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Blood Press. 2005;14(6):373-82.

High sodium intake increases vascular superoxide formation and promotes atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice.

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Institute of Biomedicine, Pharmacology, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Hypertension is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis. We tested the hypothesis whether high salt intake aggravates endothelial dysfunction and promotes atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice (ApoE(-)/(-) mice) and their littermate controls (C57Bl/6 mice). The role of increased oxidative stress was also examined. A high-salt diet (NaCl 7%) for 12 weeks increased blood pressure and induced cardiac hypertrophy and albuminuria more pronouncedly in ApoE(-)/(-) mice compared with C57Bl/6. Endothelium-dependent vascular relaxation in response to acetylcholine was almost maximally impaired in ApoE(-)/(-) mice during a normal sodium diet. A high-salt diet did not further impair NO-mediated vascular relaxation. A high-salt diet also markedly attenuated endothelium-dependent relaxation in C57Bl/6 mice. Preincubation with the superoxide scavenger Tiron normalized endothelial function almost completely in both mice strains indicating the central role of increased oxidative stress in the pathogenesis. Aortic superoxide production and the extent of atherosclerotic lesions were greater in ApoE(-)/(-) mice on a normal-salt diet compared with C57Bl/6. The high-salt diet increased vascular superoxide formation and promoted atherosclerosis in ApoE(-)/(-) mice. Changes in dietary salt intake did not influence serum lipids in either mouse strains. Our findings suggest a detrimental role for high salt intake in the development of atherosclerosis and underscore the importance of increased oxidative stress in the pathogenesis salt-induced vascular damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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