An essential link between the kidney and blood pressure control has long been known. Here, we review evidence supporting the premise that an impaired capacity of the kidney to excrete sodium in response to elevated blood pressure is a major contributor to hypertension, irrespective of the initiating cause. In this regard, recent work suggests that novel pathways controlling key sodium transporters in kidney epithelia have a critical impact on hypertension pathogenesis, supporting a model in which impaired renal sodium excretion is a final common pathway through which vascular, neural, and inflammatory responses raise blood pressure. We also address recent findings calling into question long-standing notions regarding the relationship between sodium intake and changes in body fluid volume. Expanded understanding of the role of the kidney as both a cause and target of hypertension highlights key aspects of pathophysiology and may lead to identification of new strategies for prevention and treatment.
Steven D. Crowley, Thomas M. Coffman
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