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After 60 Years, Scientists Find the Missing Link in Our Body’s Blood Pressure Control

UVA School of Medicine researchers have determined the location of natural blood-pressure barometers inside our bodies that have eluded scientists for more than 60 years.

These cellular sensors detect subtle changes in blood pressure and adjust hormone levels to keep it in check. Scientists have long suspected that these barometers, or “baroreceptors,” existed in specialized kidney cells called renin cells, but no one has been able to locate the baroreceptors until now.

The new findings, from UVA Health’s Maria Luisa S. Sequeira-Lopez and colleagues, reveal where the barometers are located, how they work and how they help prevent high blood pressure (hypertension) or low blood pressure (hypotension). The researchers hope the insights will lead to new treatments for high blood pressure.

“It was exhilarating to find that the elusive pressure-sensing mechanism, the baroreceptor, was intrinsic to the renin cell, which has the ability to sense and react, both within the same cell,” said Sequeira-Lopez, of UVA’s Department of Pediatrics and UVA’s Child Health Research Center. “So the renin cells are sensors and responders.”

Learn more about the discovery in UVA Today.

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