OCT 15, 2020 8:00 AM PDT

The Immune Cells Giving Menopausal Women Higher BPs

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

In general, men have higher blood pressures than women, giving them an increased risk of developing heart disease. After menopause, however, this trend flips. New research has finally uncovered the physiological changes behind this phenomenon — surprisingly, the underlying biological mechanism lies outside the cardiovascular system.

Heddwen Brooks from the University of Arizona is a researcher interested in sex differences between the incidences of chronic diseases including cardiovascular conditions and diabetes. In Brooks’ latest study, the biological mechanisms that tie menopause together with heart disease onset was put under the microscope. Interestingly, these aging-associated changes in women were found to be caused by changes in a subset of immune cells known as regulatory T cells.

“Based on previous work, we know estrogen played an important role in preventing kidney inflammation and cardiovascular disease in women,” said Brooks.

“Our study shows how estrogen can directly impact the immune system to increase protective, anti-inflammatory T regulatory cells, which can guard a female from hypertension and kidney damage prior to menopause.”

Women were found to have significantly fewer regulatory T cells after menopause, which were linked to a spike in pro-inflammatory markers in their kidneys. Also, when T regulatory cells were depleted in premenopausal women through the administration of a drug, a surge in blood pressure followed.

Hypertension is a silent killer which can elevate an individual’s risk of getting a stroke or a heart attack. “Based off this study, we hope to identify new pathways of treatment to help postmenopausal women better manage their blood pressure, as current medications are not as effective in women as they are in men,” said Brooks.


Sources: American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology, University of Arizona.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
JUL 07, 2020
Immunology
A Step Towards a Cure for Rare Polio-Like Disease in Children
JUL 07, 2020
A Step Towards a Cure for Rare Polio-Like Disease in Children
Acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is a rare but devastatingly debilitating neurologic disease in children caused by a resp ...
JUL 24, 2020
Immunology
Telling the Difference Between Eczema and Psoriasis
JUL 24, 2020
Telling the Difference Between Eczema and Psoriasis
It can be extremely different even for professionals to tell the difference between psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder, a ...
JUL 30, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
How Are DNA Testing Companies Helping the Fight Against COVID?
JUL 30, 2020
How Are DNA Testing Companies Helping the Fight Against COVID?
One of the most puzzling characteristics of coronavirus is how some people develop severe symptoms and die from the dise ...
JUL 29, 2020
Immunology
Immune Variation Explains Different COVID-19 Outcomes
JUL 29, 2020
Immune Variation Explains Different COVID-19 Outcomes
Immune systems respond differently to coronavirus infection. People experience the disease causes by coronavirus, COVID- ...
AUG 19, 2020
Immunology
Cancer Mutation Improves Chemo Drug Performance
AUG 19, 2020
Cancer Mutation Improves Chemo Drug Performance
When it comes to cancer biomarkers, it’s often the genetic signatures that are associated with poor patient outcom ...
OCT 14, 2020
Immunology
Self-Healing Microcapsules Make Promising Leukemia Vaccines
OCT 14, 2020
Self-Healing Microcapsules Make Promising Leukemia Vaccines
Leukemia is a cancer affecting tissues in the body that produce blood cells, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic ...
Loading Comments...