Placenta cells may lower blood pressure, study finds

Tuesday, 06 February, 2024

Placenta cells may lower blood pressure, study finds

Scientists from La Trobe University and the Hudson Institute of Medical Research have demonstrated that cells from placentas could have therapeutic benefits for patients suffering from high blood pressure.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the leading cause of strokes and heart attacks, and over time creates inflammation in the arteries and can lead to vascular dementia. More than one in every three Australians over the age of 18 has high blood pressure.

La Trobe researchers including Dr Michael De Silva, Dr Quynh Nhu Dinh and Professor Chris Sobey have now found that placenta cells, donated by mothers after caesareans and collected by the Hudson Institute, reduced inflammation and prevented cognitive impairment. Their findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, build on the groundbreaking results of La Trobe’s previous studies using these cells in stroke models.

“If infused within a day after a stroke, the cells target the affected area of the brain and reduce inflammation and nerve cell death,” De Silva said.

“We realised that we could test if similar protection could be seen in reducing the damage high blood pressure causes in the body, and we found that the treatment reduced inflammation in blood vessels.”

De Silva acknowledged that the research is in its early stages and said the team would continue to work on how it may benefit patients with high blood pressure, but believes the work could eventually lead to a new form of therapy that reduces damage to blood vessels and the brain when blood pressure is high. In the next phase, the new therapy will be assessed for its efficacy at reducing brain injury caused by stroke, pending TGA approval.

“While a drug can reduce high blood pressure, these cells could target inflammation in the arteries caused by hypertension and therefore reduce the associated risks of cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment,” De Silva said.

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