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1.  Oxidative Stress-Induced Glomerular Mineralocorticoid Receptor Activation Limits the Benefit of Salt Reduction in Dahl Salt-Sensitive Rats 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41896.
Mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) antagonists attenuate renal injury in salt-sensitive hypertensive rats with low plasma aldosterone levels. We hypothesized that oxidative stress causes MR activation in high-salt-fed Dahl salt-sensitive rats. Furthermore, we determined if MR activation persisted and induced renal injury, even after switching from a high- to a normal-salt diet.
Methods and Findings
High-salt feeding for 4 weeks increased dihydroethidium fluorescence (DHE, an oxidant production marker), p22phox (a NADPH oxidase subunit) and serum and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase-1 (SGK1, an MR transcript) in glomeruli, compared with normal-salt feeding, and these changes persisted 4 weeks after salt withdrawal. Tempol treatment (0.5 mmol/L) during high-salt feeding abolished the changes in DHE fluorescence, p22phox and SGK1. Dietary salt reduction after a 4-week high-salt diet decreased both blood pressure and proteinuria, but was associated with significantly higher proteinuria than in normal control rats at 4 weeks after salt reduction. Administration of tempol during high-salt feeding, or eplerenone, an MR antagonist (100 mg/kg/day), started after salt reduction, recovered proteinuria to normal levels at 4 weeks after salt reduction. Paraquat, a reactive oxygen species generator, enhanced MR transcriptional activity in cultured rat mesangial cells and mouse podocytes.
These results suggest that oxidative stress plays an important role in glomerular MR activation in Dahl salt-sensitive rats. Persistent MR activation even after reducing salt intake could limit the beneficial effects of salt restriction.
PMCID: PMC3404044  PMID: 22911865
2.  Eplerenone Suppresses Salt-Induced Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Expression in the Kidney 
Kidney & Blood Pressure Research  2010;33(3):167-173.
It is well accepted that high dietary salt intake accelerates both hypertension and target organ damage. We have previously shown that eplerenone attenuates sustained elevated systolic blood pressure in Dahl salt-sensitive (SS) rats. In the present study, we investigated the role of eplerenone on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression because we suspected that eplerenone treatment may trigger a unique mechanism that relies on the downregulation of VEGF.
Dahl SS rats were fed a high salt (8% NaCl) diet for 3 weeks and then switched to normal salt (0.3% NaCl) diet with or without treatment with eplerenone (100 mg/kg/day), enalapril (30 mg/kg/day) and their combination for an additional 3 weeks.
In addition to reducing blood pressure, eplerenone inhibited glomeruli sclerosis and suppressed the expression of VEGF and endothelial nitric oxide synthase mRNA as well as protein levels.
Based on these findings, we suggest that in part, VEGF stimulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase plays a significant role in the eplerenone-induced reversal of the renal and vascular damage caused by high dietary salt intake.
PMCID: PMC2914374  PMID: 20571278
Mineralcorticoid receptor antagonist; Hypertension; Nitric oxide synthase; Dahl rat
3.  Eplerenone suppresses aldosterone/salt-induced expression of NOX-4 
Salt-induced hypertension in the Dahl rat is associated with increases in angiotensin II, aldosterone, free radical generation and endothelial dysfunction. However, little is known about the specific mechanism(s) associated with the end-organ damage effects of aldosterone. We hypothesised that eplerenone reduces kidney damage by blocking nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase activity.
Dahl salt-sensitive rats fed either a low-salt (LS) or high-salt (HS) diet were treated with aldosterone in the presence of eplerenone or apocynin. Indirect blood pressure was measured prior to start of diet and weekly thereafter. Levels of plasma nitric oxide (NO) and urinary 8-isoprostane were measured following treatment. Protein levels of selected subunits of NADPH were assessed by western blot.
Eplerenone and apocynin inhibited the rise in blood pressure induced by HS and/or aldosterone. This observation was accompanied with a parallel change in kidney protein levels of NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX-4) and p22phox. Aldosterone and high salt were associated with lower NO levels and greater renal oxidative stress.
NADPH oxidase is associated with the vascular and renal remodelling observed in high dietary salt intake. Aldosterone-induced expression of NOX-4 plays a pivotal role in the end-organ damage effect of aldosterone, as eplerenone tended to reduce kidney damage and inhibit NOX expression.
PMCID: PMC3351030  PMID: 21292834
Aldosterone; eplerenone; hypertension; NADPH oxidase inhibitor
4.  Rac1 GTPase in rodent kidneys is essential for salt-sensitive hypertension via a mineralocorticoid receptor–dependent pathway 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(8):3233-3243.
Hypertension is a leading contributor to cardiovascular mortality worldwide. Despite this, its underlying mechanism(s) and the role of excess salt in cardiorenal dysfunction are unclear. Previously, we have identified cross-talk between mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), a nuclear transcription factor regulated by the steroid aldosterone, and the small GTPase Rac1, which is implicated in proteinuric kidney disease. We here show that high-salt loading activates Rac1 in the kidneys in rodent models of salt-sensitive hypertension, leading to blood pressure elevation and renal injury via an MR-dependent pathway. We found that a high-salt diet caused renal Rac1 upregulation in salt-sensitive Dahl (Dahl-S) rats and downregulation in salt-insensitive Dahl (Dahl-R) rats. Despite a reduction of serum aldosterone levels, salt-loaded Dahl-S rats showed increased MR signaling in the kidneys, and Rac1 inhibition prevented hypertension and renal damage with MR repression. We further demonstrated in aldosterone-infused rats as well as adrenalectomized Dahl-S rats with aldosterone supplementation that salt-induced Rac1 and aldosterone acted interdependently to cause MR overactivity and hypertension. Finally, we confirmed the key role of Rac1 in modulating salt susceptibility in mice lacking Rho GDP–dissociation inhibitor α. Therefore, our data identify Rac1 as a determinant of salt sensitivity and provide insights into the mechanism of salt-induced hypertension and kidney injury.
PMCID: PMC3148723  PMID: 21765214
5.  A multi-component model of the dynamics of salt-induced hypertension in Dahl-S rats 
BMC Physiology  2009;9:20.
