothesis that BDNF is involved in establishing connections in the blood pressure control system and could someday play a significant role in the prevention of high blood pressure.”

Seemingly known for its ability to enhance the elasticity of blood vessels, nitric oxide is also known to reduce blood pressure. Apparently it is also the active metabolite of nitroglycerin which has been employed in the treatment of coronary artery disease for over 100 years.

In addition to this, nitric oxide also seems to widens small arteries and counteract artery stiffening. Moreover, many lines of evidence further signify that its inadequacy could result in hypertension.

Published online, this new finding will appear in the May issue of the Journal of Neuroscience Research.