London, April 29 : The pills people take to decrease blood pressure could also help them lose weight and body fat, according to a new study on mice.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers are blood pressure drugs that block key steps in a system that helps control blood pressure and reduce fluid build-up in the body.
This pathway is known as the renin-angiotensin system. Previous studies have suggested that the renin-angiotensin system plays a role in body fat and obesity.
In the current study, Michael Mathai and colleagues in Australia examined mice that were missing a gene that encodes for angiotensin-converting enzyme, a key protein for the renin-angiotensin system.
They discovered that those without the gene weighed 20 percent less.
The lightweight mice also had about 50 percent less body fat than their heavyweight counterparts, particularly in the belly area, reports New Scientist magazine.
The mice also cleared excess sugar from the blood faster, making them less prone to diabetes, the results showed.
This suggests that mice lacking ACE can burn off excess energy without skimping on food or being more physically active, the researchers said.
They added that the study results demonstrate that an ACE deficiency leads to reduction in body fat accumulation in mice and suggests that drugs that affect the renin-angiotensin system, such as ACE inhibitors, might spark weight loss, especially in the midsection.
ACE "seems to increase fat storage and the creation of new fat cells", said Mathai, adding that ACE inhibitors might therefore help people lose weight.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.