Role of cellular sodium and calcium metabolism in the pathogenesis of essential hypertension.

G. Bianchi, D. Cusi, G. Vezzoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The differences observed among rat strains in both basal [Na+]i and the several cation transport systems seem to be due to the different genetic background as clearly shown in F2 populations or after bone marrow transplantation in MHS. The same may be true for humans. In spite of all the caution taken in interpreting the data, because of the great possibility of methodological errors, it is likely that the differences observed in many laboratories are due to uneven genetic or ethnic composition of the samples studied, as shown by Dagher and Canessa. One intriguing observation is that most reports of "low Na-K cotransport" values in hypertensive patients are from Mediterranean countries (Italy, France, and Spain), whereas most reports of "high," or "not low Na-K cotransport," or very high values of countertransport came from populations originating from North Europe (Denmark, USA, South African whites). We are not aware of any study on erythrocyte Na-K cotransport performed in Great Britain (the greatest source of American immigrants). Indeed the difference in cotransport values between North and South European hypertensives might be due to different environmental factors, but if this is so, the difference does not depend on the salt consumption or plasma lipids that are similar in our high and low Na-K cotransport hypertensives (Cusi D et al, submitted). The picture seems relatively less confusing for calcium. The most consistent alterations in different models of hypertension is a decreased Ca-pump in SHR, MHS, and DOCA rats, reduced calcium binding in SHR and MHS, and reduced microsomal ATP dependent calcium uptake in SHR and DOCA rats. [Ca++]i, which is increased in established hypertension in man and rats, is normal in young prehypertensive rats and humans, and returns to normal values after pharmacological treatment of hypertension. This pattern of changes suggests that genetic control of these transport systems is weaker, and probably much influenced by different environmental conditions. However, because of the pivotal role of calcium in vascular smooth muscle cell concentration, its intracellular increase may be the common pathway of the different forms of hypertension. What remains unclear is the relation, if any, between calcium and sodium. Blaustein tried to find a link between them, but his hypotheses have yet to be confirmed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-119
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Nephrology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Role of cellular sodium and calcium metabolism in the pathogenesis of essential hypertension.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this