In humans, salt intake has been suggested to influence blood pressure (BP) on a wide range of time scales ranging from several hours or days to many months or years. Detailed time course data collected in the Dahl salt-sensitive rat strain suggest that the development of salt-induced hypertension may consist of several distinct phases or components that differ in their timing and reversibility. To better understand these components, the present study sought to model the dynamics of salt-induced hypertension in the Dahl salt sensitive (Dahl-S) rat using 3 sets of time course data.
The first component of the model ("Acute-Reversible") consisted of a linear transfer function to account for the rapid and reversible effects of salt on BP (ie. acute salt sensitivity, corresponding with a depressed slope of the chronic pressure natriuresis relationship). For the second component ("Progressive-Irreversible"), an integrator function was used to represent the relatively slow, progressive, and irreversible effect of high salt intake on BP (corresponding with a progressive salt-induced shift of the chronic pressure natriuresis relationship to higher BP levels). A third component ("Progressive-Reversible") consisted of an effect of high salt intake to progressively increase the acute salt-sensitivity of BP (ie. reduce the slope of the chronic pressure natriuresis relationship), amounting to a slow and progressive, yet reversible, component of salt-induced hypertension. While the 3 component model was limited in its ability to follow the BP response to rapid and/or brief transitions in salt intake, it was able to accurately follow the slower steady state components of salt-induced BP changes. This model exhibited low values of mean absolute error (1.92 ± 0.23, 2.13 ± 0.37, 2.03 ± 0.3 mmHg for data sets 1 - 3), and its overall performance was significantly improved over that of an initial model having only 2 components. The 3 component model performed well when applied to data from hybrids of Dahl salt sensitive and Dahl salt resistant rats in which salt sensitivity varied greatly in its extent and character (mean absolute error = 1.11 ± 0.08 mmHg).
Our results suggest that the slow process of development of salt-induced hypertension in Dahl-S rats over a period of many weeks can be well represented by a combination of three components that differ in their timing, reversibility, and their associated effect on the chronic pressure natriuresis relationship. These components are important to distinguish since each may represent a unique set of underlying mechanisms of salt-induced hypertension.
PMCID: PMC2785758  PMID: 19874603
6.  The exenatide analogue AC3174 attenuates hypertension, insulin resistance, and renal dysfunction in Dahl salt-sensitive rats 
Activation of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptors improves insulin sensitivity and induces vasodilatation and diuresis. AC3174 is a peptide analogue with pharmacologic properties similar to the GLP-1 receptor agonist, exenatide. Hypothetically, chronic AC3174 treatment could attenuate salt-induced hypertension, cardiac morbidity, insulin resistance, and renal dysfunction in Dahl salt-sensitive (DSS) rats.
DSS rats were fed low salt (LS, 0.3% NaCl) or high salt (HS, 8% NaCl) diets. HS rats were treated with vehicle, AC3174 (1.7 pmol/kg/min), or GLP-1 (25 pmol/kg/min) for 4 weeks via subcutaneous infusion. Other HS rats received captopril (150 mg/kg/day) or AC3174 plus captopril.
HS rat survival was improved by all treatments except GLP-1. Systolic blood pressure (SBP) was lower in LS rats and in GLP-1, AC3174, captopril, or AC3174 plus captopril HS rats than in vehicle HS rats (p < 0.05). AC3174 plus captopril attenuated the deleterious effects of high salt on posterior wall thickness, LV mass, and the ratio of LV mass to body weight (P ≤ 0.05). In contrast, GLP-1 had no effect on these cardiovascular parameters. All treatments reduced LV wall stress. GLP-1, AC3174, captopril, or AC3174 plus captopril normalized fasting insulin and HOMA-IR (P ≤ 0.05). AC3174, captopril, or AC3174 plus captopril improved renal function (P ≤ 0.05). Renal morphology in HS rats was associated with extensive sclerosis. Monotherapy with AC3174, captopril, or GLP-1 attenuated renal damage. However, AC3174 plus captopril produced the most effective improvement.
Thus, AC3174 had antihypertensive, cardioprotective, insulin-sensitizing, and renoprotective effects in the DSS hypertensive rat model. Furthermore, AC3174 improved animal survival, an effect not observed with GLP-1.
PMCID: PMC2922097  PMID: 20678234
7.  Inhibition of mineralocorticoid receptor is a renoprotective effect of the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitor pitavastatin 
Journal of hypertension  2011;29(3):542-552.
The mineralocorticoid receptor has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic cardiorenal disease. Statins improve renal remodeling and dysfunction in patients with proteinuric kidney diseases. We aimed to clarify the beneficial effects and mechanisms of action of statins in renal insufficiency.
Methods and results
Dahl salt-sensitive rats fed a high-salt diet were treated from 12 to 20 weeks of age with vehicle, the reduced nicotinamide-adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase inhibitor apocynin, the synthetic cathepsin inhibitor E64d, or a low or high dosage of pitavastatin (1 or 3 mg/kg daily). Rats fed a low-salt diet served as controls. Rats on the high-salt diet developed massive proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis; these changes were attenuated by both doses of pitavastatin. The amounts of mRNAs or proteins for mineralocorticoid receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme, angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, osteopontin, macrophage infiltration, and NADPH subunits (gp91phox, p22phox, and Rac1) were significantly higher in the failing kidneys of vehicle-treated rats than in the kidneys of control rats. Either dose of pitavastatin significantly attenuated these changes. These effects of pitavastatin were mimicked by those of apocynin and E64d. Pretreatment with pitavastatin and apocynin inhibited mRNA and protein of mineralocorticoid receptor induced by angiotensin II in cultured podocytes.
The beneficial effects of pitavastatin are likely attributable, at least in part, to attenuation of the mineralocorticoid receptor-dependent inflammatory mediator, matrix protein, and cathepsin expressions induced by AT1R-mediated NADPH oxidase activation in the kidneys of a salt-induced hypertensive Dahl salt-sensitive rat model.
PMCID: PMC3070390  PMID: 21119529
hypertension; mineralocorticoid receptor; oxidative stress; renal insufficiency; salt; statin
8.  The dual AngII/AVP receptor gene N119S/C163R variant exhibits sodium-induced dysfunction and cosegregates with salt-sensitive hypertension in the Dahl salt-sensitive hypertensive rat model. 
