Studying a ‘radical’ enzyme linked to high blood pressure

Vascular Nox5 and hypertension: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic implications.

Rhian Touyz (lead researcher)

Glasgow, University of

Start date: 01 April 2013 (Duration 5 years)

This programme of research examines how an enzyme, Nox5, contributes to high blood pressure through the production of free radicals. High free radical levels may be due to increased production or to reduced antioxidants in cells. Although there is much publicity about the benefits of antioxidant, clinical studies have been disappointing. Professor Rhian Touyz, BHF Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Glasgow, believes that this may be because high free radical levels are due mainly to increased production of these damaging molecules, rather than to insufficient antioxidants. In high blood pressure, blood vessels are damaged. Cells lining the blood vessels do not function properly, and the structure of the blood vessel changes. This damage is caused by inflammation – the activation of the immune system – and a process called oxidative stress, when harmful molecules damage cells. High levels of molecules called free radicals are partly responsible for oxidative stress. Professor Touyz has discovered that an enzyme called Nox5 is partly responsible for producing the higher levels of free radicals in blood vessels, causing inflammation in blood vessel cells. Professor Touyz also found higher levels of Nox5 in small arteries in people with hypertension, suggesting a key role for Nox5 in high blood pressure. This new award will enable Professor Touyz to find out how Nox5 causes blood vessel damage in hypertension. She will investigate its role and how it is controlled in human cells, in mice, and in people with high blood pressure. She will also look for new molecules that could be used to better diagnose blood vessel damage, before blood pressure becomes dangerously high. The research will lead to better understandings of the causes of high blood pressure, and could lead to new treatments that target the Nox5 enzyme, protecting blood vessels from damage.

Project details

Grant amount £1,120,033
Grant type Programme Grant
Start Date 01 April 2013
Duration 5 years
Reference RG/13/7/30099
Status Complete

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