May 14 2009
Scientists have found that cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a cause of high blood pressure and in some cases, atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. CMV is a very common virus that affects between 60 and 99 percent of adults worldwide; you might be familiar with CMV as the cause of mononucleosis.
The scientists tested two groups of mice. One group was fed a normal diet and the other a high cholesterol diet. Mice infected with CMV in both diet groups experienced an increase in blood pressure relative to the control mice. One mechanism for this CMV seems to be an enhanced production of renin, an enzyme directly involved in causing high blood pressure, caused by CMV. In addition, the infected high-cholesterol mice also had atherosclerosis, which suggests that an interaction between CMV and high cholesterol levels leads to hypertension.