Functional coupling of renal K+ and Na+ handling causes high blood pressure in Na+ replete mice


A network of kinases, including WNKs, SPAK and Sgk1, is critical for the independent regulation of K+ and Na+ transport in the distal nephron. Angiotensin II is thought to act as a key hormone in orchestrating these kinases to switch from K+ secretion during hyperkalaemia to Na+ reabsorption during intravascular volume depletion, thus keeping disturbances in electrolyte and blood pressure homeostasis at a minimum. It remains unclear, however, how K+ and Na+ transport are regulated during a high Na+ intake, which is associated with suppressed angiotensin II levels and a high distal tubular Na+ load. We therefore investigated the integrated blood pressure, renal, hormonal and gene and protein expression responses to large changes of K+ intake in Na+ replete mice. Both low and high K+ intake increased blood pressure and caused Na+ retention. Low K+ intake was accompanied by an upregulation of the sodium-chloride cotransporter (NCC) and its activating kinase SPAK, and inhibition of NCC normalized blood pressure. Renal responses were unaffected by angiotensin AT1 receptor antagonism, indicating that low K+ intake activates the distal nephron by an angiotensin-independent mode of action. High K+ intake was associated with elevated plasma aldosterone concentrations and an upregulation of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and its activating kinase Sgk1. Surprisingly, high K+ intake increased blood pressure even during ENaC or mineralocorticoid receptor antagonism, suggesting the contribution of aldosterone-independent mechanisms. These findings show that in a Na+ replete state, changes in K+ intake induce specific molecular and functional adaptations in the distal nephron that cause a functional coupling of renal K+ and Na+ handling, resulting in Na+ retention and high blood pressure when K+ intake is either restricted or excessively increased.

Bibliografische Daten

StatusVeröffentlicht - 01.03.2014
PubMed 24396058