Molecular Medicine  2002;8(1):24-32.
BACKGROUND: Essential hypertension is a prevalent complex polygenic disease and a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in developed countries. Because of its complex and multifactorial nature, its genetic determinants still remain largely unknown. The Dahl salt-sensitive hypertensive rat model exhibits impaired sodium handling, which is hypothesized to play a key role in the pathophysiology of polygenic hypertension. Thus, genes associated with renal regulation of salt and water balance are a priori likely candidates for a causative role in hypertension pathogenesis. The functional properties and renal-specific expression of the recently characterized AngII/AVP receptor suggest a putative modulator role in tubular sodium and fluid reabsorption. Based on these observations, we investigated the potential involvement of the AngII/AVP receptor in salt-sensitive hypertension. MATERIALS AND METHODS:We performed cosegregation analysis of the AngII/AVP receptor locus with salt-sensitive hypertension in an F2 (Dahl S X Dahl salt-resistant [R]) hybrid male cohort characterized for blood pressure by radiotelemetry after 8 weeks of high salt challenge. Further molecular analysis was done to identify putative AngII/AVP receptor molecular variants that could account for the AngII/ AVP receptor involvement in salt-sensitive hypertension pathogenesis. RESULTS:The AngII/AVP receptor was mapped to rat chromosome 1, 1.7 cM centromeric to the D1Rat188 marker by radiation hybrid mapping analysis. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis detected a highly significant linkage of the AngII/AVP receptor locus with high blood pressure (LRS = 13.8, p= 0.0002). Molecular characterization of the Dahl S and Dahl R AngII/AVP receptor cDNAs revealed two amino acid substitutions in the Dahl S AngII/AVP receptor (N119S, C163R) when compared to the Dahl R AngII/AVP receptor. These mutations are associated with an increased receptor affinity for both ligands (AVP and AngII) and an enhanced G(s)-coupling by the receptor resulting in increased activation of adenylate cyclase with concomitant increase in cAMP production. CONCLUSIONS: The observed molecular dysfunction in the Dahl S AngII/AVP receptor is consistent with increased tubular sodium and fluid reabsorption observed in Dahl S rats. Interestingly, the AngII/AVPr locus is within the narrowed chromosome 1 QTL region for blood pressure detected in different rat intercross linkage analyses. Altogether, the data strongly suggest that the AngII/AVP receptor is a hypertension susceptibility gene in the Dahl S rat model, as well as raises the hypothesis that it too underlies the chromosome 1 blood pressure QTL identified in other hypertension rat models.
PMCID: PMC2039934  PMID: 11984003
9.  Connecting tubule glomerular feedback (CTGF) in Hypertension 
Hypertension  2013;62(4):10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.113.01846.
In Dahl salt-sensitive rats (Dahl SS), glomerular capillary pressure (PGC) increases in response to high salt intake and this is accompanied by significant glomerular injury compared to spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) with similar blood pressure. PGC is controlled mainly by afferent arteriolar (Af-Art) resistance, which is regulated by the vasoconstrictor tubuloglomerular feedback (TGF) and the vasodilator connecting tubule glomerular feedback (CTGF). We hypothesized that Dahl SS have a decreased TGF response and enhanced TGF resetting compared to SHR, and that these differences are due in part to an increase in CTGF. In vivo, using micropuncture we measured stop-flow pressure (PSF, a surrogate of PGC). TGF was calculated as the maximal decrease in PSF caused by increasing nephron perfusion, TGF resetting as the attenuation in TGF induced by high salt diet, and CTGF as the difference in TGF response before and during CTGF inhibition with benzamil. Compared to SHR, Dahl SS had 1) lower TGF responses in normal (6.6±0.1 vs. 11.0±0.2 mm Hg; P<0.001) and high-salt diets (3.3±0.1 vs. 10.1±0.3 mmHg; P<0.001), 2) greater TGF resetting (3.3±0.1 vs. 1.0±0.3 mmHg; P<0.001), and 3) greater CTGF (3.4±0.4 vs. 1.2±0.1 mmHg; P<0.001). We conclude that Dahl SS have lower TGF and greater CTGF than SHR, and that CTGF antagonizes TGF. Furthermore, CTGF is enhanced by a high-salt diet and contributes significantly to TGF resetting. Our findings may explain in part the increase in vasodilatation, PGC, and glomerular damage in salt-sensitive hypertension during high salt intake.
PMCID: PMC3867812  PMID: 23959547
Dahl salt-sensitive; Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats; CTGF; TGF; stop-flow pressure; benzamil; salt-resistant
10.  Alpha1 Na,K-ATPase and Na,K,2Cl-cotransporte/D3mit3 loci interact to increase susceptibility to salt-sensitive hypertension in Dahl S(HSD) rats. 
Molecular Medicine  2001;7(2):125-134.
