Wednesday, August 31, 2011
A key difference in the way that cells from African-Americans respond to inflammation could be an answer to why this group is disproportionately affected by hypertension, something that has eluded scientists for many years
In a study, researchers tested the effects of TNF-ά, a protein that causes inflammation when cells are damaged, on endothelial cells – which line blood vessels – in both African-Americans and whites, to determine whether the inflammation affected the cells differently. Among African-American cells, there was a nearly 90% increase in the production of endothelial microparticles, small vesicles that are released during inflammation. Individuals with hypertension have been shown to have higher levels of these microparticles in their bloodstream. Among whites, there was only an 8% increase in their production. It appears that the endothelial cells in African Americans are more susceptible to the damaging effects of this inflammation.