Female sex hormones protect against salt-sensitive hypertension but not essential hypertension

Krystal N. Brinson, Olga Rafikova, Jennifer C. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Initial studies found that female Dahl salt-sensitive (DS) rats exhibit greater blood pressure (BP) salt sensitivity than female spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). On the basis of the central role played by NO in sodium excretion and BP control, we further tested the hypothesis that blunted increases in BP in female SHR will be accompanied by greater increases in renal inner medullary nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity and expression in response to a high-salt (HS) diet compared with DS rats. Gonad-intact and ovariectomized (OVX) female SHR and DS rats were placed on normal salt (NS; 0.4% salt) or HS (4% salt) diet for 2 wk. OVX did not alter BP in SHR, and HS diet produced a modest increase in BP. OVX significantly increased BP in DS rats on NS; HS further increased BP in all DS rats, although OVX had a greater increase in BP. Renal inner medullary NOS activity, total NOS3 protein, and NOS3 phosphorylated on serine residue 1177 were not altered by salt or OVX in either strain. NOS1 protein expression, however, significantly increased with HS only in SHR, and this corresponded to an increase in urinary nitrate/nitrite excretion. SHR also exhibit greater NOS1 and NOS3 protein expression than DS rats. These data indicate that female sex hormones offer protection against HS-mediated elevations in BP in DS rats but not SHR. We propose that the relative resistance to HS-mediated increases in BP in SHR is related to greater NOS expression and the ability to increase NOS1 protein expression compared with DS rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R149-R157
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Dahl-salt sensitive rats
  • Nitric oxide
  • Ovariectomy
  • Spontaneously hypertensive rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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