BACKGROUND: Essential (multigenic) hypertension is a complex multifactorial disease whose genetic etiology has not been unraveled on a major locus-effect investigative paradigm. As with other complex genetic diseases, applying an interacting loci paradigm could be critical in the elucidation of genetic determinants. Having defined the alpha1 Na,K-ATPase (alpha1NK) as a hypertension susceptibility gene in Dahl salt-sensitive (Dahl S) rats, we determined whether alphaINK interacts with another renal epithelial Na transporter to increase susceptibility to salt-sensitive hypertension. We focused on alpha1NK and Na,K,2Cl-cotransporter (NKC) as an a priori candidate interacting gene pair because they comprise a functionally linked Na transport system in renal thick ascending limb of Henle (TALH) epithelial cells and exhibit altered function in prehypertensive Dahl S rats in contrast to Dahl salt-resistant normotensive (Dahl R) rats. MATERIAL AND METHOD: Cosegregation analysis of alphaNK and NKC loci was done in a (Dahl S x Dahl R) F2 cohort characterized for blood pressure by radiotelemetry using the D2mghII microsatellite marker in the alpha1NK gene and the D3mit3 microsatellite marker close to the NKC gene (NKC/D3mit3 locus). Single locus and digenic analyses were performed to establish the individual and interactive genetic contribution to salt-sensitive hypertension. Molecular analysis was then done to support the NKC gene as the likely candidate gene interacting with alpha1NK in Dahl salt-sensitive hypertension pathogenesis. RESULTS: Compared with respective single locus analysis, digenic analysis of 96 F2 (Dahl S x Dahl R) hybrid male rats revealed cosegregation of alpha1NK and NKC/D3mit3 loci as interacting pair with salt-sensitive hypertension with markedly increased significance for systolic (one-way ANOVA p = 10(-6)), diastolic (p = 10(-5)), and mean arterial (p = 10(-6)) blood pressures. Concordantly, two-way ANOVA detected interaction between alpha1NK and NKC loci in determining the levels of systolic (p = 0.004), diastolic (p = 0.008), and mean arterial (p = 0.006) pressures. To unravel potential NKC molecular dysfunction(s) involved in hypertension pathogenesis, we investigated putative differences between Dahl S and Dahl R rats in nucleotide sequence and isoform gene expression of the renal-specific Na,K,2Cl-cotransporter. Molecular analysis revealed an inversion of alternatively spliced NKC-isoform ratios (4B:4A:4F) between Dahl S and Dahl R prehypertensive kidneys supported by four mutations in intron-3 immediately upstream to alternatively spliced exons 4B, 4A, and 4F. No nucleotide changes were detected within the aminoacid encoding exons of NKC. CONCLUSIONS: Altogether, these current data and previous characterization of the role of the Q276L alpha1NK molecular variant in Dahl S hypertension provide cumulative compelling evidence that alpha1NK and NKC/D3mit3 loci interact to increase susceptibility to hypertension in Dahl S rats and that NKC is the likely candidate gene that interacts with alpha 1NK. More importantly, the data substantiate gene interaction as an operative mechanism in multigenic hypertension.
PMCID: PMC1950017  PMID: 11471547
11.  Oxidative DNA Damage in Kidneys and Heart of Hypertensive Mice Is Prevented by Blocking Angiotensin II and Aldosterone Receptors 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115715.
Recently, we could show that angiotensin II, the reactive peptide of the blood pressure-regulating renin-angiotensin-aldosterone-system, causes the formation of reactive oxygen species and DNA damage in kidneys and hearts of hypertensive mice. To further investigate on the one hand the mechanism of DNA damage caused by angiotensin II, and on the other hand possible intervention strategies against end-organ damage, the effects of substances interfering with the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone-system on angiotensin II-induced genomic damage were studied.
In C57BL/6-mice, hypertension was induced by infusion of 600 ng/kg • min angiotensin II. The animals were additionally treated with the angiotensin II type 1 receptor blocker candesartan, the mineralocorticoid receptor blocker eplerenone and the antioxidant tempol. DNA damage and the activation of transcription factors were studied by immunohistochemistry and protein expression analysis.
Administration of angiotensin II led to a significant increase of blood pressure, decreased only by candesartan. In kidneys and hearts of angiotensin II-treated animals, significant oxidative stress could be detected (1.5-fold over control). The redox-sensitive transcription factors Nrf2 and NF-κB were activated in the kidney by angiotensin II-treatment (4- and 3-fold over control, respectively) and reduced by all interventions. In kidneys and hearts an increase of DNA damage (3- and 2-fold over control, respectively) and of DNA repair (3-fold over control) was found. These effects were ameliorated by all interventions in both organs. Consistently, candesartan and tempol were more effective than eplerenone.
Angiotensin II-induced DNA damage is caused by angiotensin II type 1 receptor-mediated formation of oxidative stress in vivo. The angiotensin II-mediated physiological increase of aldosterone adds to the DNA-damaging effects. Blocking angiotensin II and mineralocorticoid receptors therefore has beneficial effects on end-organ damage independent of blood pressure normalization.
PMCID: PMC4297153  PMID: 25551569
12.  Aldosterone Receptor Antagonism Reduces Urinary C-Reactive Protein Excretion in Angiotensin II-Infused, Hypertensive Rats 
Elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) may contribute to elevated arterial pressure in Ang II-dependent hypertension. However, the in vivo effects of Ang II and of mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) antagonism on CRP during Ang II-dependent hypertension have not been examined. In addition, urinary CRP excretion as a method to monitor the progression of Ang II-induced inflammation has not been evaluated.
Urine samples were collected from three groups (n = 10/group) of rats: 1) normotensive control, 2) angiotensin II infused (Ang II; 60 ng/min), and 3) Ang II + eplerenone (epl; 25 mg/d). A diet containing epl (0.1 %) was provided after 1 week of Ang II infusion.
After 28 d, Ang II increased SBP from 136 ± 5 to 207 ± 8 mmHg; this response in SBP was not altered following MR antagonism (215 ± 6 mmHg). Ang II-infusion increased plasma CRP from 14 ± 2 to 26 ± 3 μg/mL and increased urinary CRP excretion nearly 8-fold (143 ± 26 vs 1102 ± 115 ng/d). Treatment with eplerenone reduced plasma CRP by 25 % and urinary immunoreactive CRP (irCRP) by 34 % in Ang II-infused rats suggesting that aldosterone contributes to the CRP-associated inflammatory response in Ang II-dependent hypertension.
The increase in SBP preceded the increase in irCRP excretion by at least 4 days suggesting that CRP does not significantly contribute to increased arterial blood pressure in Ang II-dependent hypertension. The blockade of MR reduced plasma CRP and urinary irCRP excretion demonstrating the contribution of aldosterone to the Ang II-induced generation of CRP. Furthermore, urinary CRP may serve as a non-invasive index for monitoring cardiovascular inflammation during hypertension.
PMCID: PMC2740916  PMID: 20161115
aldosterone; eplerenone; inflammation; mineralocorticoids; spironolactone
13.  Aldosterone synthesis in the brain contributes to Dahl salt-sensitive rat hypertension 
Experimental physiology  2009;95(1):120-130.
