High blood pressure has been directly associated with poor cardiovascular health for decades, but new studies have shown that the Renin-Angiotenstion System (RAS) that is associated with blood pressure regulation also affects metabolism and energy balance.
As found by Grobe and colleagues (2016), when the RAS is elevated in the brain, it increases energy expenditure by increasing resting metabolism, resulting in weight loss. However, increased activity of the RAS circulating in the body (the peripheral RAS) which occurs during obesity in humans and experimental animals – has the opposite effect, decreasing resting metabolism and increasing weight gain.
The new findings show that circulating angiotensin reduces the resting metabolic rate by activating its less common receptor (angiotensin II type receptor or AT2) on subcutaneous fat cells. In genetically modified mice with hyper-activated brain RAS, resting metabolic rate and weight loss was increased compared to controls despite having similar levels of food intake and physical activity.
Exactly how this system acts on subcutaneous fat cells, and the implications for future treatment of obesity requires further investigation.
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