In June's edition of JASN Jacques et al. highlighted the emerging importance of the role of chloride in the pathogenesis of hypertension. Their group developed a mouse model that over expressed the protein pendrin in the aldosterone-sensitive region of the distal tubule. These mice developed hypertension that was attributed to increased NaCl absorption driven by over expression and increased activity of the pendrin chloride exchanger.
Pendrin was first described as a chloride channel in the kidney in the early 2000s. Pendrin is a chloride-bicarbonate exchange protein that facilitates the electroneutral movement of chloride to the intracellular space and bicarbonate to the extracellular space or urinary space. This channel is also found in the thyroid and inner ear and is the gene that causes Pendreds syndrom.
It is now widely accepted that the pressor effects of salt (NaCl) are dependent on Na as the major determinant of intravascular volume and thus hypertension. It has also been demonstrated that for Na to mediate a hypertensive effect, it needs to be in the form of NaCl (Berghoff and Geraci, Intern Med J 56:395-397). In their study, Berghoff and Geraci showed that subjects on a high NaCl diet but not on a high NaBicarbonate diet developed hypertension. These experiments have been reproduced in human and animal models. Interestingly, hypertensive and normotensive subjects switched from a NaCl diet to an equimolar NaBicarbonate diet experienced a decrease in blood pressure.
Pendrin is normally found in the type B Intercalated cells of the aldosterone region of the nephron. Recently published studies by the same group suggest that pendrin can also work in tandem with the Na-dependent chloride/bicarbonate exchanger (this is a different channel to pendrin and is also found in the CCD) resulting in electroneutral NaCl absorption and that this process is thiazide sensitive.
In JASNs June edition, the Jacques group showed that pendrin mediates chloride absorption distally and that this is the driving force for Na absorption distally either through the ENaC and/or Ndcbe channels. The significance of their findings are that 1) chloride is required for NaCl absorption in ‘salt sensitive’ hypertension and that 2) pendrin is the channel that facilitates the absorption of chloride.
On the basis of this paper and other papers showing similar findings with regard to Pendrin's role in NaCl balance the authors suggest their work solidifies the concept of chloride-sensitive hypertension.
It must be remembered that these studies don’t dispute that Na is primary in maintaining blood volume and driving hypertension. However, chloride absorption is a necessary requirement for the absorption of Na in the setting of a salt load causing hypertension. Thus, Chloride might be the queen and Na the king of extracellular solutes!
Posted by Andrew Malone