The enzymes required for aldosterone synthesis from cholesterol are expressed in rat and human brains. The hypertension of Dahl salt-sensitive (SS) rats is mitigated by the intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) infusion of antagonists of the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and downstream effectors of mineralocorticoid action, as well as ablations of brain areas that also abrogate mineralocorticoid–salt excess hypertension in normotensive rats. We used real time RT-PCR to measure mRNA of aldosterone synthase and 11β-hydroxylase, the requisite enzymes for the last step in the synthesis of aldosterone and corticosterone, respectively, MR and the determinants of MR ligand specificity, 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase types 1 and 2 (11β-HSD1&2) and hexose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (H6PDH). A combination of extraction and ELISA was used to measure aldosterone concentrations in tissue and urine of SS and Sprague–Dawley (SD) rats. Aldosterone synthase mRNA expression was higher in the brains and lower in the adrenal glands of SS compared with SD rats. The amounts of mRNA for MR, 11β-hydroxylase, 11β-HSD1&2 and H6PD were similar. Aldosterone concentrations were greater in brains of SS than SD rats, yet, in keeping with the literature, the circulating and total aldosterone production of aldosterone in SS rats were not. The selective inhibitor of aldosterone synthase, FAD286, was infused i.c.v. or subcutaneously in a cross-over blood pressure study in hypertensive SS rats further challenged by a high-salt diet. The i.c.v. infusion of FAD286, at a dose that had no effect systemically, significantly and reversibly lowered blood pressure in SS rats. Aldosterone synthesis in brains of SS rats is greater than in SD rats and is important in the genesis of their salt-sensitive hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3077084  PMID: 19837774
Hypertension  2013;62(5):10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.113.01949.
Salt-sensitive hypertension leads to kidney injury. The Dahl salt-sensitive hypertensive rat (Dahl SS) is a model of salt-sensitive hypertension and progressive kidney injury. The current set of experimental studies evaluated the kidney protective potential of a novel epoxyecosatrienoic acid analog (EET-B) in Dahl SS hypertension. Dahl SS rats receiving high salt diet were treated with EET-B (10 mg/kg/d) or vehicle in drinking water for 14 days. Urine, plasma, and tissue samples were collected at the end of the treatment protocol to assess kidney injury, oxidative stress, inflammation, and endoplasmic reticulum stress. EET-B treatment in Dahl SS rats markedly reduced urinary albumin and nephrin excretion by 60–75% along with 30–60% reductions in glomerular injury, intra-tubular cast formation and kidney fibrosis without affecting blood pressure. In Dahl SS rats, EET-B treatment further caused marked reduction in oxidative stress with 25–30% decrease in kidney malondialdehyde content along with 42% increase of nitrate/nitrite and a 40% reduction of 8-isoprostane. EET-B treatment reduced urinary monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 by 50% along with a 40% reduction in macrophage infiltration in the kidney. Treatment with EET-B markedly reduced renal endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in Dahl SS rats with reduction in the kidney mRNA expressions and immunoreactivity of glucose regulatory protein 78 and C/EBP homologous protein. In summary, these experimental findings reveal that EET-B provides kidney protection in Dahl SS rats by reducing oxidative stress, inflammation and ER stress, and this protection was independent of reducing blood pressure.
PMCID: PMC3872985  PMID: 23980070
salt-sensitive hypertension; epoxygenase; glomerular injury; oxidative stress; inflammation; ER stress
15.  TNF-alpha inhibition reduces renal injury in DOCA-salt hypertensive rats 
Studies suggest that the inflammatory cytokine, TNF-α plays a role in the prognosis of end-stage renal diseases. We have previously shown that TNF-α inhibition slowed the progression of hypertension and renal damage in angiotensin II salt-sensitive hypertension. Thus, we hypothesize that TNF-α contributes to renal inflammation in a model of mineralocorticoid-induced hypertension. Four groups of rats (n=5-6) were studied for 3 weeks with the following treatments 1) placebo, 2) placebo + TNF-α inhibitor, etanercept (1.25 mg/kg/day, sc), 3) deoxycorticosterone acetate plus 0.9 % NaCl to drink (DOCA-salt), or 4) DOCA-salt + etanercept. Mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) measured by telemetry increased in DOCA-salt rats compared to baseline (177±4 vs. 107±3 mmHg, P<0.05) and TNF-α inhibition had no effect in the elevation of MAP in these rats (177±8 mmHg). Urinary protein excretion significantly increased in DOCA-salt rats compared to placebo (703±76 vs. 198±5 mg/day, respectively); etanercept lowered the proteinuria (514±64 mg/day, P < 0.05 vs. DOCA-salt alone). Urinary albumin excretion followed a similar pattern in each group. Urinary MCP-1 and ET-1 excretion were also increased in DOCA-salt rats compared to placebo (MCP-1: 939±104 vs. 43±7 ng/day, and ET-1: 3.30±0.29 vs. 1.07±0.03 fmol/day, respectively, both P<0.05); TNF-α inhibition significantly decreased both MCP-1 and ET-1 excretion (409±138 ng/day and 2.42±0.22 fmol/day, respectively, both P < 0.05 vs. DOCA-salt alone). Renal cortical NFκB activity also increased in DOCA-salt hypertensive rats and etanercept treatment significantly reduced this effect. These data support the hypothesis that TNF-α contributes to the increase in renal inflammation in DOCA-salt rats.
PMCID: PMC2820582  PMID: 17989143
salt; DOCA; renal inflammation; blood pressure; TNF-α; etanercept; NFκB
16.  Carbonyl stress induces hypertension and cardio–renal vascular injury in Dahl salt-sensitive rats 
Hypertension Research  2013;36(4):361-367.
One major precursor of carbonyl stress, methylglyoxal (MG), is elevated in the plasma of chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients, and this precursor contributes to the progression of vascular injury, hypertension and renal injury in diabetic nephropathy patients. This molecule induces salt-sensitive hypertension via a reactive oxygen species-mediated pathway. We examined the role of MG in the pathogenesis of hypertension and cardio–renal injury in Dahl salt-sensitive (Dahl S) rats, which is a rat model of CKD. Nine-week-old Dahl S rats were fed a 1% NaCl diet, and 1% MG was added to their drinking water for up to 12 weeks. Blood pressure and cardio–renal injuries were compared with rats treated with tap water alone. The angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB), candesartan (10 mg kg−1 day−1), was administered to MG Dahl S rats to determine the impact of this drug on the pathogenesis of MG-induced CKD. A progressive increase in systolic blood pressure was observed (123±1–148±5 mm Hg) after 12 weeks of MG administration. MG administration significantly increased urinary albumin excretion, glomerular sclerosis, tubular injury, myocardial collagen content and cardiac perivascular fibrosis. MG also enhanced the renal expression of Nɛ-carboxyethyl-lysine (an advanced glycation end product), 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (a marker of oxidative stress), macrophage (ED-1) positive cells (a marker of inflammation) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAD(P)H) oxidase activity. Candesartan treatment for 4 weeks significantly reduced these parameters. These results suggest that MG-induced hypertension and cardio–renal injury and increased inflammation and carbonyl and oxidative stress, which were partially preventable by an ARB.
