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The role of sodium in modulating immune cell function

Authors

  • N. Wilck
  • A. Balogh
  • L. Markó
  • H. Bartolomaeus
  • D.N. Müller

Journal

  • Nature Reviews Nephrology

Citation

  • Nat Rev Nephrol 15 (9): 546-558

Abstract

  • Sodium intake is undoubtedly indispensable for normal body functions but can be detrimental when taken in excess of dietary requirements. The consequences of excessive salt intake are becoming increasingly clear as high salt consumption persists across the globe. Salt has long been suspected to promote the development of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases and is now also recognized as a potential modulator of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases through its direct and indirect effects on immune cells. The finding that, in addition to the kidneys, other organs such as the skin regulate sodium levels in the body prompted new hypotheses, including the concept that skin-resident macrophages might participate in tissue sodium regulation through their interactions with lymphatic vessels. Moreover, immune cells such as macrophages and different T cell subsets are found in sodium-rich interstitial microenvironments, where sodium levels modulate their function. Alterations to the intestinal bacterial community induced by excess dietary salt represent another relevant axis whereby salt indirectly modulates immune cell function. Depending on the inflammatory context, sodium might either contribute to protective immunity (for example, by enhancing host responses against cutaneous pathogens) or it might contribute to immune dysregulation and promote the development of cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases.


DOI

doi:10.1038/s41581-019-0167-y