A compound that is usually found in explosives may be able to prevent hereditary hypertension in women, according to a German study.
Researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University have found that pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), an explosive compound that is part of the same chemical family as nitroglycerin and nitrocellulose (which are found in dynamite and gunpowder) was able to stop high blood pressure from developing in the female offspring of rats with hypertension.
The researchers administered 50 mg of PETN in pregnant rats with high blood pressure for every 1 kg they weighed.
While PETN had no direct effect on blood pressure for the female rats, it appeared to lower systolic blood pressure in their offspring by about 10 to 13 mm/Hg. As such, they concluded that the compound is not directly responsible for lowering blood pressure. Instead, it triggers changes in the genes of the offspring, causing them to produce more blood vessel-relaxing molecules.
“While the pre-birth programming effect of PETN shows promise for future clinical implications, we must be careful about generalizing findings from animal studies to humans,” said Huige Li, MD, one of the authors of the study.
“We should first evaluate the blood pressure development and the long-term safety in the children of such PETN-treated patients before considering maternal PETN treatments as a therapy option for hypertension in humans.”
Poor diet, lack of physical activity, high alcohol consumption and obesity are all risk factors for high blood pressure, but these can be controlled.
Unfortunately, there are some risk factors for the condition – such as a family history of high blood pressure – that cannot be changed. But researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, say this could one day change for daughters of mothers with high blood pressure.