How NaCl raises blood pressure: a new paradigm for the pathogenesis of salt-dependent hypertension

Dept. of Physiology, Univ. of Maryland School of Medicine, 655 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD, 21201, USA.
AJP Heart and Circulatory Physiology (Impact Factor: 4.01). 11/2011; 302(5):H1031-49. DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00899.2011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Excess dietary salt is a major cause of hypertension. Nevertheless, the specific mechanisms by which salt increases arterial constriction and peripheral vascular resistance, and thereby raises blood pressure (BP), are poorly understood. Here we summarize recent evidence that defines specific molecular links between Na(+) and the elevated vascular resistance that directly produces high BP. In this new paradigm, high dietary salt raises cerebrospinal fluid [Na(+)]. This leads, via the Na(+)-sensing circumventricular organs of the brain, to increased sympathetic nerve activity (SNA), a major trigger of vasoconstriction. Plasma levels of endogenous ouabain (EO), the Na(+) pump ligand, also become elevated. Remarkably, high cerebrospinal fluid [Na(+)]-evoked, locally secreted (hypothalamic) EO participates in a pathway that mediates the sustained increase in SNA. This hypothalamic signaling chain includes aldosterone, epithelial Na(+) channels, EO, ouabain-sensitive α(2) Na(+) pumps, and angiotensin II (ANG II). The EO increases (e.g.) hypothalamic ANG-II type-1 receptor and NADPH oxidase and decreases neuronal nitric oxide synthase protein expression. The aldosterone-epithelial Na(+) channel-EO-α(2) Na(+) pump-ANG-II pathway modulates the activity of brain cardiovascular control centers that regulate the BP set point and induce sustained changes in SNA. In the periphery, the EO secreted by the adrenal cortex directly enhances vasoconstriction via an EO-α(2) Na(+) pump-Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger-Ca(2+) signaling pathway. Circulating EO also activates an EO-α(2) Na(+) pump-Src kinase signaling cascade. This increases the expression of the Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger-transient receptor potential cation channel Ca(2+) signaling pathway in arterial smooth muscle but decreases the expression of endothelial vasodilator mechanisms. Additionally, EO is a growth factor and may directly participate in the arterial structural remodeling and lumen narrowing that is frequently observed in established hypertension. These several central and peripheral mechanisms are coordinated, in part by EO, to effect and maintain the salt-induced elevation of BP.

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