PMCID: PMC3619051  PMID: 23364337
carbonyl stress; chronic kidney disease; methylglyoxal; salt sensitivity
17.  The mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist eplerenone reduces renal interstitial fibrosis after long-term cyclosporine treatment in rat: antagonizing cyclosporine nephrotoxicity 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:42.
Chronic cyclosporine-(CsA)-mediated loss of kidney function is a major clinical problem in organ transplantation. We hypothesized that the mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist eplerenone (EPL) prevents chronic CsA-induced renal interstitial volume increase, tubule loss, and functional impairment in a rat model.
Sprague–Dawley rats received CsA alone (15 mg/kg/d p.o.), CsA and EPL (approximately 100 mg/kg/day p.o.) or vehicle (control) for 12 weeks. At 11 weeks, chronic indwelling arterial and venous catheters were implanted for continuous measurements of arterial blood pressure (BP) and GFR (inulin clearance) in conscious, freely moving animals. Plasma was sampled for analysis and kidney tissue was fixed for quantitative stereological analyses.
Compared to controls, CsA-treatment reduced relative tubular volume (0.73±0.03 vs. 0.85±0.01, p<0.05) and increased relative interstitial volume (0.080±0.004 vs. 0.045±0.003, p<0.05); EPL attenuated these changes (0.82±0.02, p<0.05, and 0.060±0.006, p<0.05, respectively). CsA-treated rats had more sclerotic glomeruli and a higher degree of vascular depositions in arterioles; both were significantly reduced in CsA+EPL-treated animals. CsA increased BP and reduced body weight gain and GFR. In CsA+EPL rats, weight gain, GFR and BP at rest (daytime) were normalized; however, BP during activity (night) remained elevated. Plasma sodium and potassium concentrations, kidney-to-body weight ratios and CsA whole blood concentration were similar in CsA and CsA+EPL rats.
It is concluded that in the chronic cyclosporine rat nephropathy model, EPL reduces renal tissue injury, hypofiltration, hypertension, and growth impairment. MR antagonists should be tested for their renoprotective potential in patients treated with calcineurin inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3602207  PMID: 23425330
Aldosterone; Calcineurin; Hypertension; Nephrotoxicity; Renin
18.  Silencing of HIF Prolyl-Hydroxylase 2 Gene in the Renal Medulla Attenuates Salt-Sensitive Hypertension in Dahl S Rats 
American Journal of Hypertension  2013;27(1):107-113.
In response to high salt intake, transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) 1α activates many antihypertensive genes, such as heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) 1 and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) in the renal medulla, which is an important molecular adaptation to promote extra sodium excretion. We recently showed that high salt inhibited the expression of HIF prolyl-hydroxylase 2 (PHD2), an enzyme that promotes the degradation of HIF-1α, thereby upregulating HIF-1α, and that high salt–induced inhibition in PHD2 and subsequent activation of HIF-1α in the renal medulla was blunted in Dahl salt-sensitive hypertensive rats. This study tested the hypothesis that silencing the PHD2 gene to increase HIF-1α levels in the renal medulla attenuates salt-sensitive hypertension in Dahl S rats.
PHD2 short hairpin RNA (shRNA) plasmids were transfected into the renal medulla in uninephrectomized Dahl S rats. Renal function and blood pressure were then measured.
PHD2 shRNA reduced PHD2 levels by >60% and significantly increased HIF-1α protein levels and the expression of HIF-1α target genes HO-1 and COX-2 by >3-fold in the renal medulla. Functionally, pressure natriuresis was remarkably enhanced, urinary sodium excretion was doubled after acute intravenous sodium loading, and chronic high salt-induced sodium retention was remarkably decreased, and as a result, salt-sensitive hypertension was significantly attenuated in PHD2 shRNA rats compared with control rats.
Impaired PHD2 response to high salt intake in the renal medulla may represent a novel mechanism for hypertension in Dahl S rats, and inhibition of PHD2 in the renal medulla could be a therapeutic approach for salt-sensitive hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3848632  PMID: 24190904
blood pressure; cyclooxygenase 2; heme oxygenase 1; hypertension; hypoxia-inducible factor; pressure natriuresis; sodium excretion.
19.  A Role for Benzamil-Sensitive Proteins of the Central Nervous System in the Pathogenesis of Salt-Dependent Hypertension 
While increasing evidence suggests that salt-sensitive hypertension is a disorder of the central nervous system, little is known about the critical proteins (e.g., ion channels or exchangers) that play a role in the pathogenesis of the disease.Central pathways involved in the regulation of arterial pressure have been investigated. In addition, systems such as the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone axis, initially characterized in the periphery, are present in the central nervous system, and seem to play a role in the regulation of arterial pressure.Central administration of amiloride, or its analogue benzamil hydrochloride, has been shown to attenuate several forms of salt-sensitive hypertension. In addition, intracerebroventricular (ICV) benzamil effectively blocks pressor responses to acute osmotic stimuli, such as ICV hypertonic saline. Amiloride or its analogues have been shown to interact with the brain renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) and to effect the expression of endogenous ouabain-like compounds; both could play a role in the interaction between amiloride compounds and arterial pressure. Peripheral treatments with benzamil, even at higher doses than those given centrally, have little or no effect on arterial pressure. These data provide strong evidence that benzamil-sensitive proteins (BSPs) of the central nervous system play a role in cardiovascular responsiveness to sodium.Mineralocorticoids have been linked to human hypertension; many patients with essential hypertension respond well to pharmacological agents antagonizing the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), and certain genetic forms of hypertension are due to chronically elevated levels of aldosterone. The deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA) -salt model of hypertension is a benzamil-sensitive model that incorporates several factors implicated in the etiology of human disease, including mineralocorticoid action and increased dietary sodium. The DOCA-salt model is ideal for investigating the role of BSPs in the pathogenesis of hypertension, because mineralocorticoid action has been shown to modulate the activity of at least one benzamil-sensitive protein, the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC).Characterizing the BSPs involved in the pathogenesis of hypertension may provide a novel clinical target. Further studies are necessary to determine which BSPs are involved, and where in the nervous system they are located.
