Central nervous system dysfunction in obesity-induced hypertension Academic Article uri icon


  • The activation of the sympathetic nervous system is a major mechanism underlying both human and experimental models of obesity-related hypertension. While insulin and the adipokine leptin have long been thought to contribute to obesity-related neurogenic mechanisms, the evidence is now very strong that they play a major role, shown particularly in animal studies using selective receptor antagonists. There is not just maintenance of leptin's sympatho-excitatory actions as previously suggested but considerable amplification particularly in renal sympathetic nervous activity. Importantly, these changes are not dependent on short-term elevation or reduction in plasma leptin or insulin, but require some weeks to develop indicating a slow "neural adaptivity" within hypothalamic signalling. These effects can be carried across generations even when offspring are raised on a normal diet. A better understanding of the underlying mechanism should be a high research priority given the prevalence of obesity not just in the current population but also for future generations.


  • Head, Geoffrey A
  • Lim, Kyungjoon
  • Barzel, Benjamin
  • Burke, Sandra L
  • Davern, Pamela J

publication date

  • 2014