Hypertension is a leading contributor to cardiovascular mortality worldwide. Despite this, its underlying mechanism(s) and the role of excess salt in cardiorenal dysfunction are unclear. Previously, we have identified cross-talk between mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), a nuclear transcription factor regulated by the steroid aldosterone, and the small GTPase Rac1, which is implicated in proteinuric kidney disease. We here show that high-salt loading activates Rac1 in the kidneys in rodent models of salt-sensitive hypertension, leading to blood pressure elevation and renal injury via an MR-dependent pathway. We found that a high-salt diet caused renal Rac1 upregulation in salt-sensitive Dahl (Dahl-S) rats and downregulation in salt-insensitive Dahl (Dahl-R) rats. Despite a reduction of serum aldosterone levels, salt-loaded Dahl-S rats showed increased MR signaling in the kidneys, and Rac1 inhibition prevented hypertension and renal damage with MR repression. We further demonstrated in aldosterone-infused rats as well as adrenalectomized Dahl-S rats with aldosterone supplementation that salt-induced Rac1 and aldosterone acted interdependently to cause MR overactivity and hypertension. Finally, we confirmed the key role of Rac1 in modulating salt susceptibility in mice lacking Rho GDP–dissociation inhibitor α. Therefore, our data identify Rac1 as a determinant of salt sensitivity and provide insights into the mechanism of salt-induced hypertension and kidney injury.
Shigeru Shibata, ShengYu Mu, Hiroo Kawarazaki, Kazuhiko Muraoka, Ken-ichi Ishizawa, Shigetaka Yoshida, Wakako Kawarazaki, Maki Takeuchi, Nobuhiro Ayuzawa, Jun Miyoshi, Yoshimi Takai, Akira Ishikawa, Tatsuo Shimosawa, Katsuyuki Ando, Miki Nagase, Toshiro Fujita