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Hypertension. 2004 Feb;43(2):142-6. Epub 2004 Jan 5.

Salt intake, endothelial cell signaling, and progression of kidney disease.

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  • 1Nephrology Research and Training Center, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-0007, USA.


It has been known for decades that increased dietary intake of salt (NaCl) shortens the life span of rats in a dose-dependent fashion. This review focuses specifically on the recently described biological effect and consequences of increased salt ingestion on the endothelium through a mechanism that is independent of blood pressure. Changes in salt intake are recognized by endothelial cells in the vascular tree and glomeruli through a physical process that promotes a series of signaling events involved in transcriptional regulation of genes that include transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) and the endothelial isoform of nitric oxide synthase (NOS3). A balance is struck between TGF-beta1 and NOS3 as salt intake varies and creates a negative feedback loop, because TGF-beta1 increased expression of NOS3 and NO inhibited production of TGF-beta1 in healthy rats. Changes in this feedback system have been observed in salt-sensitive hypertension and appear to impact end-organ damage, particularly the kidney. The data support an important benefit to reduction of salt intake in the setting of chronic kidney disease.

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