PMCID: PMC2693203  PMID: 18387084
Sympathetic Nervous System; Epithelial Sodium Channel (ENaC); Acid Sensitive Ion Channel (ASIC); Aldosterone; DOCA; Benzamil; Salt-sensitive Hypertension
20.  Role of the adenosine 2A receptor-epoxyeicosatrienoic acid pathway in the development of salt-sensitive hypertension 
Activation of rat adenosine 2A receptors (A2A R) dilates preglomerular microvessels, an effect mediated by epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs). High salt (HS) intake increases epoxygenase activity and adenosine levels and greater vasodilator response to a stable adenosine analog, 2-chloroadenosine (2-CA), was seen in kidneys obtained from HS-fed rats which was mediated by increased EET release. Because this pathway is antipressor, we examined the role of the A2A R-EET pathway in a genetic model of salt-sensitive hypertension, the Dahl salt-sensitive (SS) rats. Dahl S resistant (R) rats fed a HS diet demonstrated a greater renal vasodilator response to 2-CA. In contrast, Dahl SS rats did not exhibit a difference in the vasodilator response to 2-CA whether fed normal salt (NS) or HS diet. In Dahl SR but not Dahl SS rats, HS intake significantly increased purine flux, augmented the protein expression of A2A R and cytochrome P450 2C23 and 2C11 epoxygenases, and elevated the renal efflux of EETs. Thus the Dahl SR rat is able to respond to HS intake by recruiting EET formation, whereas the Dahl SS rat appears to have exhausted its ability to increase EET synthesis above the levels observed on NS intake. In vivo inhibition of the A2A R-EET pathway in Dahl SR rats fed a HS diet results in reduced renal EETs levels, diminished natriuretic capacity and hypertension, thus supporting a role for the A2A R-EET pathway in the adaptive natriuretic response to modulate blood pressure during salt loading. An inability of Dahl SS rats to upregulate the A2A R-EET pathway in response to salt loading may contribute to the development of salt-sensitive hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3348415  PMID: 22227265
Cytochrome P450; Epoxyeicosatrienoic acids; Adenosine; Kidney; Salt-sensitive hypertension
21.  Hypoxia inducible factor-1α-mediated gene activation in the regulation of renal medullary function and salt sensitivity of blood pressure 
Many enzymes that produce natriuretic factors such as nitric oxide synthase (NOS), hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) are highly expressed in the renal medulla. These enzymes in the renal medulla are up-regulated in response to high salt intake. Inhibition of these enzymes within the renal medulla reduces sodium excretion and increases salt sensitivity of arterial blood pressure, indicating that these enzymes play important roles in kidney salt handling and renal adaptation to high salt challenge. However, it remains a question what mechanisms mediate the activation of these enzymes in response to high salt challenge in the renal medulla. Interestingly, these enzymes are oxygen sensitive genes and regulated by transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α. Our recent serial studies have demonstrated that: 1) High salt intake stimulates HIF-1α-mediated gene expression, such as NOS, HO-1 and COX-2, in the renal medulla, which may augment the production of different antihypertensive factors in the renal medulla, mediating renal adaptation to high salt intake and regulating salt sensitivity of arterial blood pressure. 2) HIF prolyl-hydroxylase 2 (PHD2), an enzyme that promotes the degradation of HIF-1α, is highly expressed in renal medulla. High salt intake suppresses the expression of PHD2 in the renal medulla, which increases HIF-1α-mediated gene expressions in the renal medulla, thereby participates in the control of salt sensitivity of blood pressure. 3) The high salt-induced inhibition in PHD2 and the consequent activation of HIF-1α in the renal medulla is not observed in Dahl salt sensitive hypertensive (Dahl/ss) rats. Correction of these defects in PHD2/HIF-1α-associated molecular adaptation in the renal medulla improves sodium excretion, reduces sodium retention and attenuates saltsensitive hypertension in Dahl/ss rats. In conclusion, PHD2 regulation of HIF-1α-mediated gene activation in the renal medulla is an important molecular adaptation to high salt intake; impaired PHD2 regulation of HIF-1α-mediated gene activation in the renal medulla may be responsible for the salt-sensitive hypertension in Dahl/ss rats; correction of these defects may be used to as therapeutic strategies for the treatment of salt-sensitive hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3427980  PMID: 22937490
Salt sensitive hypertension; gene transfection; Dahl S rat; pressure natriuresis; hypoxia inducible factor-1α; transcription factor; sodium excretion; heme oxygenase-1; cyclooxygenase-2; fluid homeostasis
22.  Effects of mineralocorticoid receptor blockade on glucocorticoid-induced renal injury in adrenalectomized rats 
Journal of hypertension  2011;29(2):290-298.
Aldosterone is well recognized as the selective physiological ligand for mineralocorticoid receptor in epithelia. However, in-vitro studies have demonstrated that the affinity of aldosterone and glucocorticoids for mineralocorticoid receptor is similar. We hypothesized that glucocorticoids are involved in the development of renal injury through an mineralocorticoid receptor-dependent mechanism.
Methods and results
Uninephrectomized (UNX) rats were treated with 1% NaCl and divided into three groups: vehicle, bilateral adrenalectomy (ADX) + hydrocortisone (HYDRO; 5 mg/kg/day, s.c.), ADX + HYDRO + eplerenone (0.125% in chow). HYDRO-treated UNX-ADX rats showed increased blood pressure and urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio with an increase in the expression of the mineralocorticoid receptor target genes, serum and glucocorticoid-regulated kinases-1 and Na+/H+ exchanger isoform-1, in renal tissues. HYDRO treatment induced morphological changes in the kidney, including glomerulosclerosis and podocyte injury. Treatment with eplerenone markedly decreased the gene expression and reduced the albuminuria and renal morphological changes. In contrast, dexamethasone (0.2 mg/kg per day, s.c.) + UNX + ADX induced hypertension and albuminuria in different groups of rats. Eplerenone failed to ameliorate these changes.
Our findings indicate that chronic glucocorticoid excess could activate mineralocorticoid receptor and, in turn, induce the development of renal injury.
PMCID: PMC3034279  PMID: 21243738
eplerenone; hydrocortisone; kidney diseases; mineralocorticoid receptor
23.  Overexpression of HIF-1α Transgene in the Renal Medulla Attenuated Salt Sensitive Hypertension in Dahl S Rats 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2012;1822(6):936-941.
Hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1α-mediated gene activation in the renal medulla in response to high salt intake plays an important role in the control of salt sensitivity of blood pressure. High salt-induced activation of HIF-1α in the renal medulla is blunted in Dahl S rats. The present study determined whether the impairment of the renal medullary HIF-1α pathway was responsible for salt sensitive hypertension in Dahl S rats. Renal medullary HIF-1α levels were induced by either transfection of HIF-1α expression plasmid or chronic infusion of CoCl2 into the renal medulla, which was accompanied by increased expressions of anti-hypertensive genes, cyclooxygenase-2 and heme oxygenase-1. Overexpression of HIF-1α transgenes in the renal medulla enhanced the pressure natriuresis, promoted the sodium excretion and reduced sodium retention after salt overload. As a result, hypertension induced by 2-week high salt was significantly attenuated in rats treated with HIF-1α plasmid or CoCl2. These results suggest that an abnormal HIF-1α in the renal medulla may represent a novel mechanism mediating salt-sensitive hypertension in Dahl S rats and that induction of HIF-1α levels in the renal medulla could be a therapeutic approach for the treatment of salt-sensitive hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3402054  PMID: 22349312
pressure natriuresis; heme oxygenase-1; cyclooxygenase-2; sodium excretion
24.  High dietary salt does not significantly affect plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations of Sprague Dawley rats 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:332.
The Dahl salt-sensitive rat, but not the Dahl salt-resistant rat, develops hypertension and hypovitaminosis D when fed a high salt diet. Since the salt-sensitive rat and salt-resistant rat were bred from the Sprague Dawley rat, the aim of this research was to test the hypothesis that salt-resistant and Sprague Dawley rats would be similar in their vitamin D endocrine system response to high salt intake.
Sprague Dawley, salt-sensitive, and salt-resistant rats were fed high (80 g/kg, 8%) or low (3 g/kg, 3%) salt diets for three weeks. The blood pressure of Sprague Dawley rats increased from baseline to week 3 during both high and low salt intake and the mean blood pressure at week 3 of high salt intake was higher than that at week 3 of low salt intake (P < 0.05). Mean plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations (marker of vitamin D status) of Sprague Dawley, salt-sensitive, and salt-resistant rats were similar at week 3 of low salt intake. Mean plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations of Sprague Dawley and salt-resistant rats were unaffected by high salt intake, whereas the mean plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration of salt-sensitive rats at week 3 of high salt intake was only 20% of that at week 3 of low salt intake.
These data indicate that the effect of high salt intake on the vitamin D endocrine system of Sprague Dawley rats at week 3 was similar to that of salt-resistant rats. The salt-sensitive rat, thus, appears to be a more appropriate model than the Sprague Dawley rat for assessing possible effects of salt-sensitivity on vitamin D status of humans.
PMCID: PMC3018403  PMID: 21143930
25.  Hypertension exacerbates coronary artery disease in transgenic hyperlipidemic Dahl salt-sensitive hypertensive rats. 
Molecular Medicine  2001;7(12):831-844.
BACKGROUND: The mechanisms underlying the known interaction of two complex polygenic traits, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, resulting in exacerbation of coronary artery disease have not been elucidated. Identification of critical pathways underlying said exacerbation could identify mechanism-based targets for intervention and prevention. MATERIALS AND METHODS: To investigate hypertension- atherosclerosis interaction, we studied the inbred transgenic atherosclerosis-polygenic hypertension Dahl salt-sensitive (S) rat model (Tg53), which over-expresses human cholesteryl ester transfer protein (hCETP) in the liver, and exhibits coronary artery disease and decreased survival compared with control non-transgenic Dahl S rats. Using serial-section histopathological and immunohistochemical analyses, we analyzed the coronary artery disease phenotype of Tg53 rats at end-stage marked by cardio-respiratory compromise as the experimental equivalent of acute coronary syndromes, and determined the effects of reduction of blood pressure through low salt diet (0.008% NaCl) on the coronary artery disease phenotype and survival. RESULTS: End-stage Tg53 rats exhibit coronary artery lesions in the proximal right coronary artery system which exhibit "culprit plaque" features such as plaque inflammation, matrix degradation, apoptosis, neovascularization, thrombosis and hemorrhage recapitulating said features and heterogeneity of human coronary "culprit plaques". Comparative analysis of 6 month vs end-stage lesions reveals distinct lesion development profiles of proximal coronary lesions which quickly progress from eccentric non-occlusive foam-cell rich lesions at 6 months to occlusive "culprit plaques", compared with more distal coronary lesions which exhibit occlusive thick-cap atheroma that remain relatively unchanged from 6 months to end stage. Reduction of hypertension through a low-salt (0.008% NaCl) diet increased survival (P < 0.0001) of Tg53 rats and significantly attenuated the coronary artery disease phenotype detected at 10 months of age marked by diminished apoptosis, neovascularization, matrix degradation compared with end-stage lesions detected at <8 months of age. CONCLUSIONS: End stage coronary lesions in the Tg53 rats recapitulate many, albeit not all, features of "culprit plaques" in humans supporting proposed paradigms of plaque vulnerability implicating lesion macrophage enrichment, apoptosis, matrix degradation and pathological neovascularization. Comparative time course analysis of coronary lesions reveals that plaques which develop into end-stage "culprit plaques" are distinct from "stable plaques" by location and early lesion morphology, suggesting distinct lesion development and progression pathways. The significant effects of low-salt diet-induced decrease in hypertension on right coronary disease phenotype provides compelling evidence that polygenic hypertension accelerates coronary plaque progression and complication independent of cardiac hypertrophy, and more importantly provides paradigmatic support for public health policy.
PMCID: PMC1950013  PMID: 11844871

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