Salt Sensitive Hypertension and Metabolism

The kidney is one of the main target organs involved in hypertension, and it regulates water and salt transport in the body, vascular function, and blood pressure. According to American Heart Association-supported studies, 75% of African-American patients with hypertension are salt sensitive and have a higher incidence of end-stage renal disease. The end-stage renal disease, or kidney failure, occurs during the progression of chronic kidney disease like hypertension and results in significant renal function decline to the point that the kidneys can no longer function on their own. A patient with end-stage renal failure must receive dialysis or kidney transplantation in order to survive for more than a few weeks.

Dr. Oleg PalyginMUSC nephrology researchers in the lab of Oleg Palygin, Ph.D., use Dahl salt-sensitive (Dahl-SS) rats as a classic model of salt-sensitive hypertension in their studies. The model exhibits stably inherited physiological characteristics in humans with salt-sensitive hypertension, often present in the African American population, such as salt sensitivity, hyperlipidemia, insulin resistance, renal failure, increased urinary protein secretion, and low plasma renin activity.

Kidneys are central metabolic organs that regulate body metabolism by filtering urine through the glomerulus and then reabsorbing nutrients using a complex tubular system of the nephron. Their data revealed the metabolic aspects of hypertension-induced glomerular sclerosis and proximal tubule oxidative stress. Moreover, they show the essential role of amino acid metabolism in kidney function. In a study published in Nature Communication, Dr. Palygin describes how salt-sensitive hypertension and kidney disease are associated with changes in lysine metabolism. Lysine, or L-lysine, is an essential amino acid necessary for human health, but the body cannot make it. The deficiency in body lysine could be associated with the progression of hypertension and renal function decline.

The team’s studies suggest that dietary lysine supplementation protects proximal tubules and renal metabolic function. Furthermore, the experiments in human patients and Dhal-SS rats show that lysine supplements may be beneficial, protect kidneys and prevent or significantly slow down the development of salt-sensitive hypertension.