Study Reveals Potential of Dietary Changes in Treating Pulmonary Hypertension

by Ella

Pulmonary hypertension, a condition characterized by high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs, affects approximately 1% of the global population. Despite advancements in medical science, there remains no definitive cure for pulmonary hypertension. However, a recent study published in Cell Metabolism suggests that dietary interventions may hold promise in managing the disease and enhancing the efficacy of existing treatments.

Lead by Stephen Y. Chan, MD, PhD, the study, conducted at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, focused on the effects of dietary modifications on pulmonary hypertension. The research team discovered a link between specific amino acids, namely glutamine and serine, and disease progression in pulmonary hypertension.


Dr. Chan elaborated on the rationale behind their investigation, noting that diseased cells known as fibroblasts within the lung blood vessels exhibit a heightened demand for glutamine and serine. This increased requirement, Dr. Chan explained, is attributed to the fibroblasts’ need to enhance collagen production, thereby stiffening the blood vessels in the diseased state.


Through experiments conducted on a mouse model, the researchers observed promising outcomes. Administering drugs that reduced the cellular uptake of glutamine and serine resulted in a notable alleviation of the craving observed in pulmonary hypertensive blood vessels. Furthermore, the inhibition of glutamine and serine uptake effectively halted the overproduction of collagen, thus preventing the stiffening of lung blood vessels and preserving their function.


Beyond therapeutic implications, the study also introduced a novel diagnostic test for pulmonary hypertension. Leveraging positron emission tomography (PET) scan technology and a glutamine imaging tracer, the researchers developed a noninvasive method to identify the disease. By tracking the uptake of glutamine in cells, particularly those exhibiting heightened demand, the diagnostic test offers a promising alternative to the invasive cardiac catheterization procedure currently used for diagnosis.


Dr. Chan emphasized the significance of this diagnostic advancement, highlighting the challenges associated with current diagnostic methods and the urgent need for improved noninvasive technologies. With accurate and early diagnosis being pivotal in managing pulmonary hypertension effectively, the development of noninvasive diagnostic tools represents a critical step towards addressing the unmet needs of patients, particularly in underserved or isolated healthcare settings.

The findings of this study underscore the potential of dietary interventions in managing pulmonary hypertension and offer new avenues for both therapeutic and diagnostic advancements in the field. As researchers continue to unravel the complexities of this debilitating disease, the pursuit of innovative approaches holds promise in improving outcomes and enhancing the quality of life for individuals living with pulmonary hypertension.



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