How Salt May Increase Hypertension Risk

AUGUSTA, Ga., June 22 (UPI) — Inflammation from excess fat causes the body to retain more sodium and, as a result, more fluid causing higher blood pressure, U.S. researchers said.

“It’s well established that obesity increases inflammation, salt sensitivity and high blood pressure,” corresponding author Dr. Yanbin Dong, a geneticist and cardiologist at Medical College of Georgia, said in a statement.

Dong and colleagues said the process appears to start with fat producing more inflammatory factors, such as interleukin-6, or IL-6.

The research team exposed mouse kidney cells to IL-6 and found increased production of prostasin, a protease, which typically inhibits a protein’s action. But when prostasin cut fellow protein — epithelial sodium channel — it increased its activity and so did salt reabsorption.

“It’s very special; there are not too many proteases like that. We found that in cells fed IL-6, epithelial sodium channel gets activated and the cells take in more sodium,” Dong said. “It is the last step of your salt reabsorption.”

If the findings in mice are true in humans, a simple urine test could one day help identify those at risk for or experiencing this type of inflammation-based hypertension, Dong said.

The researchers are measuring levels of prostasis, which is excreted in the urine, in obese people with and without hypertension as well as normal-weight individuals, Dong said.

The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology Regulatory — Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

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