A group of researchers recently published a study in which they found a link between high blood pressure and diabetes. The long-standing enigma of why so many patients suffering from high blood pressure also have diabetes is finally cracked by the study.
The discovery has shown that a small protein, cell glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) couples the body’s control of blood sugar and blood pressure.
The research was published today in the journal Circulation Research. It involved contributions from collaborating scientists in Brazil, Germany, Lithuania, and Serbia, as well as the UK and New Zealand.
The wall of the gut normally releases LP-1 after a meal is ingested and it stimulates insulin from the pancreas to control blood sugar levels. This was a process previously known, but what has now been unearthed is that GLP-1 also stimulates a small sensory organ called the carotid body located in the neck.
The research team used a genomics technique called RNA sequencing to read all the messages of expressed genes in the carotid body of rats with and without high blood pressure, which led to their finding that the receptor that senses GLP-1 is located in the carotid body, but less so in hypertensive rats.
The senior author of the study Professor Julian Paton said:
“The carotid body is the convergent point where GLP-1 acts to control both blood sugar and blood pressure simultaneously; this is coordinated by the nervous system which is instructed by the carotid body.”
Professor Rod Jackson, a world-renowned epidemiologist from the University of Auckland, said: “We’ve known that blood pressure is notoriously difficult to control in patients with high blood sugar, so these findings are really important because by giving GLP-1 we might be able to reduce both sugar and pressure together, and these two factors are major contributors to cardiovascular risk.”
There are already drugs targeting the GLP-1 receptor approved for use in humans and are widely used to treat diabetes. They help to lower both blood sugar levels and blood pressure, however, the mechanism of the effect wasn’t well understood.
The researchers are planning other studies in humans to bring the discovery into practice so that patients at most risk can receive the best treatment available.
University of Bristol, Press release. (2022, Feb 1). Sweet pressure- scientists discover link between high blood pressure and diabetes. University of Bristol. Retrieved from: