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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Increased Na+ intake during gestation in rats is associated with enhanced vascular reactivity and alterations of K+ and Ca2+ function.

Gestation is associated with decreased blood pressure and resistance to the effects of vasoconstrictor agents. A recent study showed that pregnant rats, on increased sodium intake, present physiological changes that resemble those observed in preeclampsia. We investigated the effects of sodium supplementation on reactivity and on potassium and Ca(2+) channel activity in blood vessels during gestation. Sodium supplements, 0.9% or 1.8% NaCl as drinking water, were given to nonpregnant and pregnant rats for 7 days (last week of gestation). Reactivity to phenylephrine (PE), KCl, arginine vasopressin (AVP), and tetraethylammonium (TEA) was measured in aortic rings under modulation of potassium and calcium channels. TEA, a nonselective K(+) channel inhibitor, induced concentration-dependent responses in aortic rings from nonpregnant but not in those from pregnant rats. The response to TEA was restored in rings from pregnant rats after preincubation with 10 mmol/l KCl. Sodium supplementation did not affect the response to TEA in the aortas of pregnant animals. After sodium supplementation, maximum responses to PE and AVP were decreased and increased in aortic rings from nonpregnant and pregnant rats, respectively. Cromakalim (an ATP-sensitive K(+) channel activator)-induced inhibition of the responses to the three vasoconstrictors was more striking in aorta from nonpregnant than pregnant rats on regular diet, whereas it produced similar inhibition in tissues from both groups of animals on 0.9% and 1.8% NaCl. NS-1619 (a Ca(2+)-sensitive K(+) activator) elicited heightened effects in the aortas of pregnant animals receiving 0.9% NaCl supplementation. Nifedipine (a Ca(2+) channel blocker) caused greater inhibition of the contractile responses in tissues from nonpregnant rats on regular diet, and its action was increased in pregnant rats on sodium-supplemented diets. These data demonstrate that augmented sodium intake during gestation in the rat is linked with the reversal of gestational-associated resistance to vasopressors and indicate that this is an experimental model showing some features of gestational hypertension.[1]


  1. Increased Na+ intake during gestation in rats is associated with enhanced vascular reactivity and alterations of K+ and Ca2+ function. Auger, K., Beauséjour, A., Brochu, M., St-Louis, J. Am. J. Physiol. Heart Circ. Physiol. (2004) [Pubmed]
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