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OHSU School of Dentistry team discovers new molecule in blood-pressure control system
Date:1/8/2009

PORTLAND, Ore. Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University's School of Dentistry (www.ohsu.edu/sod) have discovered that the nerve cells controlling heart rate and blood pressure synthesize a molecule known to be critically important for proper nervous system growth. The finding could someday play a significant role in the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and high blood pressure. According to the National Institutes of Health, SIDS is the leading cause of death in children between 1 month and 1 year of age. About one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure.

The new discovery was published in a January issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry (vol. 108, pp. 450-464) and released online December 1, 2008 (www3.interscience.wiley.com.liboff.ohsu.edu/cgi-bin/fulltext/121542115/HTMLSTART). The Journal of Neurochemistry is a leading peer-reviewed neuroscience journal-.

"Our discovery sheds light on how the nerve supply to the cardiovascular system is established during development," said Agnieszka Balkowiec, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator, OHSU School of Dentistry assistant professor of integrative biosciences and OHSU School of Medicine adjunct assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology. "Someday we hope to better understand cardiorespiratory developmental disorders such as SIDS."

Changes in blood pressure are signaled to the brain by nerve cells called baroreceptors. The OHSU study shows that baroreceptors make a molecule called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which belongs to the family of neurotrophins that play a critical role in the development and plasticity of other nerve cells. (Studies suggest that developmental abnormalities in nerve pathways that control the cardiovascular and respiratory system may result in SIDS)
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Contact: Sydney Clevenger
clevenge@ohsu.edu
503-418-1792
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert

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