How plants communicate with each other, can genetic material from the brain trigger an immune response, and is it possible to successfully lower your blood pressure from home?

Blood pressure telemonitoring yields short-term blood pressure reduction

(Mobi Health News, 9/10/2018, Laura Lovett)

A recent study published by JAMA Network Open found that follow-up home blood pressure telemonitoring could help patients with uncontrolled hypertension lower their blood pressure in the short term. However, researchers found that in the long term, those who received the intervention had similar results to those who got the standard of care. In the study, researchers analyzed blood pressure changes from patients with uncontrolled hypertension over the course of multiple years. Researchers found that at the 12-month follow up, patients who received the intervention saw their mean blood pressure drop from a systolic blood pressure of 148 mm Hg at baseline to 125.7 mm Hg, compared to patients in the control group with the same baseline systolic blood pressure whose number dropped to 134.8 mm Hg after a year. However, after 4 ½ years, , the results narrowed between the two groups; at the 54-month follow up, patients who had received the intervention had a systolic blood pressure rate of 130.6 mm Hg, whereas the standard-of-care group had a mean of 132.6 mm Hg.

Brain’s Dumped DNA May Lead to Stress, Depression

(Scientific American, 9/13/2018, Knvul Sheikh)

We have all been in a stressful situation where your heart rate spikes, breath quickens, and muscles tense up. Scientists are starting to realize stress often exacerbates several diseases, including depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and asthma. One theory is hoping to explain the link between stress and such widespread havoc by laying the blame on an unexpected source—the microscopic powerhouses inside each cell. Our fight-or-flight response places extreme demands on the mitochondria. Suddenly, they need to produce much more energy to fuel a faster heartbeat, expanding lungs and tensing muscles, which leaves them vulnerable to damage. Unlike DNA in the cell’s nucleus, though, mitochondria have limited repair mechanisms. And recent animal studies have shown chronic stress not only leads to mitochondrial damage in brain regions such as the hippocampus, hypothalamus and cortex, it also results in mitochondria releasing their DNA into the cell cytoplasm, and eventually into the blood.

Plants communicate distress using their own kind of nervous system

(Science, 9/13/2018, Elizabeth Pennisi)

When you think of plants, I’m sure you don’t think about their immense brain power. But they do have a nervous system, sort of. Plant biologists have discovered that when a leaf gets eaten, it warns other leaves by using some of the same signals as animals. The new work is starting to unravel a long-standing mystery about how different parts of a plant communicate with one another. Animal nerve cells talk to each other with the aid of an amino acid called glutamate, which—after being released by an excited nerve cell—helps set off a wave of calcium ions in adjacent cells. The wave travels down the next nerve cell, which relays a signal to the next one in line, enabling long-distance communication. Although plant biologists already know that changes to one part of a plant are sensed by the others, they had no idea how that information was transmitted. Now that they have seen the calcium wave and the role of glutamate, researchers can better monitor and—perhaps one day even manipulate—the plant’s internal communications.

 

 

—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola