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New Research Suggests Dietary Interventions Could Slow Progression of Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension, a condition causing high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs, affects approximately 1% of the global population. While there is currently no cure for this condition, treatment options focus on managing symptoms and extending life expectancy through medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes.

Recent research, however, offers a glimmer of hope. A study published in Cell Metabolism has explored the effects of dietary interventions on pulmonary hypertension, revealing promising results.

Led by Stephen Y. Chan, MD, PhD, the study investigated the impact of dietary modifications, particularly limiting the amino acids glutamine and serine, on pulmonary hypertension. The researchers observed that lung blood vessel fibroblasts in individuals with pulmonary hypertension exhibited a heightened demand for these amino acids, which are essential for collagen production.

Using a mouse model, the research team administered drugs that reduced the cellular uptake of glutamine and serine. Remarkably, this intervention alleviated the craving of pulmonary hypertensive blood vessels for these amino acids. Moreover, it halted the excess production of collagen, which contributes to the stiffening of lung blood vessels and impaired function in pulmonary hypertension.

In addition to uncovering the therapeutic potential of dietary interventions, the study led to the development of a new diagnostic test for pulmonary hypertension. This test utilizes positron emission tomography (PET) scan technology and a glutamine imaging tracer to track the distribution of glutamine in the body. Cells exhibiting heightened demand for glutamine are distinguishable on the PET scan, aiding in the diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension.

According to Chan, the newly developed diagnostic test addresses a critical obstacle in managing pulmonary hypertension. Traditionally, diagnosing this condition requires an invasive procedure known as cardiac catheterization, which is not universally available. By providing a noninvasive alternative, the PET scan-based diagnostic test offers a valuable tool for accurately identifying and treating patients with pulmonary hypertension, particularly in rural or isolated settings where access to invasive procedures may be limited.

The findings of this study offer promising avenues for the management and diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension. By highlighting the potential therapeutic benefits of dietary interventions and introducing a noninvasive diagnostic test, this research marks significant progress in the fight against pulmonary hypertension, ultimately improving patient outcomes and enhancing healthcare accessibility.

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