"I personally think that's the most important part of this paper," Bakris said, "is if you prolong the inhibition, you reduce sympathetic tone, blood pressure will go down, and if you don't have any side effects associated with it, that would be huge."
MC4R, Marks explained, is one of five melanocortin receptors in the brain; these proteins regulate skin coloration and stress, among other things. But MC4R regulates body weight, "and it does that by altering both appetite and energetics of your body -- your basal metabolic rate," at least partly via the sympathetic nervous system.
MC4R deficiency is the most common genetic disorder causing obesity, Farooqi said; it accounts for 6 percent of individuals with early-onset obesity and 2.5 percent of obese adults.
For more on hypertension, visit the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Sadaf Farooqi, Ph.D., FRCP, Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow, University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories, Cambridge, U.K.; Daniel L. Marks, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, pediatrics, scientist, Center for the Study of Weight Regulation, and director, Oregon Child Health Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland; George Bakris, M.D., professor, medicine, and director, hypertensive diseases unit, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine; Dec. 17, 2008, New England Journal of Medicine, online
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