The immune system is known to contribute to the development of high blood pressure in males. However, the role of the immune system in the development of high blood pressure in females and the role of ovarian hormones has only recently begun to be studied. In animal studies, both the sex of the host and the T cell are critical biological determinants of susceptibility and resistance to hypertension induced by angiotensin II. In women, natural menopause is known to result in significant changes in the expression of genes regulating the immune system. Likewise, in animal models, ovariectomy results in hypertension and an upregulation in T-cell tumour necrosis factor-α-related genes. Oestrogen replacement results in decreases in inflammatory genes in the brain regions involved in blood pressure regulation. Together, these studies suggest that the response of the adaptive immune system to ovarian hormone deficiency is a significant contributor to hypertension in women.
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