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What is the topic of this review? Regarding the global metabolic syndrome crisis, this review focuses on common mechanisms for high blood sugar and high blood pressure. Connections are made between the homeostatic regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar and their dysregulation to reveal signalling mechanisms converging on the carotid body. What advances does it highlight? The carotid body plays a major part in the generation of excessive sympathetic activity in diabetes and also underpins diabetic hypertension. As treatment of diabetic hypertension is notoriously difficult, we propose that novel receptors within the carotid body may provide a novel treatment strategy. The maintenance of glucose homeostasis is obligatory for health and survival. It relies on peripheral glucose sensing and signalling between the brain and peripheral organs via hormonal and neural responses that restore euglycaemia. Failure of these mechanisms causes hyperglycaemia or diabetes. Current anti-diabetic medications control blood glucose but many patients remain with hyperglycemic condition. Diabetes is often associated with hypertension; the latter is more difficult to control in hyperglycaemic conditions. We ask whether a better understanding of the regulatory mechanisms of glucose control could improve treatment of both diabetes and hypertension when they co-exist. With the involvement of the carotid body (CB) in glucose sensing, metabolic regulation and control of sympathetic nerve activity, we consider the CB as a potential treatment target for both diabetes and hypertension. We provide an update on the role of the CB in glucose sensing and glucose homeostasis. Physiologically, hypoglycaemia stimulates the release of hormones such as glucagon and adrenaline, which mobilize or synthesize glucose; however, these counter-regulatory responses were markedly attenuated after denervation of the CBs in animals. Also, CB denervation prevents and reverses insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. We discuss the CB as a metabolic regulator (not just a sensor of blood gases) and consider recent evidence of novel 'metabolic' receptors within the CB and putative signalling peptides that may control glucose homeostasis via modulation of the sympathetic nervous system. The evidence presented may inform future clinical strategies in the treatment of patients with both diabetes and hypertension, which may include the CB. © 2023 The Authors. Experimental Physiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The Physiological Society.


Pratik Thakkar, Audrys G Pauza, David Murphy, Julian F R Paton. Carotid body: an emerging target for cardiometabolic co-morbidities. Experimental physiology. 2023 May;108(5):661-671

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PMID: 36999224

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