Skin and immune system influence salt storage and regulate blood pressure

September 8, 2012

High blood pressure is responsible for many cardiovascular diseases that are the leading cause of death in industrialized countries. High salt intake has long been considered a risk factor, but not every type of high blood pressure is associated with high salt intake. This has puzzled scientists for a long time. However, new findings by Professor Jens Titze (Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA and the University of Erlangen) now point to previously unknown mechanisms. Accordingly, the skin and the immune system play an important role in the regulation of the sodium balance and hypertension, as he reported at the 1st ECRC "Franz-Volhard" Symposium of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin on September 7, 2012 in Berlin-Buch.

The water and salt balance of the body is of great importance for blood pressure. The decisive factor is the kidney, which regulates how much water is retained in the body and how much is excreted. In this way it regulates the volume of blood and thus influences blood pressure. However, new findings by Professor Titze, one of the leading experts in the field, show that organs and systems of the body that hitherto were not associated with water and salt balance have an influence on blood pressure: the skin and the immune system.

Professor Titze showed that sodium can be stored in the connective tissue of the skin. "The sodium concentration can be higher in the skin than in blood. This means that not only the kidney regulates sodium balance but that there must be additional mechanisms," the researcher explained. His research group demonstrated that the immune system plays an important role in this mechanism: A specific type of immune cells, the macrophages – literally "big eaters" in Greek – recognize high in the skin. They subsequently activate a gene that in turn ensures that the (VEGF-C) is released in large amounts into the skin. VEGF-C controls the growth of lymphatic vessels that transport fluid and sodium. If this factor is released in higher amounts, lymphatic vessels grow into the skin and ensure that the stored sodium can be transported away again.

In animal experiments Professor Titze's research team blocked this mechanism. As a result, the rats and mice in the experiment developed high blood pressure. "The apparently regulate salt balance and blood pressure," Professor Titze said. "In addition, data from a first clinical study showed that large amounts of salt are stored in the skin of patients with ."

Explore further: Too much salt may damage blood vessels, lead to high blood pressure

Related Stories

Too much salt may damage blood vessels, lead to high blood pressure

June 18, 2012
Eating a high-salt diet for several years may damage blood vessels — increasing your risk of developing high blood pressure, according to research reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. People ...

New insights into salt transport in the kidney

August 23, 2012
Sodium chloride, better known as salt, is vital for the organism, and the kidneys play a crucial role in the regulation of sodium balance. However, the underlying mechanisms of sodium balance are not yet completely understood. ...

Genetic defect disturbs salt handling and pushes up blood pressure levels

November 25, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Hypertension is an endemic condition with far-reaching consequences. For instance, high blood pressure is the main cause of heart attacks and strokes. Other organs are also damaged by the chronic condition. ...

Abnormal activation of a protein may explain deadly link between high salt intake and obesity

September 19, 2011
Dietary salt intake and obesity are two important risk factors in the development of high blood pressure. Each packs its own punch, but when combined, they deliver more damage to the heart and kidneys than the sum of their ...

Researcher finds link between brain signaling and renal function

June 4, 2012
Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers recently uncovered a brain signaling pathway responsible for regulating the renal excretion of sodium. The findings appear in the Journal of the Federation of American ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover key signaling protein for muscle growth

November 20, 2017
Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered the importance of a well-known protein, myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88), in the development and regeneration of muscles. Ashok Kumar, Ph.D., ...

New breast cell types discovered by multidisciplinary research team

November 20, 2017
A joint effort by breast cancer researchers and bioinformaticians has provided new insights into the molecular changes that drive breast development.

Brain cell advance brings hope for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

November 20, 2017
Scientists have developed a new system to study Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the laboratory, paving the way for research to find treatments for the fatal brain disorder.

Hibernating ground squirrels provide clues to new stroke treatments

November 17, 2017
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels.

Molecular guardian defends cells, organs against excess cholesterol

November 16, 2017
A team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, ...

Prototype ear plug sensor could improve monitoring of vital signs

November 16, 2017
Scientists have developed a sensor that fits in the ear, with the aim of monitoring the heart, brain and lungs functions for health and fitness.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.