Lower levels of zinc – a nutrient that helps the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses – may contribute to hypertension, a new study found in mice.
The study by the State University of Wright in the United States has shown that the way the kidneys either emit sodium into the urine or reabsorb it in the body – especially via a pathway called the NCC – also plays a role in controlling high blood pressure .
Zinc deficiency is common in people with diseases such as type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
It also showed that less sodium in urine usually corresponds to higher blood pressure.
Zinc can help regulate proteins that in turn regulate the NCC.
For the study, the researchers compared male zinc-deficient mice in healthy controls with normal zinc levels.
The results, published in the American Journal of Physiology (Renal Physiology), show that mice with zinc deficiency develop high blood pressure and consequently reduce excretion of sodium in the urine.
However, the control group did not undergo the same changes.
A small group of zinc-deficient mice were eating a zinc-rich diet. Once animal zinc reaches adequate levels, blood pressure begins to decrease and urine sodium levels rise.
"These important findings show that enhanced reabsorption (sodium) plays a crucial role in hypertension caused by zinc deficiency," said Clintoria R. Williams, a University researcher.
Understanding the specific mechanisms by which zinc deficiency contributes to blood pressure disturbance can have an important effect on the treatment of hypertension in conditions of chronic disease, the team noted.