High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a rising health concern in the world, including the United States. According to a survey, this disease has targeted more than 100 million people in the United States alone.
Over the recent years, the scientists have discovered an associated between hypertension and zinc levels in the body. However, the exact role of this mineral in the establishment of hypertension has not been discussed.
Individuals suffering from certain diseases like chronic kidney disease or diabetes type 2 are often found to have hypertension as well as a zinc deficiency. Scientists are not sure if zinc levels have anything to do with an elevation in blood pressure.
Recently, a group of scientists performed a study in order to check the link between blood pressure and zinc levels. Their aim was to dig deeper into the mechanism of action. The findings of this study are published in the American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology.
Blood Pressure and the Role of Kidneys
Sodium absorption is said to play an important role in controlling blood pressure. The sodium chloride cotransporter (NCC) present in the kidney is particularly important in this regard. It helps in the reabsorption of sodium in the kidney and makes sure that only a small amount of it is excreted in the urine.
Low levels of sodium in urine are often associated with an increase in blood pressure. In other words, an over-activation of NCC leads to an increase in the blood pressure by reabsorbing more sodium.
There are different proteins that react with NCC to affect the quantity of sodium being reabsorbed or secreted. The role of zinc is of a cofactor i.e. it modulates the activity of different proteins such as transcription factor, enzymes, and regulatory proteins.
According to the researchers, zinc acted by modulating one of the proteins responsible for moderating the NCC.
Hypertension and Zinc
To prove their hypothesis, scientists performed a series of experiments to clarify the exact relationship between hypertension and zinc. They utilized mice models to check the results.
First, they demonstrated that mice which ate a diet low in zinc successfully developed hypertension. This was followed by splitting these animals into two different groups. One of these groups was fed a diet rich in zinc and results were noted. As expected, their hypertensive problem was soon resolved and blood pressure was normalized.
The other group was given hydrochlorothiazide, a medicine that stops NCC. The blood group in these animals was also normalized. This was because NCC stopped reabsorbing sodium into the body, allowing it to get excreted with urine.
In other series of experiments involving animal tissues, the researchers demonstrated that NCC is the main factor responsible for hypertension secondary to zinc deficiency.
In addition to this, the researchers also showed that the activity of NCC is altered due to the presence of zinc i.e. low levels of zinc cause an increase in the NCC activity which not only proves their theory but also provides a mechanism of action to further strengthen it.