Age-related hypertension is largely a consequence of arterial stiffening, as the loss of elasticity causes the evolved feedback mechanisms that control blood pressure to run awry. For the causes of blood vessel stiffening, we can look at, for example, cross-linking in the extracellular matrix, and senescent cells and other sources of inflammation producing calcification in blood vessel walls. Other sources of dysfunction appear to involve more complex and poorly understood changes in cell behavior, however. This includes the failure of vascular smooth muscle tissue to contract and dilate appropriately, and alterations in the activities of cells responsible for maintaining the structure of the extracellular matrix that determines the physical properties of blood vessel walls.
Changes in cell behavior are more complicated than purely chemical processes such as cross-linking, but also more comfortable for researchers used to the present dominant approach in medical research, which is to deliver new instructions to cells, in an effort to partially override their reaction to damage and the aged environment. The open access paper here is an example of the type. Benefits can be achieved in this way, as the stem cell
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