Scientists from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre have found that an anti-aging gene might play a critical role in regulation of high blood pressure.
Persistent high blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke, heart attack, heart failure, arterial aneurysm and is the leading cause of chronic kidney failure.
Lead researcher Zhongjie Sun has discovered that anti-aging gene called klotho can be manipulated to regulate hypertension and also reverse kidney damage.
The research team showed that by increasing the expression of the gene in laboratory models, they not only stopped blood pressure from continuing to rise, but succeeded in lowering it and reverse kidney damage completely.
"One single injection of the klotho gene can reduce hypertension for at least 12 weeks and possibly longer," said Sun.
"Klotho is also available as a protein and, conceivably, we could ingest it as a powder much like we do with protein drinks," Sun added.
With age, the klotho level decreases while the prevalence of hypertension increases.
During the study, researchers used one injection of the klotho gene in hypertensive research models and were able to markedly reduce blood pressure by the second week.
It continued to decline steadily for 12 weeks. The klotho gene was delivered with a safe viral vector that is currently used for gene therapy.
The study appears in journal Hypertension.