October 24, 2014

Immune cells’ role in hypertension

Vanderbilt researchers have discovered that certain immune cells contribute to the development of hypertension, suggesting novel targets for treating the disease.


Hypertension (high blood pressure) affects about 30 percent of adults in the United States and increases risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney failure.

David Harrison, M.D., and colleagues recently demonstrated a role for the adaptive immune response, particularly T cells, in the development of hypertension. In the November issue of Hypertension, they report that a subset of CD8+ T cells play a pro-hypertensive role.

They showed that CD8+ T cells in the kidney, but not CD4+ T cells, had altered T-cell receptor usage in a mouse model of angiotensin II-induced hypertension. They also found that mice missing CD8+ T cells were protected from hypertension and did not have vascular remodeling or sodium and water retention like mice missing CD4+ T cells and wild-type mice.

The findings suggest that CD8+ T cells accumulate in the kidney and contribute to the development of hypertension by altering blood vessels and promoting salt and water retention. Understanding this response may suggest novel targets for treating hypertension.

This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (HL039006, HL058000, HL095070, GM015431, HL105294, GM007569).

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