Scientists at Chinese Academy of Sciences, have developed transgenic rice that contains multiple antihypertensive peptides (MAHPs) derived from food proteins.
When given to hypertensive rats, the transgenic rice flour lowered the animals’ blood pressure, with no evidence of adverse developmental or other side effects on either hypertensive rats, or normal, wild-type (WT) rats.
The findings could mean that in the future, taking blood pressure-lowering medication might be as simple as eating a spoonful of rice.
The antihypertensive peptides in rice might also have fewer side effects than current synthetic blood pressure medicines, the researchers suggested.
The team, headed by Le Qing Qu, reported on the transgenic rice and initial in vivo tests in rats, in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, in an article titled, “Hypotensive Activity of Transgenic Rice Seed Accumulating Multiple Antihypertensive peptides.”
In their paper, the scientists concluded, “The MAHPs produced by transgenic rice are expected to serve as alternatives to current antihypertensive agents.”
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Synthetic ACE inhibitor drugs that are commonly used to treat hypertension target angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), which plays a crucial role in blood pressure regulation.
However, these synthetic ACE inhibitors can cause unwanted side effects, such as dry cough, headache, skin rashes, and kidney impairment.
In contrast, natural ACE inhibitors found in some foods, including milk, eggs, fish, meat, and plants, might have fewer side effects.
“Known for having fewer side effects, these bioactive peptides could serve as alternatives to current antihypertensive medicines,” the authors wrote.
However, purifying large amounts of ACE-inhibitory peptides from foods is expensive and time-consuming, which is a major drawback to their widespread use. “ … as a result of the high cost associated with the multiple processing steps (i.e., fermentation and/or enzymatic digestion and purification) needed to produce peptides, usage of food-derived ACE inhibitory peptides is limited,” the team continued.
Le Qing Qu and colleagues set out to genetically modify rice—one of the world’s most commonly eaten foods—to produce a mixture of ACE-inhibitory peptides from other food sources.
“Rice (Oryza sativa) is a staple food for more than half of the world’s population,” the investigators wrote.
“Rice seed is also an ideal platform for the production of recombinant proteins, because it has a high yield, low growth cost, large storage ability, and high storage safety with respect to recombinant protein.”