Excess dietary salt intake is strongly correlated with cardiovascular disease and is regarded as a major contributing factor to the pathogenesis of hypertension. Time-controlled studies in both humans and rodents suggest a high salt diet elevates plasma or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) [NaCl] by 2-5mM to activate specialized NaCl-sensing neurons located in hypothalamic circumventricular organs such as the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis (OVLT) and subfornical organ to increase sympathetic nerve activity (SNA) and arterial blood pressure (ABP). Interestingly, central infusion of non-voltage gated sodium channel antagonists attenuates every experimental model of salt-sensitive hypertension tested to date. These antagonists target acid sensing ion channel, sodium hydrogen exchanger, sodium calcium pump, and the epithelial sodium channel. In light of preliminary findings, our working hypothesis is that a high salt diet elevates extracellular [NaCl] to activate NaCl-sensitive neurons of the OVLT through a unique epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) expressing ?? subunits. The NaCl-sensitivity of these ENaC neurons and sympathoexcitatory responses are enhanced by circulating factors such as angiotensin II and aldosterone. Subsequent activation of descending pathways increases SNA and ABP. This hypothesis will be tested through 3 specific aims: 1) determine the extent by which ENaC subunits mediate the intrinsic NaCl-sensitivity of OVLT neurons and sympathoexcitatory responses to an acute NaCl load, 2) determine whether angiotensin II enhances the NaCl-sensitivity of ENaC-positive neurons in the OVLT and the extent by which these neurons contribute to angiotensin II-salt hypertension, and 3) determine the extent by which aldosterone and deoxycorticosterone-salt hypertension alter ENaC expression, enhance NaCl-sensitivity and depend on ENaC subunits of the OVLT. Our rationale for this project is that identification of the cellular elements that underlie NaCl- sensing in the brain will provide a framework for the development of novel therapeutic treatments of salt-sensitive hypertension.
Changes in extracellular NaCl concentrations are detected by hypothalamic NaCl-sensitive neurons to subsequently increase sympathetic outflow and blood pressure in salt-sensitive hypertension. The objective of this proposal is to identify the cellular mechanisms by which these specialized neurons sense changes in extracellular NaCl concentrations.