Sweet News About Salt Retention

Researchers discover mechanism that influences salt retention; could lead to better treatment for hypertension

(RxWiki News) Researchers at University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio have shown how an essential function of the kidneys regulates blood pressure, which could lead to better treatments for hypertension.

UTHSC scientists demonstrated how the distal nephron (the end segment of nephrons that help determine blood pressure by regulating the amount of sodium in blood) is controlled by a local regulatory system in the kidneys. Loss or dysfunction of this system leads to hypertension caused by improper salt retention in mice, according to the research.

The study provides "the first unequivocal evidence" of a blood-pressure control mechanism in the distal nephrons of the kidneys, said senior author James Stockand, Ph.D., professor of physiology at the Health Science Center, who added sodium re-absorption by this system is as important to normal blood-pressure regulation as a better-known function known as the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which works outside kidneys.

The finding could lead to better targets and more effective treatments for hypertension, one of the most common conditions affecting Americans and sometimes a precursor to heart disease. An estimated 600 million people worldwide suffer from high blood pressure.

Review Date: 
January 17, 2011