High Salt Diet Aggravates Immune Responses

Study says that a high salt diet activates immune cells known as macrophages, possibly causing type 2 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.

AsianScientist (Aug. 27, 2015) – A research team, led by Professor Duan Shengzhong at the Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, has found that high salt levels significantly increased pro-inflammatory molecules while decreasing anti-inflammatory and pro-endocytosis molecules in both human and mouse macrophages. Their findings, published in Cell Research, pave a way for assessing salt-activated macrophages in human diseases.

Chronic high salt diet is associated with many diseases including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and autoimmune diseases. This diseases are closely intertwined with immune dysfunction. However, it remains to be establish how high salt diet induces immune dysfunctions to cause these diseases.

To address the gap in knowledge, Duan and colleagues first studied the expression profiles of inflammatory genes in human monocyte-derived macrophages when treated with high salt conditions. They observed that there was an increase in pro-inflammatory genes, such as CCL1, and decrease in anti-inflammatory genes such as CR1.

Furthermore, they found that the pathway induced in immune activation by high salt partially overlaps with other immune activation processes caused by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The signaling molecules at this interaction junction is the p38/cFos and Erk1/2/STAT6 pathways.

In vivo studies consistently showed that high salt-diet markedly promoted gene expression of pro-inflammatory molecules in mouse alveolar macrophages. When acute lung injury was induced by LPS in mice, high salt-diet aggravated lung inflammation and injury.

The identification and characterization of this novel mechanism paves a way for future studies in high salt diet-related immune diseases. In particular, it could bring forward our understanding of the molecular dysfunctions in high salt diet-related immune diseases. It warrants for more research on the potential drug targets of this pathway in the treatment of these diseases.

The article can be found at: Zhang et al. (2015) High Salt Primes a Specific Activation State of Macrophages, M(Na).


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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