Washington: High blood pressure (hypertension) may be caused by lower than normal zinc levels, which alter the way in which kidneys handle sodium, a new study finds.
The study has been published in the online edition of American Journal of Physiology–Renal Physiology.
Zinc deficiency is common in people with chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Those with low zinc levels are also at a higher risk for hypertension.
The process of sodium cotransporter in which kidneys either excrete sodium into the urine or reabsorb it into the body also plays a role in blood pressure control.
It turns out that less sodium in the urine typically corresponds with higher blood pressure.
Recent research has suggested that zinc may help regulate proteins that in turn regulate the NCC, but a direct link between zinc-deficiency-induced hypertension has not been examined.
In the study, researchers compared male mice with zinc deficiency to healthy controls with normal zinc levels. They saw the zinc-deficient mice developing high blood pressure and a corresponding decrease in urinary sodium excretion.
The control group did not experience the same changes. A small group of the zinc-deficient mice were fed a zinc-rich diet partway through the study. Once the animals’ zinc reached adequate levels, blood pressure began to drop and urinary sodium levels increased.
The research team wrote that the findings demonstrate that enhanced renal [sodium] reabsorption plays a critical role in [zinc-deficiency]-induced hypertension.
“Understanding the specific mechanisms by which [zinc deficiency] contributes to [blood pressure] dysregulation may have an important effect on the treatment of hypertension in chronic disease settings,” the researchers added.