Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia have documented a chain of events showing that excess fat can cause the body to retain more sodium and, consequently, more fluid resulting in higher blood pressure.
Their findings point toward a biomarker in the urine that could one day help physicians identify the most effective therapy for these patients.
Team leader Yanbin Dong said, "It's well established that obesity increases inflammation, salt sensitivity and high blood pressure," referring to the study in the American Journal of Physiology Regulatory - Integrative and Comparative Physiology .
Dong's team outlined the process that appears to start with fat producing more inflammatory factors, such as interleukin-6, or IL-6.
When he and his colleagues exposed mouse kidney cells to the fat inflammatory factor, interleukin-6, they found increased salt reabsorption.
Whether the mouse reactions function the same way in humans remains to be seen, but it appears Dong may have found a way to gauge this activity in humans. Dong already is measuring obese people with and without hypertension as well as normal-weight individuals. A simple urine test could one day help identify those at risk for or experiencing this type of inflammation-based hypertension, he said.